Welcome to Year of the Rooster: 新年快乐

By Emily Miranker, Project Coordinator

Growing up in the very multicultural city of San Francisco, Chinese New Year has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s bright and noisy, with dancing, fantastic animals, cymbals, and vibrant costumes.

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The vivacity and strength that the rooster symbolizes, prevalent in many traditions beyond Chinese astrology and the Greco-Roman West, is evident in the cheerful design by the late Clarence Lee. Lee designed an entire series of twelve stamps for the Chinese zodiac cycle, starting with the Year of the Rooster in 1992.[i]

The Year of the Rooster starts on the 28th thanks to a (legendary) challenge set by an emperor of China (for a fuller and charming retelling of the story, click here). Briefly, the emperor told all the animals to race across a river. The first twelve to reach the far bank would have a year named after them – these twelve years make up the zodiac. Famously, the trickster rat caught a ride on the powerful ox, and leapt off his head at the last minute onto the far bank thus coming in first. This year’s star, the rooster, found a raft and came across the river on it along with a goat, who cleared weeds from their path, and monkey, who paddled the raft. The rooster was awarded the eighth year in the zodiac in honor of his resourcefulness and teamwork.

In addition to the above qualities, the Chinese believe roosters symbolize moral fortitude and protection. Their role as protectors may originate from the habit of watching for the day to return; heralded by their crowing at dawn. Scientists have actually discovered that, in fact, it’s not the first light of morning that triggers roosters crowing (they can crow at any time of the day; how much and when depends on breed and personality).  Rather, it’s a roosters internal body clock.[ii] This watchful quality spoke not only to the Chinese, but to the ancient Greeks for whom the rooster was a symbol of the god of healing, Aesclepius.

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The god of medicine and physician, Aesclepius is depicted along with his daughter, Hygeia, goddess of health, over the entrance to the New York Academy of Medicine.

Aesclepius sometimes took the form of a rooster when appearing to supplicants, and the bird was also sacrificed in his honor. As it’s a symbol of restoring health, watching to keep illness and evil at bay, the rooster is one of many health and medicine icons that decorate the interior of the Academy building.

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In this painted ceiling ornamentation from our lobby, a rooster dances with a dog, also sacred to Aesclepius. Like the rooster, the dog stands for watchfulness, driving away death.

Other roosters you’ll find in our library include this rooster, with his hen and chicks, from the 1536 Hortus Sanitatis, a natural history from Germany.

Jumping fifty years ahead, still from Germany, we have one rooster with fantastic plumage and an eerily long tongue for a bird, and his more sedate and regale fellow. They feature in a cook book by Marx Rumpolt, head cook to the Elector of Mainz, which includes nearly 2,000 recipes and instructions on how to make wine.

The above rooster (mid-squawk?) is from the third of a five volume set, the Historia Animalium, the most famous work of Conrad Gessner. Gessner was a 16th-century Swiss physician and naturalist. The woodcuts in our 1555 edition of the third volume were hand-colored and have many of the birds’ French names added by a reader of the past. Gessner did draw, but most of the woodcuts in his volumes were the work of others. Their identities are largely unknown, except for Lucas Schan, an expert fowler, who drew images of birds.[iii]

For the grande finale, my favorite rooster is this glorious French fellow, the Coq Gallante, who is just a decoration made of plaster and not an actual fowl, atop a sumptuous Victorian savory pie featured in The Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery by Theodore Garrett (1898). The meat pie is surrounded by real, edible game birds, mini pies, and cooked eggs on a bed of parsley. ­Monsieur Gallante’s sash says, “A Votre Sante;” French for, “To your good health!” I can think of no better wish for the New Year.

References:
[i] Gregg K. Kakesako. “Clarence Lee, designer of New Years stamps, diesHonolulu Star Advertiser, January 30, 2015. Accessed 1/4/17.

[ii] Lee, Jane J. “How a Rooster Knows to Crow at Dawn,” National Geographic. March 19, 2013.

[iii] S. Kusukawa. “The Sources for Gessner’s pictures for the Historia animaliumAnnals of Science, Vol. 67, No. 3, July 2010. 322-323.

The Homegrown Table: American Cookbook Highlights in the Academy Library

By Anne Garner, Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting renowned chef James Kent in the Rare Book Room.  Chef Kent is interested in the history of American cooking, and as I was selecting highlights for his visit, I was reminded–again!—of the depth and variety our American food holdings.  Here are a few of our favorite early American cookbooks from our stacks (a later post will look at late 19th and early 20th-century highlights.)

American Cookery

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Title page of American Cookery by Amelia Simmons.

The Academy library has one of only four copies in the United States of the slim third edition of Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery, long considered the first homegrown American cookbook. The book’s intriguing title page, modified only slightly from the 1796 first edition, credits the book’s authorship to one “Amelia Simmons, an American orphan.”  The author’s nod to her Americanness is one of the earliest to occur in print—and possibly the earliest in culinary sources.

