Ellie Ga: Artist in Residence (2020-22)

Still from Strophe showing messages in bottles

Still from Ellie Ga, Strophe, A Turning (2017) 2 channel video, loop (37:00)

In collaboration with the Center for Visual Culture, Special Collections welcomes artist Ellie Ga to campus virtually (during the current school year) and in person with a residency (as soon as that is possible). While in residence, Ga will “comb” Special Collections in the process of producing a new work of art, commissioned for the College. Before then, she wants to connect with us by sharing her work and conversing with community members as she gets to know Bryn Mawr. 

The first virtual event is a screening of her piece, Strophe, A Turning (2017, 37 min.), with a virtual studio visit and conversation between the artist and Bryn Mawr faculty members Lisa Saltzman (History of Art) and Madhavi Kale (History).

Please visit our related website to learn more about all Ellie Ga related events and activities at Bryn Mawr College as they are scheduled.

Please also view Sayed, a work by Ellie Ga, made available by the artist and her gallery through the Center for Visual Culture’s Virtual VIsual Culture event series.

***

Ellie Ga (b. 1976) is an American artist living in Sweden. Her work is included in collections at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Bard College. Her most recent work, Gyres 1-3 (2019), was a commission for the Whitney Biennial and was reviewed in The New York Times and Artnews. Art historian Tom McDonough (SUNY-Binghamton) wrote about it for the fall 2019 issue of Osmos Magazine.

Ga works between memoir, travelogue, and visual essay connecting ideas and presenting them as multichannel videos or performances with live narration. Her recent film Gyres 1-3 (2019) looks at water as the site of political exile, religious pilgrimage, and forced migration across the Aegean Sea. Her working process is a kind of “beach-combing” that embraces chance encounter with artifacts and how they find their way to her. It involves extended periods of research, including conversations with people in roles, such as museum directors, scholars, or Arctic explorers. Her interests are interdisciplinary and cross-temporal. She speaks of her work as a collection of chance encounters, what is lost (and accrued) in translating between spoken and written words, and archaeological discovery.

Ga will be in residence at Bryn Mawr College twice during the 2021-22 academic year and virtually throughout the 2020-21 school year. Throughout this process, we hope you will join us in a collective note-keeping practice, responding to your own experience of Ga’s work and the chance encounters you collect along the way. 

Materials for the Friday Finds workshop “Sew, Snip, Tie: Early American Children’s Blank Books”

“Sew, Snip, Tie: Early American Children’s Blank Books” will take place on Friday, October 30, 2020 at noon, via Zoom. Register to attend at https://brynmawr.libcal.com/event/7204459.

This is a hands-on workshop, during which participants make a simple blank book in the stye of early 19th-century children’s homemade copy books.Campus community members will be able to pick up a kit of materials (first photo below). Off campus participants should gather materials before the event – see the second photo and list.

Campus community members who would like a kit of materials must register separately for the kit at https://brynmawr.libcal.com/event/7235349. You will be able to pick it up in Canaday Library from 9-4:30 Thursday,  October 29 or Friday morning before the workshop. We will send you an e-mail as soon as the kits are available (maybe a day or two early, depending on our suppliers).supplies provided for on-campus community membersThe kit includes:

2 sheets of 8 ½” x 11″ laid paper, for the pages

One half sheet of 8 ½” x 11″ heavy, handmade, decorated paper, for the cover

Needle to sew your book with. This will also be used to make holes in the paper for sewing

Bookbinder’s thread – 1 yard

Beeswax to wax thread

A popsicle stick to use as a folder

Pen and ink to practice your alphabet. The first ten on-campus students who want them may have the pen and ink shown in the photo as part of their kit. The rest of us will need a calligraphy pen or any fine tipped pen or marker

Pages to copy (Alphabet_smaller, Running_Hand_recto, Running_Hand_verso)

You supply your own scissors

 

Off-campus participants will need the following items:

materials needed for participants who are not using kits2 sheets of 8 ½ x 11 paper, for your pages.

