Merry, Sparkly, and Bright!

It’s that time of year when houses and trees glow with holiday lights and, here in the Midwest at least, cars and windows boast thin layers of glimmering frost each morning. A few of the books in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library are getting a sparkly coating as well, thanks to a phenomenon known as efflorescence.

Efflorescence can affect a number of materials, including stone, concrete, and leather. It occurs when the amount of moisture in an object exceeds the amount of moisture in the air around that object. This causes the moisture to migrate towards the object’s surface. Once the moisture reaches the surface, it evaporates, leaving behind any salts that may have been dissolved in it.

Leather bindings often contain salts left over from the tanning process. If these salts are dissolved in any moisture that a book contains, then the drier air of fall and winter will bring them, in dissolved form, to the book’s surface. Once the salts reach the surface, the moisture evaporates, and they appear as a sparkly white powder. Fear not, the environment in the rare book vault is carefully controlled and kept at a constant temperature of 60 degrees with a humidity of 44%. Our conservators are never concerned about a little efflorescence in the winter.


When books are sitting next to each other on a shelf, the efflorescence tends to appear only on their spines and top edges, as these are the only places where the leather is exposed to the air. The powder has no harmful effects, and a single swipe of the finger will remove it. As the weather warms, the holiday lights will come down, windows will no longer be etched in frost, and the efflorescence will fade. But we’ll know it’s there, waiting, a little bit of sparkle just under the surface. -BS


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Revolutionary Revolutions

When I was in elementary school, I had a small “Wheel of Presidents”—a device consisting of two cardstock circles affixed to each other in the center, one smaller, with a wedge-shaped cutout, and one larger, with miniature portraits of the U.S. presidents dotting its circumference. I don’t remember how I acquired it, but I do remember playing with it, turning the smaller, upper circle so that the cutout would align with one of the presidents on the rim of the larger, lower one and reveal the few facts about his presidency printed below his portrait. Although I did not know it at the time, my “Wheel of Presidents” was far from novel or unique. Rather, it represented just the most recent incarnation of a pedagogical tool whose origins were far older than my days in elementary school—far older, even, than the U.S. presidency.

The idea of organizing information in rotating charts dates at least to the incunabula era. Early astronomy books often featured paper or parchment wheels called volvelles as a way of helping students learn the motions of the planets, moon, and sun. Later, wheels morphed into calculation tools that could aid their users in finding the positions of stars, solving logarithmic equations, determining the dates of eclipses, and more.

Although The Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds many fine examples of books that include wheels as pedagogical aids, one in particular caught my eye: The First Part of the Principles of the Art Military Practifed in the Warres of the United Netherlands (Q. 355.009492 H511p 1642), printed in Delft in 1642. All of the other circular charts I had seen related somehow to astronomy–what was one doing in a military handbook? I had to know.

As he notes in his dedication to Prince William of Orange, Quartermaster Henry Hexham, the author of the Principles, felt a desire to pass on some of the knowledge and experience he had gained during his “two and fortie yeares” of service in the Dutch military. This led him to compose the Principles, a manual that he hopes will serve “for the inftruction of fuch English Gentleman, & Souldiers, who are willing to come into the States feruice, & for the informing of their Iudgments the better.” To this end, Hexham includes in the manual information on the duties of each member of a foot company, armor and weapons,  various methods of holding a pike and musket, and the exercises and motions through which captains would lead their foot companies. It is this last section where the wheels come in. Hexham accompanies the more basic exercises with static diagrams of a foot company in rank and file. For some of the more complex troop movements, he removes the images of the foot company to separate, small pieces of paper, which are fixed on the page in such a way that they can rotate. Spinning the pieces of paper one way or the other then allows readers to see the results of a particular command, like “To the left hand.” Though the pieces of paper themselves are actually rectangular rather than circular, they nevertheless demonstrate the power of interactive, rotating devices as instructional tools, especially when the subject to be taught involves complex movements—whether they be of heavenly bodies or earthly ones. BS


The First Part of the Principles of the Art Military Practifed in the Warres of the United Netherlands.Shelfmark: Q. 355.009492 H511p 1642

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Annotated Books and Hidden Genealogies

Rare books are as much artifacts as they are texts and there is no better proof of this than the ways in which early readers bound, annotated, and otherwise customized their books. Paper in particular was much scarcer in the early modern period than it is today, so fly-leaves and margins were prime spaces in which to jot down thoughts on the text. They were also a favorite place for children to practice penmanship or readers to make idle doodles. Some owners, like the anonymous one who recorded his yearly livestock (“hors”, “sheeps”, “cow”, “hogs”) expenses in his copy of John Brinsley’s 1627 Ludus Literarius, or, The Grammar Schoole [371 B7l1627 c.2], even used blank space for accounting.

