Portrait of R.W. Chambers, author of The King in Yellow

This portrait of R.W. Chambers is included in the 1895 edition of The King in Yellow owned by Joyner Library. The work is comprised of ten short stories that are intertwined with passages from a fictional play, The King in Yellow, which causes those who read it in its entirety to go insane.  For those not in the know, this work has had wide ranging influence since its initial publication, from the writings of HP Lovecraft and August Derleth to countless references in games such as Call of Cthulhu and Dungeons and Dragons. Most recently, the work and associated mythos that it features has been woven into the storyline of the highly acclaimed HBO series True Detective. It has been interesting to see the resurgence of this fairly forgotten work which rivals the best writing from folks normally associated with the genre like Edgar Allen Poe.

Russian Phrase Book

4 April 2012

Source: Special Collections Reference Collection PG2689 .U56 1943

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description: This restricted World War II publication by the War Department “contains the Russian words and expressions you are most likely to need.” It was designed for use by Allied service personnel serving in the Soviet Union. The book contains such useful phrases as “Help”, “I am lost”, “I am poisoned”, “He was bitten by a snake” as well as “The U.S. Government will pay you” translated into Russian. One section on communications contains the phrases “reverse the charges” and “Will you speak to anybody at that number?” Designed as handy little helps for service personnel the book was designed to be shown to the person speaking Russian, and no doubt came in handy when “in-country.” While the publication was restricted, it could be shared with “persons of undoubted loyalty and discretion.” This Army Technical Manual as well as a number of others were given to Joyner Library by Professor Larry Babits of the History Department.

Domestic Disturbances

Special Collections Reference U 230 .U6 1945
United States Army Field Manuals are currently published by the Army’s Publishing Directorate. Over 500 manuals are currently in use. They provided detailed directions for soldiers to use in the field on a variety of topics including tactics and repair of equipment. This particular manual, published in 1945 provided instructions to troops on how to control domestic disturbances. Topics covered included: authorization regulations for the use of military troops to control civil unrest, crowd control, mob tactics, “offensive actions against a city,” and restoration of civil order. The manual ends with tactical directions for the use of chemical agents to control civilian groups. The tactics and methods outlined in this manual were used by federal, state and local authorities in the 1960s and 1970s to control civil and student unrest in the United States.

Black Man in Red Russia

Book Cover

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Source: Homer Smith, Black Man in Red Russia, Chicago, Johnson Publishing Company, 1964, Hoover Collection DK 267 S587

Description:

Black Man in Red Russia relates the story of an American war correspondent Homer Smith, on the Soviet front during World War II. Smith, who moved to Moscow from Minneapolis in 1932 was disillusioned with life in America and hoped the Soviets had the answer to the American race divide in their “democracy of the Proletariat.” During the war period as a correspondent for “the Negro Press,” Smith observed the German push on Moscow; the bodies of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest; the ovens at Maidenak where the Senegales troops captured in the fall of the Maginot line were put to death; the slaughter at Sevastapol; and finally the fall of Berlin in 1945. Smith claims to have been the only Black war correspondent on the Eastern Front. The introduction to the book is written by Harrison Salisbury, Associate Editor of the New York Times, and Moscow correspondent for the Times during World War II. Smith had met Salisbury, as a fellow journalism student at the University of Minnesota in the early 1930s. Salisbury writes that Homer Smith’s major thesis is “that the Soviet Union is no utopia; that we can not [sic!] run away from our problems, we merely run into others which may differ from those we know but are no less serious.” In the end Salisbury feels that Smith was lucky to have escaped with his Russian wife to Ethiopia in 1947. Smith became disillusioned with life in Ethiopia and returned with his wife to his native Minnesota in 1962.
As a small aside an American newspaper reporter named Homer Smith was the lead character in the tongue –in-cheek 1942 spy spoof, Cairo, staring Robert Young, Jeanette Macdonald, and Ethel Waters! The M-G-M movie premiered in Richmond, Virginia on 16 September 1942, and poked good natured fun at the foibles of Nazi spies in an absurd attempt at de-humanizing America’s enemies. In an unfortunate choice of titles, the film was released following the 1942 Cairo conference between Churchill and Roosevelt, and moviegoers, who were expecting a documentary film were instead treated to a comedy!

