Exhibition: Underwood & Underwood Press Agency

By Pamela Casey*

Currently on display in the reading room are sixteen photographs from our Underwood & Underwood Press Agency Collection. These sixteen are a selection from about 100 photographs recently included in the exhibition Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Impressionism to Expressionism, 1900-1914 which ran at the Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts from October 2014 to January 2015.

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How Carrier Pigeons are Used in Warfare | The Belgian signal corps are using carrier pigeons with great success. The photo shows one of these birds before its release, with a message in code for headquarters. The message refers to a wood, a bridge and a mine.

Choosing the sixteen to place on display was difficult, as it was no doubt difficult for the curators from the Museum of Fine Art to make their selection. These are wartime photographs of scenes from European battlefields and civilian life during the First World War. It’s hard to articulate why these particular photographs of trench warfare and bombed-out cathedral towns are so striking. Perhaps it’s that so many of these images feel utterly unfamiliar, like the soldiers sleeping in the streets of Paris, using bales of hay as make-shift shelters, or the German platoon on bicycles. But perhaps it’s that each photograph here seems to tell an elaborate and complicated story, which is only made stranger by the original captions the collection came with, newspaper headline-style, jaunty or grave in tone depending on the scene.

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pic_2015-03-18_174142The captions, like the photographs, are unsigned. Underwood & Underwood was founded in Ottawa, Kansas in the early 1880s by two brothers, Elmer and Bert. Initially the business sold stereoscopic views door-to-door, employing an army of college students as their salesmen. By the 1890s, Underwood & Underwood had moved to New York and started producing their own photographs, eventually establishing themselves as a news photography agency. The Underwood & Underwood Collection includes over 420 photographs, arranged by country (Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, and Great Britain), each with its own caption. The collection will no doubt deliver yet more striking stories with further exploration and research.

*Pamela Casey is studying the RBSC photograph collection for her winter 2015 practicum at the McGill School of Information Studies.

Vernissage & special talk with Dr. Desmond Morton, February 25, 5-7 pm

The No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) in the First World War 1915-1919 & The Lighthalls: A McGill Family at War

vernissage_announcement_imageMarch 2015 marks the centenary of the mobilisation of the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill), a 1040-bed unit of the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Located in France behind the front lines, the hospital was established by McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and staffed by faculty members and students, with nurses trained at the Montreal General and Royal Victoria hospitals. The hospital served in the field from 1915 to 1919. Please join us on February 25th at 5 pm, when distinguished Canadian military historian and Hiram Mills Professor of History Dr. Desmond Morton will speak on the role of McGill medicine in the First World War.

Vernissage & special talk: February 25, 5-7 pm. Dr. Morton’s talk will begin at 5:30pm and will be followed by a Q&A.

 

This talk titled “Healing in Hell: McGill Medicine and the First World War” will be part of the vernissage of two library exhibitions: “We Will Remember Them: The No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) in The First World War 1915-1919” and “The Lighthalls: A McGill Family at War” (on view to June 15th). The evening will include guided visits of the exhibitions.

RSVP required. RSVP: rsvp.libraries@mcgill.ca or call 514-398-5711

Rare Books & Special Collections Reading Room, 4th floor, McLennan Library Building, 3459 rue McTavish, Montreal, QC, H3A 0C9

Meetings with Books – a new publication from McGill University Library and Archives

We are pleased to announce the publication of:
Meetings_with_Books_cover


MEETINGS WITH BOOKS

Special Collections in the 21st Century
With a Tribute to Raymond Klibansky
&
Illustrated Survey of Special Collections at
McGill University Library and Archives

Edited by
Jillian Tomm and Richard Virr

A publication of
McGill University Library and Archives

 

On March 20, 2013, McGill University held a one-day symposium titled “Meetings with Books: Raymond Klibansky, Special Collections and the Library in the 21st Century.” The aims of the symposium were three-fold: to discuss the question “It is all on the Web, so why bother? Special Collections in the Digital Age”; to celebrate the memory of Raymond Klibansky as a mentor, scholar, collector, and donor of his significant and valuable research library to McGill; and to bring the narrative gifts of author Alberto Manguel to ignite inspiration as only he is able.

