Black History Month at Davidson

As February draws to a close (and we hope takes all ice and snow with it), we mark the end of another Black History Month at Davidson. The origins of Black History Month are found in the creation of a Negro history week in 1926 by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Celebrated in February, it provided the impetus during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s and 1970s to promote a Black History Month. President Gerald Ford officially declared the first national Black History Month in 1976.

Davidson was slightly behind the times but making an effort. Members of the Black Student Coalition invited faculty to participate in Davidson’s first Black Week in April 1976.

BSC letter announcing the1976 Black Week.

BSC letter announcing the1976 Black Week.

February 8, 1980 letter to editor on Black History Month

February 8, 1980 letter to editor on Black History Month

In 1980, the BSC used the Davidsonian to invite students to join in Black History Month activities. This letter begins by acknowledging campus misconceptions, including that the BSC is “not a budding Black Panther Party,” or just a “social club of blacks.”  It concludes by quoting the coalition’s constitution,  “We the black students of Davidson do establish this kindred to preserve the pride and dignity of the students who have gone on before us, as well as those who will follow after us. With the foundation of a strong liberal arts education, we seek to insure that our cultural heritage is remembered, preserved, and maintained as long as this kindred exists.”

March 13, 1981 editorialThe following year, the chair of BSC’s Special Events Committe wrote an editorial encouraging more participation in Black History Month events noting that

“this year’s programs were most strikingly marked not by the enthusiasm with which Coalition members prepared the programs, nor by the unquestionable benefits to be gained from consideration of the viewpoints expressed, but regrettably by the dismally low attendance of the events by the Davidson student body.”

In 1988, Muadi Mukenge took the opportunity to pen an editorial on the importance of black history, while the calendar listings in the Davidsonian  remained silent on any special activities related to black history.

By 1989, the Dean of Student’s Office joined with the BSC in organizing events for the Black History Month Cultural Arts Series. Speakers that year included Dr. C. Eric Lincoln and Dr. Henry Louis Gates.

Program of events for 1988 Black History Month at Davidson

Program of events for 1988 Black History Month at Davidson

The cultural art series continued into the 1990s featuring alumni speakers, art and dance exhibitions, cooking workshops, and films.

1991 schedule

1991 schedule

1993 schedule

1993 schedule

Cover of 1996 series schedule

Cover of 1996 series schedule

In recent years, the cultural arts series name has faded but the graphics have gotten better. More importantly, more groups on campus have joined in sponsoring the even, including other student groups (OLAS, the Organization of Latin American Studies), centers (Civic Engagement and Vann Ethics) and academic departments (History, German, Film and Media Studies, Education).

2010 calendar with events co-sponsored by OLAS and Dean Rusk

2010 calendar with events co-sponsored by OLAS and Dean Rusk

2013 poster with event cosponsored by Film and Media Studies and Civic Engagement

2013 poster with event cosponsored by Film and Media Studies and Civic Engagement

2013 event with 9 other groups joining the BSC

2013 event with 9 other groups joining the BSC

The Romance of Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult Title Page

Tristan and Iseult
Title Page

In February, our thoughts turn to love and romance, and the Rare Book Room is certainly able to accommodate that with several stories. One of my favorites, and in an edition that is beautifully done, is the story of Tristan and Iseult. It is a tragic story of two lovers who share an undying but doomed love. The legend was part of medieval mythology, and over time, has been translated into various languages and become a part of several cultures. It is told in literary genres of poetry (Tennyson’s Idylls of the King), drama (Hardy’s The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall at Tintagel in Lyonnesse), the novel (Berger’s Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel), and in music (Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde).

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

The story is that of Tristan, the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, who fought the Irish champion Morholt. Tristan killed Morholt, leaving a broken piece of his sword in Morholt’s wound. Tristan was wounded, and when the wound did not heal, he went to Ireland to seek help from the Irish princess, Iseult, who was skilled in healing. On returning to Cornwall, Tristan praised Iseult so highly to his uncle King Mark that the king decided to marry her.

