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Detail from 1977 German movie poster for The Blue Bird.

While cataloging the University Art Collection’s 509 German movie posters this summer, I came across this 1977 poster for the film The Blue Bird (released in East Germany as Der blaue Vogel). The artistic style makes this poster stand out from the others, and it is also unusual in the collection since it was designed by a woman, Roswitha Grüttner.

1977 German movie poster for The Blue BirdRoswitha Grüttner (born 1939 in Heidebreck, Germany) has worked as an artist, illustrator, and designer from the completion of her degree in design and book art in 1964. Although this poster is more representational and realistic than most of her work, it is less so than most poster illustration of the period.

The Blue Bird, a play in six acts, was first published in 1908 as L’Oiseau bleu. The playwright, Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), went to a Jesuit school as a child, where he smuggled poetry books into the school grounds.

People have connected The Blue Bird to socialist ideology, and evidence from Maeterlinck’s other writings suggests that he may have done so as well. The connection between this passage and parts of The Blue Bird is not difficult to draw. At the beginning of the play, siblings Mytyl and Tyltyl look enviously out of their window into the house of the rich children who live next door. Mytyl complains that it isn’t fair for her family to go hungry while others have more than enough to eat. After a dream adventure in search of the Blue Bird of Happiness, they return home to discover that the Blue Bird was in their own backyard the entire time. They unhesitatingly give it to their neighbor’s sick daughter, and learn to be content with what they have.

--Isabelle Raposo, 2018 University Art Collection Summer Intern from Wellesley College

 

 

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Books detail

The year 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Douglass (circa February 1818 - February 20, 1895). Born into slavery in Tuckahoe, Maryland, Douglass boldly escaped from slavery to the North in 1838. For many years, he was active as a speaker and organizer in the abolitionist movement to end slavery in the United States. In 1845, he published his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. During the Civil War era, Douglass published his own abolitionist newspapers and spoke with President Abraham Lincoln on occasion. During Reconstruction, he continued to fight for civil rights for both African Americans and women.

From 1877 to 1881, Douglass served as the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia. On December 17, 1879, Douglass penned a letter to a Mr. Robinson about an image of himself that appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, a notable newspaper of the time featuring images drawn from photographs and sketches.1 It seems that Mr. Robinson worked for Frank Leslie’s. That particular periodical published an interview with Douglass, accompanied by an etching, on December 13, 1879. In his letter, Douglass informed his correspondent that he “was more than pleased with your reports of the interview published in the weekly,” but then he weighed in on the accompanying image:

The portrait was satisfactory – about as much so as pictures of the sort can well be to those who happen to be pictured. I do not see myself as others see me and therefore I may be pardoned if I fancy myself a little better looking than your picture makes me. Upon the whole however, I like the picture and recognize the justice of the hand that traced it.           

 Letter from Frederick Douglass to Mr. Robinson

Douglass’s letter derives from the John Gilmary Shea papers (box 2, folder 52), a manuscript collection here at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Shea, the preeminent American Catholic historian of the nineteenth century, worked as an editor for Frank Leslie’s for a time. Shea was also an avid collector of documents and signatures of notable people, so it seems likely that he obtained this letter while working at the newspaper. The document bears the “Shea Col” stamp placed there by an archivist at Georgetown College (now University) after the Shea papers arrived at the Georgetown College archives in 1892.

In the interview in the December 13 edition of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Douglass contends that although some African Americans may find opportunities in the North, others could find opportunities in the South. Douglass was aware of challenges in the South, however, as he said, “There is no doubt that in certain sections of the South, especially in Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, violence and intimidation have been resorted to.”  

The image Douglass saw in Frank Leslie’s on December 13, reproduced below, depicts Douglass in his role as U.S. Marshal, seated at his desk in City Hall.

