This Thanksgiving we’re highlighting a book of poetry and prose that is part of a group of avant-garde American literary works called the Small Press/Mimeograph Revolution, 1940-1970s collection. Millbrook Thanksgiving, by poet and writer Walter Schneider (1934-2015), is a panegyric to the psychedelic-fueled community Timothy Leary created in upstate Millbrook, New York from 1963 to 1967. A psychologist interested in the effects of synthetic drugs on human consciousness, Leary settled in Millbrook after being fired from Harvard University for using the substances he was studying (LSD was legal in the US at that time). In the wake of local police harassment that led to Leary’s repeated arrests for minor drug infractions, he moved to California where he crossed paths with Schneider, a PhD student at Berkeley.
Schneider’s spirited defense of Leary’s counter culturalism places the book’s content in the cultural vanguard of 1971. But so does the book’s production. Printed as a small run of just 3,000 copies, its design—from the soft cover, typography, and heavy paper, to its eclectic illustrations—signals the book’s origins outside of mainstream American publishing. Mad River Press, the small California-based operation that produced Millbrook Thanksgiving, specialized in experimental poetry and creations like Schneider’s. The press released very small runs of poetry chapbooks, which were short (40 pages or less), inexpensively constructed, soft-cover booklets. Some were published anonymously and with no identifying publication information, indicating that publisher and author rejected the authority of copyright law.
Mad River Press and its authors also placed important visual pieces in their publications. Millbrook Thanksgiving used the first photograph in Robert Frank’s The Americans (published 1958), an extended photo essay that captured Americans in real life. Beat writer Jack Kerouac, who introduced the 1959 edition, noted that “he [Frank] sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film.” His book of photographs remains an important visual text of post-war America. In a chapbook of poetry by Fred Glazer also published in 1971, Mad River Press included an image by the African American painter Louis Delsarte.
The library’s Small Press/Mimeograph Revolution, 1940-1970s collection holds more than 350 items. Some, like Millbrook Thanksgiving, were produced by small, experimental presses, while others were created by individuals or small collectives using relatively inexpensive copying technologies like the Ditto machine (remember the smell of those purple ink pages?) or the mimeograph. The collection is searchable in the library’s catalog.
RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break (November 22-25, 2018). We wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 9 at 3:00pm | Operation Frankenstein: “Melodramatic Frankenstein: Radical Content in a Reactionary Form” by Jeff Cox (University of Colorado Boulder). Co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Indiana Humanities Council.
Tuesday, November 13 at 3:00pm | Workshop: Archival Skills.CANCELED
Thursday, November 15 at 4:30pm | Iberian & Latin American Studies: “Language and Power: Searching for the Origins of Catalan Linguistic Identity” by Vicente Lledó-Guillem (Hofstra University). Co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Medieval Institute, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures.
We join the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Also in recognition of the anniversary of Hurricane María and Puerto Rico’s ongoing recovery struggle, this post highlights the island’s artistic heritage.
Puerto Rican artists Félix Rodríguez Báez, José A. Torres Martinó, Lorenzo Homar, and Rafael Tufiño (members of the Generation of ’50) formally established the Centro de Arte Puertorriqueño in 1950. This studio, art school, and gallery was influenced by the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico and its mission of educating the public through art. At the same time, the member artists of the CAP used their work to express and assert a uniquely Puerto Rican identity.
This portfolio of 8 prints, published in the late 1960s by the Centro de Artes Gráficas Nacionales, includes two works by each of four key members of the Generation of ’50, Lorenzo Homar, Carlos Raquel Rivera, Rafael Tufiño, and J.A. Torres Martino. The pieces are reproduced from original prints and were chosen to portray the development in aesthetic of each artist since 1951, when the CAP issued its first portfolio.
Carlos Raquel Rivera’s first print, “Marea Alta,” owes much to the influence of the Taller de Gráfica Popular in both the social commentary made through its content and in its style. His second print, “El Pegao,” reflects what had become Rivera’s signature style, driven by a strong black/white contrast.
