Affordances of the Codex

The first class session in the Rare Book Room this term was for DIG 220: Electronic Literature with Dr. Mark Sample and his students.  Electronic literature?  In the Rare Book Room?  Yes, because one of the interesting things to do as we look at using/reading/researching texts online, is to compare that to how we’d use the same text in a physical space.  So, we looked at the “Affordances of the Codex,” or to put it another way, the attributes of the physical book.  What do we do differently; how do we interact differently; what do we see in a different way when we use physical books?

The five affordances we attributed to physical books were:

  • Books are simultaneously sequential and random access.

For example, we can look at a dictionary and read from A to Z, or we can find the definition of a particular word.  We can look at a book of short stories and read the first story through to the last, or we can choose a story to read.

Short Stories

Short Stories

  • Books are volumetric objects.

They have size and shape.  They “contain” the information in a three dimensional way.  Or, the shape may be representative of the contents.  The book “Snake Poems,” by Margaret Atwood literally unfolds like an accordion or “snake.”  “Gulliver’s Travels” text of his visit to the land of the giants is huge; the text of his visit to the Lilliputians is tiny.

  • Books are finite (bounded information spaces).

Single titles may be bound in one or more volumes; multiple titles may be bound together; single titles bound in one volume may be divided into parts.

  • Books offer a comparative visual space.

Books may be printed on the “front” side (the recto) of a leaf, but not on the “back” side (the verso.)  Notes, glosses, or translations may be on pages opposite the text itself.Page in SanscritPage in English

  • Books are writable as well as readable.

We all often take notes, underline, or mark passages in books (our own, of course, not those which we check out from the library!) for our study.  But, some books in the Rare Book Room have recipes on a flyleaf, notes from previous owners regarding their readings of the book, children’s drawings, gift inscriptions and other markings indicating their use.Children's drawings

Some of these affordances may also apply to electronic texts, but some don’t.  How do you see them differently?

Thanks, Dr. Sample and students for a great discussion!

Justice, Equality, and Community Archivist Is In The Library!

Hello, my name is Jessica Cottle and I am the recently hired Justice, Equality, and Community (JEC) Project Archivist.

A group of dedicated faculty and staff developed this new position to further the goals of the “Justice, Equality, Community: Reimagining Humanities Curricula for an Interconnected, Rapidly Changing World” initiative, funded by a generous Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. Over the course of 3.5 years, the initiative aims to “reimagine humanities curricula through the lens of three ideas that…cut across cultures, time, and disciplines: justice, equality, and community…to demonstrate the critical role of humanistic inquiry in public discourse, global problem-solving, engaged citizenship, and democratic leadership.”

The grant includes funding for innovative partnership between faculty and students, a humanities practitioner-in-residence program, community-minded experiential learning projects, and archives-supported assignments centered on questions about race and religion in the greater-Davidson area.

As the JEC Project Archivist for this endeavor, I will be developing, promoting, and digitizing archival resources related to the research and teaching of social justice issues (particularly race and religion), and facilitating collaboration between community partners, faculty, and students. I was raised in Charlotte—I graduated from Harding University High School in 2011—so I plan on tapping into personal connections to homegrown groups to ensure the initiative’s positive impact on both the campus community and local residents.

I graduated from Appalachian State University with my B.A. in May 2015. I majored in Global Studies with a concentration in East Asia, and double minored in Women’s Studies and Chinese. I returned to Boone that fall to complete my M.A. in Public History, graduating in May 2017. I believe unearthing connected historical and current marginalized narratives and subsequently serving as a conduit through which people can address their communities for themselves is my foremost responsibility as a public historian and archivist. When applying for jobs this summer, I immediately connected with the project goals described in this position’s advertisement as I saw my understanding of history and archives reflected in them. I am excited to familiarize myself with the archive’s resources and getting to know everyone as the JEC initiative moves forward!

Jessica Cottle
Phone: 704.894.2669
Office: E.H. Little Library, Room 203

Research, Teaching, and Collection department's contributions to welcome Jessica Cottle.

Research, Teaching, and Collection department’s contributions to welcome Jessica Cottle.

Jessica Cottle's Welcome Cake

Jessica Cottle’s Welcome Cake
August 28, 2017

Celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole.

The title of this post is from the Oxford Living Dictionary’s definition of astronomy, and this week, millions of people were contemplating “celestial objects.” On Monday, August 21 from 2:30 pm until 3 pm, Davidson hosted its own Eclipse Party on the Chambers lawn.