Frederick Douglass image

Douglass’s letter reflects his gentle sense of humor about his likeness. The etching it references, however, represents just one of the many images of Douglass made during his lifetime. Scholars John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, and Celeste-Marie Bernier identified Frederick Douglass as “the most photographed American of the nineteenth century.”2  Through their research, the authors discovered 160 distinct photographs of Douglass. That figure does not include all of the engravings, lithographs, sketches, paintings, and other non-photographic images of Douglass over the years. The image from Frank Leslie’s seems to be an etching.

--Scott S. Taylor, Manuscripts Archivist

1Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper is available online from Accessible Archives. In the December 13, 1879 issue, the image of Douglass is on page 257 and the interview is on pages 258-259.

2John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, and Celeste-Marie Bernier, Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American (New York: Norton, 2015), ix.

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Items from Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection
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Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

Woodstock Scholastics

The sixth treasure in the Woodstock Theological Library is actually a collection of items, or rather photos. As noted on our website, the Library began its life as the archival repository and library for Woodstock College, a Jesuit seminary that began in 1869, and closed in 1974. As the archival repository it held much of the personal papers and photos of Jesuits from the Maryland Province. One of the Jesuits who taught at Woodstock was an incredible photographer, John Brosnan (1860-1949), whose skill with a camera and in the darkroom, was even recognized by Eastman- Kodak. Brosnan, or Father Johnnie, as he was called due to his congeniality, taught chemistry and other science courses at Woodstock, and it was this knowledge and exactness that yielded thousands of beautifully exposed prints and glass slides.Group of Parishioners Outside

Campion Hall

Brosnan’s skill was recognized by his superiors early on in his Jesuit career, and for nearly 50 years he served as the photographer for the Maryland Province.  As the province photographer, Brosnan’s photographs form an incredible record of Jesuit institutions and Catholic life that is indispensable for historians. 

Mrs. Santulli two daughters

Group of Jesuit scholastics

Workers at Monroe Ruins

His prints serve as an incredible exploration of the spiritual geography of faith. Moreover, his meticulous compositions, and the lushness of tones, almost invite the viewer into a contemplative state.

 Auriesville Shrine

Shadowbrook Dining Hall

Wernersville

Monroe Dormitory

Thanks to the preservation efforts of Jesuits at Woodstock College, and the Georgetown library, thousands of Brosnan's prints were saved and preserved. Brosnan's prints are now available for all to see through Digital Georgetown

Entry by Adrian Vaagenes

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Items from Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection
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Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

This week’s post, the sixth in our series Treasures from Woodstock Theological Library is a revisiting of the fourth blog post about Francis Barnum, S.J. and the Torah scroll he donated to the Woodstock College in 1871. As the wooden case which houses the Torah scroll indicates, he acquired it in Jerusalem:

פר׳ יר׳ ברנם הבלתימורי הבא ספר התורה הזה מירושלים ויתן לבת הזה בשנת ישועה יהוה אתעא

Fr[ancis] Yr' Barnum, the Baltimorian, brought this book of the Torah from Jerusalem and gave it this house in the year of the salvation of The LORD.

Since Fr. Barnum’s papers are part of the manuscript collection in Booth Family Center for Special Collections, finding the exact place and day he acquired it seemed possible. After reviewing his files on his Palestinian itinerary and other related files he kept on travels near Palestine, however, no specific reference to his acquisition of the Torah scroll was found.

What we did discover are his accounts of the daily events of his trip. Below is the first page from his diary which he called “Tour in Palesinte”.  As you can see, most of his entries are brief but he often commented on the taxing travels by camel, or where he stopped to eat lunch; he comments on the landscape noting wadis, beaches, and flocks of goats.

 

Journal Entry

Of special note are the flourishes and, sometimes, random illustrations he made in his diary. Here, he adorns the cover of his diary with an geometric shape “from an old mosque near Baalbec.” [take out the nautical one] To supplement his descriptive entries, he also kept a map charting his course in throughout Palestine. 

