Tag Archives: Annotation

Book submission: Le Général Dourakine

Title: Le Général Dourakine
Author: Countess de Ségur
Publication date: Paris, 1907
Library: University of Virginia, Alderman Library
Call number: PZ23.S4 G4 1907
Submitted by: Maggie Whalen
Book Traces @ U.Va. recently discovered this early-20th century French children’s book, Le Général Dourakine by Countess de Ségur, in the U.Va. Library Collection.

Opening it up, one finds an inscription and other verbal annotations in a young person’s script. The inscription reveals that the book’s owners were Eugenia (1896-1980) and Adeline (1894-?) Davis. At the time of the book’s signing, Eugenia was 12 and Adeline was 14. The girls were the daughters of Volumnia (1868-1949) and John Staige Davis II (1872-1946), a professor in the University of Virginia School of Medicine and one of the first American practitioners of plastic surgery. The Davises are a prominent family in the history of both Charlottesville and the University. Eugenia and Adeline’s grandfather, John Staige Davis I (1824-1885), also taught in the U.Va. medical department. Their great-grandfather, John A.G. Davis (1802-1840), was among the first students to graduate U.Va., where he went on to teach law. Of note to a University audience: John A.G. Davis is also the ill-fated protagonist of a frequently cited story that claims that the murder of a U.Va. professor by a student prompted the creation of the Honor Code. Although Davis was in fact fatally shot by a student, recent research has shown that the tale of the Honor Code’s origin is apocryphal.

Below their names, one of the girls has written the schedule of their weekly French lessons (transcribed here for easier reading): “French taught by Mille. Hubbard three times a week, Monday Morning at quarter past nine, on Wednesday evening at quarter pas[t] three, and on Friday evening at the same time.” Above the bookplate on the opposite page, one of the girls has written: “Nous finions ce livre le 10 de mai,” or: “We finished this book May 10.”

A bit of digging on the history of the text itself, apparently assigned to the girls by their French tutor, reveals that Countess de Ségur was an incredibly popular French children’s author at the turn of the 20th century. Indeed, the twenty books that she produced during her relatively short career, of which Le Général Dourakine was one, became the foundation of French children’s literature. The Davis sisters’ copy is a 1907 reprint by the original publisher. There are several other volumes of de Ségur’s famous collection of novels, La Bibliotheque Rose Illustrée, on the shelves of U.Va.’s Alderman library, though this seems to be the only copy owned by the Davises.

Annotations by the same hand are present on the book’s title page. Lightly penciled script reads: “Eugenia et Adeline Davis. La classe de Mille. Hubbard.” The inscription appears to have been corrected, however, by a later, heavier hand. This revision reflects the French spelling of Eugenia: “Eugénie.” The conjunction “et” is also retraced in darker pencil.

Letters in U.Va.’s Special Collections Library reveal that the Davises corresponded at length with a certain Eugénie Hubbard, suggesting that this family friend (also a prominent figure in the contemporary Charlottesville social scene) might have been the Mademoiselle to whom the book refers.

Verbal and nonverbal marginalia can be found on many of the book’s 375 pages. Most markings take the form of paired slashes and light underscoring, perhaps demarcating reading assignments or noting important moments in the story. The occasional “E” (for Eugenia, perhaps) pops up as well. A cursive “Natasha,” the name of one of the story’s characters, also appears.

On the final page of the tale, the date of the girls’ completion of the book, “May 10 1909,” is repeated.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the note on the book’s rear flyleaf, which reads: “April Fool. We are going to pin something on Miss Mary’s back tomorrow and get the mischief.” In this instance, the textbook seems to work as a platform for correspondence between scheming parties. One can easily imagine a young Eugenia or Adeline scribbling down this idea during a French lesson and sharing it with the her sister or perhaps another classmate.

