Boston Public Library
Exhibitions

Chapter 2

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Attendees of the 1898 Indian Congress

Frank A. Rinehart (1861-1928).
1898-1999, platinum print photographs.

 

Attendees of the 1898 Indian Congress  [Yellow Magpie (Araphahoe)] Attendees of the 1898 Indian Congress [Yellow Feather, Maricopa]
Attendees of the 1898 Indian Congress [Afraid of Eagle, Sioux] Attendees of the 1898 Indian Congress [Two Little Braves, Sac & Fox]

Yellow Magpie (Arapahoe) Afraid of Eagle (Sioux)
Yellow Feather (Maricopa) Two Little Braves (Sac & Fox)

Rinehart, a commercial photographer in Omaha, Nebraska, was commissioned to photograph the 1898 Indian Congress, part of the Trans-Mississippi International Exposition. More than five hundred Native Americans from thirty-five tribes attended the conference, providing the gifted photographer and artist an opportunity to create a stunning visual document of Native American life and culture at the dawn of the 20th century. Although the portraits are posed and artistically lighted in his studio, they have a candid intimacy that allows his subjects individuality and dignity, a quality not shared by most 19th-century ethnographic photography.

Rinehart printed the photographs as platinum prints, a photographic media known for its delicate tonal range and permanence.

Print Department
 

First Anniversary of the Kidnapping of Thomas Sims

April 9, 1852, broadside.

 

First Anniversary of the Kidnapping of Thomas SimsThomas Sims (b. 1834) escaped from slavery in Georgia at age of 17 and made his way north in search of safety in Massachusetts. However, on April 4, 1851, Sims was arrested in Boston under the federal Fugitive Slave Law. Following a dramatic court trial, he was returned to his owner against the strong protests of local abolitionists.

The “kidnapping” of Thomas Sims by police was a cause célèbre for the active Boston anti-slavery community. Home of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and his anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator, Boston had become known world-wide as the nexus for the American abolition movement. This large broadside proclaims a commemoration of the first anniversary of the Sims arrest with an address by famous local abolitionist, the Reverend Theodore Parker. The BPL is home to one of the largest collections of anti-slavery manuscripts in the country, totaling over 17,000 pieces from Parker and Garrison as well as other famous local abolitionists including Maria Weston Chapman, Lydia Maria Child, and Samuel May, Jr.

Rare Books Department

 

Officers at Camp Benton, Maryland, 1861

Winslow Homer (1836-1910).
1881, oil on canvas.

 
Officers at Camp Benton, Maryland, 1861Winslow Homer received his early artistic training as an apprentice in Boston and then moved to New York, where he established his reputation as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly. In his role as “Special Artist” for Harper’s in 1861, Homer was sent to the front lines of the Civil War at the age of 25 to document both battle scenes and camp life.

This impressive oil painting portrays three Union officers at Camp Benton, near the Potomac River, in the early months of the war. It features Captain William Francis Bartlett (1840-1876) and Lt. Col. Francis Winthrop Palfrey (1831-1889) of the 20th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers. This work is part of the Boston Public Library’s extensive 20th Regiment Collection, which was inspired by the gift of 287 military books by Palfrey’s widow in 1892 and significantly expanded by a gift of $10,000 from the surviving members of the 20th Regiment in 1896. This active collection now contains thousands of books, diaries, letters, and other materials relating to military affairs and Massachusetts.

Rare Books Department
 

Kate Field

Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912).
1881, oil on canvas.

 

Kate FieldThe Massachusetts-born artist Millet was best known for his mural decorations and historical genre subjects. Harvard-educated, he began his artistic career in Boston painting portraits and assisting John La Farge on the decorative program for Trinity Church. Later in his career, Millet divided his time between Europe and the United States. Sadly, he died in the 1912 Titanic disaster.