Davidson Eclipse Party brochure 2017

While Davidson did not experience a total eclipse, the moon still provided intriguing crescent-shaped shadows filtered through the trees.

Shadows on the patio in front of E.H. Little Library

Patio in front of E.H. Little Library

Thanks to Kelly Denzer, Electronic Resources Librarian, for sharing this image.

With the shifting light, several people in the crowd alluded to the variance in the shadows and the speed of those same shadows. With a little help from library resources, it was determined that in 1824, Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel introduced one of the techniques to calculate that speed and that technique is still used today.

Wondering about Davidson students and when they began studying astronomy: 1837. Astronomy was a required course and was part of the original college curriculum. In 1837, it was taught by the first President of the College, Robert Hall Morrison.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein



“It’s alive! It’s alive”
You probably associate that line with the movie, “Frankenstein.” And, you’d be right. You’d be wrong, however if you think the monster is Frankenstein. That was actually the name of the doctor who created him, and both were born from the imagination of Mary Shelley, who began her book Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus during the summer of 1816 when she was not yet nineteen. Mary (the lover, and later wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley), Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori were spending time in Geneva, and the gloomy, rainy weather often kept them indoors. Among the often occult topics of conversation was galvanism, the contraction of a muscle that is stimulated by an electric current. One rainy afternoon, Byron suggested that they have a contest to see who could write the best gothic horror story. Mary’s was the only one which was completed. Her story is of a doctor, Victor Frankenstein, who experiments with a technique for giving life to non-living matter which ultimately leads to his creation of The Monster. Full of gothic elements, and considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction, it is more than that. It explores themes of goodness and beauty as well. Shelley’s tale was published in London in 1818, but that first edition was published anonymously. Her name did not appear as the author until the second edition was published in France in 1823.
Although when first published Frankenstein did not receive favorable critical reviews, it did gain almost immediate popular success, and the story has been retold in theatrical productions, movies (and movie spoofs) through the years. Although Mary Shelley continued to write, she will always be remembered for Frankenstein.
We have in the Rare Book Room an early copy of the celebrated novel.

Forthcoming book ad for Vanity Fair

Forthcoming book ad for Vanity Fair

Back cover of original paper wrappers

Back cover of original paper wrappers

Publisher's list of some of their other works

Publisher’s list of some of their other works

Title Page

Title Page

Original preface

Original preface

1831 Bentley edition preface

1831 Bentley edition preface

Opening pages of the story

Opening pages of the story

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus / by Mrs. Shelley. Boston: Sever, Francis, & Co., 1869. Third American edition. Includes both the original preface, and the preface the author wrote for the 1831 Bentley’s Standard Novel edition (London). Rebound in brown buckram, but retains the original green paper wrappers. Includes original publisher’s ad for “the elegant Cambridge edition” of Vanity Fair.

Guest Blogger: Emily Lauher, 2017 volunteer and future archivist, Changing Landscapes and Changing Attributes

Hi everyone my name is Emily Lauher. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I am a 2017 volunteer at Davidson College organizing the personal papers of Anne Stewart Higham, an adventurous world traveler.

Davidson College received this collection from one of Anne Higham’s granddaughters, Dr. Carol Higham. Dr. Higham is a professor of Native American History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at Davidson College. She first approached Jan Blodgett, College Archivist, regarding the personal papers belonging to Anne Higham.

Anne Stewart Higham

Anne Higham traveled extensively between 1940 and 1969 to Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

1945 Christmas Greeting when Anne Higham traveled throughout the Middle East.

During that time, she surrendered her American citizenship and became a British citizen (later requesting a return to American citizenship). Somehow, during those transactions, her birth year was also altered, making her five years younger on a return trip.

Working as an Army lecturer for the British Army, she first toured Royal Air Force stations in the Middle East and in 1946, began a tour of India and Africa. The correspondence in the collection discusses her lecture topics such as the history of Britain, conditions in Africa, and the Middle East. She also gave lectures on British women and the British war effort during World War II.

Anne Higham, United Nations lecturer

Dr. Carol Higham will be sharing an accretion to this collection, and I am hoping for copies of Anne Higham’s lectures and research notes to add to the photographs, negatives, correspondence and other materials in the collection. I am also hoping to learn more about Anne Higham’s life in these international locations and her relationship with her brother and son who served in the military during World Wars I and II.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

The Scarlet Letter, title page of first edition, first issue.

The Scarlet Letter, title page of first edition, first issue.