The contrast between the two prints submitted by Lorenzo Homar is striking also. “La Tormenta” a depiction of a man peering over his shoulder at an oncoming storm is poetic and suggestive while “La Vitrina,” a critical depiction of tourism in Puerto Rico is bold and aggressive in style.
As a whole, this collection attests to the strength and evolution of print-making as an activist art form in mid-century Puerto Rico.
Rare book and manuscript collections can grow in unexpected ways. Sometimes, items encountered on the market are simply too much fun to pass up. Such was certainly the case with the manuscript featured in this week’s blog, acquired by the Libraries in 2016.
The item in question is a small (12.5 cm.) handmade pamphlet of 8 leaves, with paper wraps, bound with thread. The front wrap doubles as a title page; accomplished in purple copying pencil, it reads: “Suspenders. An Epic Poem by Kreuzer. MK. Illustrated.” An inscription on the verso of the cover, reading “For ‘Key’ to the following – See local column Lawrence Journal. March 2d ’72” provides a possible association of the author with Lawrence, Essex County, Massachusetts. The rectos of each leaf contain framed narrative scenes drawn in pencil, with secondary figural and decorative elements in the margins. The scenes are rendered in great detail; the representational style tends towards the naive but the compositions are quite sophisticated. Each scene is accompanied by verse, written by Kreuzer in a miniscule hand.
The narrative is outwardly simple. A miserly youth, finding his suspenders worn out, journeys to the city to buy a new pair (1r-3r).
In a shop he is shown some that prove a perfect fit, but he ultimately fails to buy them because he finds the price too dear (4r-6r).
In returning home along the railroad tracks he narrowly avoids being hit by a train, and tears his sagging pants as he scrambles over a fence (7r).
That night he sees a pair of suspenders, radiant, in a dream, but wakes to find himself in his old predicament (8r).
The tale is humorous and patently moralizing, more like a fable than a mock epic, but the story in the local paper that provoked it remains for the present a mystery. The moralizing content is underscored by marginal figures outside the central narratives: for example, a man in a tug-of-war with the Devil, each holding an end of a pair of suspenders (5r). The inside of the back cover bears the scribbled pencil notation “March 20th 1872,” less than three weeks after the article mentioned in the front of the pamphlet.
Nothing is known of Kreuzer, and the rationale for his creation of this delightful little manuscript has yet to be determined. Comments are welcome.
“Some Beautiful Verses Written under the Circumstances”
This was how Maria Nicholson Montgomery, a Baltimore resident and wife of the city’s future mayor, described Francis Scott Key’s poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” in a letter to her brother in November 1814. Fort McHenry was the US garrison in Baltimore harbor and the British military’s target on September 12-14, 1814, during the War of 1812. Key had been detained on a British vessel a few miles away from the city. At dawn on the 14th, after a long night of bombardment, he spied the American flag over the fort and quickly drafted four stanzas on the American victory, set to a popular English tune, “Anacreon of Heaven.”
Key showed the poem to his brother-in-law (and Montgomery’s cousin) Joseph Nicholson, who had commanded a company of volunteers at the fort. He was enthusiastic and helped Key publish them quickly in a broadside on September 17, 1814. By October a Baltimore music store had begun selling copies as sheet music retitled as “The Star Spangled Banner.”
In her letter to her brother, Montgomery enclosed a clipping of Key’s poem from a Baltimore newspaper (nonextant). Several papers published the verses, and Montgomery could have sent this one, from the Baltimore Patriot on September 20, 1814 (a fitting platform for Key’s poem). She also couldn’t resist tweaking the politics of the situation, calling Key “a federalist,” although in an admiring way (“would they were all such federalists”). Montgomery herself was part of a prominent anti-Federalist family in Baltimore and New York. (Anti-Federalists generally opposed a strong federal government; for example, they disapproved of Alexander Hamilton’s plan to create a national bank.) Montgomery’s father had served in the American navy during the Revolutionary War and later became active in anti-Federalist circles, and three of her four sisters married politically prominent men (one of whom was Albert Gallatin, Secretary of Treasury under Jefferson and Madison).
Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections boasts some truly remarkable collections with items covering a multitude of topics. From collections totaling 17 cubic feet, such as the Vagrich and Irene Bakhchanyan Collections, to single-item manuscripts totaling a few pages, such as the John Nichols Journal, the collections are not only diverse in content, but also in size. Just as the collections at Notre Dame are diverse, so too are the descriptive tools used to make them discoverable
Descriptive or discovery tools used in special collections and archives come, traditionally, in two forms—the archival finding aid and a MARC record. However, not all collections items fit within the scope of use for these two tools. Finding aids are useful for large collections that require much more in-depth description than a current MARC record allows for when considering the hierarchical nature of collections. In the case of collections with only a few items, the collection does not need in-depth description and does not utilize the descriptive power that a finding aid provides. The traditional MARC record, however, is inadequate because the conventions for bibliographic description do not accommodate enough of the information required to describe an archival collection.
As previously mentioned, Rare Books and Special Collections holdings consist of materials both large and small. In fact, a majority of the collections consist of very few pages, often just a single item. In the past, these items were made discoverable by listing the items in a register on the department’s website. With the advent of the new descriptive standard, we are able to create catalog records that describe both the artifactual information and the contextual information of small collections, especially ones with single items, that traditional MARC records did not allow for. We have decided to create a few test records for our collections using this new standard.
One of the first items we decided to describe using DCRM (MSS) was the John Nichols Journal (MSN/EA 10003). Nichols, born in Rhode Island, was a 19th-century sailor and smuggler who wrote about his exploits in a 4-section journal. In the journal, Nichols describes his voyages to the West Indies, including smuggling operations in Cuba and Brazil. In addition, Nichols also describes an invention he has termed the “sidereal dial” for navigation at night. Accompanying the entries are numerous hand-drawn maps and profiles of locations Nichols encountered throughout his journeys on the General Hamilton and the Caledonian.
Using DCRM (MSS) as our descriptive standard allows for a greater level of discoverability for our collections items. Not only are our collections browsable on our website, but they are now searchable through the Hesburgh Libraries catalog as well as the Online Computer Library Center online catalog (OCLC WorldCat)—the world’s largest online public access catalog—and ArchiveGrid—an online database containing over 5 million records for archival materials located in repositories in the US and internationally. In addition, DCRM (MSS) has been an effective way to systematically reduce our processing backlog and refine our procedures in accordance with newly adopted best practices and standards of the profession.
“Decoration Day,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was published posthumously—first in June 1882 in The Atlantic and later that same year in In the Harbor, a book containing previously unpublished poems. The poem “pays tribute to what was then a new form of civic observance: a day set aside to commemorate those who had perished in the Civil War by placing flags and flowers on soldiers’ graves, a custom that gradually gave rise to our modern Memorial Day honoring all who give their lives in military service.” (David Barber, The Atlantic, May 30, 2011)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82) was but five years old when he witnessed the War of 1812 devastate his hometown. This event had a long-lasting impact on him.
Wordsworth would go on to Bowdoin College, graduating along with Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1825 before traveling through Europe, where he gained mastery over seven languages. On his return to the US, he taught languages first at Bowdoin and later at Harvard, and also spent much time writing textbooks and essays on languages, particularly French, Italian, and Spanish. While at Harvard, Longfellow’s literary career took off. He travelled to Europe twice more before resigning from Harvard in 1854 to devote his full attention to writing.
Less than a decade later—in 1861—not only did his beloved wife, Fanny, die but the Civil War broke out and his son, fighting for the Union, was wounded. The invalid had to be escorted home by his father and brother. To cope with these tragedies, Longfellow immersed himself in his literary endeavors including a full translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (completed in 1864). Against memories of the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the traumatic loss of a wife and the injury of a son, Longfellow continued to write. In some of his last pieces, including “Decoration Day,” one cannot help but notice Longfellow’s solemnity and poignancy.
