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Reworking the McCloy Papers

We’re pleased to announce the completion of a project to reorganize the John J. McCloy Papers, one of our most heavily used collections.

The project involved three steps – each intended to increase ease of access to the collection and ensure the protection of the material. Continue Reading »

Skating By…

A crowd sits on a grassy hill, and watches two figure skaters perform a dance on the ice rink. The pair wear matching sweaters, and are holding hands with their left arms extended.

Phyllis (Schroeder) Forney and her husband Martin Forney perform an ice dancing routine.

Grab your skates!

The Walter S. Orr Rink opened 63 years ago this month—dedicated on January 15, 1955. The dedication ceremony, led by Dean Eugene S. Wilson (Class of 1929), included speeches by Trustee Francis T. P. Plimpton (Class of 1921), President Charles W. Cole (Class of 1927), and Walter S. Orr (Class of 1912), the rink’s namesake and major donor. The formal ceremony was followed by two figure skating performances and an Amherst College vs. UMass Amherst hockey game (which Amherst lost, 5-4).

Continue Reading »

New Artists’ Books

Today I am highlighting some of our newest artists’ book additions to our collection.

Earth Clock by Ginger R. Burrell

First up, we have two new acquisitions from book artist Ginger R. Burrell.

Earth Clock by Ginger R. Burrell in handmade box

Earth Clock by Ginger R. Burrell

Earth Clock, Burrell’s limited edition 2017 creation, is an investigation into the history of climate change.  “Earth Clock is meant as both an educational tool and a call to action. To create both a sense of urgency and the beginning of understanding. To present both facts and a sense of the long history of our avoidance and denial.” (Lux Mentis Booksellers catalog)

Nineteen magnetized flaps corresponding to years from 1800 to 2015 lift to display facts about national and international events relating to climate and the environment, such as the first Earth Day in 1970 and the creation of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or 1995 when the Antarctic ice shelves begin to break apart.

Earth Clock by Ginger R. Burrell display

Earth Clock by Ginger R. Burrell

Earth Clock by Ginger R. Burrell display

Earth Clock by Ginger R. Burrell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Earth Clock features custom electronics designed to create a visceral response and to compel the viewer to act. LEDs animate based on what happened each year in Climate Change history. The number display registers the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in a given year.” (Lux Mentis Booksellers catalog)


Giftschrank by Ginger R. Burrell

Giftschrank by Ginger R. Burrell

Giftschrank by Ginger R. Burrell

Also from Ginger Burrell, Giftschrank is another 2017 piece created in a limited edition of 12, housed in an original wooden box and bound in a molded cover of razor blades suspended in thick enamel.

Giftschrank by Ginger R. Burrell box

Giftschrank by Ginger R. Burrell

The title page defines Giftschrank:

Giftschrank by Ginger R. Burrell

Giftschrank by Ginger R. Burrell

 

GIFTSCHRANK

noun

Gift (Poison) + Shrank (Cabinet)

  1. Spaces reserved for undesirable, uncomfortable or forbidden objects, ideas or subjects.
  2. Something society avoids at all costs.

 

 

 

 

The colophon cites the inspiration for this work as the podcast 99% Invisible, episode 203 ”The Giftschrank”.


The/rapist by Maureen Cummins

The prospectus for artist Maureen Cummins’s new 2017 work The/rapist describes the historic and political inspiration for this work:

The/rapist by Maureen Cummins in box

The/rapist by Maureen Cummins

“The/rapist is an investigation into the gendered history of psychosurgery, as illustrated by the career of Doctor Walter Freeman (1895-1972). A Professor of Neurology with no formal training in either surgery or psychology, Freeman popularized the pre-frontal lobotomy, an operation in which nerve connections to and from the frontal lobes—the seat of human emotion, creativity, willpower, and imagination—are severed.”

The/rapist by Maureen Cummins

The/rapist by Maureen Cummins

“It is a history that raises numerous and disturbing questions about patients’ rights, the abuse of institutional power, and the disproportionate targeting of women.”

The physical object of this work reflects the inspiration:

The/rapist by Maureen Cummins

The/rapist by Maureen Cummins

“Constructed entirely out of aluminum, The/rapist is inspired by the cold, hard surfaces of medical clipboards and equipment, as well as by Freeman’s actual tools, viewed by the artist in the Freeman/Watts collection at GWU, where she conducted her initial research. Pages of the book are laser-cut, burnished on one side, printed with multiple layers of text and imagery, “dimpled” to prevent scratching and wear, then mounted within rings to a sturdy baseboard. The text is printed in Frutiger, a classic mid-century sans-serif typeface. Images reproduced in the book are 19th century engravings, handwritten notes and text, as well as graphs and headshots from Freeman’s 1950 textbook Psychosurgery: In the Treatment of Mental Disorders and Intractable Pain. The book is housed in a burnished aluminum box with a screwed-down aluminum title plate.” (Aside of Books, retrieved 12/8/17)


The Book of Penumbra by Gabrielle Cooksey

We have also acquired a 2016 work by book artist Gabrielle Cooksey: The Book of Penumbra: Deadly Myths Retold – A book of small stories of death gods from around the world.  This piece is hand bound in an accordion case binding and a hinged painted black box with gold foil tooling.