The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of America’s most well-known writers, and was first published in March 1850 by Ticknor Reed and Fields in Boston. In November of 1849, James T. Fields, the junior partner in the firm (Boston’s most eminent) went to Salem to see Hawthorne, came back with an unfinished manuscript and began advertising this new work of Hawthorne’s. The tale of Hester Prynne (the adulteress branded with the scarlet letter A by her Puritan judges,) the Reverend Dimmesdale (father of her child) and Pearl (the child of the ill-fated union) is one with which most of us are familiar, since it’s often “required reading” in high school English classes. If you haven’t read it since high school, however, get it out again. You may find that your reaction to this masterpiece is quite different now.

The Scarlet Letter, title page verso.

The Scarlet Letter, title page verso.

Thanks to Dr. Wilber Fugate, Davidson class of 1934, we have a first edition, first issue of The Scarlet Letter in the Rare Book Room, one of only 2500 copies printed. According to one antique bookseller, Phillip J. Pirages, “this is a volume of firsts: the first edition, first issue of Hawthornes’ first novel, his first publication for Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, and generally recognized as the first major American novel.” There are several points which determine the first issue, including the absence of the preface which Hawthorne added later, and several misprints which were corrected in later issues.

Printing error: reduplicate for repudiate

Printing error:
reduplicate for repudiate

Printing error: mortal for moral

Printing error:
mortal for moral

Printing error: characterss

Printing error:

Printing error: tobelieve

Printing error:

Printing error: The number 21 printed at the foot of page 321.

Printing error:
The number 21 printed at the foot of page 321.






Our copy has been rebound in quarter red morocco with red linen boards, and uses raised bands, black morocco spine labels, and gilt spine lettering. The inscription on the title page reads “C. G. Atherton to Hon. J. Hurst Jr.” Charles Gordon Atherton was a lawyer and politician who served as a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire from 1843-1849, and from 1852 until his death in 1853. He served as Chairman of the Committee on Printing (Twenty-ninth Congress), the Committee on Roads and Canals (Twenty-ninth Congress), and the Committee on Finance (Thirtieth Congress.)

The Scarlet Letter binding

The Scarlet Letter binding

Books from the Nonesuch Press

A Nonesuch Press Dust Jacket

A Nonesuch Press Dust Jacket

I wrote an earlier blog on The Golden Cockerel Press , one of the famous private presses represented in our Rare Book Room.  Another private press which was also noted for its beautiful volumes was the Nonesuch Press.

The press was founded in London in 1922 by Francis Meynell, his wife Vera, and their friend David Garnett, co-owner of a bookshop in Soho.  Nonesuch Press published its first book in May 1923, and from then until the mid-1960s it produced more than 140 books.  Unlike most private presses, Nonesuch used a small hand press to design their books, but then had them printed by commercial printers.  This method allowed the books to be designed with the quality of a fine press, but since they were commercially printed, to be available to a wider audience at lower prices.  Nonesuch editions are prized by collectors, and we have several in our collection thanks to Dr. Harold Marvin, Davidson class of 1914.

Two of the titles in our collection are

Princess of Babylon

Princess of Babylon

The Princess of Babylon by M. de Voltaire, and Graziella by Alphonse de Lamartine.  The Princess of Babylon was printed in a limited edition of 1500 copies (ours is #106) on Batchelor’s Kelmscott hand-made paper, and bound in vellum backed marbled boards.  It is beautifully illustrated with plates and decorative vignettes by Thomas Lowinsky.


Graziella was also printed in a limited edition consisting of 1600, of which 600 were for sale in the United States.  This semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of a young Frenchman’s romance with a Neapolitan fisherman’s daughter.  It was bound in decorated cloth boards and includes 30 illustrations, some in color, by Jacquier.




Thanks, Dr. Marvin, for your wonderful gifts to our library!

Guest Blogger: Amanda Scott, May 2017 graduate and future librarian, On the Path from Chambers to Main Street

1903 Souvenir Album cover

1903 Souvenir Album, Campus View Looking West from Chambers

Every day I walk the path from Chambers to Main Street, past Oak and Elm, Phi and Eu. The path is incredibly familiar, and thus it was a surprise to realize that the photograph of a tree lined path from a 1903 view book is the same walk, only missing the benches, well, and the bricks paving the path. Phi sits at the end of the path, almost blocked by trees. As other photos in the view book show, the only change in Phi and Eu is the landscaping around them. Though the view book exclusively documents the heart of Davidson’s campus, Phi and Eu are the only buildings in this view book to remain completely unchanged. The original Chambers still stood in 1903, and would for eighteen more years, and Rumple and Martin were replaced by new buildings serving the same purpose. Some of the reference points used in the view book no longer even exist. Shearer was torn down in 1960, to be replaced by Cunningham, and the ivy-covered Morrison Hall came down in 1945.

