Book submission: Music and Other Poems

Title: Music and Other Poems
Author: Henry van Dyke
Publication date: 1904
Library: Boston Public Library
Call number: PS3117.M8
Submitted by: Eliza Swieczkowski
The inscription I found was in the poem entitled “A prayer for my Mother’s Birthday.” Over the phrase “protect her life” is an arrow pointing to “My mother dear god.” My first reaction to this was to chuckle, but given that the poem is about the narrator’s love for his mother, the inscription suggests what kind of relationship the reader had with his own mother. It is interesting to think about what this poem may have meant for different readers.

Book submission: An Ocean Tramp

Title: An Ocean Tramp
Author: McFee, William
Publication date: 1921
Library: Boston Public Library, Copley
Call number: PR6025
Submitted by: Janice Pires
The Book mentioned above, was found during a trip to the BPL- Copley Branch. In the book, I found something interesting, a newspaper clipping about the author of the book, that a reader taped into it (looks like years ago). There were also several markings all over the book. I found these two things to be important and interesting because it showed that whoever was reading this book thought that this author and this book was very important. the information that this book has within it… tells a lot about show was reading it in the past.

Book submission: Oliver Goldsmith: A Biography

Title: Oliver Goldsmith: A Biography
Author: Irving, Washington
Publication date: Cambridge, 1903
Library: Boston Public Library (Main Branch)
Call number: PR3943
Submitted by: Bella Hendricks
Stuck in the center of this biography (probably used as a bookmark) I found a card with information on a Tom Clancy book. This small artifact attests to both the past and contemporary consumption of the book: although the Tom Clancy card suggests a much more modern reader than the biography’s original readers from its publication date in 1903, the fact that it contained a card from an old (non-digital) card catalogue is evidence that this reader used the book some time in the past from our contemporary standpoint.

Book submission: The Dangerous Age

Title: The Dangerous Age
Author: Michaels, Karin
Publication date: New York, 1911
Library: Boston Public Library, central branch
Call number: PT8175/.M5F32/1911
Submitted by: Meredith Peterson
The trace found in this book is a typed member list of “The English Book Club,” which has been pasted on the inside of the back cover. The list has pencil markings of dates next to certain names. At the end of the list list is this message: “Books exchanged every Wednesday that College is in session. Put after name the date upon which book is received. All books are to be taken to the Librarian’s office in May 27, 1912.” Due to the large volume of dates written next to the name list, it would appear that this book passed through many hands in one year alone.

Book submission: The Works of Francis Thompson (Prose, Volume III)

Title: The Works of Francis Thompson (Prose, Volume III)
Author: Thompson, Francis
Publication date:
Library: Boston Public Library
Call number: PR5650 A1 1913 V3
Submitted by: Halley Fisher
The volume of Francis Thompson’s prose has a note written on the inside cover that looks like it could be a personal note from a previous owner. It’s difficult to make out exactly what the words say, but the words “from” and “book” appear the most clearly. The last word is underlined. The volume also includes the call number computer punch-card on the due date card located on the last page of the book.

Book submission: Juan De Las Viñas

Title: Juan De Las Viñas
Author: Hartzenbusch, Juan Eugenio
Publication date: Boston, 1919
Library: Boston Public Library
Call number:
Submitted by: MCook
What makes this book so unique is that it was a manual to teach another language. Even though it was published in 1919, it is clear by the scribbled “start” in the pages that it is still used to this day.

Book submission: History as Literature and other Essays

Title: History as Literature and other Essays
Author: Roosevelt, Theodore
Publication date: New York, 1913
Library: Boston Public Library
Call number: PS2734 .R5H5 1913
Submitted by: Aaron
The book contains a number of pencil marks. A reader has underlined a number of selections as well as drawn lines in the margins, presumably indicating a passage that was particularly liked or deemed important. The essays, “History as Literature” and “Biological Analogies,” appear to have been particularly well-liked, as they contain the most marks. The author seemed to be interested most of all in those passages relating to Roosevelt’s philosophy on governance, perhaps indicating fond remembrance of the President’s time in office during the following years.

NYU Students at the Book Traces event in Butler Library

Professor Amanda Licastro‘s students from New York University came up to Columbia for the October 8 Book Traces event, and participated in the hunt for marked books in the Butler Stacks.

One student called this experience “simultaneously one of the nerdiest and most interesting events I have participated in since moving to New York.” Another  remarked, “I love everything about old books so getting to handle so many was a really great experience.”