Millet’s painting of friend Kate Field (1838-1896) was shown at the 1881 annual exhibition of the National Academy of Design in New York. Field was a journalist, actress, playwright, author and social reformer. Born in St. Louis, she came to Boston at age 16 to study at Lasell Academy. In addition to writing for several newspapers such as the Boston Post, Chicago Tribune and the New York Tribune, Field was the champion of numerous causes, including the rights of black Americans and temperance. Her extensive list of famous friends included Millet as well as Charles Dickens, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Anthony Trollope, and George Eliot. The BPL is home to over 1,500 of her personal letters.

Fine Arts Department
 

The Lovers

Rockwell Kent (1882-1971).
wood engraving on maple, 1928.

 

Image under copyright. All rights reserved.

Rockwell Kent was born in Tarrytown, New York, the same year as fellow American artists George Bellows and Edward Hopper. Trained as an architect, Kent was drawn to painting and carpentry, and his extensive work in all three fields showed to particular advantage in his printmaking and graphic design work. Kent was a lifelong champion of socialist causes and the struggles of the common man, and his art portrayed the working classes in sympathetic, deliberately stylized expressions.

This engraving, “The Lovers,” is displayed in a beautiful decorative frame also designed and constructed by Kent. The BPL is home to an extensive collection of Kent’s published art work and writings, drawings, engravings, lithographs, posters, and ephemera.

Rare Books Department
 

A Knock Out (Incident of the Ring)

George Bellows, artist (1882-1925).
1921, lithograph.

 
A Knock-Out (Incident of the Ring)A native of Columbus, Ohio, George Bellows moved to New York City in 1904, where he became a student of Robert Henri at The New York School of Art and a leading member of the “Ashcan” school of artists. With his keen eye and talent as a draftsman, Bellows soon was producing images of street urchins, revival meetings, prizefights, and the highs and lows of society that continue today to bring to life the urban America of his time.

Noted for his dark atmospheres, vivid brush strokes and motion-filled canvases, Bellows is best known for his powerful series of amateur boxing matches, including this extraordinary lithograph of a 1921 bout. Through the generosity of Albert H. Wiggin and of Emma S. Bellows, George Bellows’ widow, the BPL owns a complete collection of Bellows’ lithographs and forty-eight of his drawings.

Print Department
 

Meeting House

Stow Wengenroth, artist (1906-1978).
1940, lithograph.

 

Image under copyright. All rights reserved.

Based on the drawings he did as a student at the Eastport Summer School of Art in Maine, Stow Wengenroth was encouraged to learn lithography. His mastery of the technique led him to a long and successful career as one of the most recognized American lithographers of the twentieth century, specializing in images of the landscape and architecture of the New England coast.

Meeting House is one of Wengenroth’s most well-known images and features a simple, beautifully composed interior of a church in Castine, Maine. It was awarded second place from among 6,000 submissions in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 1942 exhibition, “Artists for Victory.” The BPL Print Department holds a nearly complete collection of Wengenroth’s lithographs. In 1974, with the collaboration of the artist, the library published The Lithographs of Stow Wengenroth 1931-1972 by Ronald and Joan Stuckey.

Print Department
 

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York. Aisle Window in Arts Bay.

Charles J. Connick, designer (1875-1945).
1935, gouache.

 

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York. Aisle Window in Arts Bay
Copyright © The Connick Foundation. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of The Connick Foundation.

This gouache model for a stained glass project at St. John the Divine in New York City was a collaboration between Boston-based stained glass designers, the Connick Studio, and the architect Ralph Adams Cram. The dominant figure in the rose window in this panel is Saint Dunstan, patron of metal-workers and musicians. The encircling panels celebrate the so-called minor arts and crafts: stone carving, manuscript illumination, embroidery, stained glass, metal-working, and woodworking. In the lancets below, the eight major medallions symbolize the major arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, poetry, and music.

The Connick Collection, housed in the BPL’s Fine Arts Department, includes records and descriptions of almost all of the firm’s commissions, and many of the preparatory drawings (gouaches and full-size cartoons).