The Book of Penumbra by Gabrielle Cooksey

The Book of Penumbra by Gabrielle Cooksey

Cooksey describes this work: “Death has always fascinated me because it happens to all of us yet no one talks about it. I wanted to see what other cultures personified death as through myths and legends. The gods in this book are very hushed and for some, even if you speak the name, you’ll be cursed. I wanted this book to be shadows, to be played in the light. I chose a delicate paper so one could see through to the page behind it. The text is in all sorts of shapes because I wanted each story to represent the god being told about. For instance, Sedna is in the shape of drowning, Anubis is his eye, Mac is a pit with someone at the bottom. The borders are all plants, roots, and things found on the earth. Some represent death like the poppy, and the yew tree.” (Author’s website, retrieved 12/8/17)

The Book of Penumbra by Gabrielle Cooksey

The Book of Penumbra by Gabrielle Cooksey

“I design books in a peculiar and unexpected way that makes it enticing to hold/open. I think of my books as art that you can use.” –Gabrielle Cooksey (Author’s website, retrieved 12/8/17)
Thanks to Rebecca, our cataloging librarian, these books have all been cataloged and are available to researchers in our Reading Room.

A Boy’s Song

Is this, is this your joy,
O bird, then I, though a boy,
for a golden moment share
Your feathery life in air!*

Arthur Yates Statham, around 1910.

We all know how the years go — how they glide by, gathering speed in autumn such that the end of December arrives and the year is gone, and more youth too. Before 2017 departs entirely, there’s a centenary to note: the loss in World War I of a British soldier, Arthur Yates Statham, who died in France during the Arras offensive  in May, 1917.

But stop there. –Is it better to remember how he lived or how he died? His death in battle could reasonably overwhelm the rest of his story, but if we could ask Arthur, how would he want to be remembered? Would he want to be defined by the circumstances of his death or by his life?

In this post, we consider his life, brief though it was, and remember him through a two-part diary from 1913.

Continue Reading »

04_2017_1028_Poetry-and-Politics_412_1640x893

On Saturday, October 28, Amherst College was honored to host Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Kennedy III who delivered an address on the steps of Frost Library as part of a day-long celebration of the legacy of President John F. Kennedy. You can watch his speech and read more about the event here: JFK 100: Of Poetry & Politics.

President Kennedy’s visit to Amherst College on October 26, 1963 is well known; he gave an important, and frequently quoted, speech about the role of the artist in society before participating in the ground-breaking ceremony for the Robert Frost Library. We recently made more images of that event available through Amherst College Digital Collections: Continue Reading »

Unexpected Names

Amherst College’s records are filled with names that would seem unusual today, like Preserved Smith (grandfather – 1828, grandson – 1901), or Heman Humphrey (2nd college president, 1823-1845). It’s less common to come across a name that stands out because it sounds modern to our ears. I was surprised when I found letters to a Crystal Thompson, curator of the Zoological Collection—written in 1923.

At first, I thought that the name might be an example of a name’s gender association changing, as with the name Leslie1, because the first letter, from Feb. 20, 1923, was addressed, “Dear Sir.”

Milton Bradley Company, Springfield, Mass. Feb. 20, 1923 Dear Sir: We have your favor of the 15th and believe your trouble can be corrected by loosening up the screw, which goes through the adjusting button on the left hand side of the rule, and taking an ordinary carpenter screw, laying it against the straight blade, square up your rule. Be sure the rule sets in position when you tighten the screw in the cam button. We enclose herewith direction card. If this should not overcome your trouble, please advise us further. Very truly yours, G. Falek.

Instructions for fixing a troublesome paper cutter, from Milton Bradley Company

Continue Reading »

1990s Throwback

This week we’re taking a quick visual trip back to Amherst in the 1990s:

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In our ongoing work to preserve the photographic materials in our collection, we’re preparing many of our slide collections for frozen storage. Freezing color slides both slows the fading of the dyes and stabilizes the underlying acetate film. The original slides will still be accessible to researchers with a few days of advanced notice, but we’re making basic scans of all of the sheets of slides to make it easier for researchers to find images without needing to remove any materials from the freezer. All of the images above come from slides of campus scenes taken by Amherst’s Office of Public Affairs in the 1990s.

Enjoy this little trip back in time and rest assured that these images will last long into the future!