Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Archive Adventures: I've Put a Spell on You

Once upon a desk shift dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many quaint and curious boxes of forgotten lore,
While I typed there, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at the archive door.
"'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, "tapping at the archive door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Things are getting spooky in Special Collections. Michelle Belden,  our Access Archivist, shows off her Gorey-themed costume with examples of the inspiration! 

If you think the Stacks are creepy late on a fall night, you should check out our amazing collection of strange, thrilling, and bewitching fare in the archives!

In the Exhibit Room right now is a wonderful selection of Struwwelpeter books and artifacts. Der Struwwelpeter was written by Heinrich Hoffman, a man who didn't think that life was scary enough for 19th-century children and decided to terrorize them some more in the form of children's picture books. Okay, not really--he was writing moral tales on topics that middle-class parents dealt with in raising kids, and believed that children's books should be a learning tool. Still, the ways he gets his point across are understandably terrifying. Some of these illustrated tragedies include a child's thumbs being scissored off, another being swept away into the sky by a blustery storm, and one even being burned to death after playing with matches. While Struwwelpeter was probably the nightmare-fuel of children around the world, these stories are beloved across all ages and many different cultures. There are  Struwwelpeter plays and movies, academic articles, and even Struwwelpeter accessories (to go along with your new Shockheaded Peter up-do for this Halloween season)! Why not stop in and get the full history? Seeing is boo-lieving.

So much learning it'll make your hair stand on end.

"Okay, sweetie, it's time for a bedtime story!"

I believe the term used today for accessories of this nature is "swag"

If you're looking for something a bit less on the side of reliving your childhood nightmares, perhaps you might enjoy our rather large Occult collection? We have everything from the famous Aleister Crowley (including his papers!)... books on demons and Nostradamus' prophecies...

...all the way back to very old books (not bound in human skin, sorry) on the occult. 

On the other hand, sometimes around this holiday it's nice to put aside all the spooky unknown and just enjoy the decor. Bats, cats, orange, black; the sound of an owl on a crisp night and the sight of cobwebs hanging on a porch as little superheroes and ghouls run from door to door gathering candy. Well, what do you know! We've got that!

Unfortunately not included are the creepy, gorgeous prints inside! You'll have to come in to see those!

Another great cover for a book that we just got in out of storage

My particular favorite example out of all of these, though, is our Edward Gorey collection. These are a real scream...

I'll let you consider that combination for a moment...

Edward Gorey is famous for his macabre illustrated books. These are just two examples of a whole bunch I was pouring over today, and if you're a fan of surrealism or literary nonsense and don't know Gorey's work, we have a great collection of them in Rare Books. Be warned though, they might have you laughing out loud in the Reading Room and hungry for more!

Any way you like it--whimsical, terrifying, enchanting, or chilling--Halloween is fun to indulge in once a year (and by Halloween, I mean eating massive amounts of candy). Yet, long after you take your carved pumpkin off your porch and the Christmas lights start going up, you can still give yourself a good laugh or scare in the spirit of Halloween if you look in just the right places.

Happy Halloween!

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