You can read more about what the NYU students found, and about their reactions to the experience, on Licastro’s course blog here:

Book submission: Half Hours/Der Tag

Title: Half Hours/Der Tag
Author: J. M. Barrie
Publication date: New York, 1921
Library: Boston Public Library-Main Branch
Call number:
Submitted by: Lauren Smith
Most interesting is the appearance of a purple pig stamp on several pages. Whether this was some sort of identifier for a different library collection isn’t clear, but it’s not a marking that comes from the Boston public library. A note was made on one of the first pages about a deposit date on November 8th, 1921 by “J,” which could be the first time that the book was given to a library or other collection. In a different handwriting and different color, some of the chapters are marked “no” on the Table of Contents, suggesting possible chapters that a reader didn’t enjoy. There are check marks on pages throughout the book and a math equation is also found later in the book, reminding us of how many people have read from the same physical text over the years. It’s easy to forget when reading a text through a digital medium that others have read the same words; these physical markings are reminders that others have not only read those words, but physically held the same volume in order to read them.

Book submission: The Vikings At Helgeland The Pretenders

Title: The Vikings At Helgeland The Pretenders
Author: Ibsen, Henrik
Publication date: New York, 1907
Library: Boston Public Library
Call number: 839.5 I.14
Submitted by: Victoria Sigle
Although there were a few other underlines and markings in the book from past readers, the part of the book that I found most interesting were the fingerprints on page 298. These fingerprints can tell us so much about who has been reading the book. First of all, figuring out what type of substance these finger prints were made from can tell us a huge amount about the type of person who was reading this book. It can give us very important clues into their other activities. This knowledge of past readers and the types of people who read different types of books can teach us an incredible amount about our ancestors. In addition, recently cave paintings were re-looked at and by examining the handprints on the walls they were discovered to have been painted almost exclusively by women- the opposite of original hypotheses. If we can use these hand/fingerprints to discover the reader’s gender and nothing else that would be interesting enough and would give us some very interesting information. But if technology can already tell us so much with fingerprints imagine how much can be discovered by them in the future.

Book submission: Letters of Susan Hale

Title: Letters of Susan Hale
Author: Atkinson, Caroline
Publication date: Marshall Jones Company, 1918
Library: Boston Public Library (Main Branch)
Call number: PS1774.H25Z51919
Submitted by: Zahraa Badat
There were two traces found in this book: an inscription on the first page that reads “To M.M.D., With the love of her friend M.L.C” and is dated “June 13, 1919.” which serves as an indication that this specific copy of the book had been given as a present shortly after its publication, and an insert from the publisher for a similar book that seems to have been published by the same company, with a truly lovely description about the nature of letters.

Book submission: Friendship and Other Essays

Title: Friendship and Other Essays
Author: Emerson, Ralph
Publication date: New York, 1900
Library: Alderman Library, University of Virginia
Call number: PS 1610. A1 1900a
Submitted by: Christina S.

the woman who possesses the qualities of these essays I send this little book with loving Xmas greetings
Hamilton Willen (?)”

Book submission: In HIs Name

Title: In HIs Name
Author: Hale, E.E.
Publication date: Boston, 1888
Library: Alderman Library, University of Virginia
Call number: PS 1772. I4 1883
Submitted by: Christina S.
A.B. Recknagel A.a

Alfred Recknagel from Clive Livingston Duval.
May- 1888-
“Lend a Hand–”

A.B. Recknagel
Fall 1894

Book submission: William of Orange and the English Revolution

Title: William of Orange and the English Revolution
Author: Appleyard, John
Publication date: London, 1908
Library: Boston Public Library – Main Branch
Call number: DA460.A8
Submitted by: Michael Epstein
There is an arrow written in pen pointing to a line of text on page 4, which reads,

“Can you keep a secret?” said the prince. “I can,” said the colonel. “And so can I,” responded William.

While small and rather insignificant in terms of identifying a past owner, one can speculate on the significance of this line to them. Were they concerned with the idea of political figures such as princes and colonels keeping secrets in their designs for power? Were they simply looking for accounts of William of Orange’s secrecy? Or was it simply the rhetorical structure of William’s answer?

Book submission: Plays of the Italian Theatre

Title: Plays of the Italian Theatre
Author: Giovanni Verga, Ercole Luigi Morselli, Sabatino Lopez, Luigi Pirandello
Publication date: Boston, 1921
Library: Boston Public Library – Main Branch
Call number: PQ4244 .E6G6 1921
Submitted by: Joy Davis
The bookplate in the inside front cover says Boston Public Library and includes a seal with the years 1852-1878. I thought it was interesting that it designates that the book was “purchased with state funds,” therefore it was not donated. This does not tell us whether or not it was new when purchased, but there are no internal markings to designate ownership or reader use.
The marking on the inside back cover says “P8T” (or maybe P81 or P87?) “5—” and “OP” which is underlined. I would guess that the P8T and OP are some sort of designation of the topic or genre, but I don’t know exactly what they signify. The 5— seems to be a price that the book was sold for at some point. I cannot infer just from this writing when the book was sold/purchased for $5, so I don’t know if that was worth more at the time or if it was a more recent purchase and the $5 price reflects a lower appreciation of value.

