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Georgetown traditionally played a football game on Thanksgiving Day. In 1894, the opponent was the Columbia Athletic Club (C.A.C.). The game was expected to be a close one. Ten thousand people gathered at National Park, the home of the Washington Senators baseball team at Georgia Avenue and 5th Street, N.W., to watch.  Anticipation grew as the start time approached and the crowd had a festive air.  Fish-horns, cow-bells, and every device for making noise known to the small boy at Christmas time and the Fourth of July was forced into service to supplement the refined efforts of lung power to give expression to the pent-up feelings of the excited multitude, according to the Georgetown College Journal, November 1894.

on the way to the Thanksgiving football game 1894

On the way to the Thanksgiving football game, 1894.

The C.A.C. won by a score of 20-0 in what The Washington Post described as the fiercest football game ever played in Washington. Four Georgetown players were carried off the field injured, including right-half and captain George Bahen and quarterback Bob Carmody; one CAC player broke his collarbone. At one point, a sideline fight broke out between the substitutes for both teams.

The Post attributed many of the injuries to the hardness of the ground; Georgetown supporters thought otherwise and the Georgetown student body passed a resolution the following day stating that, in view of the methods employed by the C.A.C. in the game, no member of the Georgetown Athletic Association would compete in any athletic contest with representatives of the Club. A later decision by University President J. Havens Richards went further and suspended all football.

George Daniel Bahen, known as “Shorty,” was the most seriously injured player.  Medical assessment after the game suggested that his spinal injury would result in permanent paralysis, assuming he lived.  His family kept a constant vigil at his bedside. Friends from Georgetown College visited as did, to their credit, every member of the C.A.C. team after they had been assured by Bahen’s brother than he bore them no ill-will. 

Bahen benefit program

A benefit, organized by the Law Department, was held for Bahen on March 7, 1895 to raise money to cover his medical costs. Nineteen days later he died. A memorial to him made of Virginia blue granite stands in Mount Calvary Cemetery, close to the James River, in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. It bears the following inscription: George D. Bahen, born Jan. 12, 1874, died on the 26th of March, 1895, at Washington, D.C., from injuries sustained on Thanksgiving Day, 1894, in heroically upholding the Blue and Gray of Georgetown, on the field of athletics. 

Georgetown students did not field a football team again until 1897 when intramural play resumed.  Varsity play restarted in 1898.

Lynn Conway, University Archivist

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November 4 is the birthday of artist Eugene Berman (American, born Russia, 1899 – 1972).
A leader among the Surrealist and Neo-Romantic artists, Berman often combined the two styles in his imaginary landscapes: architectural forms in deserted vistas, with romanticized figures that allude to classical figure studies. His imagery provides a commentary on the decay of the modern world, which Berman portrayed as being in ruins.
Eugene Berman
Nocturnal Cathedral, 1951
Lithograph, 10/100
13 x 9 inches
Art Collection purchase
In this print from 1951, he approaches familiar themes from a different direction. Here is an imaginary classical building, yes; but instead of a lonely structure in a desolate scene, it’s a massive cathedral completely removed from context. Is it a ruin? A mirage? We can’t know for sure, because we’re captive behind a towering brick wall that shifts in and out of focus around the picture frame. Lowering darkness prevents a clear view; a shivering tiny moon is no help at all. 
Berman has deftly swapped the visual vocabulary of vast loneliness for that of claustrophobia, to the same effect of profound isolation. The cathedral may be real; it may be a memory; but we will never reach it.
Christen E. Runge, Assistant Curator, University Art Collection
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Among its extensive collections documenting the history of the Panama Canal, the Booth Family Center for Special Collections contains the John L. Stephens–Henry Chauncey collection. That particular collection includes 15 letters from Stephens to Chauncey concerning the construction of the Panama Railroad, the world’s first transcontinental railroad and the precursor of the Panama ship canal.  Stephens and Chauncey were business partners in the Panama Railroad venture, and their correspondence sheds light on the planning and building of the railroad.

The concept of joining the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean was a long-standing dream.  Because the distance between the oceans is relatively small on the Isthmus of Panama, many people looked for a route in that area.  Although several sites were studied, Stephens and Chauncey selected the Isthmus of Panama as the most viable option. Interest in the Panama route between the seas rose when gold was discovered in California in 1848.  If somehow the oceans could be connected, a favorable route could be made across Panama, saving time to the California gold fields and replacing the long ship route around the tip of South America or the arduous land route over the American west.  In January of 1849, a group of prospectors successfully traversed the Isthmus of Panama through a combination of mule, canoe, and foot travel.