Fine Arts Department
 

Houghton Mifflin and Company’s Holiday Books for MDCCCXCV

Published by Armstrong & Co., Boston.
1895, chromolithograph.

 
Houghton Mifflin and Company's Holiday Books for MDCCCXCVBoston-based Houghton Mifflin Company got its start in 1832, when William Ticknor purchased The Old Corner Bookstore in Boston with partner James Fields and established a publishing house. By the mid-19th century, the firm boasted an extraordinary list of writers, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, and Henry David Thoreau, Henry James, and Sarah Orne Jewett.

This 1895 advertising poster for Houghton Mifflin’s holiday books prominently features books designed by Sarah Wyman Whitman, a wealthy Boston society maven, painter, stained glass artist and book designer. She was the first major American professional book designer and one of the first to sign her work. The BPL has about 200 examples of her work, including one for which she received a bronze medal at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Print Department
 

Psalterium Cum Antiphonis

ca. 1475, medieval manuscript on vellum.

 

Psalterium cum Antiphonis [Front cover] Psalterium cum Antiphonis [Folio 1, recto]

This immense, richly illuminated manuscript was created over 500 years ago in a Benedictine monastery in Lombardy, Italy. The pages are not paper: instead, they are made from vellum, animal skin that is soaked, scraped, and stretched. Skins from an entire herd of animals were required to create this thick volume, and many scribes, artists and illuminators contributed countless hours to its decoration. The book is so massive because it was intended to be placed on a tall lectern and read from a distance by choirs.

The monastic binding dates from the 16th or 17th century; the front and back cover, which remind many onlookers of a magical volume from Harry Potter, are heavy wooden boards armored with metal bosses to protect the exterior from wear and damage. Ascribed to the monastery of Monte Casino, the individual portraits of monks are believed to have been modeled on members from their order. The Boston Public Library is home to several hundred medieval manuscripts.

Rare Books Department
 

Fitz Globe Manufactured by Ginn & Heath

Ellen Fitz (b. 1836).
1879, globe.

 
Fitz Globe Manufactured by Ginn & HeathDesigned for use in classrooms, this 12-inch globe was published by Ginn and Heath, a Boston textbook firm. The globe’s mounting is distinguished by two vertical rings which demonstrate changing daylight, twilight and nighttime hours any place on the Earth. This special feature was patented by Ellen Fitz, a governess from New Brunswick. She was the first woman involved in the design and manufacture of globes.

As one of its specialized interests, the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center collects 19th- and early 20th-century geographic educational materials including globes, text books, and puzzles in support of its educational outreach to school children.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
 

Whale Chart

Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873).
1851, hand-colored lithograph.

 
Whale ChartThe mid-19th-century American whaling industry, which was dominated by southern New England ports, is documented by this innovative thematic map. It was created by Maury, a naval officer and oceanographer with the U.S. Navy, using data from various sources including logs from whaling ships. He portrayed the distribution of several species of whales, identifying each with a combination of color and pictorial symbols.

Centered on the Pacific Ocean, the primary hunting ground for whales, this map reflects the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s interest in collecting unique world maps that depict different world views or unusual thematic topics.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
 

Birds of America, “Snowy Owl”

John James Audubon, artist (1785-1851).
1829, hand-colored aquatint.

 
Birds of America, "Snowy Owl"A self-published masterpiece of American naturalist art, John James Audubon’s Birds of America ranks among the greatest and most valuable printed books ever produced. Audubon drew from life whenever possible, and he spent much of his career traveling the continent observing birds in their natural habitats. This striking print, “Snowy Owl,” is Plate 121 from Volume 1 of the massive “double elephant folio” edition of Birds of America, printed in London between 1827 and 1839.

The complete monumental work consists of 435 hand-colored prints, with each page measuring more than 2 feet by 3 feet. Audubon gave these beautiful owls one of the few nocturnal settings found in Birds of America.