Barnum Diary

 

 

Along with his diaries, he included a map charting his course in throughout Palestine.

Map of Palestine 

Given his painstaking documentation of his journey it seems that his travels were of great import to him and he undoubtedly shared his experiences with his friends and family. 

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Items from Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection
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Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

 Carey BibleCarey Bible First Page

For our fifth week in our Treasures From Woodstock Theological Library series, we have the Carey Bible. Published in 1790 by Mathew Carey, it’s namesake, the Carey Bible was the first Catholic bible to be published in America. With only an estimated 25,000 catholics living in the United States at the time, the Carey Bible was a risky venture for the publisher, but strongly supported by John Carroll, the future founder of our dear university, who originally signed up to receive 20 copies.

Mathew Carey Publisher

The Carey Bible was sold via subscription with 48 weekly parts at around 12 cents per installment and later bound by the purchaser. The text itself is not a new translation, but is a copy of the famed 1609 Douay-Rheims English Bible, which Woodstock Library also owns. Though close to 500 copies of the first edition were printed, it is estimated that only 35 survive. The Woodstock Library is lucky to own three copies of this historic text.

One of the interesting features of the Carey Bible for historians of American Catholicism is that the Bible also contains a page listing the subscribers and their locations. The list reads like a who’s who of Catholic families and ex-Jesuits (the society was suppressed at the time), and is a treasure trove of information. Subscribers range from laborers, merchants, priests, and two signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Subscription List

To study this text first hand we welcome you to visit our library.

Written by Adrian Vaagenes


Jackson, Joseph. “FIRST CATHOLIC BIBLE PRINTED IN AMERICA.” Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, vol. 56, no. 1, 1945, pp. 18–25. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44209579.

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Detail from Alexandra David-Neel Letter

Photo of Alexandra David-NeelSeven years ago, I curated an exhibition on women travelers at the Booth Center for Special Collections. During my research I was surprised and delighted by the discovery of the trove of women’s papers held in the manuscripts repository: diaries, letters, and manuscript works that, for the most part, had been forgotten or side-lined by the major collecting areas -- my understanding is that this is not an unusual phenomenon unless an archive has been created with a specific focus on women’s collections.

One of the sub-themes of the exhibition was intrepid women travelers to remote and so-called “exotic” locations. Of course the names of Gertrude Bell and Freya Stark come to the fore – and I was rewarded by finding letters, books and photographs to represent them. Then a helpful colleague told me about Alexandra David-Neel (1868-1969), described variously as explorer, Buddhist spiritualist, writer and anarchist, who garnered fame not only by traveling to Lhasa, Tibet in 1924 when it was closed to foreign visitors, but also as the first woman to do so. Needless to say, I was crestfallen not to have come across anything by her in the repository. My exhibition went on without this amazing and fascinating woman traveler.

Last month, I found myself looking into a box of letters written to Marie-Therese Cosme, wife of Henri Cosme, the French ambassador to China in 1939. There, a few folders from the front were two letters written in the neat, legible hand of Alexandra David-Neel. Both are dated during the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945), at the time David-Neel, aged 69, was trekking through China to Tibet, with all of her research, translation materials and books. The latter items are her primary concern as she appeals in two letters to Madame Cosme for help to locate and secure them at the English and Canadian mission stations in Chansi and Hunan, as well as at her house, where they were stored.

Following are the two letters from Alexandra David-Neel to Marie Therese Cosme. I have provided a rudimentary translation of the first, dated August 1, 1939; you can find the translation at the end of this post. I invite readers to try their hand at translating the other. Better yet, contact me to arrange for a visit to view these in person!

(Click images to enlarge.)

