Punctuation Personified or Pointing Made Easy – The Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Books for Young Readers

So much of what was published for children and young adults was meant to instruct and inform. As we begin to explore our new collection, we find moralistic literature, solemn and sage. There is careful education, from ABC books through early readers containing only words of one syllable (usually with frankly dull subject matter). There are sensational warnings of destruction and damnation. And then there are cheery effusions of erudition that delight as they instruct.

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‘Harris’s Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction’ was a series of books from the publisher John Harris, a pioneer in developing the educational book that was also fun to read. Among those books was Punctuation Personified or Pointing Made Easy, purportedly by Mr. Stops. (London: J. Harris & Son, c. 1824). This book tries to teach the use of punctuation marks, both in writing and in reading, with a combination of amusing and memorable images and a lilting poem. As an aid to meaningful expression, the poem suggests how many beats to pause in speaking for each type of punctuation.

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The semicolon gets two beats, the colon three.  Although the rules have changed for the use of these marks, the relationship between them is familiar.

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The exclamation point, like other symbols that mark the end of a sentence, gets four.

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The slippery apostrophe slides into the place of a letter,

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… and the quotation marks evoke greatness.

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Other books in the series included well-known poems and stories, nature, travel, astronomy, and history.

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Special Collections has digitized this book and you can read the entire thing on the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/PunctuationPersonified .

  • Marianne Hansen, Curator for Rare Books and Manuscripts


The Garden Gang – The Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature

Imagine you’re a young girl in England in the late 1970s. You’re an accomplished musician, you sew and bake, play chess, breed stick insects, and keep a garden. What else do you do with your time?

Well, if you’re Jayne Fisher, you write and illustrate your own series of children’s books!


Jayne Fisher wrote fourteen Garden Gang books between 1979 and 1983 (there was also an annual titled Meet the Garden Gang, and two Garden Gang coloring books). Each small book has two stories about anthropomorphized fruits and vegetables living in a community and going about their daily lives. The characters and plots in these stories are simple and charming.


Jayne was only nine years old when she began writing the Garden Gang stories, and while she was prolific for that short period of time, it does not seem like she pursued her writing career much further. There are countless blog and forum posts across the internet expressing fondness for the series and wondering “what ever happened to Jayne Fisher?”


In a way, I like that while the series was so popular and beloved, this child author then went on to pursue other interests and talents. I hold out hope that Jayne Fisher might resurface at some point, simply because there is a question that has been bugging me: all of the characters in the Garden Gang have alliterative names, save one. What’s the deal with Penelope Strawberry? Did she change her name to sound more glamorous (it seems like something she might do)? Is “Penelope” her middle name and her first name is actually “Sarah” or “Sally” or another name that begins with S? I don’t think I’ll ever find out, but I will always wonder.

– Rayna Andrews (BMC 2011), Project Coordinator

Catharine Susan and Me – the Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature

CSMcoverSome books are just for fun – and Kathleen Ainslie’s charming stories of the adventures of the Dutch peg dolls, Catharine Susan and Maria (“Me”), delighted readers in the first decade of the twentieth century. Peg dolls were jointed wooden figurines sold inexpensively – and “naked” for the new owners to make clothes for. Because they moved at the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees, they could be arranged into somewhat lifelike positions, and this feature is essential in Ainslie’s lively sketches of dolls running, dancing, traveling, working in the garden, and collapsing in exhaustion.

The books are short – ten to twenty illustrations with brief captions, and they usually just pick out distinctive episodes, rather than exploring a narrative arc. Ainslie (1883-1935) wrote and illustrated more than 20 books published by Castell Brothers Ltd  –  the Catharine Susan books, a number of other books with peg dolls, a handful of works with real children as the main characters, and at least five calendars. Here are some selections from the Catherine Susan books:

In Me and Catharine Susan, we learn she and Maria are twins.


They get in trouble when they are young (Catharine Susan in Hot Water),


And travel when they are older (Catharine Susan and Me Goes Abroad). Sometimes they are courageous,

CSMAbroadand sometimes not (Catharine Susan’s Little Holiday),

CSMHols1but they do get on well with others.


In Me and Catharine Susan Earns an Honest [Penny], the sisters try to make a living in various ways, including dressmaking and market gardening.


They enjoy an active social life (Catharine Susan and Me’s Coming Out).


Votes for Catharine Susan and Me is actually an anti-suffrage book. (We forgive them because we know their heads are wooden.)