Without any clues beyond “Miss Mary,” it is a long-shot to attempt to identify the nominated victim of the April Fools’ prank. A pair of documents available in the U.Va. Special Collections Library do, however, suggest one candidate. These 1908 and 1911 report cards of Adeline and Eugenia, respectively, are signed by one Mary Harrison of the Braehead School.

The Davis sisters’ copy of Le Général Dourakine was donated to the U.Va. Library Collection by John Staige Davis in 1954.

For additional examples of user-modified volumes donated by John Staige Davis and currently in U.Va.’s circulating collection, check out these links:

For more on Book Traces @ U.Va., visit our blog at https://booktraces.library.virginia.edu .


“Charlottesville Women Enroll in Auto School.” Richmond Times-Dispatch [Richmond] 27 June 1918: 3. Library of Virginia. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Claire-Lise Malarte-Feldman. “La Comtesse de Ségur, a Witness of Her Time.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 20.3 (1995): 135-139. Project MUSE. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. .

Dabney family Photographs, Accession #9852-e, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Davis, Nathaniel H. “Volumnia Hunley Davis.” Geni. N.p., 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

The Family Forest Descendants of Lady Joan Beaufort. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 3257. Google Books. Millisecond Publishing Company, Inc. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

“History of Our Maryland Society for Plastic Surgeons.” History of Our Maryland Society for Plastic Surgeons. The John Staige Davis Society, 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

“John S. Davis.” Physician Price Fixing in 19th Century Virginia. University of Virginia, 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Papers of John Staige Davis, Accession #3247, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Segur, Comtesse De. Le Général Dourakine. Paris: Hachette, 1907. Print.

Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. Men of Mark in Virginia: Ideals of American Life; a Collection of Biographies of the Leading Men in the State. Vol. 3. N.p.: Men of Mark, 1907. 109-10. Google Books. 12 June 2007. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Book submission: La Gerusalemme liberata (vols. 1 & 2)

Title: La Gerusalemme liberata (vols. 1 & 2)
Author: Tasso, Torquato
Publication date: Parigi, F. Didot, 1819
Library: Williston Memorial Library, Mount Holyoke College
Call number: 36Y T18g 2
Submitted by: S. Mulligan
Vol. 1, Title page: “Mark all _ you consider beautiful either for sentiment or language.”
Vol. 1, p. 74: (trans. Ital.-Eng.) “The shivers fly up.”
Vol. 1, last Fly Sheet: drawing, Greek symbols, initials (?)
Vols. 1 & 2: intact deckle edges (Vol. 2, p. 69 below)
Vols. 1 & 2: reader notes where stopped/started by date (Vol. 2, p. 94 below, “April 15th: Did not read for a _ for tonight in be-ginning of April.”)
Vols. 1 & 2: beautiful hand marbled End Sheets

Book submission: The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman

Title: The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman
Author: Walt Whitman
Publication date: New York, 1921
Library: Butler Library at Columbia University
Call number: PS 3200.F21
Submitted by: Joseph Campo
2 Volume book of poetry by Walt Whitman which was collected and edited by Emory Holloway. Originally in the library of a W. R. Shepherd, donated in May 1945. Various passages are underlined and annotated. One page has a math problem done in the margins, others have small notes about the footnotes. The index has checks on items.

Book submission: An Autobiography: A Record of Fifty Years of the Professional Life of the Late William Creswick

Title: An Autobiography: A Record of Fifty Years of the Professional Life of the Late William Creswick
Author: Creswick, William
Publication date: London, est. 1889
Library: Butler Stacks (Columbia)
Call number: 825.1289 C865
Submitted by: Jessica Li
Short inscription on the flyleaf that appears to read “To [. . ,] In rememberance of an old and faithful friend with the kindest regards of [. . .] Creswick”. Title page annotated with “1813 – 1888”, the lifespan of William Creswick. Presumably given as a gift by a relative of the author.