Still other owners used their books to preserve genealogical information like births, marriages, and deaths. Usually this information was recorded in a family Bible that was passed down to children, grandchildren, and beyond, each subsequent generation recording their own important family dates. Between roughly 1750 and 1830, the Baker family of South Milford, Yorkshire wrote their important dates, however, in a calf-bound volume containing two works: Edward Brerewood’s Enquiries Touching the Diuersity of Languages, and Religions, through the Chiefe Parts of the World (1622) and A Remonstrance of the Most Gratious King Iames I. King of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. (1629) [409 B75e1622].


(Brerewood, title page and second fly-leaf verso, with inscriptions)

We do not know who first owned this 17th-century volume, although several men left behind ownership markings: John Baker, William Baker, Benjamin Baker, William Shooter, and William Taylor. There were two Benjamin Bakers, a “Juner” and a senior. Benjamin Baker, Sr. fathered at least nine “sun[s]” and “doughter[s],” born between 1764 and 1781, and their births and early deaths make up many of the entries in the volume. Of the nine children, only three lived to adulthood. One was Benjamin Baker, Jr., “Born March 28th in 1766 Betwese the ouer of Ten and a Leven a Clock in the fornoon” (Brerewood 2D2v), who was followed two years later by his sister “Martha Baker Juner Born July 5th 1768 Betwesct the ouer of Siss and Seven in the fornoon” (Brerewood 2D2v). Both siblings married in 1792, Benjamin Baker to Sarah Darley[?] and Martha Baker to William Shooter.


(Brerewood title leaf verso)

Sarah Baker, born February 7th, 1779, was the third surviving child of Benjamin Baker, Sr. and his wife. A daughter, Maria Mathers, was born to a John and Sarah Mathers in 1801 (Brerewood 2D1v) and daughter, Caroline Pickard Baker, was born to a Samuel and Sarah Pickard in 1826 (Brerewood 2C4v). Sarah Baker would have been 22 when Maria Mathers was born and 47 when Caroline Picard Baker was born. Was Caroline Sarah’s daughter from a second husband? There were two other Picard children, Samuell born in late 1819 (Remonstrance F1v) and Matilda born in 1822 (Remonstrance F2v), when Sarah was 40 and 43, respectively. Although not unheard of, it was unusual for women of this period to bear children into their mid- to late forties. It is also possible that Sarah Baker was the Pickard children’s grandmother. But If Caroline and her siblings were Sarah’s grandchildren, why was the surname Baker appended to Caroline’s name?
(Brerewood 2D2r)

(Brerewood 2D2r)

(Remonstrance A1v)

(Remonstrance A1v) Martha Baker, for he has written his inscription (“William Shooters Book”) throughout the second book in the volume. Shooter’s birth (“Nov 24 in the year 1770 at two o Clock morning”) is written in the margins of the first book (Brerewood 2A4v, 2B1r), as if he or Martha were deliberately incorporating him into the family genealogy.

The book must have passed into the ownership of William Shooter after his April 29th marriage toMartha Baker, for he has written his inscription (“William Shooters Book”) throughout the second book in the volume. Shooter’s birth (“Nov 24 in the year 1770 at two o Clock morning”) is written in the margins of the first book (Brerewood 2A4v, 2B1r), as if he or Martha were deliberately incorporating him into the family genealogy.

The identity of the people who recorded these of births, deaths, and marriages is unclear. It is tempting to think that Martha perhaps copied the Baker milestones from a family Bible, knowing she could not take it to her new home with Shooter and not wanting to lose the valuable family history within, but it is clear from the variance in ink colors that the milestones were recorded at different times, maybe by Martha’s mother or father. Also murky is how the Pickard / Picard and Mathers families–for they have their own share of entries in the volume–fit into the picture, although the common thread is the name Sarah.


