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Harbor Press Ephemera

Here in Archives & Special Collections we have a large and interesting collection of fine press books — that is, the work of small presses that produced, in limited numbers, books featuring design, typography, paper, ink and illustrations of the finest quality. It has been my lucky task this week to organize and catalog our wonderful collection of one of those fine printers, the Harbor Press, which operated in New York City from 1925 to 1942.  Specifically, I am working on our collection of Harbor Press ephemera — not its books, but all the flyers, greeting cards, advertisements, labels, letterheads, trade cards, bookplates, etc., which the Press produced for hundreds of commercial businesses, individuals, and, as we shall see, for itself, too.

HP-SH-1935-Book-26-EndDeviceWithPressName

The Harbor Press was the creation of two young men, John Fass and Roland Wood (AC 1920), together with his wife Elizabeth Wood. The two men had formerly worked together at the printing and publishing house of William Edwin Rudge at Mount Vernon, New York. While at Rudge, they had worked alongside renowned book designer Bruce Rogers, and it is clear that Rogers’ modernist yet classical design sensibility had a significant influence on the consistently precise, elegant, and finely crafted ornamental style for which the Harbor Press became famous. Fass was mainly responsible for the design, and Roland Wood for the printing.

The Harbor Press was famous for its logo featuring a seahorse. The seahorse appeared in dozens of different versions on many Harbor Press productions. Often it appeared astride an anchor — a visual homage, perhaps, to the dolphin-and-anchor device of the Aldine Press, founded by the master printer of the Italian Renaissance, Aldus Manutius.

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Clyde Pride!

Drama and theater have long played an important role in student life at Amherst College. Our Dramatic Activities Collection contains evidence of student and faculty performances all the way back to the early 19th century. Clyde Fitch (Class of 1886) was a major force in student theatricals, both on and off the stage, during his time at Amherst. He went on to become one of the most popular playwrights in the United States; a spectacular career that was cut short by his untimely death in 1909. On Thursday, October 23, 2014 we are holding an event in the Clyde Fitch Room in Converse Hall to celebrate the life and career of Clyde Fitch as part of LGBT History Month.

The Country Girl 1884 2

Clyde Fitch in “The Country Girl” at Amherst College, 1884.

Although we celebrate him as an icon of Queer history at Amherst, it would be inappropriate (and anachronistic) to project our modern notions of “homosexual” or “gay” onto Clyde Fitch. George Chauncy’s book Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 is extremely useful, especially since Clyde Fitch spent much of his post-Amherst life in New York City. Kim Marra’s essay “Clyde Fitch’s Too Wilde Love” (in Staging Desire: Queer Readings of American Theater History) presents clear archival evidence of Fitch’s personal relationship with Oscar Wilde, and suggests they may have been lovers. Both Chauncy and Marra point out the difficulty of recovering Queer history when faced with active efforts to conceal and destroy evidence. It is likely that more letters between Fitch and Wilde were destroyed than have survived.

Cast of "The Rivals" at Amherst College, 1885. (Fitch seated, far right)

Cast of “The Rivals” at Amherst College, 1885. (Fitch seated, far right)

What we can say for certain is that Clyde Fitch was known for his great skill in playing female roles on stage as well as for costuming other performers and decorating stage sets. The Archives is filled with photographs of Amherst men in drag, so cross-dressing should not be immediately conflated with homosexuality, but, by all accounts, Fitch’s whole character was distinctly effeminate. Writing about him in the May 1928 Amherst Graduates’ Quarterly, Chilton Powell quotes Fitch as saying: “I knew of course that every boy regarded me as a sissy; but I would rather be misunderstood than lose my independence” (162).

Clyde Fitch. ca. 1886.

Clyde Fitch. ca. 1886.

After leaving Amherst, Fitch moved to New York City where he struggled to build a literary career. During the summer months he traveled to Europe and London, where he met Oscar Wilde, likely during the summer of 1888. While abroad, Fitch fully embraced the aestheticism of Wilde and his circle. Upon his return home, Fitch wrote his first successful play about the man who defined dandyism for the nineteenth century: Beau Brummell.

"Beau Brummell" Program. Chicago, 1890.

“Beau Brummell” Program. Chicago, 1890.