Book submission: Poems by Hartley Coleridge With a Memoir of his Life by his Brother in Two Volumes: Volume I

Title: Poems by Hartley Coleridge With a Memoir of his Life by his Brother in Two Volumes: Volume I
Author: Coleridge, Hartley
Publication date: London, 1851
Library: Butler Library, Columbia University in the City of New York
Call number: 825C673 L
Submitted by: Nathan Levine
Contains various marginalia, including the diagram of the rhyme scheme of several sonnets.

Book submission: The Civil Engineer’s Pocket-book

Title: The Civil Engineer’s Pocket-book
Author: Trautwine, John
Publication date: Philadelphia, 1876
Library: University of Virginia
Call number: TA151 .T77 1876
Submitted by: Maggie Whalen
If you open the front cover of this 19th-century mechanical engineering handbook, you find a flyleaf inscription hinting at the book’s history and its meaning to the donor. The two inscriptions show that the book originally belonged to one R. B. S. Nicolson of Savannah, Georgia, who studied at the University of Virginia during the 1878-79 school term. It was later donated to the University of Virginia Library by the original owner’s brother, John Nicolson, himself a U.Va. graduate.
But if you look deeper in the book, you find the full story. The book was published with a quire of lined paper in the back, apparently meant for engineers to take notes or do calculations. The original owner left the lined paper blank, but his brother filled a page of it with this memorial annotation (transcribed below for easier reading):

New York City April 13th 1912.
It seems a desecration almost for me to write in this book so exclusively associated with my brother–but I am led to look into it for the first time in many, many years this Saturday night, the anniversary of his birth. He was born that memorable day, fifty one years ago, on which the Civil War between the North and the South began–fifty one years ago!! How life is slipping by!
This book is a relic of my brothers first ambitions–viz, to be a civil engineer–and of his course at the University of Virginia to this end. Instead of continuing to this goal, he went into our father’s business in Savannah in 1880, coming however to an early end. He was drowned at Tybee Island Ga. July 10th 1881.
John Nicolson

Intrigued, the Book Traces @ U.Va. team started digging.
Robert Beauregard S. Nicolson (1861-1881), the book’s original owner, was born on April 13, 1861 at White Bluff, near Savannah, GA. He was the eldest son of John Nicolson Sr. (1828-1903), a successful plumber in the Savannah region, and Matilda Hall Nicolson (1832-1893). The day of Robert’s birth marked the first military engagement of the American Civil War, as Union forces surrendered Fort Sumter to the Rebel army just up the Georgia coast.
It is not entirely clear whether John Nicolson Sr., then 34 years of age, subsequently joined the Rebel cause. However, Confederate records reveal that a “John Nicholson” (perhaps a misspelling of the family’s surname) enlisted in the 47th Volunteer Infantry, which recruited from Chatham County, where the Nicolson family resided, in 1861.
On February 14, 1866, the war had come to a close and John Nicolson Jr., author of the book’s memorial annotation, was born in Brooklyn, NY.
Robert attended the University of Virginia between 1877 and 1879, where he studied civil engineering. The 1877-1878 and 1878-1879 Catalogues of Students reveal that Robert took classes in chemistry, mathematics, mineralogy, geology, natural philosophy, and applied mathematics during his time at U.Va.. This text, Trautwine’s Pocket Book, was among the “Books of Reference” required of students in the Civil Engineering program during the 1878-1879 academic year. Robert’s time in Charlottesville was, however, cut short. In 1880, he returned to Savannah to work at his father’s recently expanded plumbing company.
On July 10, 1881, just one year after returning home, Robert drowned at Tybee Island, a popular resort destination near Savannah. A July 13 article in The Macon Telegraph and Messenger details the incident:
The particulars of the sad calamity are as follows: There was a fine surf on, and a large number of persons were in bathing, young Nicolson being out a considerable distance from the others. The tide was running out at the time, and, having ventured beyond the life line, he was rapidly carried off. Realizing his danger, he struggled manfully to regain the life post, but was unsuccessful in consequence of the undertow, and was compelled to cry for help. A young man…heard his cry and gallantly responded.
The story continues, revealing that the young man’s heroic efforts were ultimately fruitless. Robert’s body was swept out to sea and discovered the following evening, a quarter-mile down the beach from where he was last seen. Robert was buried in the Nicolson family’s plot at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah.
Years later, John Jr. followed his deceased brother’s path to the University of Virginia, where he studied law between 1890 and 1892. The 1891 and 1892 editions of Corks and Curls, U.Va.’s yearbook, reveal that John was a member of the Temperance Union and the Georgia Association, a center on the Law School Football Team, a brother of the Beta Chapter of Phi Theta Psi fraternity, and the Vice President and President of the Young Men’s Christian Association. In 1892, John graduated with a Bachelors of Law, returned to Savannah, and was admitted to the Georgia bar. After practicing law in Savannah for several years, John relocated to his hometown, New York City, in 1897. It is from New York that John eventually inscribed the 1912 remembrance of his brother, Robert, on what would have been his 51st birthday.