One half sheet of 8 ½” x 11” heavier paper, for the cover (8 ½” x 5 ½”). shown here, a rectangle cut from a manila folder

Needle to sew your book with. This should be sharp and as heavy as possible. It is best if the eye is no wider than the main part of the needle

Thread for sewing. A heavy thread is ideal – buttonhole/carpet thread if possible. No more than a yard will be needed

Wax to smooth your thread with. Beeswax is traditional, but you can use any candle, or a  lip balm like ChapStick or Burt’s Bees

Folder – something to press down the edge of the folded paper. You can use a popsicle stick or the handle of your scissors

Pen and ink to practice your alphabet. If you have a calligraphy pen, choose that. If not, any fine tip pen will work.

Scissors

Pages to copy (Alphabet_smaller, Running_Hand_recto, Running_Hand_verso)

We hope you will join us for this workshop – see you there!

Indigenous Representation in Children’s Literature

I grew up knowing I wanted to write for kids because children’s literature is what made me fall in love with reading. I wanted to try to provide that experience for other people, but in particular I wanted to write the kind of books I wished I’d had as a kid—books about Indigenous characters who got to experience magic and adventure too.

That was one of my main goals in writing The Ghost Collector, which centers around a Cree girl, Shelly and her grandmother, who help lost souls transition to the next world by catching them in their hair. The version of the supernatural presented in The Ghost Collector is rooted to Cree culture. Shelly’s experience of the world around her is tied to and influenced by her Indigeneity. It is an attempt to address what was lacking in the novels I read as a kid.

Children’s literature is fraught territory for Indigenous people. Although many classic works in the genre include Indigenous characters, the ways in which we’re represented are often harmful and problematic. They frame Indigenous peoples as a vanishing race, or happy to assimilate to European ways as a means to justify settler colonialism. Settler colonialism is a form of colonialism that seeks to replace the original population of a colonized territory with a settler society. The United States is a settler colonial nation.

You see this harmful depiction of Indigenous characters in Little House on the Prairie, where Native Americans are portrayed as violent and stereotypically “savage” in comparison to the “civilized” settlers; in Peter Pan stories, which positions Native Americans alongside fairies and mermaids; and in the Leatherstocking Tales, in which the white protagonist surpasses his Native guides in mastery of their own culture. These stories frame Indigenous characters as little more than props or set dressing for white protagonists. These works present us as violent and less than human, as mythical creatures, and as inherently inferior to European settlers.

This 1953 Garth Williams illustration for the Little House series depicts two stereotypical, shirtless Native American men stealing food and furs from the Ingalls’ cabin.

Even in the 90s, when I was a kid, there weren’t a lot of children’s books out there with good Indigenous representation and even fewer by Indigenous authors. My mother, who is a teacher-librarian in addition to being Cree, did her best, but the pickings were slim. This was especially true when it came to fantasy and sci-fi—my genres of choice. Science fiction in particular is notable for an emphasis on colonization narratives. For example, James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) is essentially just The Last of the Mohicans in space. When books did include Indigenous representation, it was mostly misrepresentation. Sometimes we didn’t exist as people at all, but as non-human characters (like the Na’vi in Avatar).

Either way, it was obvious the authors didn’t consider an Indigenous audience when writing their books. The effects of this go beyond the pages of books to the real world. These portrayals normalize our absence and create a fictional tale of peaceful, inevitable settlement in North America that means settlers never need to confront their complicity in the violent colonial history of the Americas. More often than not, when we pick up a book, we encounter a world we are not present in.

I have hope that this is beginning to change. In publishing—particularly in YA publishing—we’ve seen a push for greater diversity and more #OwnVoices books. People are becoming more aware of the need for better representation in children’s books. Novels like Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, Darcie Little Badger’s Elatsoe, and Eden Robinson’s Trickster Drift all present worlds in which Indigenous characters take center stage. Readers have access to criticism and scholarship by Indigenous academics and writers through social media and sites like American Indians in Children’s Literature.

We’re on the precipice of a potential sea change, but it requires a sustained investment in treating diversity as more than a trend from publishers and readers alike. Indigenous readers are here—we have always been here—and we’re invested in making children’s literature more representative. I hope, for the sake of future Indigenous kids, that non-Indigenous readers are turning up for more diverse voices too.