U.S.S. South Dakota

USS South Dakota

 

Special Collections Reference: VA 63 .S72 1972

The USS South Dakota was the first of a group of fast battleships built under 1939 fiscal year appropriations just prior to World War II. The other vessels in her class were: Indiana, Massachusetts and Alabama. The USS South Dakota was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, New Jersey and was launched on 7 June 1941 and commissioned on 20 March 1942. The South Dakota class vessels had nine 16-inch guns mounted in triple turrets. After commissioning she served in the Pacific where she promptly ran aground on a coral reef and had to go to Peal Harbor for repairs. At the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal she suffered a massive power failure and was out of action while receiving 42 topside hits. At this point the South Dakota returned to New York for repairs, after which she joined the British Home fleet for a period before returning to the Pacific again operating as a carrier escort. She ended the war in Tokyo Bay at the surrender of Japan. She was sold for scrap in 1962. Two sister ships remain as museums: Massachusetts and Alabama.

Annual Register

Source: Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politicks and Literature of the Year, Rare Book Collection #D 2 A7

Title page of the Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politicks and Literature of the Year 1758

Title page of the Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politicks and Literature of the Year 1758

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description:

Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politicks and Literature of the Year…, was printed by James and Robert Dodsley and edited by Edmund Burke (1729-1797) a Whig statesman, political theorist, and philosopher. The first volume came in 1758. Burke is remembered primarily for his A Vindication of Natural Society (1756) and his opposition to the French Revolution. The Register is an important historical reference work and is an annual review of the year’s major events, developments, and views of world events. It was an early forerunner of modern works like the World Almanac. In the Annual Register the editor has selected essays or articles describing important events in sports, arts, religion, science, law, history, politics, government, and the environment that happened during the past year. Obituaries, book reviews, book digests, letters and selected documents are also included. For example, the 1758 volume (the first year) contains a lengthy account of a fire on board H.M.S. Prince George, off Lisbon. A midshipman writes of the fire, “Such a terrible fight the oldest men of the fleet say they never saw,” as the crew struggled to save the vessel. Of the ship’s complement of 745, only 260 were saved by crews of the H.M.S. Glasgow and Alderney. A Rev. Sharpe on the Prince George noted that more might have been saved by the crew of the Alderney, had not the crew also been so “employed in saving geese, fowls, tables, chairs, and whatever else of the kind [that] came near them.”

The Annual Register is still published today by ProQuest. The Rare Book Collection in Special Collections has a set that runs from 1758 to 1825. Most of the volumes have been rebound in library buckram, but one year, 1784, is in the original binding. This volume has the bookplate of the Rev. Alexander Scott, who was chaplain to Vice Admiral Horation Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronte. Scott was chaplain to Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar and also served as Nelson’s private secretary.

Special Collections Rare D 2 A7

Dueling in New Bern, N.C. 1822-1872

Source: Guide to the Stephen F. Miller Memoir, 1872, East Carolina Manuscript Collection, #371

Recollections of New Bern, N.C. Fifty Years Ago

Recollections of New Bern, N.C. Fifty Years Ago

Staff Person: Nanette Hardison

Description:

The images shown below are of the front cover and two pages of a memoir written by Stephen F. Miller entitled, “Recollections of New Bern, N.C. Fifty Years Ago,” which describes life in New Bern in the early 1800s, particularly the historical incidents that took place during that period. Included are descriptions of two incidences of dueling, which was common during that time. Duels were fought by men from all walks of life in America, but by the start of the Civil War, dueling was in decline because the public objected to this violent activity.