American Cookery likely drew from manuscript cookbooks with recipes known for some time, and now appearing in print. The recipes in these pages were known throughout the colonies and appealed to Americans living both north and south; they made use of thriving American crops, including corn, peas and beans. Recipes for pumpkin pie, American citron, and an adventurous chowder, composed of fried pork, fish and crackers, were recorded here in print for the first time.

 

The Virginia Housewife

Another early and influential American cookbook was authored by Mary Randolph, a Virginia housewife turned entrepreneur whose culinary creations drew generously on local crops. Before the publication of Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife in 1824, many home cooks in Virginia relied on English cookbooks, but found these sources lacking in recipes drawing on local plant sources.  Randolph earned her culinary chops—and her nickname, “the Queen” —while supervising the cooking in the kitchen of her boarding house in Richmond.  When she retired, she collected her recipes and published them. Randolph had a soft spot for bread; recipes for cakes and biscuits occupy a lengthy section of the book, and include instructions for making batter cakes (using hominy and cornmeal), “Apoquiniminc Cakes” (beaten biscuits), and corn bread.  Other favorites include classic southern dishes like sweet potatoes, peach pie, boiled turnip tops, ham, and apple fritters.

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Pages from The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph.

Praktisches Kochbuch

A number of cookbooks published during the 19th-century in America targeted immigrant audiences, hoping to minimize their anxiety about maintaining their own food traditions while embracing their new country’s agricultural resources and culinary influences. A favorite of these is Henrietta Davidis’ Praktisches Kochbuch. First published in 1844, Praktisches Kochbuch, or Practical Cookbook, was easily the most popular cookbook of the nineteenth century in Germany.  It was republished in innumerable editions well into the twentieth century, including a number of American editions, which were brought out by a Milwaukee publishing house seeking to tap the large German-American community in Wisconsin. In our 1897 edition, Davidis clarifies her intention to write a cookbook that combines German and American elements in her preface:

Ein deutsches Kochbuch in Amerika soll nicht dutsch oder amerikanisch, sondern deutsch-amerikanisch sein.  [A German cookbook in America should not be German or American, but German-American.]

For easy reading, the introduction and recipes were published in German, with English translations next to the name of the dish. Indexes in both German and English made it easy for new students of English to use the book.

Left, title page of Henrietta Davidis’ Praktisches Kochbuch. Right, Portrait of Henrietta Davidis.

Hoffman Family Cookbook

A number of manuscript cookbooks in our collection add dimension to the many American stories of cooking in the immigrant kitchen. A handwritten collection of recipes kept by the Hoffman family, papermakers by trade who opened their first mill in 1766 in what is now Hoffmanville, Maryland, dates between 1835-1850.

The manuscript contains a fascinating mix of ethnically German recipes, many suggestive of the regional culinary style now called “Pennsylvania Dutch,” and then-standard American recipes, some of which show the writer, apparently a German immigrant, struggling to master an unfamiliar cuisine.  Recipes for “sowar crout” and “soft rivals” (small dumplings) in milk soup suggest that the Hoffman household continued to eat German dishes, while recipes for pound cake, pumpkin pie and ketchup attest to a desire to incorporate the influences of their new country at the table.

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Pumpkin pie recipe from the Hoffman family cookbooks.

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Matt Jozwiak, our indispensable Chef Curator

In 2017, we are working with our volunteer Chef Curator, Matt Jozwiak, on a variety of projects to increase awareness and use of our culinary collections. Matt is exploring historical recipes, helping us develop food-related events, and coordinating outreach to the culinary community to help them access the resources we hold. Two of his adapted recipes featured at the Academy’s 2016 Gala.

Matt also works with the Academy’s food policy group, which focuses on better food procurement for East Harlem community based organizations.  He is also currently developing his own nonprofit, which is focused on the better use of food waste.

We’re looking forward to serving up a number of collaborations with Matt this year, continuing a long tradition of great American food.

Event Announcement: The Roles of Physicians in 19th Century Polar Exploration

Our Friends of the Rare Book Room have traveled from Louis XIV’s Paris to early twentieth century Ellis Island.  On Wednesday, February 1, we invite you to join us for the Arctic.  In this special Friends event, Dr. Douglas Kondziolka will discuss his collection of Arctic and Antarctic polar exploration books, maps, and letters from the era of the late eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. Dr. Kondziolka is a member of the neurosurgery faculty at New York University as Professor and Vice-Chair for Clinical Research.

Dr. Kondziolka’s focus on the Arctic was stimulated first by his Canadian father’s tenure with the US Air Force at their Canadian base in the Arctic in the 1950s, and later by the popular historian Pierre Berton and his book “The Arctic Grail.” Dr. Kondziolka’s collection, which began in 1994, was fostered by several trips to the arctic to visit important exploration sites. The collection documents the important steps in Arctic discovery, both for a Northwest Passage to Asia, and to the North Pole itself.

