Bad Children of History #33: Struwwelpeter in Russia

Today we were deep in a pile of uncataloged Russian children’s books and found… another version of Struwwelpeter, published in Moscow and illustrated by Boris Zvorykin!

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So slovenly! Look at that droopy sock!

Here’s Struwwelpeter refusing to let his grandmother sponge off his shirt cuffs…

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…leading him to weep silently alongside some semi-domesticated boars.

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This book doesn’t contain all of the stories from the original, although it does have a few select favorites, including the sad story of the thumb-sucker accompanied by a thumb-removal illustration so ghastly that we will not include it here.

Instead, look at these sweet before-and-after vignettes from The Dreadful Story of the Matches:

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Confetti Distribution Devices

Instead of featuring a dashing magician, this week we’re featuring a delightful celebratory page from a catalog of magic supplies.

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The 1898 Martinka & Co. catalog from which this page is taken is part of our John H. Percival Magic Collection. (The “German” mentioned in the descriptive text references an 18th or 19th century social dance accompanied by plays and games.)

Also, I’m pretty sure a confetti flute is just any flute stuffed full of confetti. Readers are encouraged to try stuffing fancy-looking flutes with confetti and report back with their results.

Call for Proposals: 2018 Creative Fellowship

It’s that time of year again: PPL is accepting proposals for our 2018 Creative Fellowship.

This year, we’re looking for an artist working in the field of performance (theater, dance, performance art, puppetry, acrobatics, etc) to make new, research-based work related to the theme of our 2018 exhibition: hair!

Details on the Creative Fellowship, requirements, and application guidelines can be found here.

 

Bad Children of History #32: The Cutting-Edge School Desk

We found some naughty imps of yore in an unlikely place: an 1892 book on the industrial arts.

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This folio contains a true bonanza of illustrations, covering all manner of modern inventions. Each page is arranged to show developments in the design of the invention, beginning with the primitive, and ending with the cutting-edge.

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(Have you been wondering about the vanguard of egg carriers? This book can satisfy your curiosity!)

The entry on school furniture shows some truly marvelous folding desk contraptions, as well as simpler wooden desks populated by….

…misbehaving schoolchildren! We have a scowling miss undergoing some unfortunate piliferous bullying, the infamous Sleeping Guy with his head on his slate, and a lively scene of bench-style seating gone awry. Here’s a close-up of the latter situation:

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“Hey, Johnny? Hey Johnny!”

“Not now, Caleb, I’m doing my sums.”

“Johnny! Hey. Yer forehead is weird. Can I look at your sums?”

“No, Caleb. Stop being a hornswoggler. Just because this primitive wooden school furniture lacks a flat surface for you to work on doesn’t mean you can pester me.”

“Hey, Johnny. Why don’t you have ears. Did ya see the dunce kid? Did ya see his walkie talkie?”

“SHHH. Caleb. Geez.”

The Singing Waltz

Today we want to share a few delightful photos from the January 1915 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

This brief magazine feature showcases dance moves performed by Margaret Hawkesworth and Basil Durant, popular American ballroom dancers who performed throughout the United States and Europe.

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Here are a couple of close-ups. First, Miss Hawkesworth and Mr. Durant leading off “with a graceful swinging step”:

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I love their looks of deep concentration here, as well as that delicate foot-touch!

Here’s a minuet step, accompanied by equally delicate hand-touching. So civilized!

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Readers may be interested to note Miss Hawkesworth’s stylized yet loose-fitting dress, part of a new fashion movement focusing on fabrics with drape and moving away from the long-entrenched, fashionable corseted silhouette. This article on fashion designer Paul Poiret gives a little more background into cutting-edge fashion of the 1910s.

 

Library Comics, or, Research as Hot Pursuit

We have big news:

Special Collections at the Providence Public Library is publishing a comic book!

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Lizard Ramone in Hot Pursuit: A Guide to Archives for Artists and Makers is a comic book conceived of and printed by the Providence Public Library in Providence, RI, working in collaboration with artist Jeremy Ferris, who created the storyline, illustrations, and text. It’s being distributed locally with a bonus insert illustrated by O. Horvath.