Handwritten letter from Alexandra David-NeelHandwritten letter from Alexandra David-Neel

Handwritten letter from Alexandra David-NeelHandwritten letter from Alexandra David-Neel

Alexandra David-Neel was born Louise Eugenie Alexandrine Marie David in Saint-Mande, Paris, France, on October 24, 1868. She was the daughter of Louis David, a journalist and teacher. Her mother was from Belgium where the family relocated and resided until David-Neel was six. A precocious and intrepid explorer of her own backyard as a child, David-Neel never outgrew her wanderlust.  When she was 17 she took a train to Switzerland, across the Saint Gotthard Pass to Lake Maggiore in Italy. A year later she cycled to Spain and then to London, where she became involved in a study group associated with the Theosophical Society founded by Madame Blavatsky. In 1889, David-Neel moved to Paris to audit courses in Eastern religions at the Sorbonne. Women were not admitted for degrees. In 1890, she travelled to India funded by an inheritance from her grandmother.  When funds ran out, she joined a traveling opera company as a singer. The company performed in North Africa and Algeria where she met and married a railroad engineer, Philippe Neel. As always, ahead of her time, she hyphenated her surname to include both maiden and married names.

By 1911, David-Neel had gained some renown in France through lectures on Eastern religions. She was able to return to India on a grant from the French Ministry of Education to study Sanskrit in Benares. During this trip she met the 13th Dalai Lama, recently fled from Tibet after an incursion from China. David-Neel became the first noted woman to engage in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama on spiritual enlightenment. In 1924, David-Neel visited Lhasa, Tibet, in disguise, with her long-time traveling companion, a young Lama named Aphur Yongden. She remained in Lhasa for two months, although she never renewed her acquaintance with the Dalai Lama.

David-Neel returned to France for some years between 1925 and 1937 when she again traveled to China. Unfortunately, this time she was caught in the outbreak of the Second World War and was unable to return home until 1946.

Along with translations of Tibetan sacred texts, David-Neel wrote over 30 published books on Eastern religion, philosophy and spiritualism. From book sales she was able to purchase a house in Digne-les-Bains, France, where she lived out her life with Yongden, who died in 1955. David-Neel lived to her 100th year. In 1973 her ashes and those of Yongden’s were scattered on the Ganges River near Benares. Her house in Digne is now the Alexandra David-Neel Museum. David-Neel was also recipient of numerous honors, including the Gold Medal of the Geographic Society of France, and was named a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.

--Lisette Matano, Manuscripts Archivist

Image Credits and Citations:

1. [Alexandra David-Neel in Eastern garments]
Fotograf ukjent, Reprofotografi Meyer, Elisabeth
Portrett av Alexandra David-Neels, Tibet 1933. Bildetekst: Vår tids største kvinnelige oppdagelsesreisende, Alexandra David-Neels. Halskjedet er laget av 108 pannebraskstykker og på høire side sees det omtalte magiske lårben. 16 x 10,7 cm Sølvgelatin.
NMFF.003380-3-1. Preus Museum. URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/preusmuseum/5268407644/in/album-72157625616058050/

2. [Letter 8/1/1939]
Marie-Therese Cosme papers, GTM-940608, Box 1, Folder 3. Booth Family Center for Special Collections.

3. [Letter 5/24/1941]
Marie-Therese Cosme papers, GTM-940608, box 1, Folder 4. Booth Family Center for Special Collections.

Translation of first letter:

Catholic Hospital, Kanting-Tetsienlou (Sikang)
1st August 1939

Madame,

The difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves in China appear to be appropriate excuse for certain importunities. I hope that you share this opinion and pardon me for addressing you on the subject of my personal affairs, even though I’m not known to you.

Charged with a mission, I found myself in the mountains, in Chansi, collecting interesting information on oriental studies, when war broke out. It was impossible for me to return to Peking, and having reached Taiyuan, I had to flee hastily to avoid finding myself in a conquered [zone?] and to ensure freedom of movement. During the escape I lost a part of my luggage; another part was saved and stored at the English Baptist mission in Taiyuan, while what remains at my house in Peking has been secured by the ambassador and Dr. Bussiere.