Allison Mills, College Archivist. Author of The Ghost Collector.

https://allisonmillswrites.com

The Girl’s Own Book – Now Open Online

Screenshot of the online version the the exhibition, The Girl's Own BookThe Girl’s Own Book is now open online at http://exhibitions.digital.brynmawr.edu/the-girls-own-book/index. We invite you to explore the digital exhibition.

The show will open in Canaday Library next Monday, September 14. It will be open Monday through Friday 10am – 4pm. Open to campus community members only through the Fall semester.

Life in London and A London Doll

The doll, burned beyond recognition, is carried in by a large and poorly behaved dog.

A low point in the life of the London doll.

The London doll whose story is recorded in this book comes to consciousness in the home of a skillful but poorly remunerated maker of joined wooden dolls, Mr. Sprat. He, his wife, and their three children live in a rented top floor room, “the workshop by day and the bed-room at night.” The work benches are along the side of the room with windows, the beds on the floor on the opposite wall. Mr. Sprat makes the wooden parts for the dolls. Mrs. Sprat paints the eyebrows and eyes or, in the case of more expensive dolls, inserts glass eyes. The two boys paint hair or attach wigs, and fit the arms and legs together with pegs, respectively. The little girl paints the blushing cheeks and sweet lips. This industrious family produces dolls in bulk, and one day Mrs. Sprat puts the heroine of this story in a basket with nine other dolls, each wrapped in silver paper and carries them to a doll shop in High Holborn.Pages 2-3, describing the work of the Sprat family

Although the doll longs to be put in the front window, she is stored on a high shelf for some time – “it seemed like years to me” –  in the back parlour where she has nothing to do but listen to the daughter of the owner read aloud popular children’s books. One day, though, a boy arrives, asking to trade a fruit cake made for the Twelfth Night celebrations for a doll for his sister. He and the doll shop owner exchange increasingly laudatory descriptions of the objects they are negotiating over; the owner claims the doll, “of a very superior make,” is worth twelve shillings, to which the boy responds that the going price for the cake in the shop of his grandfather, a pastry-cook, is fifteen shillings or more.Pages 14 and q5, the negotiation between the doll-shop owner and Thomas Plummy.

In the end, the boy gets the doll for his sister, Ellen, and they return to the pastry-cooks’ house, where the old man asks the child to put the doll away, because he needs her to join in the work for the holiday: “to sort small cakes, and mix sugar plums of different colours, and pile up sticks of barley sugar, and arrange artificial flowers, and stick bits of holly with red berries into cakes for the upper shelves of his shop window.” When Ellen finally brings her new toy down, the doll is astonished by what she drolly describes, in a foreshadowing of a recent catchphrase, as “the fine front shop with All the Cakes!”  Overcome by the beauty of the decorations, she faints.Pages 20-21, describing the pastry shop at Twelfth Night.

The doll is happy at the pastrycook’s, but her seven-year-old “mamma” is soon sent to live with her aunt, a dressmaker. Aunt Sharpshins employs fifteen apprentices, of whom the next youngest is ten. They work from six in the morning until eight at night, with a half hour lunch break, and are exhausted and poorly fed. Under this regime, Ellen becomes ill, and she and her friend Nanny take advantage of her two sick days to finally make clothing for the doll, now christened Maria Poppet.

Ellen and her friend, Nanny, sewing clothes for the doll

Ellen and Nanny make clothes for Maria Poppet.

The story is too long to recount event by event, but by now it must be clear that the author has little interest in the sort of minor domestic incident one expects in stories about dolls, and a great deal of interest in the economic and employment situations in which children in London were living. In fact, Richard Horne’s book was first published in in 1846, three years after he finished his work as a member of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Children’s Employment. The Commission interviewed children in factories, mines, and smaller industries and businesses, investigating their work conditions, their access to education, and their diet.The report was greeted by public outrage, and inspired poets and writers including Charles Dickens to write about children who were obliged to work to survive. Horne’s Memoirs of a London Doll reflects what he learned as a member of the Commission, and reshapes the Report of the Commission into a palatable message for young readers about the hardships endured by children less affluent and less fortunate than themselves.