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Providence describes itself as the “Creative Capital”, and we work with a great number of artists and designers in our Special Collections. These creative researchers often have a different approach than the students, scholars, and genealogists whom many tend to think of as “typical” archival researchers.

After asking ourselves, “How can we better meet the needs of creative researchers?” and “How can we make our collections more accessible to artists and other non-traditional researchers?”, we decided to team up with a local illustrator and library student to make a fun-to-read guide demystifying archival research. (It’s also hilarious!) We wanted it to be specific enough that it could help our users, but general enough to be applicable to collections across the country.

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We’re having a comic book release party this coming Wednesday, June 21st, from 6:30-8 on the 3rd floor of the library. (Facebook event for the party here.) Artist Jeremy Ferris will give a short presentation and answer questions; we’ll also have a bevy of interactive stations, like a mini research consultation booth, a comics-drawing station, and a table where you can have your portrait drawn by a librarian. (We’ll also have snacks.)

For local blog readers, we hope to see you at the release party! For all blog readers, stay tuned for online-readable and printable versions of the comic book!

 

Impeccable Science: Habits of Expression, Arm Joints and Atheists

Today’s long-overdue impeccable science is drawn from a pleasantly-sized 1832 volume entitled The Youth’s Book on Natural Theology; Illustrated in Familiar Dialogues, With Numerous Engravings. 

For those who don’t know, natural theology argues for God’s existence based on observations of nature, so, while not a purely “scientific” tome by contemporary definitions, this book does contain highly-detailed descriptions of entomology, human anatomy, animal behavior, electricity, and air pressure, all of which the author relates to intelligent design.

The chapter descriptions are truly brilliant litanies. My favorites are “Radius. Ulna. Button-head. Joint-oil. Gristle. Ligament. Wisdom and goodness of God.” and (not pictured here) “Mouth of animals; particular design in forming them. Wood-pecker. Cross-bill. Bills of ducks and geese. Oyster-catcher. Choetodon. Chance. Atheism.”

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I will give an extremely special prize as well as certain micro-celebrity to any blog reader who can provide documentation of herself reciting these enumerations at a poetry reading.

As for the impeccable science that I’ve promised you: after a lengthy description of the nerves of the face and the ways that nerves control muscles, author Rev. T. H. Gallaudet proceeds to explain facial expressions, which “seem to be the very coming out of the soul.”

You, like me, may be thinking, “but I want my soul to stay in, where it belongs,” but that’s not what Rev. T. H. Gallaudet wants to talk about! No, he wants us to understand how uniquely human are facial expressions:

Many animals, you know, have no such expressions of face at all; and none of them have any thing like the different kinds,–the beauty, the strength, and the meaning, which the expressions of the human face have… a dog expresses a very few things by his face. A man can express,–oh! how many different kinds of thoughts, and feelings, in his countenance.

To which I say:

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Gallaudet has proof, though! Just look at these lifelike engravings of a woman with soulful eyes and a disenchanted pup with Farrah Fawcett hair:

Why, you may ask, does that dog look so vacuous? In part, explains Gallaudet, it’s because animals don’t have souls, which I’m not prepared to debate here. In other part, it’s because:

Some [beasts] have some muscles and nerves, in their faces, like ours; but none of them as many; and most of them have very few, indeed… They do not think and feel, as we do… even, if they had a soul like ours, it could not show itself, its thoughts and its feelings, on their faces, as our souls do; because they have not the muscles and nerves, that are necessary to give all kinds of expressions to the face.

Hmmm. We may have to agree to disagree here, sir.

What about human facial expressions, though? What do those do, besides proving that we have souls?

Well, they can show our habits of expression, which I think is an old-fashioned way of saying that if you make a funny face for too long, you’ll get stuck that way. For instance, look at this disheveled man who apparently strikes strange children in the street. He’s been angry for so long that “he can hardly look pleasant, if he tries”:

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And here’s the same man after brushing his hair and putting on a less-floppy collar:

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Just kidding! That’s a different man. That’s Uncle John, who’s full of kind and benevolent feelings. That’s why his eyebrows look so neat.

On a completely different note, I would be loathe to sign off without showing you this engraving–demonstrating the difference between instinct and behavior–of a woman frightening off a tiger with her parasol. It’s science! Impeccably!

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