The Best 1869 Fashion Trends to Try This Spring

As the weather’s warming up, you may be considering a refresh to your spring and summer wardrobe. Luckily, we have an 1869 issue of The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine to help you find the season’s most stunning looks.

First and foremost, of course, one must consider the proper bonnets: billowy, floral, and decidedly dainty.

IMG_0780

Once one’s coiffure is properly obscured, it’s time to shop for the essentials–layered silhouettes, miles of ruffles, and all the best trends to try this spring!

Embrace the season in this breezy day-to-night look, which includes ample tassels and a wee parasol to help you keep your cool street-side.

IMG_0770

If you’re ready to trade in your sarong and get creative with this season’s swimwear, our magazine has some beach-ready looks for you:

IMG_0778

For those who prefer strolling to swimming, we have an airy ensemble that also sounds like a spooky plumbing malfunction:

IMG_0771

If you’re searching for hot summer looks for the whole family, may we suggest these voluminous ensembles for your young lady’s puppet-watching needs?

IMG_0773

This smart and wearable ensemble is perfect for feeling giddy near swans:

IMG_0775

We hope these bold styles and versatile classics will help inspire your new look!

Spring in Special Collections

It’s finally been feeling like spring in Rhode Island this week, which has everyone feverishly thinking about crocuses and tulips, budding trees, mud puddles, and every other seasonal motif one can list.

For instance, we’ve been dreaming about soft, fuzzy chicks…

IMG_0696

Novellus Libellus institutionum pro tyronibus. Cologne: Thomas Odendall, 1742.

And loveable, huggable bunnies.

IMG_0694

Conference program, New England Convention of Magicians. Boston: NECM, 1947.

Phew! Yikes! Happy spring!

Scientific Methods: Appleton and The Young Chemist

We wanted to share some excellent scientific illustrations from a recently-cataloged, 1897 edition of John Howard Appleton’s The young chemist: a book of laboratory work for beginners. 

Appleton, born in Maine in 1844, was a chemistry professor at Brown University, as well as the Rhode Island State Sealer of Weights and Measures. (What a fantastic title, right?) He wrote twelve chemistry texts, including The young chemist, which was first published in 1878.

img_0578

The Year-Book of Education for 1879 describes The young chemist thusly:

The Young Chemist is a manual of instruction in chemistry on the experimental or object method, of which the characteristic advantages as regarded by the author are: the apparatus described and the supplies called for are of the simplest character; the experiments are described in clear and simple language, and in direct form; dangerous experiments are excluded; the chemical elements are discussed in a scientific order; formulas and reactions are introduced freely, so that the student learns the new nomenclature and the new notation without suspecting it.

This description fails to mention the detailed illustrations, which really have everything one could want in terms of chemistry-themed visuals:

img_0579

Test tubes! Open flames!

img_0577

A guy blowing bubbles in a beaker!

img_0576

Quartz (SiO2) crystals, which looks to be straight out of the Cueva de los Cristales!

If this blog post is causing you to have an insatiable urge to carry out simple science experiments, you should check out NPR’s article on experiments using leftover Halloween candy. Just make sure to keep Appleton’s hints in mind.

img_0580

 

Closing Out the Cruelest Month

I don’t know about all of you, especially if you’re reading this in Australia, but I’m pretty darn excited that it’s finally spring.

The flowering trees here in Providence are really doing their thing.

IMG_0345

Illustration from Les roses: peintes par P.J. Redoute, decrites et classees selon leur ordre naturel par C.A. Thory (Paris, 1835). Yes, I know that a rose is not technically a flowering tree.

People are throwing open their windows and doors, and flooding out onto the sidewalks.

IMG_0343

Frontispiece from James Thomson’s The seasons: containing, spring. summer. fall. winter (Philadelphia, 1795).

Baby animals are being small and hilarious.

giphy

Nothing to do with Special Collections, everything to do with ducklings in ramekins, via GIPHY.

People are sweeping off their driveways, painting their fences, and pressing seeds into the ground. Here’s a 100% accurate description of me in my garden, courtesy of Henry Ward Beecher’s 1857 Plain and pleasant talk about fruits, flowers, and farming:

IMG_0347

When the winter lets us out, and we are exhilarated with fresh air, singing birds, bland weather, and newly-spring vegetation, our ambition is to lay out too much work. We began with an acre, in garden… By reference to a Garden Journal (every man should keep one), we find that we planted in 1840, sixteen kinds of peas; seventeen kinds of beans; seven kinds of corn; six kinds of squash; eight kinds of cabbage; seven kinds of lettuce; eight sorts of cucumber, and seven of turnips… Although we worked faithfully, early and late, through the whole season, the weeds beat us fairly.

You shall not discourage me, Henry Ward Beecher! I’m planting fifteen more kinds of peas as soon as I get home from work today.

Enjoy the warm(er) weather, dear readers, stop by Special Collections to look at historical field guides to flowers and sea shells, and stay tuned for a blog post on the most questionably-themed historical children’s book we’ve seen to date.

Very Merry

The winter solstice has passed, Christmas is nearly upon us, and we’ve been enjoying some of the seasonal cultural artifacts found here in Special Collections. Read on for an assortment of favorites:

IMG_0034

The illustration above, from Roger Duvoisin’s 1945 The Christmas Whale, shows a crowd of seals, polar bears, birds, and a lone human waving goodbye to Santa’s cetacean gift-delivery service. Look at those polar bears’ little tails!

For those of you more interested in, say, spending the winter months skiing while wearing a silky turban, we offer you this cover from a December 1939 issue of Vogue:

IMG_0038

Our Updike History of Print collection contains an interesting 1951 reprint of Nicholas Breton’s The Twelve Moneths and Christmas Day, set in Riverside Caslon and illustrated with pseudo-Greek decorations.

IMG_0039

(Nothing says Christmas like a flute, identical twin ducks, a turkey on a leash, figgy pudding in a fire pit, and an extremely small yet muscular man striding confidently through the scene.)

For those of you who can’t get enough historical Christmas images, I highly recommend checking out the American Antiquarian Society’s digital exhibit on chromolithographer Louis Prang, known as “the father of the Christmas card”. They have some beautiful Christmas- and winter-themed images featured on their Instagram, as well.

 

The PPL in Hard Times

I found a series of annual pamphlets issued by the library in the archives, and the ones for 1931 and 1932 struck me as particularly relevant. “With more time on their hands on account of irregular employment and with less money to spend for amusements, men and women are turning more and more to that ancient indoor sport–reading–for their recreation.” Sound familiar? What follows is a mix of statistics and examples of how the library is serving more and more people, and so needs greater support from the community.

The 1932 pamphlet, referring to the library as “Depression College,” drives the point home: “with industry and commerce almost at a standstill because of the lack of business, the Public Library has had the busiest year in its history. Unemployment for the population of a city means reduced incomes–less to spend for automobiles, moving pictures, golf and other recreations. Enforced leisure demands an outlet. The free Public Library meets that requirement.”

The more things change….