“Beau Brummell” premiered at Madison Square Garden in New York City on 17 May 1890 and was an instant success. It subsequently toured the major cities of America and launched Fitch’s career as a dramatist.

Early review of "Beau Brummell" (1890)

Early review of “Beau Brummell” (1890)

Fitch wrote thirty-three original plays, twenty-three adaptations, along with a novel and a book of stories for children. At one point, five of his plays were running on Broadway simultaneously. Fitch’s friend Oscar Wilde also had a great success in 1890 with the publication of The Picture of Dorian Gray in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. Fitch’s own novel was published in Lippincott’s the following year.

Clyde Fitch. A Wave of Life. 1891.

Clyde Fitch. A Wave of Life. 1891.

Although his works are nearly forgotten today, Clyde Fitch was both a major influence on the shape of American theater and a noted celebrity until his death in 1909. This caricature of Fitch by artist Ernest Haskell gives us a glimpse into how Fitch was viewed by his contemporaries:

Clyde Fitch by Ernest Haskell.

Clyde Fitch by Ernest Haskell.

Amherst College is fortunate to have extensive holdings that document the life and works of Clyde Fitch. The Archives holds The W. Clyde Fitch Collection along with the books from his personal library. Our Clyde Pride event will be held in the Fitch Room in Converse Hall — a reproduction of the study from Fitch’s home at 113 East 40th Street in New York. The room and the collections were the gift of Clyde Fitch’s mother in 1913.

The Fitch Room, as it was in 1950.

The Fitch Room, as it was in 1950.

  • More information about Oscar Wilde and his circle is available through The British Library.
  • Letters that Clyde Fitch sent to Oscar Wilde are part of the Oscar Wilde Collection at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA.

If you’ve been following this blog, then you may already be familiar with the Amherst College Digital Collections — ACDC for short.  ACDC is the result of collaboration between Robert Frost Library Digital Programs and Technical Services departments, and Amherst College’s Information Technology department.  ACDC focuses on digitizing and making available unique or rare content from collections owned by the Library or the College at large, as well as open access scholarly content created by Amherst College faculty.¹  The Amherst College Digital Collection continues to grow with monthly ingests of new content, including materials from the Archives and Special Collections.

Here are a few highlights from recent additions to ACDC:

51 books from the Younghee Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection

https://acdc.amherst.edu/browse/partOf/Younghee+Kim-Wait+(Class+of+1982)_2F_Pablo+Eisenberg+Collection+of+Native+American+Literature

The Native American Literature Collection continues to be a very exciting collection, highly used in classes and by visiting researchers.  Now there are 51 books from this collection freely available to the public through ACDC.

 

22 Medieval manuscripts:

https://acdc.amherst.edu/browse/partOf/Manuscript+Collection

Thus far, 22 of Amherst’s 24 Medieval manuscripts have been added to ACDC.  These manuscripts, primarily from the late-fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, have been digitized as part of a Mellon-funded Five Colleges digitization project.  More about that project here.  Included in this collection are manuscripts of Cicero, Horace, Persius, and Frontinus.

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20 Years of the Amherst College Catalog:

https://acdc.amherst.edu/browse/partOf/Amherst+College+Catalogs

Amherst College Catalogs from 1975-1997 are now available on ACDC.  These College Catalogs are a source of information about the growth and history of the College as well as the College’s role in adapting to and shaping changes in higher education in the United States.  Recent catalogs include information such as the mission statement; academic calendar; lists of members of the corporation, faculty, administrative and professional officers; admissions requirements; courses of instruction; professorships, readerships, and lectureships; prizes and awards; and enrollment.

And more great material has been added from the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Collection:

https://acdc.amherst.edu/browse/partOf/Edward+and+Orra+White+Hitchcock+Papers

 

For a list of all Amherst College Archives and Special Collections’ materials available through ACDC: https://acdc.amherst.edu/collection/asc.

 


¹ Amherst College Digital Collection Development Policy: https://www.amherst.edu/library/digprog/digitalcolldev

The last time I wrote about detective work in my job, I mentioned “authority work” and linked to the Library of Congress’ explanation of what it entails. Here’s another example, from earlier this week.