Dr. Kondziolka’s collection tells the story of a cast of unique characters, and among them many physicians, who dared to venture into lands unknown.  A few of these individuals are highlighted below:

Alexander Mackenzie
Alexander Mackenzie was the first European to travel overland to the Pacific Ocean, proving that there was no way to get there entirely by water.  His publication was received by Thomas Jefferson, who spurred him to send Lewis and Clark to “solve the American West.”

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Elisha Kent Kane
A few decades later, the Americans joined in the search for the North Pole. A bored physician, Elisha Kent Kane, was the first successful American polar explorer. His book became the #2 best seller during the Civil War, just behind The Bible.

Charles Francis Hall
Spurred by Kane’s adventures, a Cincinnati newspaperman, Charles Francis Hall, ventured up to the Arctic.  He was the first to go native, and brought Inuit back to New York to rave reviews. On his last voyage, despite being able to reach far up the coast of Greenland, his men mutinied and poisoned him, preferring to make their way back home.

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We hope you will join us on February 1 for this special event. Click here to register.

Friends of the Rare Book Room are invited to come at 6:00pm to look at selected books with the speaker in the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room prior to the talk. This event is part of our series for Friends. To join the Friends please click here.

Become a Friend of the Rare Book Room

Auld Lang Syne, traditionally played at the start of a new year, begins with a question: “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?”  The song that follows is generally thought to be a call to remember long-standing friendships.

As we begin 2017, please consider joining the Friends of the Rare Book Room. Whether you have come to the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room to use some of our 550,000 books and manuscripts, have stopped by for a tour or speaker event, or enjoy our digital offerings, we consider you part of the New York Academy of Medicine Library community.

Friends’ support ensures the ongoing vitality of the Library and its collections. Friends help underwrite the Library’s public programs and outreach activities; the acquisition, conservation, and cataloging of remarkable historical materials; and digitization of our key Library treasures.

As thanks for being a Friend, you will be entitled to discounted prices to special lectures, programs, excursions, and receptions, including private viewings of the collections. Below are a few of the many exciting events we have planned in 2017.

1/11:      Private tour of the Morgan Library Literary Collections

Open to all Friends of the Rare Book Room members; advance registration required.  Just a few spaces left so act quickly!

A special behind-the-scenes exclusive visit to Morgan Library & Museum for a guided tour of the museum’s literary collection and meeting with John Bidwell, Curator of Printed Books and Bindings.

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1/28:      “How a Colonial Family Read: The Winthrops and Their Books”

Speaker: Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of European History, Princeton University

When John Winthrop and his family left England for Massachusetts, they brought books, in quantity, and they went on buying more. This lecture will use evidence in the Winthrops’ copies of their books to show how four generations of male and female Winthrops read, and track the story of an early American family over time.

2/1:        “The Role of Physicians in 19th Century Polar Exploration”

Speaker: Douglas Kondziolka, NYU Vice-Chair for Clinical Research

Douglas Kondziolka collects arctic and antarctic polar exploration materials; this talk will focus on the story of the many physicians, who dared to venture into lands unknown.

3/30:      “Anomaly and Imagination”

Speaker: Rosamond Purcell, artist and photographer

Acclaimed photographer Purcell has been interested in fantastical imagery from early modern books for much of her career. Descriptions and images of conjoined twins, one-eyed giant cyclops, and dog-headed cannibals appear in manuscripts and books. In medical collections, their biological counterparts are preserved as effigies in wax and as skeletons of conjoined twins, giants and dwarfs. This talk will cover ideas about hybrid beings, the illusion of the monstrous and the fluidity of natural forms.

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4/13:      The Annual Friends of the Rare Book Room Lecture: “Art in the Service of Medical Education”

Speaker: Rose Holz, historian of medicine and sexuality at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she serves as the Associate Director of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program and Director of Humanities in Medicine.

Professor Rose Holz examines the life of Dr. Robert L. Dickinson, gynecologist, investigating the hugely influential Birth Series sculptures he created in 1939 with fellow artist Abram Belskie. The Birth Series both shaped modern gynecological education for aspiring practitioners and educated lay individuals in matters of pregnancy and reproduction and gave rise to new understandings of pregnancy radically different from those that held sway in the 1800s.

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For more details about Friends programs throughout the year contact frbr@nyam.org.

Happy New Year from the New York Academy of Medicine Library!

Images:

Getting to Know GreyLit: National Network of Libraries of Medicine Grant Recipients

T229_logo_gl18he New York Academy of Medicine hosted the 18th International Conference on Grey Literature: Leveraging Diversity in Grey Literature (GL18) on November 28 – 29, 2016.  The Academy received a professional development grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) to help support attendance at the conference.  Five grant awardees, students and information professionals, were chosen to attend the conference for one or both days.  Post-event, the awardees stated that the conference had a remarkable impact on their understanding of grey literature.