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan returned to Ireland to seek Iseult’s hand for the king, but found that the country was being terrorized by a dragon and, warrior that he was, killed the beast. Again, Iseult nursed Tristan back to health, and this time, seeing his broken sword, realized that Tristan was the one responsible for her uncle Morholt’s death. Initially angry, and determined to avenge Morholt’s death, Iseult eventually relented and agreed to marry King Mark. The legend varies as to whether Tristan and Iseult were already falling in love, but Iseult left with Tristan for Cornwell. Here the critical event of the story occurs. Iseult’s mother had crafted a “love potion” for Iseult to share with King Mark to ensure their eternal love, but not knowing what it was, Iseult shared it with Tristan.

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

Bound by her honor, Iseult went through with her marriage to King Mark, but she and Tristan remained secretly in love. Unable to contain their feelings, their secret became known and Tristan left Cornwall, settled in Brittany and married. Wounded in battle again, and his wife being unable to heal him, Tristan sent for Iseult. Tristan died before Iseult arrived, and upon learning of his death, Iseult died of grief. They were buried in Cornwall, and although they could not be together in life, they remained together in death. From Iseult’s grave grew a rose tree, and from Tristan’s, a vine which wrapped itself around the tree.

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

The Rare Book Room has a limited edition copy of this beautiful tale donated by Dr. H. M. Marvin, Davidson class of 1914.

The Romance of Tristan and Iseult. Drawn from the best French sources and re-told by J. Bedier. Illustrated (from watercolours) by Robert Engels. Translated into English by Hilaire Belloc. London: George Allen, 1903. Limited edition of 300 copies. Our copy is number 72. Bound in half green morocco with marbled paper boards and endpapers.

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

Scrapbooking

Around the D is back!  A technical glitch kept us off-line for a week (but happily not one we caused.)  While we haven’t been blogging, we’ve been busy with student projects – focusing on scrapbooks.

Cover of Roy Perry's scrapbook. He was a member of the class of 1916.

Cover of Roy Perry’s scrapbook. He was a member of the class of 1916.

Archivists love them and hate them. On one hand scrapbooks can be wonderful documentation of an event, organization or even student life. On the other, they are a mass of glue, photographs, cut up original documents , pins, ribbons, and other odd bits. They can be difficult to store and preserve (all those odd bits falling out of place or photos sticking together). Digitizing them, which seems at first glance a good option, can be amazingly complicated.

Ribbons adorning invitations in Marshall Doggett's (1922) scrapbook.

Ribbons adorning invitations in Marshall Doggett’s (1922) scrapbook.

At Davidson, we mostly love them and have collected a wide variety. The oldest dates from 1898 and is a collection of cartoons related to the Spanish-American War and the most recent covers the Davidson Historical Society up to 2011.

Cutting photos into shapes isn't a new phenomenon, Davidson students did in the 1920s.

Cutting photos into shapes isn’t a new phenomenon, Davidson students did in the 1920s.

In between, there are scrapbooks from student organizations – YMCA, Eumenean Society, fraternities and eating houses; from academic departments (Library, ROTC, Theatre); from local organizations (book clubs, DAR, church groups) and from alumni. The alumni ones date from 1908 to 1994 with the 1920s and 1930s being the prime scrapbooking eras for Davidson.

One of 2 scrapbooks from the Battle of Cowan's Ford chapter of the DAR.

One of 2 scrapbooks from the Battle of Cowan’s Ford chapter of the DAR.

In the last 2 weeks, our scrapbooks have been coming off the shelf and into student hands. Students in Introduction to Digital Art, searched the scrapbooks for images to use in learning new techniques for manipulating photographs. The students in Digital History of American Knowledge used the same books – plus a few more – to practice their metadata skills. Metadata being the current term for cataloging and indexing – coming up with terms to describe items. They will be creating online exhibits around historical documents –moving history into the digital age.

2015 student with 1925 scrapbooks

2015 student with 1925 scrapbooks

More Art students will be using the scrapbooks for projects related to Digital Storytelling. In the coming weeks, as the projects for all these classes are completed, we’ll be sharing links to show how something old and can new again and why we keep making space for those messy, complicated and always fun scrapbooks.

Delightes for Ladies – Part 2

Sweet Cakes

Sweet Cakes

Delightes for Ladies continues to intrigue me, so I took some more time to look at some of the recipes, thinking that it would be fun to try to re-create some of them.
As I indicated in my first post, the spelling was inconsistent and instructions were often cryptic to me, so I looked at several recipes. Sweet Cakes without either spice or sugar asked the cook to “wash your Parsneps cleane” and “dry them upon Canuas,” and since I had neither “parsneps” nor “canuas” I scratched that recipe. I looked next at directions To candy Orenge pills.