Horne was a friend of Dickens, and was employed by him as a sub-editor at the weekly magazine Household Words. The two men were part of a network of journalists, scholars, and philanthropists interested in understanding and improving the lives of the poor. Among the most interesting of these, from the standpoint of this book, was Margaret Gillies, a professional painter working primarily in watercolors and miniatures, who illustrated the story. She and her sister, the author Mary Gillies, resided in London and by 1841, they had been joined by the physician and sanitary reformer Southwood Smith (who lived with Margaret for the rest of his life). Among his other work, Smith examined and reported on the lives of child workers in the mines – boys and girls, who often started before they were ten, and whose work included opening and closing ventilation doors, running errands, and dragging loads of coal through tunnels too small for ponies to work in. In 1842, Gillies illustrated Smith’s first report, on his inspections in Leicestershire and West Yorkshire.

Lady Flora set fire to her skirt while dancing with the doll

Lady Flora makes a serious mistake.

True to his interests, Horne led Maria Poppet through a rapid succession of adventures with “mammas” in different walks of life. After Ellen, she passes into the home of the spoiled and heedless Lady Flora, the daughter of a countess and a cabinet minister. Maria lives in luxury with a doll bed complete with mattress and her own dresser for an expanding wardrobe, enjoys shopping, goes to the zoo, and attends the Opera. A dangerous accident sends her to a different home.

She lives briefly with Mary Hope, staying with her aunt because her father, who is a clerk in a bank, has “seven other daughters, and a small salary.” Mary drops her accidentally from a coach while watching a Punch and Judy show, and the doll is inadvertently exchanged for Punch’s baby. The master of the show sells her to a street merchant who deals in used clothing. He sells her to a young Italian organ-grinder who scrapes a living for himself and his sister. The little girl plays with her as she would any doll, but business is business and the two performers also dress her in their (deceased) monkey’s clothing and prop her up on top of the barrel organ. After several additional changes in status and position, Maria Poppet finally ends up at the country manor of a wealthy family, where she believes she has come to rest. She tells us that she has made the acquaintance of another doll whose life story she has heard, and that she hopes “at a future time that these ‘Memoirs of a Country Doll’ will be made public as mine have been.”

The London doll and the country doll, seated togther while their owners play.

The London doll and the country doll exchange life stories

Horne never did write that sequel, and one doubts the ingenious journalist could have described the exhausting and grim lives of young rural workers and child miners in a sufficiently softened and light-hearted way for his juvenile audience. At the same time, it would have been a very interesting book. The Memoirs of a London Doll is quick-paced and full of fascinating detail. The reader who is not ready to plunge into the thousands of pages of Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor (published in 1851 by another member of Dickens’ coterie) could start here to ease into the harsh realities of the mid-19th-century metropolis .

Marianne Hansen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts

Horne, R. H. (Richard H.) and Margaret Gillies, illustrator. Memoirs of a London Doll, Written by Herself. London: Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Covent Garden, 1855

Read our copy on the Internet Archive.

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. Please follow us on Facebook or subscribe here for notices of new blog posts.

Useful Gossip – About Book Illustration

Text for Golden Eagle and Titmouse; image of owl

The text describing each image is printed on the back of the page, rather than the facing page, which is initially confusing. A scan of our copy is available on the Internet Archive – find the link at the bottom of the page.

Children’s books are often illustrated, and a number of technological advances in printing during the 18th and 19th centuries led to an outpouring of stylish, beautiful, and sometimes brightly colored publications. The earliest of these innovations was wood engraving. The inventor of the technique is unknown, but it was extensively developed by the artist and printer Thomas Bewick beginning in the 1760s. Bewick’s work established the medium, and his workshop produced dozens of prominent engravers who had begun with him as apprentices.

Text for Domestic Cock and Water Wagtail; images of Fallow Deer and Civet Cat

Wood engraving is a relief printing process: the ink is applied to those parts of the printing block which stick out – imagine a rubber stamp. (This contrasts with intaglio processes, where the ink is wiped into lines cut or etched into a plate, and must be lifted out by the paper, which is pressed very hard onto the plate and into the grooves.) Woodcuts, which were normally used for economical book illustration in Europe from the fifteenth century until wood engraving superseded them, are also relief prints. Both techniques use blocks that can be printed at the same time with movable type, set up in the same frames. This makes them easy, fast, and inexpensive to print and means that even ephemeral publications or books that must be printed very cheaply, like children’s books, can have a large number of illustrations. The blocks can be reused indefinitely, and may appear in more than one publication.

