In celebration of Oregon Archives Month, SCARC staff have pulled together a few of their favorite things in our collections. This is the fourth in the series.
The Barometer is an amazing resource for learning about Oregon State through the years…and also other news like:
An opinion headline in January 27, 1995: “Internet Surfing, Home Computer Craze: Is It Worth It?”
News from the summer of 1969: major protests, arrests, and convictions of protestors related to the denial of promotion to English instructor Frank Harper and subsequent dismissal of same. Also, continued protest against closing women’s dorms at night.
More fun: November 6, 1969 Barometer was printed with blank pages except ads in protest of ASOSU senate effort to review editorial board to potentially change editorial staff. The bill passed but was vetoed by ASOSU president.
In Fall 1968 MU board of directors exclude military recruiting inside MU.
November 7, 1928: It is official, Corvallis voters have lifted the ban on Sunday movies by a 2 to 1 margin. Also, Hoover wins in a landslide!
It was reported in the Barometer May 19, 1981 that the investigation into a graduate student that disappeared off a research vessel off the coast of Hawaii ended after 18 months, concluding the student was alive and well, though whereabouts unknown. He seems to have not wanted to go home.
Cases of measles on campus in April, 1973. Yikes!
April 19, 1996, the Barometer included a story from the Associated Press titled, “Expert says police in need of ethics training.” Whelp…
November 15, 1990: It was reported that a 6 year old boy in France shot his mom in the stomach with a rifle after she refused him a Coca-Cola. And that’s the way it is.
In celebration of Oregon Archives Month, SCARC staff have pulled together a few of their favorite things in our collections. This is the third in the series.
The After 8 pins are part of the After 8 Records, a collection that documents the political activism and community outreach work of the After 8 organization, an group which operated in Benton County from 1989 to 2002, but was primarily active during the 1990s.
“After 8” is in reference to and a response to Ballot Measure 8. In November of 1988, Ballot Measure 8 passed in the state of Oregon, effectively rescinding Governor Goldschmidt’s 1987 Executive Order 87-20 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the executive branch of the state government. In addition to the dismantling of this previous protection, Ballot Measure 8 introduced a new law allowing state officials to take the sexual orientation into account in making personnel decisions, and preventing them from acting on reports of such discrimination. Thus, the ballot measure effectively made it legal to discriminate at all levels of state government on the basis of sexual orientation, then defined as homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual.
In response to Ballot Measure 8, a group of women in Benton County met in the week following its passage to discuss the potential for mobilization within the local gay and lesbian community. By December of that same year, a group of lesbian and gay community members and their allies were meeting bi-weekly, and in January of 1989, the group was given a name—”After 8″. Their mission became “To create conditions which ensure that all persons are protected from any discrimination based on sexual orientation.” Throughout the group’s lifetime, After 8 sought to achieve this mission through education and advocacy—working with members of the community, engaging in political activity, networking with individuals, organizations, businesses, and institutions, and effectively making themselves visible as active participants of the local community. After 8 operated in Benton County from 1989-2002.
Pins are an easily visible, portable, and effective form of community activism, and the After 8 pins are both fun and informative. Some of the pins such as “Stop the OCA” reference the Oregon Citizens Alliance, a conservative Christian political organization that proposed the anti-LGBTQ+ rights Measure 9; some pins like “Straight but not narrow, vote no on 9” show the allyship from non-LGBTQ+ community members; and some pins like “leather lesbo” are timeless.
In addition to their historic value for researchers to incorporate in their scholarship, the After 8 pins are always a hit when used as part of SCARC instruction sessions and they make for great exhibit pieces.
Natalia Fernandez is currently serving as SCARC’s Interim Director. In her permanent role, she is the curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives, OSU Queer Archives, and OSU DisAbility Archives; she also serves as the Supervisor of the OSULP Diversity Scholars Program. She has been with OSU for over 10 years and her office is located in the 3rd floor archives workroom.
On a crisp autumn morning on November 3, 1894, the Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) Coyotes hosted the University of Oregon Lemon-Yellows for the inaugural football game between the two schools. The game was played on a field east of Community Hall (formerly the Administration Building), just north of present-day Callahan Hall. The game wasn’t much more than a scrimmage, and it didn’t draw any spectators. OAC had the edge, having established their football program the season prior, and they won the game handily, 16-0. For the next few years, the schools met in similarly low-stakes contests with little fanfare, or fans. There weren’t many in the Pacific Northwest who knew much about this new sport, often called gridiron football due to the field’s resemblance to a gridiron. Subsequently, coaches often moonlighted as officials, teams played with fewer players, and the general sentiment in Oregon was that it was a long, boring, and clumsy game. From the very beginning, the Coyotes and the Lemon-Yellows took turns hosting the game in either Eugene or Corvallis, sometimes playing twice in one year, once in each town.