Rare Books Department

 

Hagenbeck-Wallace Trained Wild Animal Circus

1930, chromolithograph.

 

Hagenbeck-Wallace Trained Wild Animal CircusCarl Hagenbeck was an internationally-known German animal dealer and trainer who promoted humane treatment of animals with the goal of demonstrating that beatings and other punishment used in animal training were cruel and unnecessary. The Hagenbeck system gradually replaced harsher training methods used in circuses in Europe and North America.

Hagenbeck sold his traveling animal show to Benjamin Wallace in 1906, and the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus was the second largest circus in America in the early decades of the 20th century. Red Skelton performed with this circus as a teenager, and Emmett Kelly got his start as “Weary Willy” during the Great Depression.

Print Department
 

Peter and the Wolf

 

 

Peter and the Wolf [Front cover]
Image under copyright. All rights reserved.

In 1936, Russian composer Serge Prokofieff was commissioned to write a new musical symphony for children. His intent was to cultivate an early taste for music in young people, and Peter and the Wolf was first performed in Moscow in May that year.

Peter and the Wolf tells the story of a young boy who ventures out into the meadow to catch a dangerous wolf, against his grandfather’s strict orders. The wolf is also chased by the village’s best hunters but brave Peter, with the help of animal friends, catches the wolf using only a lasso and becomes the hero of his village. Accompanied by an orchestra, the story is spoken by a narrator and each character is represented by a different instrument: Peter (strings), Grandfather (bassoon), Bird (flute), Duck (oboe), Cat (clarinet), Wolf (horn), and Hunters (woodwinds).

Music Department
 

Peter and the Wolf

Serge Prokofieff, composer (1891-1953); Serge Koussevitzky, conductor (1874-1951).
1938, autograph music score.

 

Peter and the Wolf [Opening lines]
Image under copyright. All rights reserved.

This autographed manuscript score of Peter and the Wolf belonged to Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the 1938 United States premiere at Symphony Hall. Koussevitzky served as music director and conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 to 1949 and was instrumental in establishing the ensemble’s reputation as a leading American orchestra and developing the Tanglewood summer concert series. This score includes handwritten notes and a taped scrap of paper with opening line of the narration: “Early one morning Peter opened the gate and went out on a big green Meadow.” Faint pencil edits have modified the narrative to read: “into the big green Meadow.” The Boston Public Library is home to an important collection of Koussevitzky’s scores, monographs, scrapbooks, and other items, donated by his wife Olga in 1974.

Music Department
 

Twentieth Programme

Boston Symphony Orchestra.
March 25, 1938, music program.

 

Twentieth Programme
Image under copyright. All rights reserved.

Peter and the Wolf’s United States premiere took place in Boston at Symphony Hall on March 25, 1938. Subtitled “An Orchestral Fairy Tale for Children,” the piece featured narrator Richard Hale, a film actor best known for his villainous roles. In the March 26 review of the performance in the Boston Globe, the music critic noted that the “music is sleek and ingenious, pointing up the story with unerring humor.”
 
 
 
 
 

Music Department
 

Eleanor Roosevelt and Serge Koussevitzky

Robert Laning Humphrey (1896-1988).
August, 1950, photograph.

 

Image under copyright. All rights reserved.

Over the years, this beloved classic has been performed and recorded by hundreds of ensembles worldwide and featured many famous narrators including Sir John Gielgud, Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Alec Guinness, Itzhak Perlman, Sean Connery, and Mia Farrow.

On August 11, 1950, Eleanor Roosevelt performed the role of narrator for Peter and the Wolf at Tanglewood. This performance, a benefit for the Berkshire Music Center, was recorded earlier in the day and then Mrs. Roosevelt performed it live for a packed audience, including the governors of both Massachusetts and New York. She is shown here with Serge Koussevitzky conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra behind her.