Book submission: Chapters from a Life

Title: Chapters from a Life
Author: Phelps (Ward), Elizabeth Stuart
Publication date: Cambridge, 1896
Library: Boston Public Library
Call number: PS3143.A4
Submitted by: Aislyn Fredsall
The name “Belle Lampery” is written in the front of this book. On the next page is written a short note: “I was invited to the wedding reception of Elizabeth and Herbert Ward but did not go as I was at M.[indistinguishable] & did not wish to lose (?) school. I already knew Herbert having met him while visiting Aunt Annie W. at Hamilton, Mass. & had helped him write a sermon which he delivered at the Congregational Church [indistinguishable] there. B.L. “

There are other similar notes throughout the book, such as on page 248: “Eliz. S. Ward was called [indistinguishable] “The Youth’s Companion” being 10+ yr. older than her husband. He was at [indistinguishable] with this magazine. I had the pleasure of being invited to their wedding reception – but could not leave college at the time”; and on a page featuring the picture of Herbert D. Ward: “I once collaborated with him in writing a sermon which he preached at The Congregational Church in Hamilton Mass”.

In addition, there are many smaller notes and other marks throughout the book.

Book submission: Poems of Sidney Lanier

Title: Poems of Sidney Lanier
Author: Sidney Lanier
Publication date: New York, 1896
Library: Boston Public Library
Call number: PS2205.E96 1896x
Submitted by: Charles Cellier
This book is dedicated in the front pages, but what is truly remarkable is a poem written on the back cover.

Home Confessions-

I come to ye after the struggle
The glare and rush of the day
Numb from the thousand nothings
That are wearing my soul away.

Alone in the noisy whirling
Faint in the dust I sway
Still to the cries and callings
There is nothing I would say

I came to ye for I stifle
I breathe from ye each to each
Moved by your infinite sweetness
I rise but I cannot reach.

I see but I know I am sightless
I hear but am deaf to learn
I speak and I say but nothing
O God — so to yearn and yearn!

Jan 1905. (anonymous)

[transcription by Charles Cellier, with the assistance of Holger Syme and Andrew Stauffer]

Book submission: Humanly Speaking

Title: Humanly Speaking
Author: Samuel McChord Crothers
Publication date: Boston, 1912
Library: Boston Public Library- Main Branch
Call number: PS3505.R9H8 1912
Submitted by: Tracie Ehrlich
This book contains an calligraphic inscription on the inside cover, most likely written to the recipient of the book, which was given as a gift.
It appears to say “William Fuller Curtis. From L.F.C. Stockbridge. Christmas, 1912.” There are no other marks in the pages of the book, indicating possibly that the person who received it either didn’t read it, or didn’t feel moved to take notes.

Book submission: History of England From the Year 1830-1874

Title: History of England From the Year 1830-1874
Author: Molesworth, William Nassau
Publication date: London 1874
Library: Boston Public Library
Call number: DA550 M17
Submitted by: Serena Dao
This book was found in the Boston Public Library main branch. The book was found in the nonfiction section DA435 to DA950.7. On the title page of this book has the imprint/stamp of the original library it came from; Melrose Public Library 1871. There was also some writing on the inside of the cover stating #2279. The penmanship and the style of writing shows that it was written using quill and ink. The print on the pages also feels raised and you can feel the imprint of the back page letters.

Book submission: Heretics

Title: Heretics
Author: Chesterton, Gilbert
Publication date: New York, 1914
Library: Boston Public Library
Call number:
Submitted by: Areti Sakellaris
This edition features pencil marginalia and underlining, dog-eared pages, loose pages, and stains. Chapters in the table of contents are checked in pen.

Book submission: Logic as the Science of the Pure Concept

Title: Logic as the Science of the Pure Concept
Author: Croce, Benedetto
Publication date: London, 1917
Library: Boston Public Library – Main Branch
Call number: BC74.C8
Submitted by: Jillian Ferrari
The pages of this book are filled with pencil markings and notes from an unidentified reader. Apart from underlining and circling words, the reader marked the margins with exclamation points, number signs, tally marks (or at the very least, groups of vertical lines), and other symbols. He or she seemed to be keeping track of something, using these markings as a personal code. Perhaps the most curious marginalia are the numbers 82 and 88, written on many pages. One can infer these numbers refer to the years 1982 and 1988, as the reader did write 1982 on one page, but the significance of these dates is unclear (though they do help us to date the reader). One of the pages shown below has a day noted: February 13, 1988. Another page includes the note: “dialectic ideas are [?] universal! ’82.” The significance of these dates in relation to the text and reader is intriguing. What was the reader using this book for? What kind of connections was he or she making?