What set the stage for the first game in what would become a nearly 100-year long tradition, came eighteen years prior, in 1873. The Massasoit Conventions – meetings of student leaders from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia – standardized the rules of American Football. These four schools were early pioneers of the sport and, along with Rutgers and Tufts, adapted American Football from British sports like rugby and soccer. Though the way the sport was played would see many changes in the years following the Conventions, these meetings marked the beginning of the expansion of organized college football. News of the meetings, and the finalized set of rules, was picked up by newspapers and publications across the nation, and the game’s popularity boomed. As more schools established their own programs, the rules were further refined. With its roots as a “mob game,” where the goal was simply to get the ball across the goal line by any means possible, in the early days of football a game could see as many as 25 players on the field for one team. By the time the Coyotes and the Lemon-Yellows first faced off in 1894, the number of players had been whittled down to the modern-day limit of 11 per team. In fact, by 1912, the game looked remarkably like it does today. The field had been scaled to its present-day dimensions: 120 yards by 53 1/3 yards. The most noteworthy differences between football of the 1900s and today are the scoring conventions. Unlike today, where the main scoring mechanism is a six-point touchdown, at the turn of the 20th century it was a five-point field goal. In 1894, touchdowns were worth four points, and conversions – a successful kick between rugby uprights – were an additional two points. Just four years later, in 1898, the scoring system was further revised, with touchdowns worth five points, field goals worth four points, and conversions scaled back to a single point.
After the two teams had a few seasons under their belts, the contest between OAC and the University of Oregon began to amass a dedicated, and sometimes rowdy, following. In 1908, the Aggies and the Webfoots faced off for the very first time in Multnomah Stadium [now Providence Park] in Portland, drawing a sellout crowd of 15,000, and completely shattering their previous record of just under 3,500 spectators. Oregon won that game, 8-0, with two field goals. The rivalry had gained traction in the state, but with that traction came conflict. Fights often broke out on train platforms after games, and just two years after the sellout in Portland, some “rowdy hat-grabbing behavior” prompted the OAC student body to unanimously vote to sever ties with Oregon athletics. Two years later, in 1912, the schools negotiated a truce, and agreed to play on Hudson Field in Albany, neutral territory. They continued to play in Albany until 1914, returning to alternating fields between Corvallis and Eugene.
The rivalry continued to grow, both in popularity and in contention, between the two schools. Due to the increasing attention garnered by the rivalry, each team’s gridirons were upgraded in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In 1910, OAC constructed Bell Field, on the very same spot where present-day Dixon Recreation Center now stands. Oregon built Hayward Field in 1919; in 1967, with the construction of Autzen Stadium, Hayward became Oregon’s dedicated track and field stadium. Tensions surrounding the rivalry continued to run high, and often reached a boiling point; fights were not uncommon, as were kidnappings of mascots and homecoming courts. The conflict surrounding the contest prompted Oregon head coach John McEwan (1926-1929) to refer to it as “the great Civil War.” The nickname slowly caught on in subsequent years, and by the late 1930s the rivalry was exclusively referred to as the Civil War (the 1938 Beaver yearbook was the first OSU student publication to use the moniker). This carried over almost immediately to contests in other sports played by the two teams. Whether it be football, basketball, baseball, or any other sport, fans referred to any head-to-head match between the schools as the Civil War game of that particular sport.
The football Civil War game was frequently played at Portland’s Multnomah Stadium during the 1930s, with games alternating annually between Hayward Field, Bell Field, and Multnomah Stadium. In 1943 and 1944, no football season was played by either team, as they simply couldn’t field enough players due to World War II. Between 1952 and 1953, Oregon State College built Parker Stadium (renamed Reser in 1999), and the University of Oregon built Autzen Stadium. Having built new stadiums, and considering the age and general neglect of Multnomah Stadium, a more permanent location rotation was put into place for the Civil War, with the game alternating annually between Corvallis and Eugene.
The game continued to grow in popularity into the 1960s, with tens of thousands of spectators regularly in attendance. The rivalry remained as heated as ever, and though there may have fewer physical altercations, the contest itself resulted in some truly memorable, and historic, games. Who could forget the humiliatingly named Toilet Bowl of 1983, a game plagued by turnovers and missed field goals, one in which the Beavers and Ducks fought their way to a nothing-nothing tie (the last scoreless tie in college football history)? Or the 1998, double-overtime OSU victory, which Beaver fans celebrated by tearing up the artificial turf? Most recently, in the midst of a pandemic and in a stadium empty of fans, the Beavers squeaked out a three-point victory over the 15th ranked Ducks, the first time they’d beat a ranked opponent since 2014. As of 2020, the Civil War had been played 125 times, putting the rivalry in the top ten of the most-played college football series.
The history of the OSU-UO Civil War mirrors that of many other rivalries across the nation, in particular the other schools in the PAC-12 conference. All these schools have a similar rivalry, each with a name representative of their locale or history. The University of Washington plays Washington State University in the Apple Cup; Stanford University plays the University of California-Berkeley each year in the Big Game; the University of Southern California plays the University of California-Los Angeles in the Crosstown Cup; the University of Arizona plays Arizona State in the Territorial Cup; and the University of Colorado plays the University of Utah in their alliteratively-titled rivalry game, the Rumble in the Rockies. Each year, all these schools face off on the same weekend in November, fondly referred to as Rivalry Week.