These recent events: pillaging of the English mission at Sifeng (Chansi) which led to abandonment by the missionaries, burning of the Canadian mission in Hunan and massacre of several Chinese members, make me afraid for the fate of the English mission in Taiyan and afraid about my belongings there. I wish to convey some instructions [information] to the director of this mission that he will find helpful if he has to leave. You will see for yourself what this is and also know what is in the other letters which will apprise you completely.

It is necessary that these letters are transmitted as soon as possible to the Ambassador of Peking who will give them to Dr. Bussiere. Monsieur F. Lacaste is current on this matter anyway and together with Dr. Bussiere he will know the means to reach Rev. Price, whom this concerns.

I do not dare to disturb the Ambassador about this but I think being a woman permits me to appeal to you.

Once again, I wish, Madame, to be excused of my importunity, and express my best appreciation and devotion,

Alexandra David-Neel

 

 

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 Torah Scroll

In this fourth post on our treasures, we highlight our Torah Scroll. 

Not only is the scroll itself magnificent but a special wooden case was made to house it. Upon the case is the following inscription, noting its donor and provenance:

פר׳ יר׳ ברנם הבלתימורי הבא ספר התורה הזה מירושלים ויתן לבת הזה בשנת ישועה יהוה אתעא

Fr[ancis] Yr' Barnum, the Baltimorian, brought this book of the Torah from Jerusalem and gave it this house in the year of the salvation of The LORD.

Wooden Case for TorahHebrew Engraving

 

Francis Barnum, S.J.The biographical note in the finding aid for the papers of  Francis Barnum, S.J. (1849-1921) gives an overview of Barnum’s contributions to the Society of Jesus. He joined the society in 1880 and was subsequently sent to Alaska where he studied and mastered Innuit (now Central Yup’ik). He eventually wrote  a grammar of Innut which was published in 1901. He came back to the East Coast in 1898, first working on Wardd’s Island, New York and then coming to Georgetown where he died in 1921. It was before Fr. Barnum entered the society that he gave the scroll to Woodstock College in 1871.

In 1869 Fr. Barnum traveled to Palestine. It is possible that in his papers documenting this trip, information exists surrounding his acquisition of our Torah Scroll (stay tuned!). There are conflicting dates of the manuscript. A description of the the scroll in volume 32 of the Georgetown University Library Associates from 1993 has the following text conjectures that the scroll “...seems to have been made in East Europe by a young scribe in the early nineteenth century. The scroll was given to Woodstock in 1871 by Francis J. Barnum...” But in Public Libraries in the United States, 1876  published the following is the description of what appears to be Barnum’s manuscript “a manuscript of the tenth century, parchment, written in Hebrew, being a scroll of the book of Moses, 97 feet long and 2 feet 10 inches wide, formerly used in a synagogue in Yemen."

Despite the different dating of the scroll, some nine centuries apart, Woodstock’s unique Torah scroll and it’s case is a testament to the collecting interests of the Jesuits and their commitment to preserving them.  

 Written by Amy Phillips

 

 

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Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

Marking the third post in our series, Treasures From Woodstock Theological Library, this week we’re highlighting our copy of the first edition of The Book of Mormon.

Book of Mormon

While The Book of Mormon can be found on hotel nightstands and in the homes of Mormons around the country, the original printing is quite rare and sought after by book collectors and the faithful. Published in 1830 in the town of Palmyra, NY, only 5,000 copies were printed, but today there are fewer than 500 extant copies. The Book of Mormon is one of the sacred texts of the Mormon faith, along with the Bible, and is believed by Mormons to contain the ancient writings of prophets. The text itself is believed to be translated by Joseph Smith from ancient plates, whose location was revealed by the angel Moroni.