In their own words, awardees describe their experience at the GL18 conference:

Jennifer Kaari
Library Manager | Mount Sinai

I was interested in attending the 18th International Conference on Grey Literature because like so many librarians, I often find that grey literature is a missing piece of the research process. I was struck during the conference by how apt diversity was a theme for a grey literature conference. Grey literature is a wildly diverse arena, from the many formats and publication types that fall under the umbrella to the wide range of fields that generate and use grey literature. Many of these were represented in the conference, from the law to nuclear science to community initiatives.

As highlighted by the presentations on the Indigenous Law Portal and LGBT communities, grey literature can also give a voice to communities that may be left out of traditional scholarly publishing. I came away with the understanding that leveraging grey literature is essential to ensuring that these voices are included in research and the policy decisions that result.

Perhaps most importantly for my personal development, I left the conference with a bright new idea about a topic in grey literature to research in the upcoming year. I’m looking forward to attending future conferences- hopefully as a speaker! Thanks to the NN/LM for this wonderful opportunity.

Sharon Whitfield
Emerging Technologies Librarian | Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

The 2016 Grey Literature conference, titled Leveraging Diversity, had at least one presentation of interest to everyone.  The presentation topics ranged from open access to LGBT+.

As this was my first GreyLit conference, I was surprised to find a very welcoming community of researchers, librarians and professionals who all were invested in researching, reporting and making grey literature accessible.  During the first day, I found the presentations inspiring. The presentation showed how grey literature impacted the various constituencies at each institution and the importance of making the literature available to the populations.

On the second day, the conference had more of a practical application by addressing open access and researchers’ needs. An example was the Data Science Panel. The Data Science panel, which included two librarians and a researcher, addressed research needs that are occurring at my own institution.  The panel provided new technologies that I am currently exploring for institutional adoption.  Yet, it was hearing the importance of access to grey literature and datasets by the researcher, which really help me to understand the role the library should be playing to support researchers at my own institution.

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Poster session at GL18. Photo by Danielle Aloia.

Cheryl Branche, MD, MLS
P/T Adjunct Reference Librarian | Health Professions Library Hunter College, CUNY Brookdale Campus

On Tuesday, November 29, I viewed the engaging poster presentations and discussed the posters with the presenters, who hailed from France, Italy, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, and the United States. Three posters interested me:

  • Policy Development for Grey Literature Resources: An Assessment of the Pisa Declaration
  • Grey Literature in Transfer Pricing: Japan and Korea
  • WorldWideScience.org: An International Partnership to Improve Access to Scientific and Technical Information and Research Data.

During the Tuesday afternoon session, Debbie Rabina presented an ongoing long-term study, which identified the information needs of incarcerated people and demonstrated their willingness to write to agencies for information. The late afternoon session included a presentation entitled: The GreyLit Report: Understanding the Challenges of Finding Grey Literature.

On Wednesday, November 30, I joined the GreyLit: Intro and Search Strategies session. It was a hands-on learning session focused on finding grey literature. It was very interesting.

The conference was quite stimulating, informative and useful and I look forward to adding the new techniques to my armamentarium to seek, find…and explore more grey literature.

Alyssa Grimshaw | Drexel University
Library Services Assistant IV / MSLIS Student | Cushing/Whitney Medical Library / Drexel University

The 18th International Conference on Grey Literature was an exceptionally eye-opening experience. In regards to grey literature I consider myself a novice, but found this conference enlightening, as it clearly illustrated the benefits of promoting and utilizing grey literature within the library system.

The conference started out strong with the Keynote Address by Taryn Rucinski. Rucinski was very energetic and informative, discussing all of the literature found within the law grey literature. I was truly flabbergasted to discover that one can find expert testimony on a large wide array of different subjects in the legislative proceedings on government websites. This is just one example of the many exceptional ways to utilize grey literature.

The conference also helped me uncover a great resource – The Grey Literature Report! The New York Academy of Medicine publishes this report bi-monthly and takes all of the obscure grey literature and makes it easily searchable!  I particularly enjoyed the international aspect of the conference because it allowed me to learn a little more about how other countries use and preserve grey literature. I believe this to be incredibly important because in order for libraries to grow and develop they should be able to learn from, and interconnect with, one another. Each day of the conference was filled with valuable information and great tips that I intend to bring back to my library and apply in order to help our patrons!

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Joachim Schöpfel at GL18. Photo by Danielle Aloia.

Kate Nyhan, MLS
Research and education librarian for public health | Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University

Attending one day of #GL18 at #GreyLitWeek at the New York Academy of Medicine – thanks to generous professional development funding from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine – I learned a great deal about what I don’t know. Of course, when it comes to grey literature, ignorance is a common state indeed.

  • Students and even a few eminent researchers I’ve spoken with aren’t quite sure what “grey literature” is.
  • Information professionals don’t always know the information ecosystem of grey literature’s producers and aggregators.
  • Medical librarians might not even be aware of the diverse types of grey literature that could be relevant to biomedical and public health questions – such as the governmental administrative materials that are generated by legislative, litigation, and regulatory processes. (Read “The Elephant in the Room” by excellent speaker Taryn Rucinski of Pace University Law School for more details)
  • Finally, organizations that generate grey literature sometimes seem not to know the first thing about the preservation and discovery of information – even when they are desperately trying to disseminate their high-quality, free, information products.

