Boccaccio, Giovanni, 1313-1375. De mulieribus claris. German. Ulm: Johannes Zainer, ca. 1474]
One of Giovanni Boccaccio’s most popular works, De mulieribus claris is a collection of biographical sketches of famous women, historical and mythological, admirable and criminal. Written in the 1360s, it was much circulated and inspired many other writers, including Christine de Pizan and Geoffrey Chaucer. This German translation by Heinrich Steinhöwel (1412-1482) was printed by Johannes Zainer in Ulm ca. 1474. Dedicated to Eleanore of Scotland, Archduchess of Austria (1433-1480), it is illustrated with numerous hand-colored woodcuts depicting scenes from the lives of the women chronicled (Eve, Medea, Helen, Sappho, Cleopatra, Pope Joan …) with an emphasis on sex and violence. Shown here is Agrippina feeding Emperor Claudius poisoned mushrooms.
The life and death of Robin Hood, the renowned out-law : and the famous exploits performed by him and Little John, circa 1800s.
This is a little Scottish chapbook which extols the history of Robin Hood in verse. Page 22 includes the epitaph which was set over Robin Hood: “Robert, Earl of Huntington, / Lies under this little stone; / No archer as like him so good, / His wildness nam’d him Robin Hood, / Full thirteen years and something more, / These northern parts he vexed sore / Such out-laws as he and his men / May England never know again.”
Wonderful disclosure! The mystery solved!! or, narrative of Dr. M. Lorner, one of the passengers of the steam ship President! March 11, 1841
AC8 A100 845w
We selected a woodcut of truly nasty pirates fighting with the President’s crew, but this little booklet contains the “heart-rending and thrilling narrative, written by Dr. M. Lorner,” after he experienced “almost incredible hardships.” Don’t worry, the dastards got what was coming to them … after bitter hand-to-hand fighting, “there lay the pirates and the crew of the President wrapped in the arms of death.” This tale is written with great drama, but Dr. Lorner assures us that he has “stated the facts concerning the President without exaggeration. Nay, I could state more, respecting the harsh, profane, and vulgar language used by those outlaws by whom I was taken prisoner; but for the sake of decency and morality, I omit that which would offend the ear, and have no tendency to refine and edify the people.”
Form letter for a Quaker who has deviated from the established rules of society, circa 1847-1852
from the Jesse C. Green papers, 1836-1859, Ms. Coll. 1225, box 1, folder 6
Dr. Jesse C. Green, D.D.S. (1817-1920) was a teacher and dentist in West Chester, PA, as well as an active member of the Quaker community. We are not sure why he has this very faint form letter, but it reads “Having had a right of membership in the society of friends but have so far deviated from the established rules of society as to __________ for which deviation, I desire friends to overlook, and continue me a member so long as my future conduct may merit. My belief in the principles of society have undergone no changes.” So many questions result from this … were there so many naughty Quakers that such a letter was necessary? Or was it so uncommon that such a letter needed to be drafted? Oh, the scandal!
Letter from Assistant Postmaster General J.W. Marshall regarding the Post Office Department’s decision to dismiss Miller from service, 1872 March
from the G.A.Q. Miller papers, 1841-1895 (bulk: 1871-1892), Ms. Coll. 998, Box 1, folder 7
Captain George A. Q. Miller was a Civil War veteran and a special agent in the United States Post Office Department during the 1870s. He also appears to have been a fairly colorful character. On March 18, 1872, he received a letter from J.W. Marshall, the Assistant Post Master General that stated, “I have to say that your removal was ordered on March 16th inst. upon representations made, that your habits are very bad, and that in the last month past you were in a low liquor saloon in Aurora, in a state of intoxication, and very noisy and that you made use of very improper language as to your connection with the Post Office Department, and present administration: and further that your conduct was such as to induce leading citizens to send for a policeman (George O. Fish) to take you home.” Although we do not show the entirety of folder six here, you should come to the reading room and look at it in detail. Miller appears to have had witnesses (including the above-mentioned George O. Fish) write on his behalf. Furthermore, his own snarky comments are penciled on the letters.
Lives of twelve bad women : illustrations and reviews of feminine turpitude set forth by impartial hands / ed. by Arthur Vincent, 1897
Furness Collection, 96.21 V74
When we decided upon our theme, this volume was clearly one to include (the title alone makes it simply fabulous). We have selected the tale of Elizabeth Brownrigg (1720-1767) who murdered one of her domestic servants, Mary Clifford. She apparently abused many domestic servants before poor Mary Clifford died. As a result of witness testimony and medical evidence at her trial, Brownrigg was hanged on September 14, 1767.
Apology following a party, circa 1920s
from the Burton Rascoe papers, 1890-1957 (bulk: 1920-1957), Ms. Coll. 1145, Box 16, Folder 22
Meet Burton Rascoe–the Processing Center’s favorite ne’er-do-well! Sure, Rascoe is best known as an American literary critic, journalist, editor, and author, but what we most love about him are his scapegrace ways. He must have been the life of every party–why else print up apology cards to send to his hosts listing his possible transgressions at their Dinner or Party (please select one!)? Photos in his collection (taken at the BEST PARTIES EVER) suggest that Rascoe probably ended up checking off every offense at some point or another …
“Daily Record,” 1923 August-1925 July
From the John W. Mauchly papers, 1908-1980, Ms. Coll. 925, box 1, folder 11 or 12
We know that John W. Mauchly (1907-1980), inventor of the ENIAC, loved his data, so it is not surprising to see that his diaries from when he was in high school are filled with details. In his “Daily Record,” he recorded when he went to bed, when he arose, and how many hours he slept; what he did in his evenings (how and where he spent his evenings including what time he arrived, left and returned home); what he spent his time on (Tech Life, homework, or piano); who he wrote to or received letters from; and remarks. He put his data to good use to prove his mother wrong when she accused him of being “always exceedingly late in getting home.” In the “Facts of the Somerset Affair (from August 20, 1923 to August 19, 1924),” Mauchly states “these statistics, gathered from my ‘Daily Record,’ prove, I hope conclusively, that such is not the case.” Is young John Mauchly a miscreant? We don’t know for sure, but the case might be made that he is, just because mothers are always right!
“An account of William N. Carruthers being accused of passing bad checks for fancy neckwear,” 1920 July
from the Corneille McCarn Rucker papers, 1893-1987, Ms. Coll. 286, Box 3, Folder 1
Corneille McCarn Rucker was a lass growing up in the teens and early 1920s in Tennessee and Hawaii. Her scrapbook shows a marvelously social life with lots of beaux, parties, and friends. Only one gent, however, warrants three pages of her scrapbook, and that is Bill, who was accused of stealing fancy neckwear and hauled off to jail. It is good, as Corneille says, that she couldn’t “put the tears [she has] shed in [her] memory book … for it might wash away all [her] souvenirs.” Poor Corneille–he appears to have been quite the charmer … so much so that she saved a cigarette butt (it is in her scrapbook) from her dates with him. She also provides us with word-for-word transcripts of their phone calls following his arrest and his removal from Nashville by his parents on July 7, 1920.