In celebration of Women’s History Month 2019, you are invited to view a new online exhibition honoring women who have led efforts to end violence and social injustice through peaceful means. This year, I profile twelve extraordinary women from the women’s collections at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. As writers, journalists, artists, and humanitarians each contributed and participated in the ongoing effort to promote a more just and peaceful world.
Esther Neira de Calvo (1890-1978) was a prominent Panamanian educator, women’s rights advocate, politician, and diplomat. The extensive Esther Neira de Calvo papers, housed here at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections, document her extensive work as an advocate for women’s rights as well as her interactions with leading American women’s rights crusaders, including Carrie Chapman Catt and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Esther Neira de Calvo was born in Panama and studied at the Institut Pedagogique de Wavre-Notre Dame in Belgium, College of Mount St. Vincent, and Columbia University in New York. During her career in Panama, she served as Inspector General of Education (1923-1927), director of Panama’s Normal School for Women (1927-1938), and head of the Lyceum, a university preparatory school for women (1938-1945). In her native country, she also founded the National Society for the Advancement of Women (1923) and the Women’s Patriotic League (1945). As an elected delegate in 1945 to the Third Constituent Assembly, she contributed to the drafting of a new national Panamanian constitution, which was enacted in 1946. She moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States (OAS) from 1949 to 1965. The following year, the government of Panama appointed her Ambassador, Alternative Representative to the OAS. She held that position from 1966 to 1968.
Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947) was an important leader in the American women’s rights movement. In 1900, she replaced Susan B. Anthony as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Owing to her efforts and those of her fellow suffragettes, the U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment in 1920 granting American women the right to vote in political elections. Moreover, Catt was instrumental in the creation of the League of Women Voters. After World War I, Catt participated in the peace movement.
The Esther Neira de Calvo papers contain a photograph depicting both Catt and Neira de Calvo in Panama (box 6a, folder 23). In the image, dated Tuesday, March 13, 1923, Catt stands at a podium addressing the crowd at a conference at the National Institute in Panama. Catt spoke about feminism in her address titled “For the Women of Panama.” This speech was a follow-up to the Pan-American Conference of Women held in Baltimore in April 1922, which Neira de Calvo had attended as a delegate of Panama. In the photograph, Neira de Calvo, the President of the National Society for the Progress of Women, is seated to Catt’s right at the head table. Christine Bradley South, the wife of the U.S. Minister to Panama, is seated to Catt’s left. The man at the head table is most likely Minister South.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), the wife of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, worked actively for equal rights for women throughout her lifetime. She served in the League of Women Voters on the Legislative Affairs Committee. She is also known for her work with the United Nations, and she helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Roosevelt often traveled to visit leaders around the world.
The papers also include a photograph of Neira de Calvo with Eleanor Roosevelt (box 7a, folder 116). In the picture, dated October 10, 1941, Neira de Calvo shakes hands with the First Lady, who awards her an honorary Doctorate of Pedagogy from Russell Sage College in Troy, New York, for her achievements in women’s education. The event took place at an Inter-American convention. At that time, Neira de Calvo was Director of the Women’s Lyceum in Panama and Delegate of Panama to the Inter-American Commission of Women.
As demonstrated by these two photographs, which are 18 years apart, Neira de Calvo’s work on behalf of women’s rights spanned decades. She tirelessly advanced her goals. In the process, she met and cooperated with some of the leading luminaries of women’s rights in the twentieth century.
—Scott S. Taylor, Manuscripts Archivist
January 15, 2019
Assign to which blog?:
From long tables displaying bright covers of contemporary bestsellers to late 19th-century gift books within Special Collections, students, readers, and scholars are surrounded by eye-catching bindings. I long assumed decorative bindings like these were bound up in marketing efforts—a book needs to attract sufficient attention to encourage reading, conversation, and of course purchase of the title. “Cottonian bindings” refined my perspective on these relationships.
“Cottonian” binding refers to a portion of the books (still numbering well over a thousand) in the personal library of Romantic poet Robert Southey. These books were covered in pieces of patterned cloth over their plain paper bindings to protect them from wear, at a much lower cost than the calf or gilt morocco leather bindings in which wealthy book owners often had their paper books rebound. The term “Cottonian” was a sly riff on Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, whose extensive and priceless personal library became the foundation for the British Library. The paper-bound portion of Southey’s library was not even sent out to respected binders or covered by the poet himself. The books were covered by some of Southey’s own daughters, as well as other daughters of British Romantic luminaries—Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge.