I began to catalog these two recently-purchased pamphlets from the 1940s:

Navajo Life Series: Primer and The Little Turtle, early mimeographed versions from 1942 and 1943.

Navajo Life Series: Primer and The Little Turtle, early mimeographed versions from 1942 and 1943.

The cataloging itself was straightforward, but a piece of accompanying information gave me pause. These mimeographed pamphlets seem to be the earliest version of a series that was published several more times over the years. Some of the later versions had illustrations by a different artist, Andy (or Van) Tsihnahjinnie.¹ These early ones were illustrated by William Morgan, better known for his work on The Navajo Language.

The information that was puzzling me came from a brief email conversation that our Head of Archives and Special Collections shared with me. He had inquired of the library at the Navajo Nation Museum whether they had any additional information about these pamphlets. Their reply indicated that while Tsihnahjinnie was Navajo, Morgan was not. This bothered me because I remembered other materials in our collection listing Morgan as a translator, and identifying his tribal affiliation, so I double-checked his Name Authority Record (NAR):

Note the three citations listed under the “Found in” section. These references can be sources that catalogers have used for information on Morgan, or other works he produced. NARs are often updated over time–this particular one was first created in 1991 as “Morgan, William, 1917-” and most recently edited in 2011 to add the death date and citation for the Anthropological Linguistics article.²

After a little more investigation, I discovered that the confusion lay with the second citation attributed to Morgan. Human-wolves among the Navajo (1936) is a monograph in the Yale University Publications in Anthropology series. It was not listed in the bibliography of Morgan’s works in the Anthropological Linguistics article. I was beginning to suspect it was authored by a different William Morgan, but I needed proof. I also needed a way to narrow my searching, since “William Morgan” is a common name, with well over 100 different NARs. I checked our stacks copy of Human-wolves among the Navajo–no foreword, afterword, or any ‘about the author’ information at all. I checked several of my “go to” reference sources³ without luck. Standing in our Reference stacks after checking American Indian Biographies, I had one of those “Hooray for browsing!” moments when I spotted Native American Folklore, 1879-1979: An Annotated Bibliography.

A “William Morgan” was listed, along with six of his published works. They included Human-wolves among the Navaho and ended with ‘The Organization of a Story and a Tale’ by William Morgan with a preface by Alfred North Whitehead, in The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 58, no. 229 (July-Sept. 1945) pp. 169-194. Looking up the article, I got a “Hooray for footnotes!” moment:

"Dr. William Morgan died in 1935. His unpublished MSS are now in Dr. Clyde Kluckhohn's possession...Generous help from Mrs. Christiana Morgan made possible printing Dr. Morgan's complete study

After a couple of dead-ends (not helped that the 1935 date turned out to be wrong) I googled Christiana Morgan, which led me to the recent biography Translate this Darkness by Claire Douglas. This was my prize: a well-researched biography identifying “William Otho Potwin Morgan” (1895-1934) as the writer of Human-wolves among the Navaho, citing the Morgan papers held in the Archives at Harvard University (his alma mater). Armed with that, I can file a request for a correction to the Name Authority Record for William Morgan, 1917-2001 to remove the citation to the work by William Morgan, 1895-1934 and in addition, to create a new NAR for William Morgan, 1895-1934.

The Five Colleges Library Consortium has begun the process for becoming authorized to participate in a “funnel project” of the Name Authority Cooperative Program (LC/NACO), which will allow us to make such changes to the NAR directly.

¹We hold a couple of items illustrated by Tsihnahjinnie, and his Authority Record is a great example of an author using a variety of names.

²If you are interested, and have access to JSTOR, here is the link for that article.

³Some of which include:

Everything old is new again

Mosul. Erbil. Erzurum. Aleppo. Adana. Armenians. Yazidis. Kurds. Read the news lately? If you have, then these words suggest something to you.   Undoubtedly, we’ll all be even more familiar with them soon enough.

But in the archives “everything old is new again.” Or maybe it’s more accurately the reverse, everything new is old, with new associations mingling with older ones. Around here, the words above are likely to remind us of our many Amherst College missionaries who left the campus to make new lives in the Middle East, often for decades and generations.