For more on Book Traces @ U.Va., visit our blog at https://booktraces.library.virginia.edu .

Corks and Curls Yearbook. Charlottesville: U of Virginia, 1891. Print.
Corks and Curls Yearbook. Charlottesville: U of Virginia, 1892. Print.
“Drowned in the Surf.” The Macon Telegraph and Messenger [Macon] 13 July 1881: 3. America’s Historical Newspapers. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
“Fort Sumter Surrenders.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
Nicolson, John. Sanitary and Heating Age. New York: Sanitary and Heating, 1894. 56. Google Books. University of Michigan, 15 Apr. 2011. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
Smith, Candace. “Robert B.S. “Beaury” Nicolson.” Find A Grave. N.p., 15 July 2009. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
Trautwine, John C. The Civil Engineer’s Pocket-book. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Claxton, 1876. Print.
United States. National Park Service. “Soldier Details: Nicholson, John.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 09 Nov. 2015. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
Who’s Who in New York City and State. N.p.: L.R. Hamersly, 1911. 704. Google Books. Harvard University, 11 Jan. 2008. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.

Book submission: A Handbook of Practical Astronomy for University Students and Engineers

Title: A Handbook of Practical Astronomy for University Students and Engineers
Author: Campbell, W. W.
Publication date: Ann Arbor, 1891
Library: Williston Memorial Library, Mount Holyoke College
Call number: LX C15
Submitted by: Rachael Smith
Book plate indicates original location in campus observatory library.

Notes in pencil throughout book.

Book submission: The Winning Lady and Others

Title: The Winning Lady and Others
Author: Freeman, Mary E. Wilkins
Publication date: New York, 1909
Library: Williston Memorial Library, Mount Holyoke College
Call number: 83YE W656w
Submitted by: Rachael Smith
Handwritten call number tag in Cutter Expansive Classification.

Notes in pencil at the back of the book read: “Intense desire to preserve innocence. One woman against community. Nurturance & protection. Male world & what it holds.”

Illustration titled ” ‘Men is different,’ said Sally Jinks” has come loose from binding and is inserted at back of book. There is a second copy of this book in the collection; the same image is loose and has been reinserted out of page # order.

Book submission: Sketches in Crude-Oil: Some Accidents and Incidents of the Petroleum Development in all Parts of the Globe