1903 Souvenir Album, Hall of the Philanthropic Society

1903 Souvenir Album, Hall of the Eumenean Society

1903 Souvenir Album, Shearer-Biblical Hall – Erected on the Site of the “Old Chapel”

1903 Souvenir Album, The New Dormitory Building

The view book boasts of recent improvements to the college. Among other changes, within the last four years, Shearer, the original Martin, and a so far unnamed new dormitory were built. The dormitory, later dubbed Rumple, was well equipped, with running hot and cold water and radiator heating. It was also wired for electric lights, as the college planned to soon build a power plant. Despite the new building, the college was having a housing crisis, and the calls for enough funds to build another dorm were beginning to grow desperate. Rumple sat where Little is currently located, and I found it interesting to compare the two buildings. Rumple was large at the time, housing sixty students, while Little holds seventy-five. Both buildings follow the same aesthetic of other dorms along dorm row, but while Rumple started the look, Little merely matched the buildings already built. Chambers also needed to be renovated—after nearly fifty years of use, the building could use some work.

1903 Souvenir Album, The Chambers Building – Erected in 1857

My attention kept getting drawn back to the images of the original Chambers. The tallest building on campus poked over the treetops, appearing in several shots. Before looking at this view book, I had never seen a picture of Old Chambers, despite hearing many campus stories about it. In one of the pictures, you can see the large columns that still haunt the lawn in front of the present Chambers. The building is different in some ways from present Chambers, smaller and not quite as cohesive, but the buildings still look similar. Then and now, Chambers remains the center of campus, even as the building itself is destroyed and rebuilt.

Marbled Paper

American Military Biography

When you hear the word “marble” what comes to mind?  Small round glass balls you played with as a child?   The streaks of fat alternating with lean in a rib-eye steak?  Your beautiful variegated stone kitchen counters?  All are accurate.  But what if I told you that the Rare Book Room has several examples of “marbled” paper?  Do you picture paper that has hardened to rock?  Actually, “marbled paper” is given that description because of the appearance of the paper —with streaks and patterns like marble.

It is made by transferring water colors floating on the surface of a gum solution to a piece of paper.  The colors are drawn on the solution with sticks or combs to create patterns such as swirl, splash, and feather.  Colors vary, from dark to light; from the use of many colors to few.

Moby Dick

The technique was found as early as 118 in Japan, but the Persians are credited with first using it for books.  It was first used for the endpapers of a book, but it is also used for covers and bindings, and was used heavily in Europe and the U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries.  It has more limited use currently, but has been revived for special books of limited editions.

Johnson & Queeney

The Rare Book Room has several examples of this beautiful technique, many currently on display.  So, if you’re in the area, come by the RBR to see some of our beautiful “marbled paper” books.

Le Duc de Nemours

Works of Robert Burns

Mill on the Floss

History of England

Man’s Oldest Sport

Andy Lausier, Davidson’s 12th head coach for wrestling and very recent arrival to the Davidson Athletic Department, demonstrated why wrestling is considered man’s oldest sport. There are Etruscan tombs and Greek vases documenting early matches, and the sport is described in the Bible as well. Many U.S. Presidents have also been wrestlers: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, and even Calvin Coolidge.

At Davidson, the sport of wrestling began in 1920 and the photograph below is the earliest we have located in the College Archives.

1923 Quips and Cranks


As with any athletic endeavor, there is equipment required and this 1932 Cash ledger shows exactly how much was paid for wrestling equipment.

1932 Cash Ledger, last line shows wrestling

Coach Lausier also commented that wrestling is a sport known for its diversity. This has certainly been true at Davidson. In 1927, Davidson’s first Jewish student, Isadore Doduck, was a member of the freshman wrestling and tennis teams. Jimmy Jung “from Kannapolis by way of Canton, China” captained the Davidson wrestling team in 1949.
(Previous “Around the D” entries).

During its nearly one hundred year existence at Davidson, there have also been familial connections among the athletes. The captain of the Wrestling team in 1923 (shown above) was A.D. Cromartie and forty-three years later, a member of the 1966 Wrestling team (shown below), was Dean Cromartie.

1966 Wrestling Team

As we approach the centennial of wrestling at Davidson, look for announcements and events on campus and more unique finds from the College Archives!