The printed fabric bindings varied greatly in design and color, but as you can see were kept consistent across volumes of the same book. The relatively subdued deep red cloth covering Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet first mimics a literal cabinet—whose purpose is to best feature the objects within it. I find it delightful the Cabinet itself becomes part of a larger cabinet of curiosities, because of the unique story of its binding. The book provides a contrast to the floral motifs encasing the other two-volume works next to it.
The vibrant floral covers of The Life and Errors of John Dunton and Narrative of a Forced Journey through Spain and France as a Prisoner of War visually present celebratory bouquets to the men whose military and literary achievements are praised within the pages. However, in a preface to The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, his son Charles shares that the bindings chosen by his sisters were “sometimes contriving a sly piece of satire at the contents of some well-known author by their choice of its covering.” For that reason, there is room for consideration of these floral bindings as more ironic commentary by these women toward men who write self-congratulatory autobiographies.
Cottonian bindings do more than uniquely present some of Robert Southey’s extensive collection, speak to the range of costs of bookbinding, or illustrate the role of young women in off-market book production near the beginning of the 19th century. For instance, The Life and Errors of John Dunton is marked with Robert Southey’s name at the bottom of the title page. Yet these volumes were not identified in Southey’s library by his name or even the label with the work’s title pasted to the spine. They became known by the cloth binding the daughters chose, affirmed by how they are referred to by their binding even now. Women rebound, even began to reclaim, these works by physically preserving and aesthetically making the books known by the bindings they fixed to the books.
The social influence of Cottonian bindings did not remain in the space of Southey’s library. According to Michael Sadleir, the bindings made such an impression on the influential literary figures who passed through the Southey library that publishers were inspired to produce their own cloth bindings with embossed floral work and elaborate designs into their books. With this, a female-driven means of thriftily reinforcing book bindings in the space of a home library made its way into the commercial realm of publishing.
If Sadleir’s argument stands, Cottonian bindings are direct precursors to the highly decorative bindings I was familiar with before. Not only are Cottonian fabric covers highly variable and beautiful, providing commentary on the texts within them, they also facilitate consideration from a range of critical angles. Through these bindings, the Southey influence stretches beyond the messaging and technical influence of Robert’s poems into and beyond the unique, re-covered containers of the wide range of books he owned.
--Anastasia J. Armendariz (C’2019), Paul F. Betz Collection Research Assistant, Booth Family Center for Special Collections
December 12, 2018
Assign to which blog?:
Images of Women and a Visual Literacy Exercise
Here are two of my favorite images of women from the women’s collections at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections.
In gathering these images, I’m reminded of how important it is to recognize the value of visual artifacts such as photographs and graphic images. Visual literacy is the foundation of learning — children learn from pictures before they can read text. Images can provide a more immediate connection because they tend to elicit a more emotional response than reading a textual item. Many people already mentally transcribe textual reading into images in order to facilitate their understanding of information conveyed in words. Examining visual artifacts may reveal aspects not apparent from just reading text, making the development of perceptive and observational skills a valuable part of research. In life, visual literacy—the ability to communicate through images and to make sense of them—helps us to better read an increasingly multimedia world, especially when combined with other sensory literacies, including textual and digital literacies.
Try a visual literacy exercise by applying some of the following questions to the photographs shown here. I have provided the barest information about each. See if you can figure out something about the “who, what, where, and why”. Remember: all images are from collections at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Check out the online finding aids for these collections in order to find out more about each woman.
Leola N. King, the first traffic policewoman in the United States, on duty in Washington, D.C. (Cornelius van Engert papers, GTMGamms169, Box 10, Folder 32)
Step 1. Pick an image.
Look at it for a few minutes. Avoid reading any caption or accompanying text.
Capture your first impression in a few words about what the image shows.
Note everything you see in the image.
Step 2. Determine the purpose of the image.
Read any existing information that accompanies the image.
Who made the picture?
Who was the audience?
When was image created?
Why was the image created?
Step 3. Interpret and Communicate
Verify and support your interpretation of the original using reference sources (including the originating collection).
Share the picture with a colleague.
Compare perceptions. See anything new?
Do you agree with each other’s interpretation?
If you were provided with only a written description of the image, what would you miss?
A National League of Women’s Service poster painter in New York City. (Cornelius van Engert papers, GTMGamms169, Box10, Folder 32)
(Questions adapted from Visual Literacy Exercise by Helena Zinkham, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, June 2004).
--Lisette Matano, Manuscripts Archivist
November 20, 2018
Assign to which blog?:
The ability to print and reproduce artwork was the art world's pre-internet. Printing and sharing images allowed artists to study new styles, merge methods of art production and represent old subjects in new media, revolutionizing the art world. Without the capability of reproducing prints, Iowa born artist Bertha Boynton Lum would have never combined the French subjects of Commedia dell'arte in the style of Japanese woodblock prints.