Text for Partridge and Sparrow Hawk; images for Bat and Beaver

The varying widths of parallel lines to create different tones is used effectively in the image of the beaver

Woodcuts differ from wood engravings in the direction the grain of the wood runs in the block. For woodcuts, the grain runs the length of the block. Wood engravings, in contrast, are made up of closely fitted cross sections of wood, with the grain running the short way, top to bottom. When a wood engraver cuts a block, they cut into the end grain, using v-shaped burins like those used to engrave metal. The result is that they can make very fine lines, producing detailed illustrations – more detailed than those produced by even very good woodcuts. The other benefit to wood engravings over woodcuts is that they are more rapidly cut. This made them the medium of choice for illustrating newspapers and other periodicals with timely content. Like woodcuts, the blocks are durable, and can be used to make thousands of impressions.

Text for Ounce and Englishmen; image for Auctioneer

How do you know if you are looking at a wood engraving? If a black and white illustration appears on the same page as words printed from type (same color ink, impression visible on the back of the page, etc.) it is probably a relief print. Between about 1780 and 1840, the chances are good that a print of this sort was made from a wood engraving. (Wood engravings continued to be used into the twentieth century, with other print technologies joining them.) Because a burin removes material, the most important graphic elements are frequently light, rather than dark. The artist “thinks” in white line, rather than in black line. Closely parallel lines, both straight and curving, are characteristic of the technique, and are used to create light and dark areas, depending on the relative widths of the cut away and printed lines.

Text for Coffee Tree and Stag; images for Water Spout and Volcano

These illustrations come from Useful Gossip for the Young Scholar, or, Tell-Tale Pictures, a strangely various series of short paragraphs of information on birds, animals, plants, and natural phenomena (with additional entries on the auctioneer, plowing, charity, and Englishmen). Bewick is credited as the illustrator by later catalogers – not in the book itself – and many  of the pictures are very closely related to works reliably identified as his. Other illustrations were at least based on his images, but they may have been produced by his stable of apprentices or even copied by another wood engraver. The author, Mary Elliott, wrote moral juvenile works to supplement her family’s income and was published by Darton for decades. One gets the general sense that she was asked to produce text to match a collection of likely blocks in the possession of the publisher – an idea we might pursue another day. The text is broken up into single syllables, as an aid to young readers.

Text fo Cameleopard (giraffe) and Butterflyand Fruit; images for OurangOutang and Tobacco Plant

In the smaller leaf, the black lines convey shape in the “shadowed” half, and white lines delineate features on the “lighted” side.

Some of the “useful gossip” is factual and some moralistic. The Roller, for example “is of the mag-pie tribe, but we hope he does not chat-ter so much. Many words are not proofs of sense; but we may laugh at a bird’s non-sense, though we ex-pect more wis-dom from cle-ver chil-dren, such as my young read-ers.” And we learn of the tobacco plant that it is employed medicinally, for chewing, and as snuff, but “since we do not mean to smoke to-bac-co, it is of no use to us.” The book is worth reading, at least as a snapshot from 1822  of suitable instruction for the very young.

Marianne Hansen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts

Elliott, Mary. Useful Gossip for the Young Scholar, or, Tell-Tale Pictures. London: William Darton, 58, Holborn Hill, 1822

Read our copy on the Internet Archive.

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. Please follow us on Facebook or subscribe here for notices of new blog posts.

Nice Little Games for Nice Little Girls

 

Back cover of book showing various series offered by the publisher

Nice Little Games for Nice Little Girls was one of several volumes of amusements issued by Dean & Sons in the 1850s and 60s.  Other books in the Mamma and Papa Lovechild series included Nice Little Games for Nice Little Boys, Picture Book of Games and Pastimes (for older children), and The Pleasing Book of Boy’s Sports. Dean offered many books in series, often named after a “relative” – Sister Lady-Bird, Brother Sunshine, and so on. Our book’s full title begins Cousin Lively’s Picture Book of Nice Little… These rather similar books are differentiated by the gender and age of their prospective audiences. Our book is distinctly meant for girls, and it provides a number of clues for the modern reader about what that meant to the anonymous compiler.

