The Time has Come

My mom used to adapt the phrase from Dr. Seuss’ Marvin K. Mooney book to inform me that it was time to do something – “The time has come, the time is now for Megan Elizabeth to go to bed now.” My memory mimics her voice and changes the phrasing whenever it’s time to make a change.

20120523 blog 1Today is my last day as an employee at The Institute Library. I’m leaving to have just one  job (instead of several part-time jobs) while I pursue a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin Madison‘s low residency program. I’m not leaving New Haven and I’m not leaving the library – just the payroll so I am granted the flexibility to volunteer when it is convenient for me. I will most likely be here on Saturdays and for all the events….

Seriously, this is the coolest place ever.

I’ve met one of the world’s fastest lock pickers, a physics professor who’s building a time machine, nomads, authors, historians, and some of the most eccentric people with fascinating stories – because public libraries are society’s great social equalizer.

20120531 Blog 1I will miss giving the tour of the library the most – I usually get so excited that I nearly regurgitate the library’s history – unable to stop for air or questions. I want to hug this place – or at least the card catalog.

Alas, the time has come, the time is now, for Megan Elizabeth to go back to school now…

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New Haven Green

In spirit of Halloween and the old oak tree on the Green pulling up a couple of skeletons (click HERE to read the article), I decided to do some digging to find what information the Institute Library has on the New Haven Green. I found Chronicles of New Haven Green from 1638 – 1826 by Henry T. Blake, published in 1898. Check out some of the things I learned and images/maps of the green I found.

The nine squares were laid out in 1638, with the center one being the Market Place (now known as The Green). As in tradition, the town meeting-house would be located in this central location and the immediate surrounding ground would be used for burial purposes. A few pioneers died before the meeting-house was completed and to ensure the tradtition would live on, they were buried on the green in 1640. By 1659 there were about 50 graves in the city center (the market). Records from May 1659: “The Governor informed that it is conceived that it is not for ye health that ye burying place should be where it is; therefore, he propounded that some other place might be thought of and fenced off for that purpose.” He died the following year and was buried in the city center. Moving the cemetery was not mentioned again for several generations.

During the later part of the 18th century, unofficial and midnight burials were not uncommon. The need for a fence to surround the cemetery was brought up several times during this time too, but nothing ever came of these discussions.

In September 1796, Mr. James Hillhouse, with 30 people, purchased six acres (which was soon increased to 10 acres) on Grove street “a new burial ground, larger, better arranged for the accommodation of families, an by its retired situation better calculated to impress the mind with a solemnity becoming the repository of the dead.” The Grove Street Cemetery opened in 1797.

Martha Whittlesey was the last person to be buried on the Green in 1812.

New Haven Green 1724

New Haven Green 1748

New Haven Green 1775

Witchcraft in Connecticut

May it please yr Honble Court, we the Grand inquest now setting for the County of Fairefeild, being made sensable, not only by common fame (but by testamonies duly billed to us) that the widow Mary Staple, Mary Harvey ye wife of Josiah Harvey & Hannah Harvey the daughter of the saide Josiah, all of Fairefeild, remain under the susspition of useing witchecraft, which is abomanable both in ye sight of God & man and ought to be witnessed against. we doe therefore (in complyance to our duty, the Court of Assistants now setting in Fairefeild, that they may be taken in to Custody & proceeded against according to their demerits.Fairefeild 15, Fby, 1692                 
in behalfe of the Grnd Jury, JOSEPH BASTARD, foreman

This reproduction of a grand jury presentment for witchcraft is in The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut, by John M. Taylor, published in 1908.

Portsmouth Athenaeum

A benefit of Institute Library membership at the Patron level is reciprocal membership at five other membership libraries (there at 16 in the United States). Since we often hear, “I’ve always lived in New Haven, how did I not know about the Institute Library!” I assume that these other 15 membership libraries have also gone unnoticed.

Porstmouth Athenaeum
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

The Portsmouth Athenaeum is one of the five membership libraries that participates with the Institute Library in providing reciprocal membership at the Patron Membership level.

The Athenaeum was established in December 1816 by a group of young men and one woman, “who met to explore the feasibility of establishing a library and subscription reading room in Portsmouth, which had no such institution since the incineration of the bulk of the collection of the Portsmouth Library in the great fire of 1813” (Hardiman, 157).

The free public library in Portsmouth absorbed another one of the town’s membership libraries, The Portsmouth Mercantile Library, founded in 1851. The Athenaeum managed to survive the growth of the free public library and the 20th century due to fulfilling ts mission to, “convivial interchange and intellectual discourse.”

The collection has a wide range of old and new books and there is a special emphasis on collecting Portsmouth imprints and works relevant to the region’s history. The library inherited the personal libraries of Benjamin Tredick (1802 – 1877) and Charles Levi Woodbury (1820 – 1898). Both collections remain intact in designated alcoves.

After getting your Patron Membership to the Institute Library, take a weekend trip up to the darling town of Portsmouth, NH (just over 3 hours from New Haven), and explore the treasures at the Atheneaum.

Hardiman, Thomas. “The Portsmouth Athenaeum.” Ed. Richard Wendorf. America’s Membership Libraries. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 2007. 157. Print.

A Bit of History

Stephen Kobasa hung a new bulletin board at the library last week and tacked up a type-writer typed document he found.  I’m not sure what is factual or what is library folklore.  Hopefully, as we dig through documents at the Beinecke, we will be able to do some fact checking.

In the meanwhile, there are some really fun bits of information I’d like to share:

  • Some of the debate topics at the early meetings during the late 1820s and early 1830s:
    • “Does the married man or bachelor enjoy the most happiness?”
    • “Are novels injurious to a reader?”
    • “Would the abolition of slavery in the U.S. be an advantage to the country?”
    • “Are lotteries justifiable in any respect?”
    • “Ought capitol punishment be abolished?”
  • Charles Dickens was made an honorary member, who came to the Institute and presided at a meeting in 1842.
  • The New Haven Camera Club rented a rooms on the third floor of the library for $100.00 per year starting in 1893**
  • The electric lights were installed in the library in 1911
  • The library was broken into in 1964. Only $3.00 worth of stamps were taken.

 

**According to the New Haven Camera Club’s website – they didn’t become an organization until 1911.  Yale does have information on a New Haven Camera Club exhibit that was on view at the institute library in 1894.  Does anyone have any information on this?

 

Playable Furniture

New Haven artist, Willie Hoffman, has two pieces from his Playable Studio on “functional display” at the Institute Library.  Come, grab a book and use the ONI – bench/table/stool/rocker or VIO – table/bench/slide/fun!!

Here is the library’s executive director, Will Baker, lounging on the VIO after a long day of work!

I apologize for the blurriness of this photo – I was trying to not get caught.  I eventually fessed up – telling Will that I took this photo and and asked his permission to post it to the blog.  🙂

Happy Birthday, Institute Library!!

On this day, August 1st, in 1826, the Apprentices’ Literary Association – which eventually became the Institute Library – held its very first meeting at the home of Albert Wilcox.

Today we applaud the Institute Library’s 186 years of collaboration, book circulation, and the mutual assistance in the attainment of useful knowledge.