In 2020, after over 100 years, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University jointly announced they would no longer refer to the annual rivalry game as the “Civil War.” Amid protests surrounding racial injustice, and the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the two schools decided the name was insensitive, as it referenced “a war fought to perpetuate slavery.” In a statement on the decision to repeal the title, OSU President Ed Ray commented that “while not intended as reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competitions should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history.” The announcement was met with mixed reactions, with many claiming the moniker “never made sense” in the first place, and others asserting the change was “needless virtue signaling.” A new name has yet to be announced.
Though the name will change, the rivalry and its physical expression will persist, as it has through six scoreless ties and two World Wars. The changing of the name moves OSU one tiny step closer to becoming a more welcoming and inclusive community, and comes with the opportunity to fashion a new name, one which will embody the true character of the rivalry and its schools. It could be called something elegant and historical, like the Oregon Classic. Perhaps it should hearken back to the little-known platypus trophy, given to the winner of the contest in the 1950s and 1960s – a trophy stolen so many times it was eventually locked in a closet at McArthur Court on the University of Oregon’s campus. Given the schools’ mascots, the Platypus Cup does seem entirely appropriate. Regardless of what it is called, there is no doubt, with its long and storied history, the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry will live on.
Sydney Klupar graduated from Oregon State University with an Honors Bachelor of Science in environmental economics and policy in June 2021. She has worked at SCARC since September 2018, helping with a myriad of projects including transcription, processing, and description of archival collections. During her time at OSU, Klupar participated in many clubs, including the Spirit and Sound of OSU, the Oregon State University Marching Band. She is moving on to Lewis and Clark Law School and will graduate with a J.D. and L.L.M. in environmental, natural resource, and energy law in 2024.
In celebration of Oregon Archives Month, SCARC staff have pulled together a few of their favorite things in our collections. This is the second in the series.
When I first learned of Professor Betty Lynd Thompson and saw photographs of the enigmatic and graceful modern dance movements that were part of her instruction from the 1930s through the 1950s, it was truly an enchanting moment. One of the joys of being an archivist for me is the chance to discover different worlds of knowledge and art through the lens of preserving OSU history. If seeing those images was fun and inspiring, receiving examples of Thompson’s “danceramics” to add to the Betty Lynd Thompson Papers took that sense of enchantment to a whole another level!
Thompson taught modern dance in the Physical Education Department from 1927 until 1972. During a sabbatical leave in New York City in the 1930s where she studied with modern dance pioneer Martha Graham, Thompson also developed an interest in clay sculpture. In a wonderful fusion of interests, Thompson started to form clay figures engaged in modern dance moves. She called this new art form “danceramics.”
This image documents the amazing range of danceramic figures that Thompson sculpted. The example that Thompson is holding in this view was produced in multiple quantities and given as awards to outstanding student members of the Orchesis National Honorary Society.
This actual example of one of Professor Thompson’s sculptures was awarded to alumna Phyllis Brown in 1950. It was donated to the Special Collections and Archives in 2017 by the OSU Alumni Association and is now described as part of the Betty Lynd Thompson Papers.
As someone who has dabbled in clay craft for a number of years, these sculptures speak to me on many different levels. Aware of how tricky handbuilding sculptures in clay can be, I recognize Thompson’s skill in creating these figurines while at the same time admire that she formed a wonderfully creative way to document her legacy of instruction and dance to the university!
Karl McCreary is a Collections Archivist, and has the opportunity to review, transfer, and describe many of the incoming additions to the collections. His particular specialty within SCARC is working with materials documenting the OSU community and the myriad facets of it’s world-alumni, faculty, departments, clubs, and associated organizations. The variety of subject matter is bewildering!
In celebration of Oregon Archives Month, SCARC staff have pulled together a few of their favorite things in our collections. This is the first in the series.
I love Maud Wilson. I sense in her a kindred spirit – the spirit of the Virgo.
Maud Mathes Wilson was born in Pike County Illinois on July 6, 1882. In 1913, she graduated from the University of Nebraska, and subsequently spent the next five years there, working as a Professor and Extension Agent. In 1925, having received funding from the U.S. Office of Experiment Stations to conduct a study concerning itself with the “character of the job of the homemaker,” she joined the staff of the Oregon Agricultural College. More specifically, Wilson’s “time study” sought to “show in what respects and to what degree homemaking is affected by certain circumstances under which it is done, such as the location of the home, the occupation of the chief income earner, the number and the ages of children and the equipment of the house.” Wilson was the first faculty member at OAC to conduct research full-time in home economics; specializing in the study of housing design, she also served as head of Home Economics for the Agricultural Experiment Station.
