Archive for November, 2012

Binders Full of Women (at the Clark)

November 30, 2012

An American presidential candidate recently used the term “binders full of women” in a political debate. The evocative nature of the term, above and beyond the intent of the candidate, inspired many an Internet howler for the American public, but I’d like to explore the term from a collections perspective. Archival collections do, sometimes, contain what we might call “binders full of women.”

One example at the Clark Library is a set of two bound albums of letters and drawings by Edward Burne-Jones and newspaper clippings, dating approximately 1892-1897. Burne-Jones sent these letters and drawings to Violet Maxse (later, Viscountess Milner) while she was in her early 20s. Milner, born in 1872, was the daughter of Burne-Jones’s friend, Cecilia Steele Maxse, and later became an imperial activist and editor of the National Review. Milner entitled her albums “Notable Women of the Day,” using letters cut from magazines and newspapers. In them, she compiled the letters and drawings she received from Burne-Jones along with multiple images, clipped from newspapers, of various women, often suffragettes portrayed as stuffy or severe.

MS 2010.010 newspaper clippings

These are rather eclectic binders full of women, but they do have specific foci that reflect Milner’s social perspective and position in society.

Burne-Jones’s letters often include whimsical drawings, from hairy sprites pulling on trousers to caricatures of himself in bed with influenza, but many feature women’s faces and bodies. Some seem to be general studies of heads or movement while others feature specific individuals.

MS 2010.010 drawings of women

One such individual is tattooed lady Emma de Burgh, whose upper back is emblazoned with an image of the Last Supper. de Burgh toured Europe in the late 19th century and the Last Supper tattoo was one of her best-known features. Burne-Jones was drawing a woman who was known for being drawn…upon.

MS 2010.010 emma de burgh

Another individual illustrates the text of a letter, in which Burne-Jones asks if Milner’s sister, Olive Maxse, has told Milner about her horse. The drawing gives us the impression that Olive Maxse was quite the mistress of a fine, oversized hobby-horse and, perhaps, not to be trifled with.

MS 2010.010 olive maxse

There are myriad fascinating drawings in these albums and I encourage anyone who is interested to visit the Clark to have a look and think about what impact these binders full of women might have on our understanding of England in the 1890s as well as the kinds of howlers they provided for Burne-Jones, Milner, and their friends.

New Publications from Clark Scholars

November 30, 2012

Our former fellows have been busy lately!  In the last week, our friends Ellen Crowell (St. Louis) and Soren Hammerschmidt (Ghent) have announced the publication of  papers drawing on their research at the Clark.

Ellen’s “Oscar Wilde’s Tomb: Silence and the Aesthetics of Queer Memorial” featured online in BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History and Soren’s “Pope, Curll, and the intermediality of eighteenth-century character” in Word & Image (Volume 28, Issue 3) both draw on our collection material in addition to featuring images of items housed at the Clark.

Congratulations to Ellen and Soren on the publication of these papers!  We hope your future projects will bring you back to visit soon!

Travel & Leisure thinks we are beautiful!

November 20, 2012

Though they did not get all the facts about the Clark right, we think Travel & Leisure magazine is definitely correct in believing we are one of the Most Beautiful College Libraries in America!  The slideshow features an image of the Clark by our Visual Resources Specialist Jennifer Bastian and shows us in very good stead, alongside some other truly magnificent libraries.

Vigilante Days at the Clark Library

November 19, 2012

From Reading Room Assistant Nicoletta Beyer.

Montana vigilantism was born unto a landscape of frontier mining towns in a territory yet to be incorporated as a state of the union. In the 1860’s while the rest of the nation was busy with a civil war, gold was discovered in the mountains of Montana. Towns like Butte, Helena, Virginia City, and Bannack saw the influx of newcomers arriving to scrape minerals from the land, many down-and-out vagabonds with nothing to lose. The roads that led to and fro mining camps for transportation of gold were often the scenes of bloody looting by a growing number of road agents. Law officials were few and far between, and in the year of 1863 tensions ran high between the rugged sojourners and the proud locals. These towns felt the coexistence of extreme survivalism and opportunism, paired with few places for a vagabond to spend newly acquired mountain riches other than the local saloon.

William Andrews Clark Sr., the Clark Memorial Library’s namesake and the father of the library’s founder, arrived at exactly this pivotal moment in Montanan history. In Bannack of 1863, he began establishing his placer mining fortune. It is his collection that we house today, well versed in the various accounts of these vigilante chronicles.

The Montana Collection is a golden hued arrangement documenting little-known historic moments of the Old West. I have happened upon such bold titles as Shallow Diggin’s, Leather Leggin’s, and How She Felt in her Corset. Then of course I came across a section that hinted at a deeper, darker tale of Montana’s past through titles mentioning “Popular Justice in the Rocky Mountains”, “Vigilante Days and Ways”, “the Story of an Outlaw”, and “Study of the Western Desperado”, among others.

From the years 1860 to 1870 alone, there were an estimated 50 lives lost to vigilante extra legal executions in these small southern Montanan mining towns, most of whom died by lynching. One of the most notable figures of this torrential time was Sheriff Henry Plummer of Bannack, MT. There are conflicting accounts of Plummer’s history, probably not by accident. Henry Plummer was a man who had relocated many times following various criminal allegations and violent exchanges. Most accounts mention him serving as sheriff in Nevada City, California and being involved in a string of pistol duels that led to incarceration in San Quentin State Prison for murder and possibly theft, before his arrival in the Rocky Mountain foothills.

Henry Plummer’s legacy in the Montana vigilante folklore is one of a corrupt sheriff who lead a band of vicious road agents by night and by day posed as a member of the vigilance committee who hunted these very same criminals. When his betrayal came to light, Plummer was hung from the gallows of his very own making.