Title Page of The Book of Mormon

Pages from the Book of Mormon showing St. Joseph Stamp

Our copy was once owned by a Jesuit humanities program, St. Joseph in Troy, NY, it then moved to Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, NY, until finally finding its way into the Woodstock College’s collection (the source of many of our volumes) after the seminary’s closure. With such a winding path, our copy has seen better days, however, we recently sent it to a conservator, a process documented by our preservation coordinator, Karen O’Connell, and it now looks as beautiful as the day it was printed. Our copy has recently been digitized and can now be seen on Digital Georgetown, or in person within the Woodstock Theological Library.

Written by Adrian Vaagenes

 

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Portrait of John Donne

For this week’s series of Treasures from Woodstock Theological Library, we highlight our copy of Pseudo-Martyr: Wherein Out of Certain Propositions and Gradations, This Conclusion is Evicted. That Those Which Are Of Romane Religion in this Kingdome, May and Ought To Take the Oath of Allegeance  written by the celebrated English poet, John Donne. Donne wrote Pseudo-Martyr when he was 38 and it was his first published work issued in 1610. Our copy is pictured below.

Front Page of Psuedo Martyr

 

Donne, a former Catholic, converted to the protestant Church of England at age 19. His family, however, were Roman Catholics who had been persecuted and tortured for their beliefs. His maternal grandfather, John Heywood, went into exile and his stepfather, Richard Rainsford, his mother’s third husband, was imprisoned for refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance. Thus, as Olga Valbuena writes in her article “Casuistry, Martydom, and the Allegiance controversy in Donne’s Pseudo Martyr*: “Behind Donne's pained memory of his family's suffering lies a cold sympathy for those who actively seek persecution when the state offers subjects a way to avoid it through formal compliance with its oaths and acts” (50). Valbuena reiterates this point when she says:

As a former Catholic and descendent of martyrs, John Donne knew all too well the disabilities attendant on the profession of militant Catholicism. But the font of experience that made him wary of an unreflective Catholic martyrdom also made him preternaturally resistant to the absolutist impulse that offered. (53)

So, in his Pseudo-Martyr, Donne attempts to situate the phenomenon of martyrdom as an act which was necessary to the persecuted Christians of the Early Church. Whereas the ancient Roman laws dictated that Christians and their practice were forbidden on pain of death, in 17th century England, the Oath of Allegiance, could be construed as a political allegiance and not necessarily one that might preclude a commitment to Catholicism, or to the Christian faith itself. Donne expresses this not only in the prose of his Pseudo-Martyr but also poetically. These lines from Satire III, underscore this conviction:

 

Keep the truth which thou hast found; men do not stand

In so ill case here, that God hath with his hand

Signed kings blank-charters to kill whom they hate,

Nor are they vicars, but hangmen to Fate.

Fool and wretch, wilt thou let thy soul be tied

To man's laws, by which she shall not be tried

At the last day?

 

If you can't visit the Woodstock Theological Library to see the Pseudo-Martyr in person, you can view our digitized copy on Digital Georgetown.


Written by Amy Phillips

 

* Published in Religion & Literature, vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer 2000), pages 49-80

 

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Detail of Healy architecture

In honor of absolutely nothing in particular, I'm using this blog post to share one of my favorite photos from the University Archives. We have probably close to 200,000 images, so picking favorites is tricky but this image of the 1901 Junior Yard is always going to make it onto my top five list. I love it because in contrast to an abundance of staged and staid group photographs in our collection, this one exudes a more informal air.

Junior Yard 1901

(Click to enlarge.)

For anyone wondering about the age of the students portrayed, until 1919 when Georgetown Prep moved off campus to its present location in Garrett Park in Montgomery County, Maryland, there were always younger students at Georgetown. Our first student, William Gaston, enrolled at the tender age of 13. 

The Junior Yard was the athletic association for the prep students—the Yard was the comparable organization for the collegiate division. Their functions were to oversee athletic and recreational activities on campus. Over time this role broadened into other aspects of student life, and by 1920 the Yard President also served as the head of student government.

--Lynn Conway, University Archivist

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