Title: Sketches in Crude-Oil: Some Accidents and Incidents of the Petroleum Development in all Parts of the Globe
Author: McLaurin, John J.
Publication date: Harrisburg, 1898
Library: Henry Buhl Library
Call number: TN870 .M18 1898
Submitted by: Alicia Pollard
(1) This book bears the mark of at least three different kinds of ink: perhaps they memorialize three readers with different pens, or a single reader in a house full of ink spills. The first pen writes with green ink; accidentally on page viii, then intentionally captioning the illustration on pg. 26. This green ink reader obviously had some knowledge of the area to know where the previously uncaptioned picture was taken, and when: Oil City, 1867 (31 years before the book was published – was this note written by a town native?).
(2) The second kind of ink is bright pink, stamped on pages 333 and 335 (seemingly accidentally) with the smudged prints of a right thumb. This reader may have been using a library copy, since this pen made no personal notes or underlining – just stains.
(3) The third kind of ink marking the book looks intentional, but cryptic: a dark blue pen which puts a mark in the margins of page 263. This mark looks like a sideways L or a right angle and is duplicated beside the second paragraph of the page. The markings suggest both these paragraphs (which deal with the same story) were important – but not important enough for a full note.
(4) Sketches in Crude-Oil has survived the century since its publication fairly well, with some splotches as well as water stains permeating the edges and the last pages. It seems to have served mostly right-handed readers: most markings occur on the right-hand pages, and faint right thumbprints occur on pages 163, 179, and 235 (with natural oil, not pink ink this time, though they may be from the same reader).
(5) This copy also bears the marks of some mild “reader accidents” – some sticky substance which tore away some text on pages 264-65, stains like the one on page 331, and markings such as those on 231.
(6) Another reader accident on pg. 423 is a smear of black ink: my imagination at least attributes this one to a typewriter, since the streaks don’t look like those of a stray pen.

Book submission: American Men of Letters: Margaret Ossoli Fuller

Title: American Men of Letters: Margaret Ossoli Fuller
Author: Higginson, Thomas Wentworth
Publication date: Cambridge, 1893
Library: Henry Buhl Library, Grove City College
Call number: PS2506.H51893
Submitted by: Molly Wicker
The book, entitled American Men of Letters: Margaret Fuller Ossoli, appeared at first glance to be a volume in a series, based on the subtitle, “edited by Charles Dudley Warner.” Upon further research, my original suspicion was confirmed when I found out that the book is just one in a series of twenty-two critical biographies “illustrating the social, political, and moral influences” upon the writers they profile. Published between 1881 and 1904, the series was edited by Charles Dudley Warner, who contributed the first volume, Washington Irving. Other authors and subjects included Ralph Waldo Emerson, written by Oliver Wendell Holmes and James Fenimore Cooper by Thomas Lounsbury.

Book submission: William Earnest Henley

Title: William Earnest Henley
Author: Cornford, Cope
Publication date: Boston and New York, 1913
Library: Henry Buhl Library
Call number: PR4784.C6
Submitted by: Maddie Lytle
This little book about poet and critic, William Ernest Henley, was in my college library at Grove City College. The book is filled with the underlining of certain words and sentences as well as the names of multiple poets, writers, and places in the bottom marginalia of a few pages. There is also an address located somewhere in Grove City, Pa written in what seems to be black crayon when you first open the book.

Book submission: The Changed Cross and other Religious Poems

Title: The Changed Cross and other Religious Poems
Author: Anonymous
Publication date: New York, 1872
Library: Richter, U Miami
Call number: PR 1191 .R24
Submitted by: Andrew Stauffer
Memorial volume for Annie R. Deering, wife of Charles W. Deering and daughter of Rear Admiral A. Ludlow Case. Annie died just a few days short of their first wedding anniversary. Charles was 23 at the time, and Annie probably about the same age.

Printed death notice attached. Gift inscription from Charles to Mary E. Deering, dated a few days after Annie’s death (on their wedding anniversary), November 3, 1876.

Flower pinned to dedication page, with small slip dated Dec. 20, 1877.

Marginalia to the poem “Coming”:

“A short time before her death Annie asked her mother to read this poem, saying that she often thought of it. Mrs. Case read it in the presence of those gathered about the deathbed” and, next to one passage, “Annie tried to read here, but her sight failed. ‘I guess I can’t read it,’ she said smiling.”