Costume Ball (1924) Woodcut on paper by Bertha Boynton Lum Georgetown University Art Collection 1111.1.653
Born in 1869, Bertha Lum started her career in the design department at the Art Institute of Chicago at the peak of the fin de siècle style. She returned to the Art Institute in the early 19th century to work with Arthur Wesley Dow, who introduced her to Japanese Woodblock printing. While printing was not popularized in Europe until the 15th century, printing was used in Asia as early as the third century. Lum spent a seven-week honeymoon in Japan and sought a printmaker who could teach her the traditional ukiyo-e method (pictures of the floating world).
Untitled [3 Women in the rain, two with umbrellas] (ca. 1783) Woodcut on Paper by Torii Kiyonaga Georgetown University Art Collection 1111.1.5061
Lum’s work is most akin to the bijin-ga (beautiful person picture) genre. One of the great masters of this genre is Torii Kiyonaga, born Sekiguchi Shinsuke (1752-1815), who passed away around 75 years before Lum’s first visit to Japan. He started out making promotional materials depicting Kabuki actors for theaters. Untitled [3 women in the rain, two with umbrellas] is a prime example of the bijin-ga style.
Toward the end of Lum’s trip to Japan, she discovered a shop that reproduced old prints like that of Kiyonaga’s work. She returned to Minneapolis with the woodcutting tools they sold her and began her practice. Four years later, she returned to Japan for a longer stay, and a professor of the Imperial Art School in Tokyo introduced her to engravers and printers with whom to train. She returned to the United States and printed there until she moved to Peking, China during the 1920s. She stayed in China until 1953 when she moved to Genoa, Italy and died there a year later.
While her work is in the bijin-ga style, Costume Ball (1924) alludes to French lithographs that depict Commedia dell’arte (comedy of the profession), such as the work of Jules Chéret (1836-1932) master of the Belle Époque (Beautiful Era).
(Commedia dell'Arte Figures) for Maîtres de l'Affiche (plate 201) (1898) Lithograph by Jules Chéret Georgetown University Art Collection 1996.38.6
In this work, (Commedia dell'Arte Figures) for Maîtres de l'Affiche, we see several figures from the Commedia dell’arte.Commedia dell’arte was a theater production originating in Italy known for its masked typed characters. Perhaps the most famous masked type is that of the Harlequin. In Chéret’s figure his Cherette, possibly a Colombina figure (a perky maid), accompanies two Harlequin figures (servant figure known for colorful clothing) and one Pierrot (sad clown wearing a white flowy costume with large buttons). Lum also depicts a Pierrot figure wearing a black mask and a white frock with a ruff. Coincidentally, Lum’s Pierrot figure playing an instrument is highly reminiscent of André Derain’s painting created in the same year, Harlequin and Pierrot (1924), that is housed at the musée de l'Orangerie, thus underlining the French connection.
Lum’s work speaks to the fluid nature of prints. The print’s ability to travel across the globe allowed for Lum, an American woman, to combine French subjects of Italian theatre in a Japanese style.
--Katie O’Hara, University Art Collection Curatorial Intern and Graduate Student in Art and Museum Studies
November 12, 2018
Assign to which blog?:
The movie First Man is out in theaters, and we all know quite a bit already about the first man on the moon. But what do you know about the first photographs of the far side of the moon?
Many unusual and interesting objects find safe haven in the University Archives. One of our favorites is a 1967 Soviet globe of the moon, which likely came to the Archives from the Georgetown University Astronomical Observatory.
Professor Yuri Naumovich Lipsky (1909–1978) led the study of the first photographs of the far side of the moon, from the Luna-3 spacecraft flyby in 1959 and the Zond-3 flyby in 1965. The first full globes of the moon’s surface, as well as selenographic maps, were produced under his direction.
Scientists were of course mapping the near side of the moon long before Professor Lipsky and his extraordinary spaceborne cameras reached around it. The map below comes from Giovanni Battista Riccioli’s Almagestum novum (The New Almagest), 1651 (call #80B30 in the Library’s rare book collections). Riccioli (1598-1671), a Jesuit astronomer, introduced a new system of lunar nomenclature that is still in use today.
Many of the names preliminarily assigned to craters and landscapes by the Soviets on our lunar globe would later change to internationally agreed designations. Georgetown’s Fr. Paul A. McNally, S.J., who became director of the Georgetown Observatory in 1928, had a crater named after him in 1970 after this globe was produced. The blue dot on this photo shows approximately where that crater is on the globe. As to the place names surrounding it, Kovalevskaya is the only name in this photo that remains accurate, as the International Astronomical Union (IAU) chose to use the other names displayed for different craters.