A final image, from the 1906 Calendar:


The Girl’s Realm Annual – The Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature at Bryn Mawr College

Ellery Yale Wood was especially interested in collecting books meant specifically for girls and young women.  This week we have unpacked numerous magazines and annuals. One of these is the Girl’s Realm Annual, a yearly compilation of the monthly Girl’s Realm, over a thousand pages long and bound beautifully to make it suitable as a Christmas present. FN-000000 (2)This Edwardian era publication (it was printed from 1898 until 1915) was lively and well-illustrated. It carried stories about successful women, sports, nature, career options, and handicrafts, as well as puzzles, poetry, and fiction, much of it by well-known authors.FN-000013 Some of the literature was short stories, but there was also usually a serial story, which would have appeared in each month’s issue, but which in the annual appears every 80 pages or so.FN-000005

Advertising for the Girl’s Realm described it as “an up-to-date, high-class magazine, made bright, amusing, interesting, and instructive.” It was self-consciously modern, and addressed girls within the framework of the New Woman: educated, independent, career- as well as family-oriented, interested in sports and the out of doors, socially informed and involved. Some of the stories are romance, but many of them are adventure; the girls in the stories tended to be courageous -sometimes to the point of foolhardiness, patriotic, and strong; there are frequent articles on “girl heroines”. FN-000000At the same time, the magazine expected its readers to be ladylike and eager to take their places within marriages and society. The editorial attitude toward women’s suffrage is telling: the magazine was generally in favor or women’s rights, but it could not countenance the unfeminine behavior of the more militant activists.FN-000010

Here are some additional pages from the 1902, 1906, and 1911 editions, to give a flavor of the whole.


The Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature at Bryn Mawr College

Ellery Yale Wood (BMC 1952), a long-time resident of Wisbech, England, collected books written for children and young adults from the middle of the eighteenth century until the end of the twentieth. When she died in the Spring of 2013, she left this remarkable collection of approximately 12,000 books to Bryn Mawr.


Student workers in the Special Collections Department have started this summer on the massive project of unboxing, cleaning, sorting, and inventorying the books, under the direction of Curator  of Rare Books & Manuscripts Marianne Hansen and Rare Books Cataloguer Patrick Crowley. Rayna Andrews (BMC 2011) has also been hired as the project coordinator to manage the day-to-day work and help with setting priorities for cataloging the books.20160601_095534

Last week was a week of numbers. The second week on the project. The fifth of seven student employees started work. We finished unpacking the first 100 boxes (out of 600!) of books. All the books were vacuumed with a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and the books were propped open on shelves to air out and acclimate. DSC03482

The first 707 books were added to a spreadsheet inventory. DSC03474

We figured out how many shelves we needed to sort the books, and labeled them with categories of books, including alphabetically A to Z. DSC03479

Lat Friday morning we received the next 120 boxes of books (which are being held at a secure storage facility nearby),

DSC03441DSC03480and that afternoon the student employees began opening and cleaning the next batch.


Recent Donation of Prints

This semester, John and Joanne Payson rounded off a year of exceptional generosity by donating a collection of twentieth-century prints and print portfolios to Bryn Mawr College’s Special Collections.


Teddo, Paul Cadmus, 1985, Lithograph, 9 7/8” x 10 ½” (2014.11.6)

The donation followed a substantial loan of American art used to form the student-curated exhibition, “A Century of Self-Expression: Modern American Art in the Collection of John and Joanne Payson,” which will hang in the Class of 1912 Rare Book Room of Canaday Library until June 1, 2014. The students, members of the 360° course cluster “Exhibiting Modern Art,” had the opportunity to work closely with the Paysons on the exhibition and accompanying publications, programs, and special events. The course cluster blog at http://modernart360.blogs.brynmawr.edu/ tells the story of this amazing year in the voices — and with the images — of the students.


Lion of Prague, Jack Levine, 1982, Etching and Aquatint, 11 1/8” x 9” (2014.11.10)

The recent donation includes work by Jack Levine, Isabel Bishop and Paul Cadmus, who are all featured prominently in “A Century of Self-Expression,” as well as by Doris Rosenthal, Ben Shahn, and Bernarda Bryson Shahn. Like many of the works in the exhibition, the prints appeal largely to a realistic style of representation that persisted alongside more radical and experimental visual trends that are often thought to characterize twentieth-century art. The prints cover a wide range of subjects, including portraits, political, mythological, and biblical stories, and scenes of modern city life.