Between 1940 and 1944, she worked with the Oregon Experiment Station’s Department of Agricultural Engineering to develop architectural plans for homes suited to the conditions specific to rural Oregon, using space standards determined in previous studies. This work helped to establish nationwide housing construction standards for essentials such as kitchen cabinets and appliances.
Wilson retired from OSU as Professor Emeritus of Home Economics Research on June 30, 1950. In 1951 she spent five months in Japan, where she helped the Japanese Agricultural Improvement Bureau with plans for setting up a department of Home Economics Research. Maud Wilson died October 31, 1972 in Portland, Oregon.
Like so many of the papers of home economists in SCARC’s holdings, Wilson’s papers unequivocally illustrate the scientific nature of Home Economics as a discipline. Consequently, I felt hard pressed to pick any single favorite thing from Maud’s papers. I was sorely tempted by several of the “Station Bulletins” she published as part of her work for the Experiment Station: Planning Kitchen Cabinets and Patterns for Kitchen Cabinets, to name just a few. Both are representative of the decades of work and research Wilson invested in rural home design efficiencies and standards. That being said, deep down I know my favorite item in Wilson’s collection is…The Peanut. Featured in an article entitled, “This is the House that Not Much Jack Built,” from the January 1949 issue of The American Home, the Peanut was the Tiny Home of the 1950s. Designed by California architect Albert Henry Hill, the Peanut cost just $4,100 to build ($46,804.77 today), and came in at just under 500 square feet (485, to be exact). With its floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room / bedroom, and wood paneling throughout, it’s both a Mid-century Modern Fanatic’s paradise, and a Tiny Home Dreamer’s, well, dream.
Rachel Lilley is the Public Services Unit Supervisor (PSUS) for SCARC, and has been a member of the department – and the OSU community – since 2017 (and is a proud OSU alumna!). In her role as the PSUS, she manages SCARC’s Reading Room on the 5th floor of the Valley Library, supervises student employees, and assists with research requests, both in-person and remote. She loves long walks on the beach unironically.
The Harold W. and Charles H. Johnson Collection consists of materials documenting the student experiences and careers of father-and-son Oregon State alumni Harold William Johnson and Charles Harold “Woody” Johnson. Harold Johnson graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in 1923 and studied Industrial Arts. His son Charles completed two degrees from Oregon State College in Engineering (1957) and Business (1958).
The Lillian Jeffreys Petri Collection consists of piano instruction and technique publications, Mind Over Muscle and Music Fundamentals Correlated, written by Petri. Lillian Jeffreys Petri was a faculty member in music at Oregon State College from 1924 to 1947.
The Donald Snyder Scrapbook was assembled by alumnus Donald E. Snyder and documents his student experience at Oregon State College. In addition to event programs and dance cards, the scrapbook contains greeting cards, ticket stubs, grade reports, newspaper clippings, photographs, watercolor drawings, and decals. Snyder graduated in 1938 with a degree in engineering.
The Mark V. Weatherford Papers consists primarily of reproductions of documents created in 1851-1856 pertaining to interactions between Native Americans and the U.S. Army, local militias, and volunteers in the Rogue River Valley region of southern Oregon. Mark V. Weatherford graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in 1907 and was an attorney in Albany, Oregon, from the 1910s through 1950s.
One guide is for a new collection received in 2015 that is now fully processed and described:
The Oregon Brewers Guild Records offer a look into the early, formative years of one of the nation’s oldest craft brewer associations, as well as their work in more recent tyears.
The Oregon Brewers Guild was founded in 1992 and is a non-profit trade, marketing, and lobbying association that represents the Oregon craft brewing industry. It’s mission is to protect the brewing industry of the state and the interests of Guild members through education, advocacy, and events.
For Oregon Archives Month, OSU Special Collections and Archives Research Center has shared history in many different ways and this year is no exception!
OSU Library History Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt!
Visit the OSU Valley Library for a self-guided exploration of the past lives of this dynamic building and collect random stickers too! Historic images of the Library will be posted as a part of “Finder Fridays” in October. There will be clues with these images as to their current location (which in most cases look very different today!). At these spots, there will be envelope “sticker stations.” Take a sticker or two as a reward for being a history sleuth and share your adventure! Share with selfies of your adventure or places you’ve seen change on campus with us on Instagram.
This will be both an online exhibit through blogposts and an onsite exhibit in our mini display case outside our Reading Room in the Valley Library.
Find out what particular items in the SCARC collections get us really excited as we describe our “faves” in a series of posts on our “Speaking of History” blog (that’s right here!). Each week in October, we’ll feature a post from a different archivist in SCARC writing about something they really like and why. There will also be an onsite exhibit about these “faves” on the 5th floor of the Valley Library.
We’re Celebrating 10 years as SCARC!
Did you know SCARC used to be two separate departments? Did you know that SCARC was established ten years ago? Did you know we have a veritable treasure trove of old photos to share with you?