For example, when I hear “Kurds,” I think “Koords” (having a weakness for old-timey spellings). And then I think “Earl Ward. Missionary and photographer in Turkey between 1909 and 1913.” And then, “Nesbitt Chambers, missionary in Turkey for forty-five years.”

Earl Ward, ca. 1910

Earl Ward, ca. 1910

William Nesbitt Chambers, ca. 1880

William Nesbitt Chambers, ca. 1880

We may be hearing a lot about the Kurds these days, but Ward and Chambers heard about them before we did, including their reputation for being fearless warriors, a reputation that’s still talked about today.

The photos below are Earl Ward’s, and many of the captions are from “Yoljuluk,” Nesbitt Chambers’ memoir. Ward arrived in Turkey in April 1909 with his camera locked and loaded, immediately commencing a record of his four years there. Nesbitt Chambers, older than Earl by several decades, began his service in Turkey in 1879, and he remained there with his family for most of the next forty-five years.

Ward's caption on reverse: “Picture of three Koords. Notice the armament. These Koords are mountaineers & enjoy a fight better than eating. This is the way in which they like to pose for a picture.” Chambers in "Yoljuluk": “The Koords appealed to me in many ways, a race of fine physique, many of them tall and of handsome appearance, with a vigorous swing that would naturally characterize mountaineers who roam at pleasure over hill and valley.”

Ward’s caption on reverse: “Picture of three Koords. Notice the armament. These Koords are mountaineers & enjoy a fight better than eating. This is the way in which they like to pose for a picture.”
Chambers in “Yoljuluk”: “The Koords appealed to me in many ways, a race of fine physique, many of them tall and of handsome appearance, with a vigorous swing that would naturally characterize mountaineers who roam at pleasure over hill and valley.”

Chambers: “Their mode of living in many ways corresponds to what I had imagined might have existed in Europe during feudal times, the Bey of the district resembling the lord of the manor.  Such a Bey in his robes riding a magnificent horse, elaborately caparisoned and followed by a retinue of retainers, mounted on beautiful Koordish horses, made a fine show.”

Chambers: “Their mode of living in many ways corresponds to what I had imagined might have existed in Europe during feudal times, the Bey of the district resembling the lord of the manor. Such a Bey in his robes riding a magnificent horse, elaborately caparisoned and followed by a retinue of retainers, mounted on beautiful Koordish horses, made a fine show.

"Koordish encampment"

“Koordish encampment”

Ward: “Four Koords – same as in Koordish encampment.  Notice Koord with spyglasses, another with cartridges in belt, little girl at right, Armenian boy, a guard, at left.”  Chambers: "They are generously hospitable, bountiful hosts with a sense of the sacred rights of the guest who is safe while within his host’s precincts.  However, their sense of the rights of property is not developed to such an extent that the guest might not be relieved of his possessions once outside the territory of his host.  They maintain the tribal system."

Ward: “Four Koords – same as in Koordish encampment. Notice Koord with spyglasses, another with cartridges in belt, little girl at right, Armenian boy, a guard, at left.”
Chambers: “They are generously hospitable, bountiful hosts with a sense of the sacred rights of the guest who is safe while within his host’s precincts. However, their sense of the rights of property is not developed to such an extent that the guest might not be relieved of his possessions once outside the territory of his host. They maintain the tribal system.”

Ward: “Wheat-pit in Harpoot.  Pile of wheat in centre taken in market at Harpoot.”  Chambers: It was at Erzroom that I received my first near view of the Turkish situation.  The [Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78] had left the country almost desolate, wheat was to be found but the price was exorbitant, and famine conditions resulted from the apathy and inefficiency of the administration… One of my first journeys was through the villages over which the war had swept.  We visited villages inhabited by Turks, Armenians, Koords, Persians, Yezidees.  There are no rural districts as in the Occident.  All the people of a vicinage group together and form a village.  I was impressed by what I saw of the modes of life, ranging in the towns and larger villages from well-built comfortable  houses with an upper story, to the half underground structures with conical mud roofs that seemed to rise from the ground.”

