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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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.

Amateur Hour : HOAX!

Last Tuesday was the library’s second Amateur Hour, which featured media prankster, Alan Abel. While Will helped Abel and Joshua Foer (co-curator of the series) set-up for the event, I was charged with taking tickets. At the height of ticketed patrons checking in, an elderly man dropped a flier next to me, mumbling, “I don’t care about the birds.” I was a bit confused, but went back to collecting tickets and chatting with library members. Shortly before the event began, I had a chance to read the flier:

Bird Watchers are Voyeurs!

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, 48 million people watch birds. A private research group, the Good Conduct Society, has discovered Bird Watchers are more sexually active than others.
The elderly find that Bird Watching is not strenuous. And this erotic experience can be enjoyed privately through binoculars.
‘Most disturbing,’ said the Society’s director Anaida Krok, ‘are the groups of Bird Watchers seeking vicarious sexual gratification in the woods. Shamelessly, they blatantly observe God’s defenseless creatures mating.’
LEAVE THE BIRDS ALONE!

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Abel explained that he and his wife pass out these fliers in Washington, D.C. from time to time. It’s an extension of his social commentary from the 1960s when he started the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals – an organization to clothe animals.

Old New Haven

The Institute Library has many out-of-print books on the history of New Haven and other Connecticut towns, as well as the new books that I featured in Monday’s post. One of these books is especially important, not only to New Haven, but to everywhere that has local history and folklore. The man in the print about the fireplace at the Institute Library is John W. Barber – who is credited as the first person to collect, record, and publish local histories. He learned the craft of print making and opened a store in New Haven in 1823, and traveled around Connecticut, making etches and engravings of the sites and collecting stories from the people. He published History and Antiquities of New Haven, Conn., in 1856

This isn’t the only out of print New Haven book either – we have an entire alcove of local history books! The back wall is mostly Connecticut towns, with a few books on Massachusetts. The outer walls of the alcove have books on other states and some books on the Central & North American countries. 

(From right to left) History of the Colony of New Haven, published 1881, Hartford Conn., published 1889, Catalogue of the Trustees, Rectors, Instructors and Alumni of the Hopkins Grammar School of New Haven, Connecticut: 1660 – 1902, published 1902, The English Memorial: New Haven Colony Historical Society, published 1893, History of Wallingford, Meriden, and Cheshire, published in 1870, North Haven Annuals, published 1892, History of the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, published 1887, and An Old New England Town, published 1895.

The covers of a lot of these older books are cloth – without much on the cover. I photographed a few of the title pages:

There are many, MANY more books on New Haven and other Connecticut towns — please visit and learn some New Haven secrets.

Industrial New Haven

I apologize for being absent over the past few weeks – now that life is back on a somewhat routine schedule, I am back to blogging!

I just finished giving a tour of the library. Giving the tour is my absolute favorite thing in my professional life — the discussion during the tour usually leads to the richness of New Haven’s history and all that it still has to offer. Many people who live here know the stories of Judge Whalley, John Dixwell, and William Goffe — and how they hid from the Brits in Judges Cave in West Rock, but there are more interesting aspects to New Haven’s history than just this story! (Additional information: Daily Nutmeg, Society of Colonial Wars, or check out THIS book)

One of my favorite New Haven history books is Carriages & Clocks, Corsets & Locks

The book chronicles New Haven as an industrial city. Most cities around the time of the Industrial Revolution thrived on manufacturing one or two products, but New Haven was home to hundreds of manufactured goods: carriages, rubber boots, corsets, erector sets, folding & reclining chairs and much, much more – many of which were invented in New Haven!

A photo from Carriages and Clocks, Corsets and Locks

More on New Haven awesomeness soon!

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?