The Irish-American periodicals in Special Collections give rise to many questions:
Who produced these publications? What demand were they satisfying? Who were the readers? What aims did the editors and publishers have? How did these publications fit into the larger periodical literature of their time?
Surprisingly little has been written about these Irish-American publications. A deep exploration of Hesburgh Library’s Irish-American periodical collection would be rewarding for many reasons, including an increased understanding of networks of Irish in America, of the emerging culture of Irish-Americans, and of the ways in which Irish-Americans connected with Ireland.
Our ‘Spotlight’ exhibit currently displays five publications selected from over a dozen titles held by the Library to demonstrate the range and types of these periodicals.
O’Neill’s Irish Pictorial began its existence as the Irish Miscellany, launched in February 1858 by Jackson, Foynes and Company of Boston. According to the prospectus which was printed in the early issues, the magazine is “dedicated to the diffusion of a more intimate knowledge of the literary and political history of Ireland, and to the mental, moral and political elevation of the Celtic race on the continent.”
Within months, the magazine was listed under a different printer’s name, and by July, it credited Thomas O’Neill as publisher. The transfer was unpleasant, to say the least, and the editorial for May 8, 1858 includes allegations of mismanagement and foul play by the former owners. According to this editorial, the way the paper managed initially was unsustainable.
The following year it was renamed O’Neill’s Irish Pictorial, and it is this volume of issues from 1859 that Special Collections holds. It was subsequently named The Irish Pictorial and Irish Illustrated Weekly. In all, the magazine lasted from 1858 to 1861.
The illustration of Irish poverty displayed in this issue is a recurring theme in American publications, sometimes accompanied by an exhortation to provide aid to Ireland. An example found in an issue of McGee’s Illustrated Weekly calls on Irish-Americans to forego the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day as long as Irish people are starving.
A common theme in these magazines is also that of encouraging Irish immigrants to travel west rather than remain in the cities, and in fact McGee’s Illustrated Weekly maintains a sustained argument for traveling to the midwestern states. The issue in our display includes a picture of a flier advertising Bishop Ireland’s Irish-American Colonisation Company’s scheme to assist Irish to settle in Minnesota.
McGee’s Illustrated Weekly was a Catholic weekly that included stories and news of Ireland, and appears to have been directed largely towards an Irish readership. For some time it was edited by Maurice Francis Egan, later a professor of literature here at the University of Notre Dame.
The Irish Freeman describes McGee’s as follows:
McGee’s Weekly is the Catholic illustrated paper in bodily presence and mechanical form, like Harper’s Weekly, but in essence and spirit as opposite as it is possible to imagine. It is chaste, choice and chatty; interesting, independent, ingenious; pithy, pointed and pungent. Its illustrations are beautifully engraved and surprisingly various. It whacks small abuses in social and religious customs with the neatness of a black-thorn wielder, and the taste and delicacy of a French dancing master. No Catholic family that can afford it should be without the lively, literary, lightsome publication of McGee.
In 1880, McGee’s published a series of illustrations and commentary on “The Distress in Ireland.” McGee’s also reported on the funeral of Daniel O’Connell and on Irish political and social affairs. Additionally, small snippets to be found in the Personal Column include items such as the following:
Miss Cusack, the Nun of Kenmare, is at present engaged on a history of Irish literature . . . the proceeds to be devoted to the foundation and endowment of a home and school combined, where girls could spend some time, from a few weeks to a year, and learn plain sewing, cutting out, plain washing and cooking, housework, etc., and in some cases even fancy work and a few of the higher branches of education, sufficient to fit them for governesses.
Among the other periodicals displayed is An Gaodhal (The Gael) a magazine founded in New York in 1881 by Michael Logan (Mícheál Ó Lócháin), an Irish-speaker who emigrated in 1871. Logan was principal of a Brooklyn school and led an effort to promote the Irish language, teaching language classes in New York. The issue on display is edited by Geraldine Haverty, who became editor after Logan’s death.
Special Collections’ holdings of An Gaodhal was part of the gift received from Francis O’Neill, the Chicago police chief remembered for his collections of Irish dance music. His volumes of An Gaodhal are bound with extra pages inserted for a hand-written contents list.
