Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Tale of Two LC Envelopes During WWII

I've had the first envelope shown above in my collection for a number of years. It is an "Official Business" penalty cover for the Library of Congress Card Division which was mailed by "Hurdis" on June 12, 1944.  It was mailed to Brigadier General Charles E. Hurdis via Army Post Office #6 in San Francisco.  At the time General Hurdis was serving in the 6th Infantry Division where it was engaged in combat with the Japanese in New Guinea.  Hurdis was later promoted to Commanding General of the 6th Infantry Division and ended his career as a Major General. The cover is not in great condition which could be expected for a cover that was received in a combat zone. I had not been able to identify the "Hurdis" who mailed the cover until recently. At the American Philatelic Society's stamp show in Virginia in August 2010 I came across the second envelope shown above.  From a philatelic perspective the cover is interesting because it was mailed "Special Delivery" from the Canal Zone and uses a United States 10 cent special delivery stamp in conjunction with two 3 cent Canal Zone stamps. The Canal Zone didn't have its own special delivery stamps. The cover was mailed on May 2, 1942 by Private W. K. Harrison at Fort Amador, C.Z. and was was passed by an Army censor. It was received by the Library of Congress on May 13, 1942.  The most interesting thing about the cover for me was that it was addressed to Sara B. Hurdis in the Card Division of the Library of Congress which provided me with the full name of the person who sent the first cover shown.  Sara B. Hurdis mailed that cover to her father Brigadier General Charles E. Hurdis. The Card Division was one of the largest and most active divisions of the Library of Congress and Sara Hurdis was one of many who worked at the Library during World War II.  What are the chances of acquiring independently two related Library of Congress covers out of the millions of covers that have been sent to and from the Library of Congress?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Make Mine a Small One

The heading for this post is taken from a publication of the same name by Lawrence Clark Powell and provides a good introduction to a discussion about miniature books in my collection of librariana. Powell's Make Mine a Small One was first published in The New York Times on Dec. 6, 1964 and was then reprinted by Peacock Press (Berkeley,CA) in 1965 as part of the Peacock Press Miniatures series.  Powell's delightful essay is more about the challenges of large books in institutional and private libraries than about miniature books. At the end he writes, "I am prepared to write of my reception of a 1964 coffee table dinosaur.  This is how it will read: 'To describe the horror of Lawrence on receiving this loathsome present, is impossible.  He put on gloves and overalls before he removed the book from its wrapping lest he be soiled, and he moved closer to the fire so that he could more quickly dispose of it.' Miniature books are usually less than 3 inches tall and some are as small as a thumbnail.

I recently acquired a miniature book by John David Marshall that was formerly in the collection of Norman D. Stevens.  It is entitled One Librarian's Credo and it measures two and a half inches tall by two inches wide. It is inscribed "for NDS" from JDM".  Fifty copies of this little book were produced for the "friends of John David Marshall". Marshall begins his missive with "At the risk of sounding like a hopeless romantic entirely out of touch with the hi-tech world in which we live, I suggest that librarians need to devote some time and thought to books, just books - the writing, the publishing, the selling, the reviewing, the promotion, the uses, the preservation, the reading of books." 

I have one other miniature book in my collection, it is the Remarks of Archibald MacLeish at the Dedication of the Wallace Library, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, June 3rd, 1967. One thousand two hundred and fifty copies of this little book were printed in Haarlem, Holland.  It measures just under 3 inches tall and 2 inches wide.

All three of these publications involve special type fonts and printing techniques. Much more about the extensive field of miniature books can be found on the website of the Miniature Book Society and there is an excellent online exhibit of miniature books at the website of the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Carnegie's Vanity Fair Cover

I purchased the above illustration of Andrew Carnegie which was on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1903 at the Library History Round Table auction at the recent Library History Seminar XII in Madison. It will make a great addition to my exhibit on Carnegie's Wisconsin Library Legacy. At the bottom of the illustration is the phrase "Free Libraries".  Wayne Wiegand donated the framed illustration to the auction. Don't you think Wayne and Carnegie favor each other (see previous post).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wayne Wiegand's Library Trading Card

After Wayne Wiegand completed his presentation at the recent Library History Seminar XII in Madison, WI, he was presented with his own library trading card by his colleagues as a token of their admiration. Wiegand is considered to be the dean of current library historians in the United States. The trading card which is shown above is supposedly #64 in a set of 100 famous librarian trading cards. The card is accompanied by a list of the 100 famous librarians as selected by by the Wayne Wiegand Library Trading Card Coordinating Committee (Jim Danky, Karen Krueger, Doug Zweizig, and Larry Nix). Using a partially tongue-in-cheek baseball metaphor the back of the card begins "Wayne's first sand lot tryouts with a library team, the Manitowoc (WI) Library Mirros, showed the promise his subsequent career demonstrated." Wiegand is perhaps best known for his biography of Melvil Dewey, Irrepressible Reformer. In his presentations he often mentions that there are more public library outlets than McDonalds restaurants. He is a strong advocate of approaching library history from the viewpoint of the "library in the life of the user" in contrast to the "user in the life of the library". The list of famous librarians includes, among others, Melvil Dewey, Herbert Putnam, Peggy Sullivan, John Cotton Dana, Margaret Monroe, Arna Bontemps, Benjamin Franklin, Lutie Stearns, Fred Glazer, Pope Pius XI, E. J. Josey, S. R. Ranganathan, Augusta Baker, and Callimachus. The Library History Seminar is an assembly of library historians that takes place every five years. This year it was hosted by the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America at the University of Wisconsin - Madison which Wiegand helped to found.

You can obtain a copy of the Wiegand trading card and a list of the 100 famous librarians by sending $5 to Larry T. Nix, 3605 Niebler Ln., Middleton, WI 53562. All proceeds from the sale of the cards will go to the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hannah Packard James (1835-1903)

Happy 175th birthday on September 5 to early public library administrator Hannah Packard James. As noted in previous blogs I peruse the Dictionary of American Library Biography and its supplements each year to identify key birth dates for notable librarians and library supporters from the past. In doing so I am able to learn about some impressive individuals that have been previously unknown to me. Hannah James is one of those impressive individuals. In 1870, having been trained at the Boston Athenaeum, James became the first director of of the Newton, Massachusetts, Free Library. After a successful tenure at that library, she became director in 1887 of the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. She continued in this position until 1902. She was active in the American Library Association and served on the ALA Council and as a vice-president. The article in the Dictionary of American Library Biography was written by Joan M. Costello and Edward G. Holley. Costello and Holley write, "James was one of the early leaders in the movement to establish strong relations between the public library and schools." They also note that James, "took obvious pride in the fact that American women were not bound by precedent and had been able to become directors not only of small, but also of some large libraries, 'commanding the same salary as men in similar positions'." James was a contemporary of Melvil Dewey and lectured in his library school at Columbia. It was Dewey who recommended her for the Wilkes-Barre position. I understand that library historian Bernadette A. Lear, the current Chair of the ALA Library History Round Table, is working on an article about James. I look forward to her perspective on this impressive librarian.