On April 21, 1849, John L. Stephens, the first president of the Panama Railroad Company, wrote a letter to his business partner Henry Chauncey about the construction of the Panama Railroad.  The letter is preserved in box 1 folder 2 of the Stephens-Chauncey collection.  Stephens began on an optimistic note:

Judging from the conversation between us this morning in walking up Broadway, that you look upon our Rail-road project as weighty and burdensome, I am induced to throw upon paper my views for carrying it out, which if I am not grossly in error make the whole matter simple, and easy of accomplishment.

Stephens described the initial steps in creating a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama:

We have, as you know ordered a steamer, which will navigate the Chagres river up to the point where our road will cross the river on its way from Panama to Navy Bay. From that point, I would build a horse rail road to the Bay of Panama, distance about twenty miles.  The steamer will cost ten or twelve thousand dollars; the road about $10000 per mile.  Three hundred thousand dollars or thereabouts would probably give us a communication which would satisfy all the wants of the travelling public, and would transport quite as many passengers, as if we had a rail road through, costing $3.000.000….  A communication of this kind could probably be put into full operation by the end of … June 1850.

In his letter, Stephens calculated the proceeds of a horse rail road.

Horse rail road proceeds

Stephens closed his letter by saying, “I am sure that if we will go on with the same spirit, and cordial cooperation with which we began and will be content with feeling our way, the whole will result successfully, and most creditably, for all concerned.”

In the postscript, Stephens listed estimated receipts for a macadamized road across Panama as calculated by Mr. Lewis, British Vice Consul of Panama in February 1845.  That particular prediction was made before the California gold rush.

Receipts for macadam road across Panama

In 1850, construction actually began on the Panama Railroad. Construction workers battled malaria, cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, and extreme heat. For his part, John L. Stephens died of fever in 1852.  When it finally opened for business, the Panama Railroad covered 47 ½ miles from shore to shore. The Panama Railroad was built in 5 years at the cost of $8 million1. When it was eventually built, the Panama Canal followed essentially the same path as the railroad.

Scott Taylor, Manuscripts Archivist


1David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977), 35.

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During a recent shift of rare books in Lauinger Library, I came upon a treasure trove of waste. Not quite what you might imagine when you hear the word “waste,” but more along the lines of an unexpected surprise to the literary imagination.

A few days later a set of questions was posted to a listserv that I follow:

What if you had a book, or set of books, of minor importance but discovered that the lining consisted of at least a portion of a highly important and rare text? Or some manuscript not previously known but of great importance? Or that the series of books each contained some portion of this manuscript? Would it then be prudent to remove the more “valuable” (in historical terms at least) material, even if you had to rebind the original volume(s) in more recent materials? Has this been known to happen?

In John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors, waste is defined:

Spoiled or surplus printed sheets are called waste. Binders have often used these in the back of a volume, for making up boards, or in earlier days for endpapers. Such waste might derive either from a printing house (proofs, trial sheets, over-running the desired quantity) or from a bookseller (surplus quires or spoiled copies of recent books, discarded fragments of old ones). Bookseller’s waste might have come from anywhere, and few conclusions can be automatically drawn from the presence of an identified piece of it found in a binding. But printer’s waste was normally disposed of nearby and can often be helpful evidence for localising the binding in which it was used.

What does one do with these hybrid creatures? Bookbinders often used “waste” material from broken books or discarded sheets to help make new ones. When manuscripts were replaced with printed copies (gasp!) the discarded manuscript was recycled to become new material for bindings. Today, this is regarded as an invaluable part of a book. Yet it raises questions: Where did the manuscript come from? Who owned it? When was the manuscript created? How do you catalog this waste that binds the text inside? It’s all a mystery until you start looking with a sharp eye.

Georgetown has a large number of books that are bound with this recycled material, just awaiting your investigative curiosity. Who knows what hidden treasures you might find?