Check us out on Instagram every Wednesday when we share a photo from our past!
Contributed by Anne Bahde, Rare Books and History of Science Librarian
The start of a new academic year always carries such hopeful anticipation about the future. This is the annual moment designated to define our best academic selves, to pin due dates on the calendar, to imagine the possible achievements of the new year. In September, we collectively make the effort to throw off the limitations of the past, heave our hopes into the future, and breathe in the freshness of new potential.
Though it may seem incongruous, rare book librarians think a lot about the future. Navigating the inherent conflicts between our dual goals – preserving materials and making them accessible – takes forethought and strategy. Lately, my thoughts as a rare book librarian and archivist have been swirling with uncertainties around the future of research, academic libraries, and unique materials. How does the concept of rarity change as academic libraries continue to discard physical collections? What will special collections reading rooms look like in a year, in three years, in twenty years? How will researcher demand for special collections and archives change as we find our way in a new research reality over the next few years? How will the advancing climate disaster challenge our missions, and will we be able to adapt? With others in my profession, I am anxiously scanning the horizon for what might be coming.
Before the pandemic when we were onsite, I would take a walk in the rare book stacks when my mind started spinning with thoughts like these. I would pull something interesting off the shelf to help me interact with the past and put things in perspective. Though we are now transitioning back to more onsite work, for the past 20 months I haven’t been able to handle any of the books in our collections for more than a few minutes at a time. There is one book I have missed more than others, and I am looking forward to seeing it again.
Published by Erhard Ratdolt in Venice in 1480, the Fasciculus temporum (rough translation: ‘little bundles of time’) is an illustrated timeline of historical events from biblical creation up to the year of publication. (A digitized copy of the 1481 edition can be found via Google Books here.) German Carthusian monk Werner Rolevinck compiled the first edition in 1474 from a variety of sources. His text quickly became a bestseller due to both its practical features and its engaging content, and was republished dozens of times as a popular title promising easy profit to the printers in the burgeoning European marketplace for books.
The 1480 Ratdolt edition, his first of five over the next few years, begins with an index of events sorted alphabetically by first name or title of event. In our copy, a past reader has helpfully highlighted these first letters in an earthy yellow color for easy reference. This orderly presentation moves past the solid block of an introductory page (supplied in facsimile in our copy), but quickly turns to a typographical riot of of lines, circles, text, and illustration, all mixing together to represent the notable events, people, and relationships throughout history. Ratdolt based his layout on previous manuscript and printed versions of the Fasciculus temporum, but his lively, challenging pages have a special movement in them. The reader is pulled into the flow of time and bobs from event to event in the rivers of information.
In the first part of the book, the two timelines settle into parallel tracks. The upper timeline dates the years since creation (year 1), while the lower timeline, which Ratdolt has printed upside down and in reverse chronology, counts backwards to the year of Christ’s birth, after which it resets to year 1 and turns right side up. This layout, supplemented throughout with rough woodcuts depicting cities and events, is as eye-catching and engaging now as it was meant to be in 1480.
During this infancy period of the new art of printing, printers signed their work in a statement at the end of the text called the colophon. A (very) rough translation of the colophon in the Fasciculus temporum would be: “Here ends the chronicle, which is to say, a bundle of time, so issued by a certain Carthusian. Now the second edition amended with some additions to this our time. Printed in Venice at the interest and expense of Erhard Ratdolt from Augsburg in the Year of our Lord 1480 on the 24th of the month of November and Doge Giovanni Mocenico, builder of the city. Praise be to God.”
When he printed this book, Ratdolt was at the height of his creativity as a printer. He had been born at the right moment in time to be a teenager when Gutenberg introduced his printing press to Europe. Ratdolt grew into adulthood while witnessing the birth of the printed word, and in a sense he guided and shaped the new form as it evolved from that birth. He was the first printer to figure out how to print in three colors on the same page (in order to represent the phases of an eclipse); and the first to print in gold ink. He was the first to represent constellations in print. He was the first to date books in Arabic rather than Roman numerals. He created the first printer’s type specimen as a needed tool for his busy printing business. He invented my own favorite paratext, the woodcut initial. He also gets the credit for designing the first title page resembling our modern format. (Though dated, Redgrave’s article still has the most entertaining and thorough exploration of Ratdolt’s accomplishments.)
Ratdolt was also the first to figure out how to represent geometric diagrams, in his triumphant 1482 edition of Euclid’s Elementa (HathiTrust copy, OSU restricted). I have had the privilege of handling many beautiful rare books in my career, but the thrilling experience of handling the copy of his Euclid at a previous institution (San Diego State University) is among the most memorable. Quarter bound in black and green cloth, its front binding joint was very tender and it always had to be opened with care. But after that initial physical hesitation, the reader was instantly drawn into the geometric genius of the work. Page after page of labeled figures are set into and around the explanatory text, a printing invention that would change how the world learned geometry from then on. Margins meant nothing to Ratdolt, and he used the page space to the purpose he needed without the constraints of conformity. His Euclid, and indeed all his other creations, are delights of text and other page elements interacting in spirited, stimulating ways.