To candy Orenge pills

To candy Orenge pills

Those instructions indicated that I should take the “orenge pills” and “take fine Sugar and Rosewater, & boyle it to the height of Menus Christi.” I figured out that I needed orange peel, but without Rosewater and having no idea how high Menus Christi is, I eliminated that recipe, too. There were many more recipes from which to choose, though, so I persevered.
The next recipe I looked at was

To make gelly of Straw-berries

To make gelly of Straw-berries

To make gelly of Straw-berries, Mulberies, Raspberries, or any such tender fruit. Maybe this one would work. I could certainly find strawberries. But, when I saw that I would need to “grinde them in an Alabaster Mortar,” that I needed “faire water” and that I needed to boil the mixture in a “posnet” with a “little peece of Isinglasse” I gave up on that one, too. Next, To make Ginger-bread.

To make Ginger-bread

To make Ginger-bread

Ok, everyone likes gingerbread, so maybe I’d found my recipe. But the first sentence proved otherwise. “Take three stale Manchets and grate them.” To make gingerbread? Another recipe down the tubes. I found another one which sounded promising.

To make puffe-paste

To make puffe-paste

To make puffe-paste needed “a quart of the finest flower,” “the whites of three egges, and the yolks of two, & a little cold water.” Now this was promising. But, then I read that I would need to “driue it with a rowling pin abroad,” “put on small peeces of butter” and “fold it ouer.” Not once, but ten times. So, out went that recipe, too.
But, I finally found one! The title was simple, To make wafers.

To make wafers

To make wafers

The ingredients included “a pint of flower,” “a little creame with two yolkes of egs,” and “a little searced Cinamon & sugar.” All that was necessary was to “worke them all together, and bake the paste upon hot Irons.” Hurrah! I recognized this one. Wafers are our cookies, and these are our “Snickerdoodles.” Fun for the weekend. Making Snickerdoodles!

“Delightes for Ladies”

Delightes for LadiesI love looking at the old “housekeeping hints” kinds of books…those which offer advice on cooking, cleaning, household remedies, beauty tips for ladies, etc. I found a wonderful one in the Rare Book Room the other day, Delightes for Ladies. It was a gift of the Reverend Samuel M. Lindsey, and is a reprint of a 1609 London publication originally written by Sir Hugh Plat. Plat was not only a writer of “household hints,” but is also credited with several inventions including a finger ring for gamblers with a reflecting disk for “seeing” the opponents cards, secret inks and a unique method of penmanship, and alphabet blocks…a fundamental in all children’s nurseries.
The book was fun to read, although a bit difficult, since the spelling was inconsistent and references within the “recipes” were often cryptic to me. As the introduction to the reprint notes:

…when Delightes for Ladies was printed our language was still in the developing stage. There were few fixed and firm rules. A word lent itself to more than one way of spelling and any might be correct, for at that time there was no consistency in spelling… The letters “u” and “v” were used interchangeably, and so were “u” and “w.”…. Capitals were used at random, no fixed rule governed them. Ofttimes where a word ended in “e,” a letter was dropped and sometimes an extra “e” was added.

The text included a section on Secrets in Distillation; Sweete Powders, Oyntments, Beauties, &c; The Arte of Preseruing; and Cookerie and Huswiferie. The reprint volume also included a glossary for those of us who aren’t as familiar with the terms used in 1609!
Take a look at some of the suggestions for making “prince-bisket,” for “skin kept white and cleere,” “to souse a young Pig,” and to “make true spirit of wine.” If you can’t get to the beautician and your hair color needs attention, you can also find directions on “how to colour the head or beard into a Chestnut colour in half an houre.” Of course this last set of directions assumes that you’ll be glad to put lead, sulphur and quicklime on your hair!

Secrets in Distillation

Secrets in Distillation

Sweet Powders

Sweet Powders

Prince-bisket

Prince-bisket

To Souse a young Pig

To Souse a young Pig

Glossary

Glossary

How to colour the head

How to colour the head