Water droplets blur the ink on this inscription: “Maria Mathers the Daughter of John & Sarah Mathers Departed this life April 15 1819 [minus] 1802 [equals] 17 at […?] past 11 Clock fornoon this day” It is possible that they are tears. (Brerewood 2D1r)

Annotated books, as this post demonstrates, can raise just as many questions as they answer. Do you have any family genealogies in books?  SL

*1764, May 1 – 1764, May 3 / Johanna Baker
1766, Mar. 28 –                   / Benjamin Baker, Jr. [m. 1792, May 23, 1792, Dec. 22?]
1768, July 5-                      / Martha Baker, Jr. [m. 1792, April 29]
*1771, Jan 21 – 1772, April 22 / William Baker
*1773, Mar. 4 – 1791, May 30 / Elezebeth Baker
*1775, May 3 – 1791, “8”       / Mary Baker
*1777, Oct. 15 – 1777, Dec. 22 / Johanna Baker
1779, Feb. 7 –                     / Sarah Baker
*1781, Oct. 21 – 1784, May 7 / James Baker



(Remonstrance A2r)


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Then and Now, There and Here (1914–2014)

For Veterans Day 2014, we have invited our colleague Kevin T. McLaughlin to reflect on the impact of the Great War on our local community.

– Tony Hynes, Dennis Sears, Caroline Szylowicz, curators of the exhibition First Global Conflict: Contemporary Views of the Great War, 1914-1919. (On exhibit until December 19 in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library)

C7-3_Q_940_9197_Un3o_USWW1_No145_0001 copy

“The Last Two Minutes of Fighting, 11 November 1918, 10:58 a.m. Stenay, Meuse (France).” Photograph. Shelfmark: Q. 940. 9197Un30, item 145.

On Veterans Day of the Centennial of World War I, it is tempting to view events of such historical significance as this conflict at the global or national level.  However, that conflict had an impact on our state, our community and our university.  During WWI, the ground school for the School of Military Aeronautics was located here at the University of Illinois.  Chanute Air Field was located in Rantoul because of its proximity to the ground school and the East Central Railroad.  If you want to learn more, you may want to pay a visit to the Chanute Air Museum in Rantoul. Busey Residence Hall was used to quarter the students (cadets) of that school.   To this day, a commemorative plaque may be found inside one of the entrance halls to that dormitory.  Kenney Gym—previously known as the Gym Annex—was used as a laboratory for constructing wooden biplanes.  The Armory—which is home to Army, Navy & Marine Corps, and Air Force ROTCs was dedicated on November 1, 1914.  The United States Army, the longest tenant of the Armory, maintain a nice link to the history of the Department of Military Science or Army ROTC.  Memorial trees planted just outside the Armory were dedicated to U of I soldiers who died during WWI.  A few medallions may still be found near some of the trees.  And, of course, Memorial Stadium was built as a memorial dedicated to the 189 U of I students and alumni who died in WWI.  Their names have been engraved on the colonnades of that arena and may also be found on the University of Illinois Alumni Association’s Veterans Memorial Project website which includes a list of Gold Star Illini who died in WWI as well as the names of Illini who have died in conflicts since then.  The U of I’s Department of Chemistry was also very prominent in doing research for the War Department, as documented in the Bulletin for the History of Chemistry (“Noyes laboratory, an ACS National Chemical Landmark: 100 Years of Chemistry at the University of Illinois,” vol. 29, 1, p. 46).  There is a U.S. Army Reserve Chemical unit located in Urbana which may have been lured here because of the research being conducted at the University.  The 33rd division—comprised of mostly of National Guard units from Illinois—has a connection with the university from this time period and an even longer connection with Champaign-Urbana.  The Illinois State Library has put together a collection of digitized documents related to Illinois’ participation/response to World War I including one entitled “Response of the University of Illinois to the Call of War.”  Many of these historical connections can be researched locally at the University Archives and at the Champaign County Historical Archives.  Champaign-Urbana and campus resound with the echoes of our rich military history.

Kevin T. McLaughlin
MSW, Class of ‘18
MSLIS, Class of ‘04
LAS/Anthropology, Class of ‘88
Senior Library Specialist/Serials
Government Documents Cataloging & Processing Team

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How do you say “Remember, Remember the 5th of November” in Latin?

John Milton found a way at the tender age of 17, on the eleventh anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, when he wrote “In Quintum Novembris.” This rousing mini-epic praises God for preserving the heroic King James from a “band of impious Papists.” The poem ends with Milton’s description of Guy Fawkes festivities in the England of his day:

Attamen interea populi miserescit ab alto
Æthereus pater, & crudelibus obstitit ausis
Papicolûm; capti pœnas raptantur ad acres;
At pia thura Deo, & grati solvuntur honores;
Compita læta focis genialibus omnia fumant;
Turba choros juvenilis agit: Quintoque Novembris
Nulla dies toto occurrit celebratior anno.

Looking down from above mercifully on his people, the heavenly father thwarted the Papists’ cruel attempt. They are seized and taken off to bitter punishments. Pious incense and grateful honors are given to God. All the joyous streets smoke with amiable flames; the young people dance in crowds. No day in all the year is more celebrated than the fifth of November.