Ratdolt continued his contributions over a long and illustrious career. One biographer, Moritz Cantor, reports that Ratdolt “continued his business with undiminished distinction to an old age.” He died in 1528, so he even got to see his earlier work reinvented to its maximum when his new title page format finally solidified in the early 16th century (and he probably had a hand in that somewhere too). Despite this decorated career and notable impact, Ratdolt has a sadly puny Wikipedia entry. A biographical site linked there is rife with link rot. (What would this print innovator make of link rot?)
When this book was published, the familiar forms of the book that we know today were still being shaped, and that freedom from tradition is palpable on the pages. Ratdolt couldn’t know what the future of publishing would look like, but he had some ideas and ran with them, and ended up changing the way humans learned and read, now still up to our own time. His boldness, confidence, creativity, and unfettered vision still leap from his pages and inspire the reader, nearly 550 years after he had those ideas.
My favorite part of this book, though, is not among the printed pages. Our copy, in an early binding, has many indications of past reader interactions – marginalia, manicules, and other notes are scattered throughout. A musical staff is sketched next to the entry for that invention as a handy reference. One artistic early reader even added pen flourishes and decorative lines to enhance features throughout the book.
Perhaps it was the same past owner who gave this artifact its lasting power. Bound in after the very last page of the printed text are new, clean pages, neatly lined in a parallel timeline imitating Ratdolt’s design, waiting to be filled in so the reader could faithfully track events yet to happen.
These empty pages take my breath away and make my heart skip a beat, every time. Most times, my eyes tear up too. The manuscript timeline, lined in a confident hand and stretching on for a dozen pages, conveys so much readiness and anticipation. These blank lines are hope itself to me, propelled forward by the imagination of what might come next.
Living at the end of the Anthropocene, through a human time defined by uncertainty and rapid change, it is easy to get lost in prophecy or dwell on what could have been. At this moment, we are disoriented and distracted. In every other Zoom meeting, someone mutters, “time has no meaning,” as they try to remember when something did or is scheduled to happen in this blurry era.
Artifacts from the past such as this one help me live in hope, anchor me in possibility, and focus my energy on creating the future. As we begin the new year, SCARC will be back in our 5th floor reading room welcoming researchers by appointment only. If, like me, you need to feel a spark of hope and fresh anticipation, I urge you make an appointment to see this book, and to wonder: what will you be first at? What event will you number your years from? How will you manifest your talents to improve the world? What will you look back on with satisfaction in your later years? How will you live outside the margins? What are your additions to this our time, and how will you make them last? What future will you create?
Best wishes for a safe and inspiring Fall 2021.
October is Oregon Archives Month, and we will be featuring other SCARC staff favorites from our collections here on Speaking of History.
Bibliography and Further Reading
Redgrave, G. R. Erhard Ratdolt and His Work at Venice : a Paper Read before the Bibliographical Society, November 20, 1893. England: The Society, April 1894-September 1895, 1895.
Bowers, Diana. “The Physical Text is History”: Erhard Ratdolt’s Editions of Werner Rolewinck’s Fasciculus Temporum,” History of Art & Design Theses, Pratt Institute, 2015, accessed September 1, 2021, http://hadthesis.pratt.edu/items/show/62.
Bühler, Curt F. “Erhard Ratdolt’s Vanity.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 49 (1955): 186–88.
Bühler, Curt F. “The Laying of a Ghost? Observations on the 1483 Ratdolt Edition of the “Fasciculus Temporum”.” Studies in Bibliography 4 (1951): 155–59.
Josephson, Askel G.S. “Fifteenth-Century Editions of Fasciculus temporum in American Libraries.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 11 (January 1, 1917): 61-65.
This is Part 4 of a research exploration by Cataloger Vance Woods and History of Science/Rare Books Librarian Anne Bahde. Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.
With these details confirmed, Vance could finally prepare the catalog record for the item. The time spent on cataloging proper is by far the least time-intensive of the process; the key is to have all the pertinent information at hand so that when one begins working on the bibliographic record most of the necessary data is readily available.
As it happens, Vance was in the middle of a rare books cataloging class, and was able to incorporate some of the things he learned in the class into the record as he went. For one thing, having not worked with too many items of such early date, this was Vance’s first foray into the wonderful world of signatures (otherwise known as a collation, an indication of how the printed leaves were meant to be folded and gathered for binding). In this case, the situation was complicated by the fact that the symbol used was the Greek letter eta, which is not available in most cataloging systems, and therefore required bracketing and “transcription”: “Signatures (in Greek characters): ē4.”
Through each step of our research process to answer our initial questions “what is this item?” and “how did it come to OSU?,” we both had to call on our primary source literacy skills. Primary source literacy is defined as the set of skills needed to successfully find, understand, analyze, interpret, and use primary sources such as rare books and archives in research.