The IAU, at its 17th General Assembly in 1979, voted to name a crater in the very center of the far side of the moon in Professor Lipsky’s honor, at coordinates 1.97 degrees S, 179.56 degrees W. Our lunar globe and Riccioli’s The New Almagest are available for study in our reading room.
Stephanie Hughes, Communications and Projects Coordinator, Booth Family Center for Special Collections and Steve Fernie, Library Website Coordinator
November 1, 2018
Assign to which blog?:
In the early days of Georgetown College, the naming of campus buildings seems to have been a remarkably uncreative activity. Buildings were named for function, like the Infirmary which opened in 1833 (known to us as Gervase) or the Small Boys Building (now known as Maguire) which opened in 1854 to separate the "small" boys or prep students from their older counterparts and the potentially bad influences that they might exert.
And if not named for function, our buildings were named for geographic location. An example is the West Building, or the western wing of the south row, which were both early designations for Isaac Hawkins Hall. The most familiar example of geographic location influencing naming is the North Building, which became "Old" in 1926 when New North opened.
Consideration of our early naming practices seems to naturally raise a question which I get asked far less often than I'd expect: we have an Old North and a New North and we have a New South, so shouldn't there logically be or have been an "Old" South as well?
The answer is that there was indeed a South Building. In fact, that was one of the names associated with our first building, begun in 1788. This was also known over time as the Carroll Building and the Old College. The South Building was razed in 1904 to make way for Ryan Hall, 54 years before work on New South began--or perhaps I should say on the building we call New South today. Because it appears that when Ryan Hall opened in 1905, consideration was given at least briefly to naming it New South. One lone document in the archives testifies to this: the cover of a dance card from the dance held to celebrate the building's opening on February 21, 1905, which identifies the building as New South. However, likely because the University wanted to recognize the financing of the building by Mrs. Thomas Fortune (Ida) Ryan, four of whose sons attended Georgetown, the New South designation did not stick and the building was named Ryan Hall instead. And so, the New South name was still available for use in the 1950s.
--Lynn Conway, University Archivist
October 24, 2018
Assign to which blog?:
Any Georgetown student or alum can probably sing the "Alma Mater" or the "Georgetown Fight Song" in their sleep. But what about such ditties as the “Hipper Dipper," the “Ray-Cheer," or, my personal favorite, the “Short Yell"? Never fear, dear Hoyas! We in the University Archives are here to help. Below you will find a sampling of Georgetown cheers and yells that fans have sung proudly over the years. It is high time tunes like the “Locomotive” or the “Dirge” make a comeback. Why not learn a new cheer and impress your friends at the next home game!
I'm often asked to name the most unusual item in the University Archives collection. My response is sometimes influenced by the records I've most recently worked with but, more often than not, I say it is a lemon. Now as a general rule, fresh produce and archives do not pair well (we have a strict no eating/drinking policy within our spaces, after all). But this particular lemon is pretty archives-friendly, given that it is entirely encased in an acrylic cube. It is also over 45 years old but looks good for its age, as the acrylic is retarding the decomposition process rather effectively.
Sadly, there is no documentation in the archives as to who preserved the lemon or who donated it (if you have details, please let us know). It was here when I arrived in 1994. The understanding of the Archives staff is that the lemon played an active role in the lemonstration organized on February 2, 1973. A lemonstration is, naturally, a demonstration involving lemons and during this campus protest, students placed around 6000 lemons against the door to the President’s Office while the Board of Directors was meeting inside. The protest was over proposed increases in tuition and board and also rising enrollments. In case you are wondering how 6000 lemons happened to be available, student vendors organized by the Lemon Day Committee sold them in front of Healy Hall for 5 cents each, with the money raised going to a scholarship fund. These vendors hawked their wares by shouting slogans such as Buy a lemon - Show the Board of Directors your education has gone sour. Undeterred, the Board approved the increases.
Many of the items in the Archives require careful handling because of their age and/or format. Not so the lemon, and its virtually indestructible nature has allowed it to accompany me to many student instruction sessions, presentations, and open houses where it has been passed around, held up to the the light, and closely examined for signs of decay. The presence of the lemon elicits conversation, testifies to the ingenuity and creativity of the Georgetown students who shaped and participated in the protest, and challenges expectations of what you might expect to find in an archives.
Visitors are very welcome to see the lemon "in person" in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections on the 5th floor of Lauinger.
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.
Roswitha 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