Page 6. "Fox Among the Poulty" and "Swinging"

The amusements are meant for very young girls – small enough for the warning that the swing should be tied to two trees, which limits the length of the arc the swing can move through. This age range is confirmed by the book for “little boys,” where the children are shown in skirts, rather than trousers, identifying them as too young to go to school – at most five or, just possibly, six.

page 4. "Fox and Geese" and "Morris" board games

The board games are also chosen for children who probably still need someone to read the book to them. Nine-men’s morris is offered as comprehensible by girls who are able to play tic-tac-toe (around four years old) And the variant of Fox and Geese adds additional geese to the traditional thirteen to make the sides more even.

Page. 3. "Cat and Mouse" and "The Skipping Rope"

There are many active, primarily outdoor, activities, some competitive, some requiring cooperation. The warning against overexertion while skipping rope reflects ideas about gender and physical activity. But many active games are included, in spite of reservations, and skipping is described as “a healthy and graceful exercise,” revealing more interest in fitness than one might predict of a Victorian writer. The companion book, “Games and Pastimes” includes archery, hopscotch, badminton, a game related to cricket, and other athletic activities as suitable for girls as well.

Page 2. "Buff" and "Cup and Ball"

An important difference between this and its “brother” book is that many of the boys’ games include striking one another or contain other aggressive components; the girls play together without much conflict. The author has to add rules to some of the pleasurable activities suggested to make them “games.” As revealed by “Cup and Ball,” a game has at least two players, a competition, and a winner – or more commonly, a loser.

Page 1. "Thus Says the Grand Mufti" and "Frog in the Middle"Fortunately, disappointment or triumph is often fleeting: the rounds in many of the games are short, and the loser in any round simply takes over the special role, for example, as the frog in “Frog in the Middle.”

Games which depend on quick thinking are more likely to have multiple losers, and the forfeits we discussed when we looked at the Wide-Mouthed Waddling Frog come into play again. “Thus Says the Grand Mufti” is like Simon Says, with the players obliged to distinguish between “Thus says…” and “So says…” (A mufti is an Islamic jurist, and at the time the book was published “Grand Mufti” referred to the chief mufti of the Ottoman empire, made topical in Great Britain by the Crimean War of 1853-56.)

Page 8. "The Genteel Lady"

Quicker and easier than forfeits, and one suspects more likely to promote general hilarity, is the “punishment” of adding a paper horn to one’s coiffure after making an error in reciting an increasingly complex series of silly sentences. “The Genteel Lady” is the last game in the book, and in many ways its highlight, with two illustrations (hand-colored wood engravings) and a long set of instructions.

It’s easy to imagine that this book, like most of Dean & Sons’ carefully considered and promoted offerings, was successful. It was attractive and included fifteen games, with a mix of active and intellectual pursuits, indoor and outdoor amusements, and games that could be played instantly as well as some that required equipment or preparation – and all for sixpence (less than $5 today).

– Marianne Hansen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts

Cousin Lively’s Picture Book of Nice Little Games for Nice Little Girls. London: Dean & Son. 1859

Our copy of the book can be read on the Internet Archive.

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. The exhibition’s run has been extended through the 2020-2021 academic year. Information about when it will open to visitors and related programming will be available when we are able to give it. Please follow us on Facebook or subscribe here for notices of new blog posts.

Paper Dolls, and How to Make Them

 My Dear Young Friends :

I have often pitied myself, because there were no Paper Dolls when I was a little girl. I supposed that all little girls, now-a-days, played with them, until a few days ago, when a lady told me that she knew a number, who had never heard of Paper Dolls, and then she said: “Why can’t you make a little book, and tell how to make them?” And Mary looked up and said, “Please, do, Mamma, it would make a great many children happy.”

Plate VIII. Four dolls, of varying ages, and one garmentThis first American book on making paper dolls was published anonymously in 1857. The author is enthusiastic about making dolls at home and playing with them. Her enumeration of types of dolls suggests scenarios for play: “Babies to be nursed and fondled, little girls and boys to be taught and entertained, rewarded and punished, mammas to keep house, and go visiting, and take care of the little ones.” She expects the dolls will be given names and histories – and attend parties, “if you allow your little people to go to such places.”