Thanks to the excellent talks, posters, and discussions at GL18, the unknown unknowns of grey literature are starting to become known unknowns for me. I choose that phrase to acknowledge that I’m still a novice at, say, retrieving government administrative materials, or even hard-to-find theses and dissertations – but now I’m a novice with better tools!

Cakes and Ale at Woodbine: From Twelfth Night to New Year’s Day

By Paul Theerman, Associate Director

Part of the Margaret Barclay Wilson collection of cookbooks and cookery, Cakes and Ale at Woodbine: From Twelfth Night to New Year’s Day is a pseudonymously published light novel of mid-century Fordham, New York. Ostensibly the work of “Barry Gray,” the book was written by Robert Barry Coffin (1826–1886), one of the “Bohemians” of antebellum New York.[i]  He was a critic for, and eventually editor of, the Home Journal, later renamed Town and Country, which continues in publication to this day.  This book was first published in 1868; the Library’s edition is from 1883.

The “cakes and ale” of the title is not culinary, but purely literary. On the title page is this quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” (Act 2, Scene 3).

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Sir Toby Belch uttered the line “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” the epigram for the novel. This is an image of Lionel Brough in a 1901 production.

“Cakes and ale” are not only mentioned in Twelfth Night, they are parts of Twelfth-Night celebrations: the merriment on the day of (or day before, depending on how one count) the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, the twelfth day after Christmas. Coffin is therefore having fun with the title, “From Twelfth Night to New Year’s Day,” as it means from January 6 all around to January 1: a romp through the year, touching on all the major holidays in turn. Each day is an occasion for indulging in cakes and ale, “the good things of this life” (p. 13): Epiphany, the first day of spring, a birthday, Easter, the fourth of July, “summer,” Christmas and a Christmas wedding, and then New Year’s.

Set at the author’s purported cottage, Woodbine, in Fordham, New York, domestic scenes alternate with long fanciful stories, much of which contrast city and country life, to the decided benefit of the latter! Toward the end of the book, the narrator has an imagined (perhaps alcohol-induced) encounter with Santa Claus, who says he prefers the large expansive chimneys of the country to the narrow ones of the city, and thought that the new city fashion of Christmas trees might put him out of a job:

“When the city folks first began to talk about Christmas trees, and introduced them into their nurseries, it nearly broke my heart; for I feared that my occupation . . . was gone” [p. 225.]

The virtues of the country always win out, in grand matters of love, and more prosaic ones of cakes and ale.

May you have a great holiday season, and may you get all the cakes and ale you want!


Another literary retreat, left, the Edgar Allan Poe house in Fordham, New York, where the author lived from 1846 to 1849, some 20 years before the recounted events in Cakes and Ale, also set in Fordham, a village only recently connected to the city by rail.  Right, a view of the Poe cottage in its rural setting.

References

[i] “Gray, Barry (1826–1886) [Robert Barry Coffin],” in “The Vault at Pfaff’s: An Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York,” https://pfaffs.web.lehigh.edu/node/54192, accessed December 22, 2016.

Image Sources

A Show of Hands

By Emily Miranker, Project Coordinator

Welcome to my celebration of one of our collections’ unsung heroes – not a specific book, or author, but a punctuation mark that decorates many of them: the manicule.

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As you can see from the example above, the manicule is a disembodied, pointing hand. In case this, as in many, the manicule also has a little cuff, and a fingernail on the pointing finger that is visible, too. This manicule comes from our Anatomia Carpi by Jacopo Berengario da Carpi, a 16th century Italian physician.

The manicule gets its name from the Latin maniculum for “little hand.” This connection with the actual human body is apparent in some of the other names of the symbol: fist, printer’s first, bishop’s fist, pointer, pointing hand, even mutton-fist.[1] Its usage starts around the 12th century, though there is a record of it appearing in the Domesday Book of 1086 in John Johnson’s Typographia.[2]

Professor William Sherman of York University draws a connection between the classical gesture of “three fingers doubled under the thumb [and index the] finger extended”[3] from formal Roman oration to the strong connection between hands and texts when zeroing in on the manicule in his research on marginalia. Sherman observes the bond between hands and reading is so innate it often goes unnoticed:

“Unless we’re wrestling with an unusually large volume or feeling our way through an unusually delicate book; unless we’re running our fingertips over a text in Braille or our pointers through a Torah scroll; and unless we’re the kind of reader who follows along with our index finger or gives them a good lick before turning the page, it’s probably safe to say that we’re not even conscious of our hands as we make our way through a text.”

It’s certainly compelling to think of the manicule mark as the descendent of an oratory pose and natural human gesticulation.

