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!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Archive Adventures: Rah! Rah! Sis Boom Bah!

It's that time of year again at PSU! As the trees shed their verdant color for more flamboyant hues, a chill takes the air, and coffee shops offer everything in pumpkin flavor, we start to look fondly back on yesteryear. That's's Homecoming. This weekend, in a flurry of blue and white, alumni, students, and fans alike will flock to the University Park campus to raise the song. It's a time filled with celebration, reminiscing, and hope. So what better way to get in the State spirit than to take a trip down memory lane with the nearest and dearest friend of the early PSU student!

The student handbook. In the early days it really was a "hand book" in that it fit easily in a pocket or hand, and would have been the underclassman's touchstone. These books introduced the students to college life, from the expectations in behavior, dress, and social etiquette to information about the surrounding area, "village" (aka State College) publications, and local or university activities. They also advertised...a lot.

Our handbooks, the oldest we have being 1894-95, provide enthralling glimpses of what was important during certain eras. In a few of the earliest, the largest sections are dedicated to information about religious organizations around or on campus, and encouraged the student...well, required find a place of worship and participate. Religion, to the late 19th/early 20th century student, was an important facet of his or her education, and a place to make important connections, both spiritually and socially. One handbook even suggests that you should put your books under your bed on Sundays, because you need a day of rest in order to tackle the rest of the college week. As time goes on, pictures, more rules, athletic/Greek directories, letters from the Deans and President, and cheers/songs were added into the books and the religious aspect was dropped completely.

It was also a class custom that underclassmen had to have these books on them at all times and could be asked--a la "your papers, please"--to produce them at any moment by upperclassmen. Freshman today, you think you have it bad trying to find your classes, move-in, and get all your books in the first week? Try being a freshman in 1926-27. Here are some of the more outrageous (by today's standards) year-round customs that were required:

1. The privilege of going bareheaded is limited to seniors.
16. Freshmen shall at all times keep off the grass and on the cinder paths.
25. Freshmen shall not be associate with ladies within a three-mile limit of Old Main except at regular house party periods, or when attending authorized dances, or when escorting to and from such dances...

Dinks, the caps worn by Freshmen men during the early 20th century

On that note, women had their own separate rules to abide by when at college. As late as 1939-40, strict curfews abounded and the times they started depended on the occasion and your class standing (freshman vs. senior). Ladies of PSU not only had codes that applied only to freshmen, they had codes that were strictly enforced applying to their entire gender!

6. Freshman (first semester) may have association with men off campus or in dormitories up until 5:45 p.m. on weekdays, after which time there will be absolutely no association with men.

Dormitory rules: ...Any girl leaving town for the night or week-end must secure permission from the hostess and sign out with the checker-in of her dormitory...

General rules: All girls are subject to the W.S.G.A. regulations while in State College. Girls may not remain away from the dormitory overnight or stay in fraternity houses during Spring or Fall Houseparty. Girls may be in fraternities only when two or more couples are present.

If freshmen missed all the rules in their handbook they could also be reminded of their place via Proclamations. These were made by the upperclassmen and reminded the incoming class of their tenuous position in the university pecking order. So, if you were caught without your handbook, you could always look to the walls of campus to find these posters.

Uh, I guess they really mean business!

If the skull and crossbones didn't get it across, this other poster illustrates the consequences of freshmen transgressions.

The pictures on this one are a laugh riot. Crying babies capped in dinks!

You really couldn't miss their point. You were going to make a mistake at some point, and when you did...there would be an upperclassman to see it, and they were going to punish you. I mean, seriously. Look at all those rules! College really was a way of life to the student back then.

The rules, rendered into delightful prose!

All in all, today's PSU is a different place. Our handbooks are no longer hand-sized (they are 8.5"x 11"), and they don't cover curfews or rules about campus etiquette. So freshman of the 21st century, fear not. You won't be paddled for walking on the green or forgetting to wear your dink. However, I'm sure (though I don't speak for all of us) librarians and archivists alike would agree with this section of the old handbook:

Okay, so there's no more card catalog; it's now the CAT. You get what I mean.

Enjoy Homecoming Weekend and Fight on, State!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Special Collections Gallery Talk Highlights Picture Books for Children

A Special Collections Gallery talk on Wednesday, October 10, at 4:00 p.m. in the Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, will highlight a new exhibition in the Special Collections Library. “Heinrich Hoffmann’s Stories for Children and the Emergence of the Modern Picture Book,” opening on October 8, will explore the work of Hoffmann (1809–1894), a German psychiatrist whose most popular book, Struwwelpeter, has delighted children on both sides of the Atlantic since its first publication in 1845.

Gerhard F. Strasser, professor emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at Penn State, will introduce an engaging video featuring Frau Marion Herzog-Hoinkis, of Frankfurt, Germany. Herzog, whose late husband, Gerhard Hertz Herzog, was director of the Struwwelpeter Museum in Frankurt am Main, will give a lively, illustrated tour of the history and influence of the boy called Shockheaded Peter, as he is known in English, and will explain how there came to be a museum devoted to a fictional character.

The video, produced by Berlin videographers Alexander Kraudelt and Victoria Magali Herzog, is accompanied by the darkly humorous songs of the Tiger Lillies, a British trio often described as the forefathers of Brechtian Punk Cabaret. Their 1998 musical “Shockheaded Peter: A Junk Opera” set the stories of Heinrich Hoffmann to music.

Frau Herzog recently donated to the Special Collections Library some 300 items from her personal collection of editions, translations, imitations, and parodies of the story, many of them included in the exhibition. Early children’s books were moral tales about teaching virtues or etiquette. Hoffmann’s genius is that he turned such moral tales upside down and made fun of them with his exaggerated stories. The iconic status of Struwwelpeter is a testimony to Hoffmann’s radical and original influence on the modern picture book, where the text and the illustrations are integral and equal. His innovation was the birth of the funny picture book, whose legacy includes comic books and even the graphic novel. Hoffmann’s influence can also be seen in modern examples in the exhibition, including works by Edward Gorey and Maurice Sendak.

The exhibition draws on the extensive holdings of children’s literature in the Allison-Shelley Collection of German Literature in English Translation. A special feature of the display will highlight educational toys developed by the 19th-century German educator Friedrich Froebel, who created the concept of the “kindergarten” and coined the word.

The gallery talk will be followed by a reception in the Mann Assembly Room, 103 Paterno Library. The exhibition will run through January 25, 2013.