Plate VI. An infant with a long robe and an outfit with a shorter skirtMost of the book, though, focuses on technical details of producing and clothing the dolls. The dolls themselves are made of “Any kind of stiff paper, the backs of old cards, paste-board, Bristol board,” and the costumes from scraps and leftover bits of paper. The author lists various sorts of colored paper the girl may be able to scavenge: covers of pamphlets, note or letter paper, tissue “motto papers” (imagine the pink, blue, and green amaretti wrappers); plain brown or white paper to draw or paint on; minuscule scraps of gold paper; and even tiny feathers for hats. With these materials, a pencil, scissors, and a bottle of gum arabic, the girl is “prepared to do great things in the millinery and dressmaking line.”

The ten plates show one or more “patterns” for dolls to trace or redraw or imitate, and sample sketches of types of clothing to make from the accumulated stash of useful paper.

Some of us had paper dolls when we were young where the clothing was held on the doll by folded over paper tabs. And we have seen in our examination of Little Fanny that the early nineteenth century saw commercial printing of paper dolls whose head moved from garment to garment. The author of our book is excited about a different technology: “Now the great invention, from which Paper-Doll playing may be said to have its beginning, consists simply in making the dresses doubled at the top, so that they may stay on. I consider this one of the greatest discoveries of modern times.… The way is simply this; to fold the paper of which the dress is to be made, having the fold at the top, so that the dress is cut double, front and back, and the folded part makes a shoulder-strap.”

Plate III. Doll and a variety ofgarments, including a frock shown with front and back attached at the shoulders

The attached, matching, front and back of the garments illustrated, Fig. 2

For high-necked clothing the head will not fit through, a long opening is made in the back. The author also gives tips on hats, shoes and stockings, garments which might obscure the doll’s arms, and so on.

Platre IV. Adaptations for high-necked garments

A closed neck jacket illustrated, with a prolonged opening in the back layer, Fig. 2

The author is troubled about the dolls’ appearance. She knows most children do not draw naturalistically and also that it doesn’t bother them at all: ‘[the dolls] may be cross-eyed, and their foreheads may be larger than all the rest of their faces, and their heads may grow out of their shoulders, and their fat arms may stand out straight, and end in little knobs. [I]t is all the same, they are “little darlings,” “perfect beauties,” “the sweetest little things that ever were seen.”’

Plate I. Two dolls

The author’s drawings

But she wishes the dolls were better. She instructs the young artists to try to make the faces symmetrical, and to practice on a slate before committing to paper – although she expects they will be disappointed in the results. She advises them that if their first doll is “horrid-looking” they should dress it and give it to their baby sister who won’t know any better – and make another. And “if this second one does not look as well as you hoped it would, still I think that you had best make a dress or two for it.” She clearly has experience with the painful fact that ability only improves with practice – and that somehow the aspiring artist must both feel badly enough about the product to want to do better, and good enough about the process to repeat the effort.

Plate X. A boy doll and three outfitsShe finishes up with encouraging remarks and an appeal to thrift: “There is no end to the pretty things that you can make. You will soon collect, in one way or another, the simple materials which you can convert into beautiful dresses. I am sure that you and your mothers will all agree with me in saying that playing with Paper Dolls is the most delightful, the most varied, and at the same time the most simple and the least expensive of all your amusements.”

I can tell you from my own experience that it is fun to dress the dolls. You can use any combination of drawing, copying, collage, or Photoshop you like. I printed out one of the dolls, glued it onto card stock, gave it legs, then dressed it from paper scraps. Try it and let us know what you made!

Plate VII. A teenaged doll with bonnet, coat, and ball gown. A modern doll, with costume, based on the original, is shown next to the plate.

Marianne’s paper doll, created from one of the original patterns. The costume was made from a Cook’s Illustrated magazine: the wearable art jacket was cut from a photo of pan-roasted carrots, the leggings, shell, and mask from a painting of a pomelo.