Manicules are windows into people’s relationships with their books and texts.  Time was taken to read the passage, react to it and record or reference it by hand on the page, which makes sense given the tremendous amount of work, time and expense it once took to get a book into your hands. Keith Houston, author of Shady Characters, observed readers’ investment and attachment to their books was quite unlike the modern day consumer. “It was second nature for a book’s owner to brand it, to annotate and embellish it as they read; to underline pithy phrases and fill the margins with notes.”[4] Indeed, the manicule isn’t really a punctuation mark, something put in by the author for grammatical structural or clarity. Rather, it’s a reader’s mark indicating something to that person – something that could be wholly mysterious, banal, or unimportant to me or you.

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One past owner of our 1657 copy of The Doctor’s Dispensary found many points of interest in the book. Its pages are littered with marginal notes, underlining and manicules. This reader’s manicules are fairly simple, though they do include a cuff –or possibly a sleeve or an arm- while some examples can have long sleeves that drip down to mark the end of the passage of notable text, complete with shading on the clothing or secondary digits pointing things out as well.

As intellectual and cultural knowledge fairly exploded during the Renaissance, ink flowed from readers marking up their books. Then came the world-altering printing press from Johannes Gutenberg in 1440 in Mainz, Germany. Readers continued to annotate their printed books just as they had their handwritten ones; and printed manicules joined the handwritten ones on the page.[5] Printers inserted in-line manicules that indicated authorial notations that were not the readers’ own commentary, subtly (or not) guiding a reader to the ‘correct’ interpretation of the work. Printed manicules became more prominent as authors and publishers took advantage of a means to protect the integrity of their work. The manicule drawn in by hand more or less died out by the 19th century.

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The mark lived on in its printed form and got almost annoyingly ubiquitous by the end of the 19th century. Manicules were a bread and butter symbol for advertising typography where they literally pointed the way to headlines, punchlines, venues and notable names.[6] They were even on gravestones, pointing the way to heaven.[7]

manicule-on-a-va-gravestone

This gravestone photo from a Virginia cemetery was snapped by literature professor and medievalist Jonathan Hsy of George Washington University.

The public visually overdosed on the manicule as this point and it fell from such frequent (over)use. The manicule is definitely still around though; on returned envelopes from the US postal service, in design products seeking to impart a vintage flare and in directional signage. And of course in the newest frontier of information and communication; the digital screen where the computer’s cursor was, and sometimes still is, a hand pointing the way.

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References

[1] Sherman, William H. Towards a History of the Manicule, 2005. Accessed November 22, 2016.

[2] McPharlin, Paul. Roman numerals, typographic leaves and pointing hands: some notes on their origin, history and contemporary use. New York: Typophiles, 1942. 47.

[3] Sherman, William H. Towards a History of the Manicule, 2005. Accessed November 22, 2016.

[4] Houston, Keith. Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographic Marks. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013. 170.

[5] Houston, Shady Characters. 178.

[6] Palmer & Rey. Palmer & Rey’s Type Specimen Book. San Francisco: Palmer & Rey, 1887.

[7] McPharlin, Roman numerals, 1942. 65.

Item of the Month: John E. Stillwell’s Prize Notebook

By Becky Filner, Head of Cataloging

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, medical schools offered academic prizes, frequently accompanied by a monetary award, for the best essays, examinations, and student notebooks.[1] The New York Academy of Medicine’s Library holds several examples of prize-winning student medical notebooks, including John E. Stillwell’s Report of Prof. Thomas’ Gynecological Clinics, Session of ’73 and ’74. This notebook is an ornate presentation copy, not the rough notes Stillwell would have taken during the clinics. Written in a neat, legible hand, it also includes a calligraphic title page and twenty-nine watercolor illustrations. The notebook is bound in full leather with blind-stamped fleurs-de-lis and shamrocks on the cover and spine. The notes are from a series of clinics offered during the 1873-1874 school year by Theodore Gaillard Thomas, a professor of gynecology at New York’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and author of A Practical Treatise on the Diseases of Women.

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Calligraphic title page of John E. Stillwell’s Report of Prof. Thomas’ Gynecological Clinics: autograph manuscript, 1873-1874.

Stillwell’s notes, like Thomas’s lectures, are organized into a series of case studies. In the case study shown below, a woman named Annie Coyle reports that “her friends noticed her abdomen increasing in size” and her “menses … are ‘larger’ and … come twice as often as they ought.” When she had an examination at the dispensary, the examiner “pronounced her pregnant”; she came to Dr. Thomas for an examination because she was “unwilling to rest under such unjust suspicions.”

Stillwell’s carefully transcribed lecture notes and a watercolor showing a woman with an ovarian tumor, from Stillwell’s autograph manuscript, Report of Prof. Thomas’ Gynecological Clinics, 1873-1874.

Dr. Thomas notes that he found an abdominal tumor and gives details on how he determined that it is a “fluid tumor” rather than one “that is filled with air or that is solid.” He rules out pregnancy because he cannot feel any movement when he places his hands on her abdomen and her mammary glands are not enlarged. His conclusion is that she has an ovarian cyst and requires an ovariotomy to remove it. Stillwell’s account of the clinic is accompanied by a watercolor of a female figure with an enlarged abdomen labeled, “Ovarian Tumor.” Other clinics in the notebook cover problems of the uterus and cervix, tumors, peritonitis, fibroids, complications during and after pregnancy, menopause, dementia, and sterility. There is even an account (with an illustration) of a woman who has two vaginas.