A number of our periodicals were acquired from Rolf and Magda Loeber in a large collection of Irish periodicals of the nineteenth century. Special Collections holds at least a dozen titles, with runs varying from two issues to many years.
Also on display through the end of April:
From Distant Waters: Whaling Manuscripts in Special Collections
On display are three whaling manuscripts dating from the golden age of the American whaling industry in the first half of the nineteenth century. These include two ship’s logbooks, from the whaling vessels Meridian and Corvo, and a letter written aboard the whaler Columbus.
The main exhibit this spring is In a Civilized Nation: Newspapers, Magazines, and the Print Revolution in 19th-Century Peru. This exhibit is curated by Erika Hosselkus and draws on strengths of Rare Books and Special Collections’ José E. Durand Peruvian History collection. Together these items offer diverse perspectives on Peruvian political events and cultural and religious practices and preferences from the colonial era, through the country’s birth in 1825, and beyond the turn of the twentieth century.
The spotlight exhibits during early April are From Distant Waters: Whaling Manuscripts in Special Collections and Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, both curated by George Rugg. The baseball exhibit will end mid-month, with the exhibit Chaste, Choice and Chatty: Irish-American Periodicals of the Nineteenth Century, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, opening for the second half of the month and continuing through the summer.
This lithograph was printed in Philadelphia at a time when the general impression of Irish immigrants was that of an impoverished people, unfavorably viewed by native-born Americans. Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 1830s and 1840s was becoming dominated by poor, unskilled rural Catholics, and in the decades following the Great Famine, American cities were inundated by waves of impoverished Irish peasants.
“St. Patrick’s Day in America. Commemorative of Ireland’s unswerving fidelity to her ancient religion and the devotion of her exiled children to the sacred principles of her freedom and redemption as a nation.” Washington: John Reid, 1872. Lithograph by Hunter and Duval. [i]
Hence, according to historian Kerby Miller, all Irish immigrants were viewed negatively, including those who arrived with education, skills, or capital. He states that “in the eyes of native-born Protestants, middle-class Irish Catholic immigrants were by religion and association not ‘good Americans’, but in the opinion of many of their own transplanted countrymen, they were not ‘good Irishmen’ either.” [ii]
Considering this attitude to Irish immigrants, then, the lithograph doubles as an effective piece of propaganda and a heartwarming picture of family life. The mother and children are respectably dressed, and the sewing machine suggests an industrious household. Symbols of Ireland include the statue of St. Patrick while the portrait on the wall, of an American soldier, suggests a relative, perhaps even the absent father, fought in the American Civil War.
The mother is pinning a shamrock on the boy’s lapel. The shamrock, emblematic of St. Patrick, is a popular symbol of Irish identity. The family is clearly preparing to take part in the celebration of their Irish identity, while at the same time the image proclaims American middle-class orderliness and industry.
To read about St. Patrick’s Day, see the following books in the Hesburgh Library:
Cronin, Mike and Daryl Adair. The Wearing of the Green: A History of St. Patrick’s Day. Routledge, 2002. Hesburgh Library GT 4995 .P3 C76 2002
Skinner, Jonathan and Dominic Bryan (eds.) Consuming St. Patrick’s Day. Cambridge Scholars, 2015.
Hesburgh Library GT 4995 .Pe S556 2015
Fogarty, William L. The Days We’ve Celebrated. St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah. Printcraft Press, 1980. GT 4995 .P3 F63.
Dupey, Ana María (ed.) San Patricio en Buenos Aires: Celebracionse y rituales en su dimensión narrativa. Buenos Aires: Editorial Dunken, 2006. GT 4995 .P3 S25 2006.
[i] To learn more about the lithographers of Philadelphia, see Erika Piola (ed.) Philadelphia on Stone: Commercial Lithography in Philadelphia 1828-1878, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012.
[ii] Kerby A. Miller. Ireland and Irish America: Culture, Class, and Transatlantic Migration. Dublin: Field Day, 2008, p. 260.