It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with  Paysons and especially to catch up with Joanne, who received both her AB and MA from Bryn Mawr College. The new prints will serve as a source of interest and inspiration for students involved in the recent exhibition and for future generations of Bryn Mawr scholars.


Pygmalion, Jack Levine, 1977, Lithograph, 19 1/2” x 12 1/2” (2014.11.1)


Portfolio of Eight Etching 1927-1934, Isabel Bishop, 1989, Etching 14 ½” x 11 ½” (2014.11.11.a-j)



Hilda Worthington Smith

Hilda Worthington Smith

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting our first public Wikipedia edit-a-thon for WikiWomen’s History Month on Tuesday, March 25th, at Bryn Mawr College. Rather than having a narrowly defined theme like the Art + Feminism edit-a-thon that took place last month, this event will be geared towards the user who is interested in learning the basics of editing on any topic and using the holdings of Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections to do so. Our iteration on the 25th will be one of several such events organized between the Seven Sisters Colleges:

How to host an edit-a-thon: always provide snacks!

How to host an edit-a-thon: always provide snacks!

  •  Barnard, Mount Holyoke, and Smith kick it off on Tuesday, March 4th (that’s today!). Join them in New York, South Hadley, or Northampton.
  • Radcliffe follows on March 12th in Cambridge.
  • Bryn Mawr wraps it up on the 25th: Our event page is a work-in-progress, but check it out now if you’re interesting in seeing a list of some of the articles that we will be working on improving.

Use hashtags #7sisterswiki and #WikiWomen to discuss the events and support those who are participating!

– See more at: http://greenfield.blogs.brynmawr.edu/2014/03/04/womens-history-month-2014-shaping-our-own-historical-narratives-and-an-edit-a-thon/#sthash.zb0QlkVx.dpuf

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay – Emily Kimbrough and Cornelia Otis Skinner


Program for Philadelphia premiere of Our Hearts Were Young and Gay

For the past several months, I have been privileged enough to work with the Bryn Mawr oral histories as part of my work for The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education. The oral histories are comprised of hundreds of old cassette tapes, containing interviews, speeches, and lectures with Bryn Mawr alumnae, professors, staff, and other members of the college community. Although they are not available to the public at the moment, my job includes listening to the tapes and digitizing them. The long-term goal is that they will one day be a part of a public digital archive. In the meantime, I want to share some of the fun, surprising, and enlightening facts I have learned about Bryn Mawr through my work.

Today, I listened to a speech by Emily Kimbrough, Class of 1921, which she delivered at the Senior Dinner for the Class of 1973. Her speech was riotously funny, and after I finished listening, I decided to look up her alumna file. It turns out that Emily Kimbrough was a very accomplished writer, known for her humorous memoirs and short stories. As if that weren’t fun enough, her breakthrough novel, entitled Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, was co-written with Cornelia Otis Skinner, Class of 1922, a famous writer and actress. The book, published in 1942, is an account of their wild and hilarious trip to Europe when they were fresh out of Bryn Mawr. The book was made into a movie of the same name in 1944, a play dramatized by Jean Kerr, and a short-lived TV show as well. Throughout this process, the book and movie stayed close to their Bryn Mawr roots, with Paramount holding a special Philadelphia premiere of the movie for the Bryn Mawr College Special Scholarship Fund. Special Collections has the program for this premiere, which provides a great glimpse of Bryn Mawr in the 1940’s, as well as the strong associations between Our Hearts Were Young and Gay and the college.

Having discovered this treasure trove of forgotten Bryn Mawr hilarity, I immediately chased down the book and movie for myself. The movie appears to be available in full on Youtube. The book was in Canaday, and I can’t wait to start reading it. Even glancing through it, I can see that it is full of the kinds of Bryn Mawr stories that every Mawrter should adopt into their personal collection of college trivia. I hope that this post can revive the popularity of the book and movie at Bryn Mawr, and perhaps Our Hearts Were Young and Gay will become the new craze to sweep the campus. Such works are invaluable to every Mawrter, since they provide fun glimpses into the lives of our predecessors outside of the classroom. While I get to hear such stories frequently through the oral histories, other students can pick up Our Hearts Were Young and Gay and learn a bit more of the Mawrters of days past, and the mischief they got up to over 90 years ago.

Zoe Fox, 2014