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Watercolor by John E. Stillwell of a retroflexed uterus, from his Report of Prof. Thomas’ Gynecological Clinics, 1873-1874.

Student medical notebooks were usually submitted anonymously to ensure that the judging would not be biased. In this case, we know that Stillwell submitted this prize-winning notebook (even though the notebook does not contain his name) because the Library acquired the notebook along with the prize itself, a wooden case of gynecological instruments with a plaque that reads, “A Prize Awarded for the best Gynecological Report of 1874 in the College of Physicians and Surgeons N.Y. by Prof. T. Gaillard Thomas to J.E. Stillwell.”[2]

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A plaque on the wooden case indicates that Stillwell received this prize from Prof. Thomas for the “best Gynecological Report of 1874 in the College of Physicians and Surgeons.”

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Stillwell’s prize consisted of a full set of gynecological instruments stored in a sturdy wooden box lined with purple velvet. The instruments were made by G. Tiemann & Co., Manufacturers of Surgical Instruments, 67 Chatham St., N.Y.

The tools include all the necessary implements for a gynecology practice in the 1870s. Thomas describes many of the tools in his A Practical Treatise on the Diseases of Women (which was a required textbooks for medical students at the College of Physicians and Surgeons around this time). Shown below are drawings of several of the tools, including “Buttles’ spear-pointed scarificator,” a “hard rubber cylinder for dry-cupping the cervix uteri,” cauterizing irons, and tools for sutures, and descriptions of how they were used.[3]

Taken from T. Gaillard Thomas’s A Practical Treatise on the Diseases of Women, 2nd ed., these drawings show obstetrical tools and give brief descriptions of how they were used.

Taken together, John E. Stillwell’s prize notebook and the handsome case of obstetrical tools that he won for his efforts provide an interesting window into both 19th-century medical school competitions and 19th-century obstetrics and gynecology.

References

[1] Contemporary handbooks from medical schools list the types of prizes awarded and the prize money attached to them. See, for example, the section on “Prizes” under “School of Medicine” in Columbia College’s Handbook of Information as to the Several Schools and Courses of Instruction 1886-1887, p. 222-225.

[2] An account of the commencement exercises of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in The Medical Record confirms Stillwell’s receipt of the Thomas prize. “The Thomas prize was awarded to J.E. Stillwell, for a report on ‘Cliniques for Diseases of Women’” (The Medical Record, ed. George F. Shrady, New York: W.M. Wood & Co., v. 9, issue of March 16, 1874, p. 158).

[3] Thomas, Theodore Gaillard.  A Practical Treatise on the Diseases of Women, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Henry C. Lea, 1869).

12 Gifts for the Medical History Buff in Your Life

By Emily Miranker, Project Coordinator

Search no further for one-of-a-kind gifts for the medical history buff in your life: the Library’s online shop has you covered with over 3,000 products to choose among. Find a few of our favorites below. And take an extra 15% off as our holiday gift to you: use code ZAZZLETHANKS at check out.

  1. This sturdy tote bag with a vintage advertisement for Tolu’s Rock and Rye cough tonic – good for what ails you. And groceries.

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  1. Our skeletal musicians give a whole new meaning to death metal. They might be from 1779; but our headphones are totally 21st century with a 20hz – 20,000hz range, built-in answer button and microphone to seamlessly take calls, and vegan leather padding.

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  1. This cheery orange fruits and leaves lunchbox includes a large sandwich container, two small containers and an ice pack. Dishwasher safe and BPA-free. Mangia!

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  1. Speaking of eating, food goes great with wine. These wine charms featuring skulls by 16th century Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius go great with glasses of wine.

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  1. Since red wine is good for your heart, admire this panel of an exquisite engraving of an anatomical heart by Scottish surgeon Charles Bell on your wall while you sip.

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  1. Keep your life in order with this desk organizer, the illustration of one of several poems gathered by Hugo Erichsen to “amuse the busy doctor in leisure hours.”

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  1. This flask is from a New York-based surgical supply company’s turn of the century catalogue. Chemistry-lovers, you’re welcome.

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  1. Never be too far away from a good book with this rather cellular-looking red marbled book endpaper wallet.

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  1. Take ‘digital’ back to its roots of actual fingers with this artificial hand by French surgeon Ambroise Paré on your laptop case.

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  1. Just in case you feel naked without your actual stethoscope around your neck: this tie.

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  1. Once upon a time, your garden was your pharmacy. Peonies were used to treat spasms and cramps, gout, headaches, and fatigue. Caffeine is more popular for fatigue now…

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  1. Baby, it’s cold outside! Magnify your warmth by snuggling up with these microscopes.