Ethan Henderson, Rare Books Curator

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The search for a student job is as old as the need students have to work while in school—to supplement finances and/or get useful work experience in the field they wish to enter after graduation. The ideal student job, naturally, varies from person to person, but I suspect that one requiring no work, and only occasional attendance might appeal to many over-extended students. That was the kind of employment sought by Georgetown student William Joseph Holland in 1900, according to a letter written by George E. Hamilton, Dean of the Law School, to John D. Whitney, S.J., University President, on November 22nd of that year.

In Billy Holland's defense, he was a busy medical student who was also an Olympic athlete. Regarded as one of the best 40 and 50 yard runners in the country, his specialty was actually the 440 yards. He won two silver medals at the Paris Olympics in July 1900, in the 400 meters and the 100 meters handicap, and finished fourth in the 200 meters. Following his Olympic successes, he went on to become Intercollegiate Outdoor Champion in the quarter mile in 1901, with a time of 51 3/5 seconds, and in 1902, with a time of 49 3/5 seconds. He successfully completed his medical education, graduating with the degree of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in 1903. Whether or not he found the type of student employment he was seeking, records in the archives do not tell us . . .

Lynn Conway, University Archivist

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Study of a primary source such as a letter or diary is not just about performing research. You are physically, intellectually and emotionally interacting with the past. What drew you to the item in the first place? Let curiosity be the guide in finding out more about both item and creator. Ask questions about them, and set out to find the answers if you can. In a way, a researcher is a combination of detective and journalist: the former identifies the physical evidence, the latter reveals context and develops a narrative or backstory about the item and creator, with the ultimate aim of showing the world why they are important.

Here is a letter written by Christina Rossetti to a Miss Crowe regarding a forthcoming visit to the Victoria Press, which was founded by Emily Faithfull in England in 1860. Questions that could be asked to reveal context and develop a narrative about this item might include:

—Can you read the letter? (Cheat: see transcription below)
—Who was Christina Rossetti?
—What was the Victoria Press?
—Who was Emily Faithfull and what was her significance in the 19th-century publishing industry?
—Look for contextual markers such as writing style, punctuation, penmanship; references to dress.
—Consider looking at related subjects to establish the significance of the item in a broader historical and cultural context: women’s rights, business women, publishing industry, British history, 1815-1914, Victorian period literature. 

Letter transcription:

My dear Miss Crowe

Though I don’t suspect you of being an idle lady of leisure, I prefer for once troubling you with a query, rather than Miss Faithfull who must be so busy and whom I have applied to so often.

Will you very kindly inform me – I ask for a friend’s guidance – whether what I understood is true: that ladies visiting the Victoria Press must divest themselves of crinoline?

Of course if this is not the case my question must sound supremely absurd: but I really understood (or misunderstood) that so it is ruled. Anticipating thanks for your obliging answer. I remain

Sincerely yours

Christina R. Rossetti
45 Upper Albany Street, N.W.

Find help on researching primary sources in the Special Collections guide on Archival Research. Read more about researching primary sources in the “Making Sense of Evidence” series at Look out for more of my blog posts on working with manuscripts as primary sources.

Lisette Matano, Manuscripts Archivist

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One of the aspects I enjoy most about working in the University Archives is the occasional unexpected little find that I come across, serendipitously, while on the hunt for something else. This photo is an example of one of those finds.

Several months ago, while looking for pictures of former Georgetown president Coleman Nevils, S.J., I came across this delightful photograph. Tucked in amongst various headshots was this image of Nevils from his inauguration as President of Georgetown University in 1928 (Nevils is pictured third from the left). At first glance this photograph didn’t appear to be any different than the thousands of other photographs we have of University officials and guests posing together. But, upon closer inspection, I noticed that all of the men, save the one on the far right, had their eyes closed. What a wonderfully timed photograph! Or so it seemed.

When the photograph is blown up it appears that the subjects’ eyes are both open and closed. How is this possible? Photography in the 1920s had a slightly longer exposure time than we are accustomed to today. Any movements made by those being photographed within the exposure period were also captured. While this photo was being taken, five of the six men managed to blink and the developed photograph reveals an image that shows the men with their eyes both open and closed. You have to really get up close to see it but it produces quite the optical illusion.

Ann Galloway, Assistant University Archivist

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Detail from Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delawareat The Met.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the German-born history painter Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, whose monumental painting Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851) hangs regally in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and decorates the reverse of the New Jersey State Quarter. Although best known for this and his iconic Westward the Course of Empire (Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1861), commissioned for the Capitol Rotunda, Emanuel Leutze was also a talented portrait painter, and Georgetown owns the artist’s self-portrait, donated to the University in 1957 by Harold Hudson.