Source: http:www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/duel/sfeature/dueling.html

Recollections of New Bern, N.C. Fifty Years Ago

Recollections of New Bern, N.C. Fifty Years Ago

Recollections of New Bern, N.C. Fifty Years Ago

Recollections of New Bern, N.C. Fifty Years Ago

S.S. Utah – A Banned Book

Source: S.S. Utah, Hoover PS 3531.E2967 S1 1933

Cover of S.S. Utah

Cover of S.S. Utah

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description:

Mike Pell’s S.S. Utah is an example of the genre of proletarian fiction. Proletarian fiction written in the 1930s and dominated by middle-class authors, typically featured stories from the life of working class people who overcame the oppression of the mass-industrial world. Many of these works were banned because of their political viewpoints, with the S.S. Utah being no exception. Shortly after publication the book was banned in Australia and a number of other industrialized nations. The novel features a cargo ship bound for the Soviet Union with a cast of standard characters: a conservative union member, a Wobbly named “Slim” who converts the crew to communism, and veteran seafarers from Denmark to Alaska. Other more conservative reviewers felt that S.S. Utah was “not a literary work at all, but rather a fictionalized account of a naval mutiny produced as a manual for agitational work by the clandestine maritime apparatus of the Communist International.” Slim’s speeches, which seem out of date today, urge the “American worker…, together with the workers all over the world, [to] take the rifles that the boss-class shoves into our hands and use them, not against…fellow workers, but to set up a Soviet government of our own.” A number of these fictional works are patterned after the Eisenstein film Battleship Potemkin. The Utah crew, like the sailors in the film, are essentially “bottom dogs” who revolt against their melancholy and boring world and march proudly into the socialist world of the future.

Pell, Mike. S.S. Utah, New York: International Publishers, 1933.

Hoover PS 3531.E2967 S1 1933

The Microscope

Source: The Construction of Timber, from Its Early Growth, Explained by the Microscope, Rare Book QK 475 H64 1770

Construction of Timber

Construction of Timber

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description:

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is generally credited with the first practical application of the compound microscope around the latter half of the seventeenth century. During his life he made more than 400 lenses and 300 different types of microscopes. Dendrochronology is a modern technique for scientific dating using tree ring growth. However, in the eighteenth century, Sir John Hill (1716-1775) wrote an interesting treatise on the growth of timber using the new microscope as a scientific tool. Hill noted the increase in growth of tree rings as he made experiments on various types of trees. Timber was an important commodity to the English as their colonies provided a major source of naval stores. Hill, who is primarily known as an “indefatigable” writer and editor of the British Magazine, was knighted for his illustrated botanical compendium The Vegetable System.

Hill, John, The Construction of Timber, from Its Early Growth, Explained by the Microscope. London, printed for the author, 1770.

Rare QK 475 H64 1770

The “Maine”

Source: The “Maine”; an account of her destruction in Havana Harbor, Joyner Rare E 721.6 S57

The "Maine"

The "Maine"

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description:

USS Maine, a 6682-ton second-class battleship, was built at the New York Navy Yard and commissioned in September 1895. Her active career was spent operating along with U.S. east coast and in the Caribbean area. In January 1898, Maine was sent to Havana, Cuba, to protect U.S. interests during a time of local insurrection and civil disturbances. Three weeks later, on 15 February, the battleship was sunk by a massive explosion that killed the great majority of her crew. This volume is the personal narrative of Captain Charles D. Sigsbee. His conclusion as to the destruction of the vessel largely follow the findings of the official Navy inquiry, which found that an external mine sunk the vessel. In 1976 Admiral Hyman Rickover, using World War II explosion data, concluded that the damage came from inside the vessel, probably from a coal bunker. A 1999 investgation using more modern methods was inconclusive. President Theodore Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy at the time of the sinking, stated, “We will probably never find out definitely,” what happened. Conspiracy theorists of course still have a field day with the sinking of the vessel.

Joyner Rare E 721.6. S57

Charles D. Sigsbee, The “Maine”; an account of her destruction in Havana Harbor, New York Century Company, 1899. 270pp.

Click on the image to view an enlarged version.