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Lastly, for the person who really and truly has everything already—or more likely just has no space—give the gift of membership to our Friends of the Rare Book Room, the people and programs that explore and support the books where all these remarkable images come from. All proceeds from the shop support the library’s collections’ preservation and public programming, and all Friends memberships are tax-deductible. Happy Holidays!

holiday-rabbit_aldrovandi

Found in the Eyes of Rams: The Bezoar and its Powers

By Emily Miranker, Project Coordinator

This post title is not strictly true. Or remotely true, actually. Bezoars are not found in rams’ eyes (to the relief of sheep everywhere, I’m sure). Maimonides, the 12th century Sephardic Jewish philosopher, reported an Eastern belief that bezoars could be found “in the eyes of rams,” though he then went on to note that “it is found in their [rams] gallbladder and this is true.”[i] Bezoars are in fact found in goats’ stomachs and gastrointestinal tracts, as well as that of other animals such as sheep, cows and us humans.

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Our library’s trichobezoar, ca.1862. Basically the coolest hairball you’ll ever see.

A bezoar is a mass of undigested or inedible material found in the GI tract. Today, they are typically grouped into four categories: phytobezoars (made of vegetable or fruit fibers), lactobezoars (made of milk proteins), trichobezoars (made of hair and food particles) and pharmacobezoars (aggregates of various medications).[ii] Nowadays, if a bezoar doesn’t pass through the digestive system on its own they can be treated through medication to dissolve the mass, lavage therapy, and even surgery.

Once upon a time you may have wanted one in your system. I referenced this in Poisons, Pirates, and Professors in September for National Talk Like a Pirate Day. If you had been poisoned by an attacking pirate, you’d want to swallow a bezoar to cure yourself. Pierre Pomet, 17th century French druggist, wrote of bezoars curing all manner of things from smallpox to epilepsy, ending with its ability to work as an antidote to poison.[iii]

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The word bezoar comes from the Arabic bazahr or badzehr, meaning counterpoison[iv] and it is also mentioned in ancient Hebrew texts as bel zaard, “master” or “master of poison.”[v] Its power to counteract poison may come from a near eastern goat, the markhor. In Persian, mar is snake and khor means to eat. Snake-eater. So presumably immune to venom. Except that the markhor is an herbivore dining upon grasses and leaves. Misnomer alert! The name may have to do with their corkscrew-like horns (reminiscent of a winding snake) or that they are known to kill snakes on occasion.[vi]

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This handsome markhor is clearly eating carrots or yam, not a snake.  Source: A. Savin, A Markhor in Berlin Tierpark, Wikimedia Commons.

Whatever the origins of the belief in curing poison, bezoars were popular in the Middle Ages and into the 17th century as antidotes. They were carried as charms, included as decor or attached to drinking and eating vessels to protect the diner, and tests were even designed to detect fakes –the selling of which was a punishable offense.[vii]

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Another Frenchman represented in our collections’ holdings, barber surgeon Ambroise Paré, conducted an experiment to test the healing properties of a bezoar stone in the 1500s.[viii] A royal cook caught stealing silver had been sentenced to death. The cook was offered the alternative of being poisoned and then being given a bezoar under Paré’s supervision. If the cook survived the poisoning, he’d be spared. The cook lived only seven hours after the poison was administered, and Paré concluded the bezoar could not cure all poisons.

Still, the bezoar as antidote and mythical token lives on in the popular imagination. In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories, Professor Snape quizzes Harry on where he’d find a bezoar in his first potions class and later when his friend Ron Weasley is poisoned with mead –intended for Professor Dumbledore- Harry quickly shoves a bezoar down Ron’s throat.

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Box of bezoars and Half Blood Prince movie still.  Source.

Join us for a free First Mondays lunchtime tour in our Drs. Barry and Bobbi Rare Book Reading Room for a chance to see our bezoar in person. It’s well worth a visit even if poison and goat guts aren’t high on your to-do list; the Rare Book Room is pretty much the real life Hogwarts.

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References:
[i] Rosner, F. (trans.) 1988. Maimonides’ Medical Writings, Treatises on Poisons, Hemorrhoids, Cohabitation. The Maimonides Research Institute, Haifa, 1988, 49-50.
[ii] Eng, Katharine and Marsha Kay. “Gastrointestinal Bezoars: History and Current Treatment Paradigms,” Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Vol. 8, Issue 11, November 2012. 776.
[iii] Pomet, Pierre. A compleat History of drugs. Bonwick, London. 1725.
[iv] Williams, Randolph S. “The fascinating history of bezoars,” The Medical Journal of Australia. Vol. 145. December 1986. 613.
[v] Barroso, Maria Do Sameiro. “The bezoar stone: a princely antidote,” Acta Med Hist Adriat. 2014;12(1):78.
[vi] “Capra falconeri – Markhor.”Brent Huffman. An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet. Accessed November 11, 2016.
[vii] Williams. 613.
[viii] Thompson, C. J. S. (1924) Poison Mysteries in History, Romance and Crime J.B. Lippincott, New York, 61-62.