The day was an opportunity to consider why historical book collections might matter, and how they connect, or might be connected, with current forms and directions in teaching, research, and learning. Speakers brought a wealth of perspectives from across the humanities and special collection librarianship to bear on upon the question of the role of special collections in the digital age. Alberto Manguel powerfully evoked the drive that compels and leads the explorerbe he or she scholar or otherwiseto great labours, and to sometimes reach and cross accepted boundaries of questioning or suggestion. The personal tributes inspired by Klibansky paid fitting testimony to a man who embodied so much of this perpetual search, the search to know, the search for what it means to be human.
(See videos from the symposium)

The published volume Meetings with Books grew out of this symposium.
The book includes:


A historical survey of McGill’s special collections
by
Richard Virr (McGill University)


A tribute to humanist scholar and book collector Raymond Klibansky
by:
Georges Leroux (Université de Montréal à Québec)
Désirée Park (Concordia University, Montreal and Wolfson College, Oxford)
Gerald Beasley (University of Alberta)
Ethel Groffier (Paul-André Crépeau Centre, McGill University)

Tribute_to_Klibansky_section

 

Short essays on how historical book collections connect with current forms and directions in teaching, research, and learning in the digital age by:
Leslie Howsam (University of Windsor)
Fiona A. Black (Dalhousie University)
Julie E. Cumming (McGill University)
Stéfan Sinclair (McGill University)
Ann Marie Holland (McGill University)
Anna Dysert (McGill University)
Christopher Lyons (McGill University)
Jillian Tomm (McGill University)
Gregory Bouchard (McGill University)


A keynote essay by Alberto Manguel
Alberto Manguel Istanbul 2015

AlbertoManguelEssay

 

And interspersed with these essays, a selection of more than fifty illustrated “vignettes ” which serve to provide material context for the discussion. They illustrate variety and connections across historical collections at McGill University Library and Archives in particular, and suggest the great richness of still-potential research held in special collections libraries generally.

Blacker-WoodVignette

EnglishLanguageTheatreVignette

 

Printed volume: 40$ CDN. The work is also available freely as a pdf file online at McGill e-scholarship here:

Meetings with Books can be ordered from
Rare Books and Special Collections
McGill University Library
McLennan Library Building, 4th floor
3459 McTavish Street
Montreal, QC H3A 0C9
Canada

Please make your cheque out to McGill University Library, with a note “Meetings with Books.” or write us at: rarebooks.library@mcgill.ca

Victorian Holiday Cards

Rare Books and Special Collections holds a wide variety of Victorian holiday cards which form just part of a much larger greeting card collection, amounting to many hundreds of examples, designed for almost any season or occasion.

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Christmas cards of Saint Nicholas, extracted from a specimen sheet of four cards for sale.

Of special interest regarding the print trade are the specimen sheets used for commercial purposes, ticketed with the price per quantity on the sheet. They  feature a range of options for choice of image or greeting. The collection also consists of pages from private scrapbooks revealing a kaleidoscope of styles from this era.

The vast majority of our holiday cards have been collected or added as single specimens. Some are complete with manuscript greetings or personal notes, which hold interest for cultural historians. In each case, they are rare due to their ephemeral nature.

BirdMost of the cards demonstrate the application of the technical revolution in the printing of illustrations in the nineteenth century. The designs are usually high in colour, printed by chromolithography, which was at the height of its popularity around 1860. We might see as well the use of photo-mechanical techniques, such as photogravures, mounted as inserts on card stock.

Some cards were embossed for added effect and in some cases, fabrics were used to dress up the card. There are pop-up, single-sided cards with personal notes on the back, or cards that open with printed verse inside. Some of the latter might be stitched by side ties or decorated by ribbons, while some of the former might be fabulously framed by a fringe, and used as decorations with an attached piece of fine rope.

A few of these extra-ordinary examples are currently on view in the main Reading Room of Rare Books and Special Collections, located on the 4th floor of the McLennan Library Building.

Children

Embossed Victorian Christmas card with velvet overlays.

And best wishes for a wonderful holiday.

 

 

Public lecture Dec. 2nd at RBSC by Craig Stephenson

This coming Tuesday, December 2nd, Dr. Craig Stephenson will give a free public lecture on his book Anteros: A Forgotten Myth.

Anteros

“Anteros: A Forgotten Myth explores how the myth of Anteros disappears and reappears throughout the centuries, from classical Athens to the present day, and looks at how the myth challenges the work of Freud, Lacan, and Jung, among others. It examines the successive cultural experiences that formed and inform the myth and also how the myth sheds light on individual human experience and the psychoanalytic process.”

from the publisher (Routledge) 

About the speaker: Craig E. Stephenson, Ph.D., is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute Zürich, the Institute for Psychodrama (Zumikon, Switzerland), and the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. He is the author of Possession: Jung’s Comparative Anatomy of the Psyche (Routledge, 2009), editor of a collection of essays titled Jung and Moreno: Essays on the Theatre of Human Nature (Routledge, 2013), and the translator of Luigi Aurigemma’s book of essays, Jungian Perspectives (University of Scranton Press, 2007). He has lectured at the Bodmer Foundation, Geneva, for the Philemon Foundation and at the Warburg Institute, University of London.

The talk will take place in Rare Books and Special Collections, 4th fl. McLennan Library, 3459 rue McTavish, Montreal. All are welcome. Please RSVP to jillian.tomm@mcgill.ca.