The vigilance committees addressed local criminal activity from petty theft to child abuse to murder. At some point in the 1870’s the numbers 3-7-77 began to appear at scenes of vigilante aggression; sometimes painted on an accused criminal’s door in the night, and sometimes pinned on the back of a lynched man hanging from the famous Helena Hanging Tree. These tales of enforcing local law in the absence of a structured government have become inextricable from Montanan history and its present day identity. The numbers 3-7-77 became iconic and in 1920 state officials erected Vigilante Trail signage with the numbers showcased in the center. To this day the numbers adorn the car doors of the Montana Highway Patrol. A tourist can still catch a Vigilante Day Parade in Helena, not too far from its Hanging Valley.

This collection is one of our lesser known sets of bound histories here at the Clark, abundant in primary source tales of the tumbleweeds, gallows and pistol duels that remain influential in our present day collective western memory, no matter how distant they seem.

Incomplete Binding, Completed Lecture

November 16, 2012

From Visual Resources Specialist, Jennifer Bastian.

Last month the Clark Library welcomed Nicholas Pickwoad from the University of the Arts London for his lecture, Unfinished Business: Incomplete Bindings Made for the Book Trade from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Century. The lecture and accompanying visuals were truly marvelous.  We are so pleased to have hosted this event, which was co-sponsored by The Huntington Library, UCLA Library Special Collections, and UCLA Department of Information Studies, with support from the Breslauer Chair Fund.  It was a great experience for all involved.

More information about this lecture can be found here.


Gardens at the Clark

November 16, 2012

From Nina Schneider, Head Cataloger              

The Clark’s Head Cataloger will be hosting an employee from the Denver Botanic Gardens next week. This got us thinking about some of the botany, horticulture, and design books held at the library: volumes such as the 1682 copy of Labyrinte de Versailles published in French, English, German and Dutch by Nicolaus Visscher in Amsterdam (call#: SB466.F83 V56 1682*), or the 13th edition of The Gardeners Kalendar: Directing what works are to be performed every Month in the Kitchen, Fruit, and Pleasure-gardens by Philip Miller (1691-1771), printed by the author and sold by John Rivington [et al.] in 1762 (call#: X 92571D3), or Victoria Padilla’s 1961 book on Southern California Gardens: an illustrated history, published by University of California Press and designed by Ward Ritchie (call#: Press coll. Ritchie)

The Clark also has numerous reference books, such as The English Garden: Literary Sources & Documents edited and with an introduction by Michael Charlesworth (a three-volume reference source published in 1993 [call#: PR1111.G3 E5]). Last but not least, Senator Clark’s own Montana amusement park is charmingly described in Beautiful Columbia Garden : The Far-famed Pleasure Resort of Butte, published in the mid-19th century by the Butte Electric Railway Company (call#: Mont. Coll. B38b).

Senator Clark and his daughters Andree & Huguette, likely at Columbia Gardens, ca 1916

For those of you who haven’t visited, the Clark Library sits in the middle of a city-block, surrounded by well-manicured lawns, boxwood hedges, flowering arbors, expanses of English ivy, clusters of Strelitzia (or Birds of Paradise), a rose garden, fountains (that need refurbishing), statuary,  and our extraordinary Moreton Bay Fig trees. The most amazing part of our property is that the Clark only has one (very hard working) gardener to maintain it. It’s a peaceful oasis in the middle of Los Angeles, open to the public during the week. It’s not unusual to see our neighbors strolling on the grounds during a beautiful autumn day.

“Wilde’s West Coast Collection” on BBC Radio 3

November 15, 2012

On November 25th, BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting a Sunday feature about researcher Thomas Wright and his work on Oscar Wilde’s personal library — especially those books housed here in Los Angeles in the Clark’s collections!  More information is available via the BBC website, and we will be sure to post a link to listen online when one becomes available!

New Acquisition: The 1932 Los Angeles Blue Book of Land Values and, of course, Mr. Clark

November 5, 2012

From Gerald Cloud, Clark Librarian.

The Clark has always been interested in its own history and the library maintains a substantial collection of letters, receipts, invoices, and other materials that document both the construction of the building and the formation of the collections (recall the earlier entry: “I’ll-bet-you-didn’t-know-it-was-at-the-Clark, part 1: an introduction to Mr. Tenniel” ).  The Clarkive, as it is referred to locally, is a rich resource for the book trade as well as the building trades, albeit, at the higher end of the scale.  IN keeping with our efforts to document the Clark, its building, and the contemporary period in which Mr. Clark lived in Los Angeles, we recently acquired the following book from local bookseller John Howell:

The title of the guide will be familiar to automobile-dependent Angelenos, but this Blue Book aims to provide a comprehensive survey of Los Angeles land values, circa 1932.  The area it covers is shown in this key map:

Of greatest interest to the Clark is page 149, which shows how our West Adams neighborhood looked before the 10 freeway was built.

The guide is illustrated with various building types and a wealth of information on real estate and property values.  Mr. Clark passed away shortly after the publication of this guide, so the Los Angeles shown here is the one he knew at the end of his life.

Not by Oscar Wilde: A Clark Quarterly Lecture

November 2, 2012

We were recently graced by the presence of a former Clark Fellow, Gregory Mackie, when he came to present his lecture Not By Oscar Wilde: Literary Forgery and Authorial Performance.  This lecture was a part of the Clark Quarterly lecture series.  Details about the lecture and upcoming Clark Quarterly lectures can be seen here.

Below is a gallery of images from the event – a great time was had by all.