Developed in 2015-2018 by a team of 12 special collections and archives educators (of which Anne was a proud member), the SAA/ACRL-RBMS Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy show why these skills are critical for students of all ages engaging in any research involving original sources. Fluid flexing of these skills allowed us to find information quickly and efficiently through the research process for our Libavius item.
At the beginning of our process, we drew on the item to generate and refine our research questions, moving from “what is this item?” to exploring its role in the alchemical debate and the potential complications of its publication (1C). As sources were discovered and knowledge was extended, our questions took on different angles and elements, and new information was gathered at each step. We integrated that knowledge into our searching, and searched in different ways for the item in different places (1D). To place the item in a disciplinary context, we pursued secondary sources and used our knowledge of the relationships between secondary and primary sources. (1A). We examined the item and factored in material elements to understand the piece through the communication norms of the period (3A, 4E). Because we understood that the title might exist in a variety of iterations, excerpts, transcriptions, or translations through time, we searched for it across multiple platforms and adjusted our search terms as needed. (3C).
As we learned more about the item, we evaluated it critically in light of what we knew about the creator and his personal biases, as well as the original purpose behind its publication (4B). We were able to situate the source in context by applying knowledge about the time and culture in which it was created, while considering its publication history and format (4C). Our consultation of trusted expertise helped us identify and consider the reasons for gaps and contradictions in the potential publication history of the item (4D).
When examining its provenance and movement through the centuries, we articulated what might serve as primary sources to answer this question: purchase receipts, communication with dealers, descriptions from rare book dealers and auction records (1B). We identified possible locations of these sources in other collections using a variety of strategies and pursued those leads for more information (2A, 2B). We encountered policies that affected our access to primary sources and recognized their potential impact on our research (2E). When considering new sources, such as the auction catalog, we assessed their appropriateness for meeting our goals (4A). We met the actors in our story with historical empathy and understood how their moment in history affected their actions (4E). Finally, through our reports here, we communicated the content of sources with attention to the context of their production (3E). We examined a variety of sources to construct our research claims (5A), and practiced appropriate citation and copyright practices (5B, 5D).
With the catalog record completed, the Libavius pamphlet can take its place at last among its partners in the History of Science Rare Book Collection and join a strong concentration of rare books on the history of pharmacy and chemistry. Because we now know some of its hidden stories, the item can now function in a variety of ways to teach these primary source literacy skills. It might used to support classes or research involving early modern scientific discourse or communication, or the history of pharmaceutical use of metals, or the effects of war on the human condition, or the movement and dispersal of collections over time.
For each of these approaches, this same Libavius pamphlet could be used in class activities or research, but for each context it can hold a different teaching power, and be used to teach and learn various primary source literacy skills in partnership with other complementary sources.
The resources needed to complete quality descriptive cataloging of materials are significant, and the effort must nearly always be collective. We complete our stage of this work with questions still turning in our heads: Was the full text for our preface ever published? Might there be a record of anyone using or referencing it? Were there more prefaces printed? If so, where did they go, and if not, why not? How might this text have affected alchemical arguments of the time? Knowing that research is iterative, and that there will always be more questions than time, we place the item in the collection and wait for others to take up these paths of inquiry.
Acknowledgements Professor Bruce Moran, University of Nevado-Reno Brad Engelbert, Oregon State University Library and Press Cali Vance, University of Washington Special Collections Allee Monheim, University of Washington Special Collections Thüringer Universitäts- und Landsbibliothek in Jena, Germany staff
Bibliography and Further Reading
Principe, Lawrence M., ed. Chymists and Chymistry: Studies in the History of Alchemy and Early Modern Chemistry. Sagamore Beach, MA: Science History Publications, 2006.
Moran, Bruce T.. Distilling Knowledge: Alchemy, Chemistry, and the Scientific Revolution. United Kingdom: Harvard University Press, 2009.
Moran, Bruce T.. Paracelsus: An Alchemical Life. United Kingdom: Reaktion Books, 2019.
Moran, Bruce T.. Andreas Libavius and the Transformation of Alchemy: Separating Chemical Cultures with Polemical Fires. United States: Science History Publications/Watson Pub. International, 2007.
Debus, Allen G.. Chemistry and Medical Debate: Van Helmont to Boerhaave. United States: Science History, 2001.
Newman, William R. Atoms and Alchemy : Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
For more on u/v historical usage:
McKerrow, R. B. An Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927.
Leslie, Deborah J. and Benjamin Griffin. Transcription of Early Letter Forms in Rare Materials Cataloging. 2003. https://rbms.info/files/dcrm/dcrmb/wg2LeslieGriffin.pdf
This is Part 3 of a research exploration by Cataloger Vance Woods and History of Science and Rare Books Librarian Anne Bahde. Part 1; Part 2.