Exhibition: Arthur Lismer’s McGill Sketchbook

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Learned societies at McGill Ink on paper

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Learned societies at McGill. Ink on paper

Arthur Lismer artist, educator (b Sheffield 27 June 1885; d Montreal 23 Mar 1969)
Arthur Lismer lived and worked in Montreal from the 1940s until his death in 1969. A founding member of the Group of Seven (with Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, J.E.H. Macdonald and F.H. Varley), Lismer dedicated his life to art education. Still relatively unknown and with little teaching experience, Lismer began his career as Head of the Victoria School of Art (today NSCAD University) 1916-1919. From Halifax, he spent the next 20 years in Toronto, first as Vice-Principal, Ontario College of Art (OCA) and later as supervisor of art education, Art Gallery of Toronto (today Art Gallery of Ontario). He moved to Montreal in 1940 to join the Art Association of Montreal (today the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), where he established the MMFA School of Art and Design as one of the premier Canadian art training centres.

Lismer joined the McGill School of Architecture as a sessional lecturer in 1943 at the invitation of John Bland, the School’s director, and was appointed assistant professor in 1945. There he taught: the History of Art and Theory of Design; Freehand Drawing; and led the Sketching School with Gordon Webber. Lismer retired from McGill in 1955 at the age of seventy.

The exhibition
Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University holds some 30 sketches by Arthur Lismer, executed between 1940-1969, during his McGill tenure and into his retirement. Lismer sketched throughout his life, filling dozens of sketchbooks, but also captured the world and the people around him on scraps of paper, in the margins of flyers and programs, and on paper napkins.

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Seated figures; Professor F. Howes and Professor Hebb, 1953 Pencil on paper, McGill University Faculty Club stationary On verso: Portrait of Dr. Robert George

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Seated figures; Professor F. Howes and Professor Hebb, 1953. Pencil on paper, McGill University Faculty Club stationary On verso: Portrait of Dr. Robert George

The McGill sketches originated primarily in the Faculty Club, where Lismer stopped most days en route between the campus and his office at the museum. Many drawings are annotated by Richard Pennington, University Librarian, with whom Lismer dined regularly.

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Forecast of the new library terrace [1952] Pencil on paper, McGill University Faculty Club stationary

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Forecast of the new library terrace [1952]. Pencil on paper, McGill University Faculty Club stationary

Additional McGill sketches, of and by Lismer, hang in the Faculty Club. These are part of the McGill Visual Arts Collection, which also holds several Lismer paintings. Caricatures drawn on the plaster walls of the Arts Building East Wing, before renovations, are also documented in the McGill Archives.

Exhibition prepared by Jennifer Garland, Assistant Librarian, November 2014

Further reading: McGill News

On view in the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room. Extended to 1 March, 2015.

Lest we forget

smaller_poster-300x207Exhibition opening today, November 11, 2014: The Patriotism of Death: Propaganda posters from WWI at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Graphic Arts Centre, Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion.

Read more about our collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and about McGill Library & Archives events commemorating the centenary of the First World War here.

 

A rare edition of Voltaire

Recently, while cataloguing some volumes from the J. Patrick Lee Voltaire Collection acquired by McGill in 2013, our colleague Marc Richard discovered a very intriguing book:

“This particular edition of L’évangile de la raison was published in Year 10 of the French revolutionary calendar, a date which corresponds to either 1801 or 1802. It’s a compilation of previously published works, assembled and edited by Voltaire, and includes many works written by him. Several editions of this compilation exist; indeed, the J. Patrick Lee Collection also holds a 1765 edition of the same title.

 

The 1801 edition, however, is extremely rare. In fact, Georges Bengesco, who compiled the standard bibliography of Voltaire’s works, Voltaire: bibliographie de ses oeuvres, had not been able to locate it at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The only mention of this edition in Bengesco’s authoritative listing is a reference to Antoine-Alexandre Barbier’s Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes, which provides a brief entry for it saying: ‘Réimprimé sous le titre de “L’évangile de la raison. Ouvrage posthume de M… D… V… et D… F…” Se trouve chez tous les imprimeurs et libraires, an X, in-8, XVI-224 pp.’

 

The Voltaire volumes of the Bibliothèque nationale’s Catalogue général des livres imprimés, published in 1978, do not include this edition at all, and prior to our cataloguing of this edition there was apparently no record for it in the OCLC WorldCat online database, which covers the major research libraries in North America and much of Western Europe.”

McGill’s volume confirms that this edition survives. The book is available for consultation here at RBSC, and more detailed information about it can be found in the catalogue record which Marc has prepared for it. Marc’s description makes it possible for researchers around the world to discover this copy of the volume, and our digitization team has created a full high-quality digital reproduction. The record for the physical copy can be viewed here; the full digital copy can be linked to from the e-copy record here