Leutze’s first major commission came in 1836 when he was employed to take likenesses of famous public figures for Longacre and Herring’s National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans. This was followed by two years of itinerant portrait painting in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. With income generated from sales of his work, Leutze moved back to Germany in 1840 to study at the Dusseldorf Academy, at that time the most famous school of art in Europe. While there, he experienced the German revolutions of 1848-49 and was a strong advocate of its goals of unifying the German states and challenging political systems that had been in place for centuries. To encourage the liberal reformists, he decided to paint the now famous scene from the American Revolution depicting Washington courageously leading his troops across the Delaware River to Trenton, N.J. during the momentous night of December 25th, 1776.  

In 1845 the artist met and married Juliane Lottner, daughter of a military officer. He painted her portrait, now at the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, early in their marriage.

It is thought that Georgetown’s self-portrait, by far the best likeness Leutze painted of himself, was created around the same time, a common practice in celebration of betrothals and weddings. The portrait is rendered with such skill in naturalism that one can barely detect the lenses of the artist’s spectacles.

Leutze’s hometown of Schwabisch-Gmund commemorated the centennial of the artist’s birth earlier this year with a grand retrospective of his work.

LuLen Walker, University Art Collection Curator

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A collection of East German film posters, most from the 1980s, lends a lighter tone to that region’s time spent under Soviet rule. East German film posters of foreign movies always differ from the originals, even if these differences are barely noticeable. Some of these posters were newly created through the commission of East German artists. Other posters kept the same promotional features displayed in their Western counterparts, save for a few minor changes, such as in chosen fonts.

The countries of production for the films advertised by the posters are surprisingly varied. There are token Soviet satellite state productions, such as Antonyho šance [Anthony’s Chance] from the CSSR and Die Csárdásfürstin [The Csárdás Princess] from Hungary. On the other hand, there are many posters depicting Western productions. France, Italy and the U.S. are the most frequent production countries we see while sifting through the film posters. Considering restrictive Soviet oversight of East German propaganda, the inclusion of movies such as Legal Eagles from the U.S. and Les Ripoux [My New Partner] from France may seem more than a bit confusing. But most of the posters for these movies, as mentioned before, were redone by East German artists to fit East German—or rather Soviet—ideological standards.

While all of the posters were either created or modified by East German artists, a third or more of the films themselves were produced in East Germany by DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft), better known as the production company that churned out all East German films. DEFA was a major vehicle for Soviet efforts to turn East Germans away from their recent Nazi past and toward a Communist-utopian future. The company held a virtual monopoly on the film industry, as well as the final word in the visual composition of the film posters.

One film poster quickly catches the eye. The objects of attention are not the graphics but rather the countries of production, East and West Germany. flüstern & SCHREIEN [Whisper and Shout] is a documentary film made in collaboration by West German film crews with DEFA. The film documents young people in the 1980s East German punk rock scene and the music genre’s perceived subversiveness. Visually, the poster, a photo-collage, represents the documentary’s contents well; young men and women with spiked hair, metal piercings, and dark face makeup walk the streets, attracting disapproving looks from those around them. In a country as politicized as East Germany, the fact that this poster was widely circulated, as well as the subsequent popularity of the film, comes as a surprise. Perhaps the best explanation for its popularity is the year the documentary was produced, 1988. Just a year later, the Berlin Wall fell and East Germany ceased to exist. flüstern & SCHREIEN foreshadowed changing political values and social tensions. Its poster is here to remind us how revealing films are of the social, political and economic climate of the countries in which they were produced.

The University Art Collection holds 500 film posters from East Germany and 205 from West Germany, purchased from a collector in 2008.

Stefania Lazar (C’2018), Booth Family Center for Special Collections Student Assistant

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Off-campus users may experience problems using Google Scholar to access GU library resources. Some users have reported seeing the following error:

 "ERROR for site owner: Invalid domain for site key

This is related to Google Scholar's interactions with our proxy server. If you experience this error and are off-campus, a possible workaround is to go directly to Google Scholar (i.e., not through our proxy server). This will allow you to search Google Scholar, although you won't see the "Find Full Text @ GU" links within GS using this method.

We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to have this problem fixed soon.

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Electronic Resources Updates