Ward: “Wheat-pit in Harpoot. Pile of wheat in centre taken in market at Harpoot.”
Chambers: “It was at Erzroom that I received my first near view of the Turkish situation. The [Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78] had left the country almost desolate, wheat was to be found but the price was exorbitant, and famine conditions resulted from the apathy and inefficiency of the administration… One of my first journeys was through the villages over which the war had swept. We visited villages inhabited by Turks, Armenians, Koords, Persians, Yezidees. There are no rural districts as in the Occident. All the people of a vicinage group together and form a village. I was impressed by what I saw of the modes of life, ranging in the towns and larger villages from well-built comfortable houses with an upper story, to the half underground structures with conical mud roofs that seemed to rise from the ground.”

Unidentified town, perhaps Harpoot, where Earl Ward was stationed.

Unidentified town, perhaps Harpoot, where Earl Ward was stationed.

Both Chambers and Ward witnessed war in the region, Chambers in the 1890s and again in 1909 and 1915, and Ward in 1909, from the moment of his arrival in Turkey. Although Ward was the more devoted photographer, Chambers too left a photographic record of the region, including the photos below. These two images show the city of Adana before and after the massacre in April 1909, but they could be mistaken for something out of today’s news.

Chambers-Adana-before-1909-massacre

Ward’s journal: “Constantinople. Monday, April 19 [1909]. Upon arrival found Mr. Peet away and Mrs. Peet quite anxious as to danger of massacre & looting. Terrible news from Adana, 2 Am. Missionaries killed, Armenians massacred. Drs. Greene, Herrick, Mr. Peet, Carson & Mrs. Mardin consulted about sending relief.”

Ward’s journal: “Constantinople. Monday, April 19 [1909]. Upon arrival found Mr. Peet away and Mrs. Peet quite anxious as to danger of massacre & looting. Terrible news from Adana, 2 Am. Missionaries killed, Armenians massacred. Drs. Greene, Herrick, Mr. Peet, Carson & Mrs. Mardin consulted about sending relief.”

I’ve never been to the Middle East. I know it mostly from long-ago classes, the news, and working with missionary collections. Even though the latter are technically “old news,” they provide an important context for what is happening in the Middle East today. Most of the native groups Ward and Chambers worked with still live in the area, and many of the problems in the Middle East today have identifiable roots in the past that the two missionaries knew. Understanding the historical context is important for a broader view of the world we live in, and for arriving at solutions that endure. Our missionary collections are a great place to start.

This summer we started a multi-year project to reprocess one of our most visually rich, fascinating, least known and hardest to use collections (hoping, of course, to change these latter points).

Students exploring the newly opened Frost Library in September of 1965

Students exploring the newly opened Frost Library in September of 1965

The College Photographer’s Negatives Collection is a large collection of negatives and prints created by the official college photographers from 1960 to 2005. The college photographers documented all aspects of the college and college life: events, staff, buildings, sports, theater, daily student life, and everything in between. The current project is to rehouse the negatives (which are already listed in the finding aid) and organize and integrate the many boxes of prints. Our hardworking student assistant, Tessa McEvoy ’16, has already rehoused the 21,000+ negatives from the 1960s and is moving full steam ahead into the 1970s. Continue Reading »

In a previous post I wrote about Otis Cary (AC 1943), “Amherst’s Man in Japan,” who worked with Japanese POWs after World War II and went on to represent Amherst College at its sister institution, Doshisha University, for several decades. I’ve recently had an opportunity to revisit the incredibly rich and vast unprocessed collection of Cary Family Papers to discovered another story from the war, this time featuring Cary’s father, Frank Cary (AC 1911).

Frank Cary as an Amherst senior, 1911

Frank Cary as an Amherst senior, 1911. An all-season athlete, his nickname was “Jumbo.”

Santo Tomas Internment Camp, 1945. Shanties were built in the courtyard to relieve overcrowding. National Archives, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer [111-SC-202141]

Like his father before him, Frank Cary was an ordained Congregational minister (Oberlin, 1916) who served as a missionary in Japan. From 1916 until 1941, he was involved in school and church work in Japan until the threat of war made it necessary for Americans to leave the country. Cary went to Davao, in the Philippines. When the Pacific war broke out in December 1941, the Japanese took control of the Philippines. Cary  became a prisoner, interned first at Davao; then in December 1943 he was moved to the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila. (This was on the campus of the present-day University of Santo Tomas.) Continue Reading »

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