We were heartened by Professor Bruce Moran’s response to our inquiries, though they had introduced new questions. We sent scans of the rest of the pamphlet to Moran, and told him of our discovery of the title in this index, to see if he could shed any further light. He replied:
“I can affirm that this is a preface to a work that is focused on the Disputatio de auro potabili of Thomas Erastus. Libavius admits that the man (Erastus) is dead [Erastus died in 1583], but that what he wrote is still alive; and he points out that Erastus, in his book, has brought together nearly all the arguments that “we recollect he wrote and said against our opinions/ views.” So, this is very much a counter-thrust, but without seeing the text itself there is no way of knowing what kinds of arguments Libavius has in mind. The main thing is, you have here only the preface to the work itself. I looked at the library in Jena to see what it has. That copy also has only the preface. So, it too is not complete and has no text beyond what you have. The interesting thing is that the preface refers to the Disputatio as having been edited fourteen years before. We know that the book appeared in 1578, so that would make the composition of the Libavius text, if not its publication, 1592. I have no idea where the date 1596 in the index comes from. The Jena copy has no date. Perhaps the text went to print later. But since both you and Jena have copies that have no date and only include the preface (and nothing else), perhaps the text was never published (for one reason or another) and all that remains are a few copies of the preface itself.”
Professor Moran’s interpretation provided some fascinating answers, but yet again we had more questions than we began with. We knew now that the item was likely meant to be used in an educational context, and was intended to be presented in direct juxtaposition to Erastus’ work on Paracelsus and the ingestion of gold. But we also knew that what we held was only a fragment of what was intended to be part of a larger product; because it had been potentially separated from its original context, we could not fully appreciate how it was intended to be used and understood.
We puzzled further over the item’s provenance and began tracing its potential movements from the date of its publication through various owners, and ultimately to SCARC’s backlog. A review of acquisition records confirmed that we lacked clear documentation about how or when it was acquired by OSU.
We began this research from the ownership mark we did have, the bookplate from pharmacologist Emil Starkenstein. Starkenstein was one of the most important figures in European pharmacology in the 20th century. He published prolifically on a wide range of topics in the field and held respected teaching positions. He had a passion for book collecting early in his career, and he built an unrivaled pharmacological collection.
But this brilliant life was among the six million murdered by Nazis in the Holocaust. According to an oral history from rare book dealer Ludwig Gottschalk cited in Starkenstein’s Wikipedia entry, Starkenstein’s family agreed to sell the collection to him before Starkenstein was sent to Mauthausen in 1942. But “when Gottschalk faced deportation to the camps himself, he secreted the library in several locations in the Black Forest and went into hiding. After the war, he reassembled the Starkenstein books and for nearly half a century sold items from the collection under the name Biblion, Inc., in Forest Hills, New York.”
Our pamphlet likely laid hidden in the forest with the rest of Starkenstein’s collection during the war. This heartbreaking report urged us to consider the awful decisions Starkenstein, his family, and Gottschalk had faced as they were persecuted for their faith. Making the decision to part with a lovingly acquired, splendid collection must have been achingly sad; perhaps that sadness was only outweighed by the immense fear Starkenstein must have felt for himself and his family.
Gottschalk selected those hiding spots for the precious books hoping to live through the war and come back for them. As keys to his potential economic survival after the war, he must have hoped desperately that they would still be there. What had seemed at first an unassuming pamphlet now stood to us as a potent symbol of the profound losses of the Holocaust.
As far we as could tell from other compiled provenance data for our collections, we held no other books with Starkenstein’s bookplate. As we reviewed internal historical acquisitions files, Anne found a typed dealer description for our item. Though no dealer was listed on the page, the format and style matched many other items in our collection with dealer descriptions from the well-known Los Angeles book dealer Zeitlin & Ver Brugge.
It is unknown how the pamphlet moved from Gottschalk’s Biblion to Zeitlin & Ver Brugge, but we began to look closer at how it may have moved from Zeitlin & Ver Brugge to OSU.
Upon Jake Zeitlin’s death, his stock went to Swann Galleries to be sold. This sale took place in two parts in 1988. We were able to consult a copy of the catalog for Part 1, and asked a library holding the catalog for Part 2 (University of Washington Special Collections) to consult their copy, which they graciously did despite having very limited access to collections during COVID.
The Libavius title is not listed in the catalogs to either Part 1 or Part 2 of this sale, but could have appeared in one of the “10 uncataloged shelf lots” listed at the end of Part 1, which consisted “primarily of works in chemistry, physics, and medicine.” OSU’s Special Collections department was founded in 1986, and librarians at the time were building history of science book collections through bulk purchase.
While we don’t have direct evidence of an OSU purchase, we do have indirect evidence that an OSU special collections librarian was at the Part 1 sale in April 1988, in the form of an unrelated piece of correspondence from that time. It is likely that this item was purchased at the Swann sale to add to our growing history of science collections. (If this is true, the item has stumped catalogers and lingered in our backlog for over thirty years!)
In Part 4, we will reflect on what we have discovered and the research skills helping us arrive at these answers.