Guy Fawkes day photo 2

The poem was published in 1645 in Poems Of Mr. John Milton: Both English And Latin, Compos’d At Several Times. Printed By His True Copies. The Songs Were Set In Musick By Mr. Henry Lawes Gentleman Of The Kings Chappel, And One Of His Majesties Private Musick. London: Printed By Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Moseley, and are to be sold at The Signe of the Princes Arms in S. Pauls’ Church-yard, 1645.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign holds nine copies of this work. Shelfmark: 821 M64L 1645.

Guy Fawkes day post photo 1

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University of Illinois-Urbana Rare Book & Manuscript Library Invites Visiting Scholar Applications

The John “Bud” Velde Visiting Scholars Program
and the
2015 Kenneth S. Brunsman Visiting Fellowship

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS, 2015-16 Program Cycle

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library annually awards two stipends of up to $3,000 to scholars and researchers, unaffiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who would like to spend a month or more conducting research with our materials.

Thanks to the generosity of Kenneth Brunsman, an additional award, the “Kenneth S. Brunsman Visiting Fellowship,” honors recently retired Director of Library Advancement Vicki Trimble and will be available for the 2015-16 visiting scholar program cycle.

The holdings of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library are substantial. Comprehensive collections support research in printing and printing history, Renaissance studies, Elizabethan and Stuart life and letters, John Milton and his age, emblem studies, economic history, and works on early science and natural history. The library also houses the papers of such diverse literary figures as Carl Sandburg, H. G. Wells, William Maxwell, and W. S. Merwin.

For information about this program, how to apply, and to find out more about The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, please visit our Web site at:

Please contact the Public Programs Manager, Dennis Sears, with further questions about the program or the Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

Or email Dennis: dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu.

Deadline for application: *1 February 2015*.

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Yummy Acquisition

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has recently acquired the first cookbook devoted to pastry making. Le Pastissier françois (The French Pastry Chef), published in 1655 by the great Dutch printing house of Elzevir, is a landmark in the history of cooking and cookbooks. The book is often attributed to François Pierre de la Varenne (1615-1678), the father of French gastronomy and author of the first French cookbook (Le Cuisinier françois, 1651). He was also the first to break with Italian practices, concocting such staples of French cooking as Béchamel, hollandaise sauce, and bisque. Le Pastissier françois is equally revolutionary in the history of cooking for establishing most of the foundations of French pastry making. For example, here for the first time, we find an explanation of the now universal way of making flaky pastry dough by weaving together butter and flour. The author also introduces such classics of French baking as beignets, chansons aux pommes (apple turnovers), choux pastry (used for éclairs), and gaufres (waffles), as well as the very first recipes for a cake (gateaux) and an apple pie (!). In addition to these innovative sweet confections, Le Pastissier françois offers recipes for savory pastries as well.

Groundbreaking in many ways, Le Pastissier françois is the first cookbook to indicate precise measurements and quantities for each ingredient, the first to give exact cooking times and heat levels, and the first to include an alphabetic index to the recipes.

The book was printed by Louis and Daniel Elzevir in 1655, the third generation of the great Elzevir printing house in Amsterdam. Le Pastissier françois has been called “the most sought after of all Elzevir imprints,” chiefly because of its rarity. Like hymnals and children’s books, cookbooks are printed to be used (and abused) and therefore have poor survival rates. Indeed, in the nineteenth century, the Elzevir Le Pastissier françois became a kind of Holy Grail for collectors and the price skyrocketed accordingly, leading several English and French authors to comment admiringly or sarcastically upon the phenomenon. Alexandre Dumas, for example, claims to have been distracted from a play by the incredible sight of a man reading a copy of Le Pastissier nearby, and several English novelists list this title when describing the grandeur of character’s library. When J.P. Morgan died, the New York Times mentioned about a dozen of the highpoints of Morgan’s collection, listing the Elzevir Le Pastissier françois alongside the Golden Gospels of Henry VIII, the Gutenberg Bible, and the manuscript of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. There appear to be fewer than a dozen recorded copies, most of them outside the U.S.

[LA VARENNE, François Pierre de (1618-1678), attributed to]. Le pastissier françois. Ou est enseigné la maniere de faire toute sorte de pastisserie, tres-utile à toute sorte de personnes. Ensemble le moyen d’aprester toutes sortes d’oeufs pour les jours maigres, & autres, en plus de soixantes façons. Amsterdam: Louis & Daniel Elzevir, 1655. Vicaire 659-64; Brunet IV, 426-27; Willems 1187. Shelfmark: IUB01721.

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