Music Department
 

Harry Houdini Scrapbook

 

 
Harry Houdini Scrapbook [Front cover]Magician and famed escapologist Harry Houdini (1874 –1926) was born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary. His family emigrated to Wisconsin when he was four years old, and he made his public début as a 9-year-old trapeze artist, calling himself “Ehrich, the prince of the air.” He began calling himself “Harry Houdini” because of his respect for the great French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin.

Harry Houdini began his professional career at age 17 performing magic shows before civic groups, in music halls, and at New York’s Coney Island amusement park, where he appeared in up to twenty shows daily. He expanded his repertoire to include escapes from handcuffs, chains, and straitjackets, often while hanging from a rope in plain sight of audiences. For many years, he was the highest-paid performer in American vaudeville. Houdini also served as President of the Society of American Magicians (aka S.A.M.) from 1917 until his death in 1926 in Montreal, when he died of complications from a ruptured appendix.

Rare Books Department
 

Houdini Scrap Book

Harry Houdini (1874 –1926); Quincy Kilby, creator (1854-1931).
1904-1926, scrapbook.

 
Harry Houdini Scrapbook [Photographs with Jack London]This remarkable scrapbook was compiled by Houdini’s good friend Quincy Kilby, a Brookline resident and Boston theater impresario. Materials in this large volume were collected over a twenty-year period and include personal letters, photographs, programs, newspapers clippings, and other unique memorabilia. Knowing that Kilby was amassing this collection, Houdini would send him items specifically “for your Houdini scraps book.”

The scrapbook is open to an eclectic spread of photographs of Houdini with Jack London and their wives in Oakland, California, in 1924; a lecture advertisement in which Houdini promises a sensational expose of miracle-mongers; and a note on Houdini’s personal stationery to Kilby with an apologetic postscript, “I was in Boston but was so fixt could not get away. Only 1 night.

Rare Books Department
 

James Hanley Brewing Co. to Harry Houdini

March 1, 1915, autographed letter.

 
Harry Houdini Scrapbook [James Hanley Brewing Co. Challenge Letter to Harry Houdini, March 1, 1915]In the early 1900s, Houdini expanded his act to include challenge escapes, in which he invited the public to devise contraptions to hold him. He successfully escaped from nailed packing crates (some lowered into water), riveted boilers, wet sheets, mailbags, and even the belly of a “sea monster” that had washed ashore in Boston.

The James Hanley Brewing Company of Providence, Rhode Island, issued a challenge in 1915 “to escape from a large cask after we have filled the same with our famous ‘Half Stock Ale’ and our men have locked you in the cask.” Houdini’s handwritten note at the bottom of the page reveals the outcome of this particular test: “I accepted & escaped. Houdini. (and I do not drink). HH.”

Rare Books Department
 

Christmas Card

Harry Houdini (1874 –1926).
ca. 1924, hand-colored card.

 
Harry Houdini Scrapbook [Christmas Card]In the 1920s, after the death of his beloved mother Cecilia, Houdini turned his energies toward debunking self-proclaimed psychics and mediums. Houdini’s extensive magical training enabled him to expose frauds who had successfully fooled many scientists and academics.

Apparently only the spirit of Santa Claus could tear him away from his “spirit debunking task” as this whimsical, hand-colored Christmas card testifies.

Rare Books Department
 

Houdini’s Scene and Prop. List

unknown date, printed instructions.

 
Harry Houdini Scrapbook [Houdini's Scene and Prop List (Closeup)]This highly detailed, pre-printed list was circulated to theaters before Houdini’s appearances to outline the specific requirements the illusionist had for his act. The particulars range from “use of Fire Hose” to “100 gallons of Boiling water (must be boiling)” to “A small, clean looking (mahogany colored if possible) step ladder about 3 feet 6 inches high.”

 
 
 
 
 
 

Rare Books Department
 


Chapter 1


Chapter 2


Chapter 3

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