 – Marianne Hansen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts

Paper Dolls, and How to Make Them: A Book for Little Girls. New edition, improved and enlarged.
New-York: Anson D.F. Randolph, 683 Broadway., 1857.

 Our copy of the book can be read on the Internet Archive.

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. The exhibition’s run has been extended through the 2020-2021 academic year. Information about when it will open to visitors and related programming will be available when we are able to give it. Please follow us on Facebook or subscribe here for notices of new blog posts.

Triarte: Newly Improved!!!

Since Spring Break LITS staff and students (Megan Sligar (PhD candidate CNEA), Kaylee Verkruisen (Graduate Student, HART), Esme Read ‘22 and Katie Perry ‘21) have been working to upgrade our online collections database with a new server, software and expanded cataloging.  Upgrading the software gave us more robust features for the user. 

New or Greatly improved features include: Browse by Donor, Exhibitions, Publications and User Portfolios. The Advanced Search has been enhanced and the Advanced Search of Artists (including ULAN biographies), Exhibitions, and Bibliography is new.  Additionally, Donor Biographies, an Enhanced Bibliographic Section with Images of Comparanda and a Conservation Section for some Object Records are all new.

Browse by Exhibition lists Exhibitions that Tri-Co Objects have been in on campus and at outside institutions internationally. Within the exhibition you can find things like the objects exhibited, installation views, and catalogs.

Here you can see information about the recent conservation of The Bibliophile; Accession Number: 2011.6.121. The conservation report and technical study conducted by The University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum Art Conservation Program are included along with images before, during and after the treatment.

 

 

We hope you will take the time to explore Triarte.brynmawr.edu and let us know what features you would like to see expanded and what features you find most helpful.

Why is Athens like the wick of a candle? Dad Jokes from 1850

“Why is Athens like the wick of a candle? ”
“Because it is in the midst of Greece (grease).”

cover of The New London Riddle Book

There’s nothing new about corny jokes and riddles, as the New London Riddle Book reveals. This small chapbook (only 12 pages including both covers) sold for a penny, and was promoted “for Christmas parties.”

Inside cover and first two riddlesSeven pages of long riddles in verse reinforce the idea that the book is meant for use by groups. Most of the illustrations that accompany the riddles reveal the answers. This might be amusing for younger or impatient individual readers, but it makes more sense in the context of one person reading the riddles to an audience, and prompting them to guess. It would also let you give a hint to the youngest participants if they could not come up with the answer on their own.

Further riddles. No. 3 reads: 3. —Though it be cold, I wear no clothes, The frost and snow I never fear, I value neither shoes nor hose, And yet I wander far and near. My diet is for ever free, I drink no cider, port, or sack; A Providence provides for me, And watcheth that I do not lack.

Some of the riddles are more rewarding than others (surely no one could actually guess the correct answer to No. 3, above from among all the possibilities). But No. 5 seems likely to provoke amusement on its own:
“I do not live, and yet have breath,
I shield the vital spark from death:
My lungs are wonderfully strong.
My mouth at least six inches long.”

The silly short “puzzles and conundrums”, which are more like the riddles familiar to us, are punny, corny, and cringe-worthy – perfect to share with Dad on Father’s Day, unless they are already among his favorites. Try him on some of these:

“Why is the capital of Ireland increasing daily ?
—Because it’s always doubling (Dublin).”

“Why is a spoon in a cup of tea like a nice young lady ?
—Because it’s in tea resting (interesting).”

Or enjoy a brief tribute to the future Edward VII:
“Why is the little Prince of Wales like a threatening cloud ?
—Because he intends to reign (rain).”

We’ve hidden the answers to the long riddles in the image above, but you can read the entire book on the Internet Archive. And give our regards to the Dad of your choice!

Back cover, with crown, figure of Britannia, and Victorian penny with the profile of the Queen as a young woman

The New London Riddle Book. London ;: William Walker, Publisher, 1850.

With the continuing closure of the Library, we are blogging regularly about books from the exhibition, The Girl’s Own Book. The exhibition’s run has been extended through the 2020-2021 academic year. Information about when it will open to visitors and related programming will be available when we are able to give it. Please follow us on Facebook or subscribe here for notices of new blog posts.