Written by Anne Berard, Reference& Outreach Librarian, Milford Town Library

Trade card for Hunt's Remedy, the great kidney & liver medicine
Hunt’s Remedy, the great kidney & liver medicine, William E. Clarke, proprietor, Providence, Rhode Island, undated from Historic New England’s EP001: Ephemera collection
Malt Bitters - the purest and best medicine in the world for nourishing and strengthening and for overcoming dyspepsia, debility and wasting diseases. The house that Jack built
Malt Bitters – the purest and best medicine in the world for nourishing and strengthening and for overcoming dyspepsia, debility and wasting diseases. The house that Jack built. from Boston Public Library’s 19th Century American Trade Card
Ayer's Sarsaparilla, Dr. J.C. Ayer & Company, Lowell, Mass.
Trade card for Ayer’s Sarsaparilla, Dr. J.C. Ayer & Company, Lowell, Mass. from Historic New England’s EP001: Ephemera collection

While the earliest advertising cards first circulated in London, Lyon and Paris in the late 17th century, advances in color lithography and printing in the 19th century made them easier to produce and more ubiquitous. Everything from soap, thread, perfume, hats, shoes, coffee, candy and more were marketed in these stylized cards.  Digital Commonwealth has more than 3700 unique images in its collection. Some of the most entertaining and possibly alarming, cards were for tonics and health remedies that might belong in the annals of medical quackery. Blood-purifying agents were all the rage.

Hunt’s Remedy (above, left) claimed that it was“never known to fail” and cured dropsy (edema), liver, bladder, kidney and urinary problems. It was produced by William E. Clarke of Providence, Rhode Island. The graphics show a shirtless man fighting off the Grim Reaper.

Boasting of health and sunny hours, an Ayers Sarsaparilla (above, center) card from 1902 featured a lovely woman in Victorian dress holding a tot on her shoulder. Dr. J.C. Ayers operated in Lowell, MA. Sarsaparilla root is still used today in some herbal medicines to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Touting itself as the “purest and best medicine in the world” for overcoming dyspepsia, debility, and wasting diseases was Malt Bitters of Boston, MA.  (above, right) Their detailed card also promised “stimulation without intoxication.”  Playing off the theme of the House that Jack Built, the card has charming artwork, attractive lettering and tells a complete story.

In time, radio ads were a more modern means to reach a larger audience and trade cards fell out of fashion. Larger companies still produced catalogs and smaller enterprises converted to smaller business cards and matchbooks.

To see the complete collection of 19th Century American Trade Cards, begin here.

Two small birds on a bough
Two Small Birds on a Bough Stow Wengenroth (1906-1978). Prints and Drawings

Although summer slips away too quickly for some of us, those of us who wilt in the heat and humidity are happy to see the end of July.  If you’re not, don’t fret.  August is promising more of the same.

The Boston Public Library was busy this month, adding to the Leslie Jones Collection as well as adding over 100 items of Thomas Wentworth Higginson Correspondence.  Fans of the 2013 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Anders Zorn exhibit will be happy to see the BPL’s Zorn etchings.  Allow me to draw your attention to the Stow Wengenroth Prints and Drawings, though.  The exquisite Two Small Birds on a Bough (left) is from this collection, which includes other bird drawings and some lovely Maine scenes.

Medford Historical Society & Museum has added significantly to its already impressive Civil War Photograph Collection.  The Lawrence Public Library has also added more photographs plus a new collection of World War I-related items.  The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library began the harvesting season early with 64 new items to their collections.

The heavy hitters this month are the Massachusetts Historical Society (4,161) and Springfield College Archives and Special Collections (5,181), who re-harvested 4 new collections.  I’m not sure that the Arthur and Madeline Slicer Turnvereine Stein Collection is one of the newly-harvested collections, but I offer the jovial barrel-shaped character stein image below because we all need a cool drink of something during the dog days of August.

Boston Public Library
Anders Zorn (1860-1920). Etchings and Other Works – 204 items
Leslie Jones Collection – 6 items added to existing collection
Stow Wengenroth (1906-1978). Prints and Drawings – 372 items
Thomas Wentworth Higginson Correspondence – 156 items

A barrel shaped character stein
A barrel shaped character stein A. and M. Slicer Turnvereine Stein Collection

Lawrence Public Library
Art Work of Lawrence and Vicinity Photograph Collection – 64 items added to existing collection
James Regan – 9 items

Massachusetts Historical Society
 1 new collection – 4,161 new items re-harvested

Medford Historical Society & Museum
Medford Historical Society Civil War Photograph Collection – 826 items added to existing collection

Springfield College Archives and Special Collections
3 new collections – 5,181 new items re-harvested

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library
64 new items re-harvested

Architectural design for Henry Bowen cottage
Design for a cottage for Henry C. Bowen, Esq. from Historic New England General architectural and cartographic collection

The Boston Public Library continues to add to existing collections, although a brand new collection – 32 items from John Sullivan Dwight’s correspondence regarding Brook Farm – snuck in while no one was looking.  Needham Free Public Library added more than 3,500 items to its historical house collection as well.

The largest addition was from Historic New England (HNE) – 139 new collections, over 54,000 items.  Here be treasures: clothing, photos, architectural drawings (left), samplers (below right), quilts, furniture; everyday objects and priceless art. Browsing these collections is almost as good as touring the HNE collections storage facility in Haverhill – or one of the many HNE house museums.  I highly recommend doing both.  Until you can, though, browse these great collections.

 

Boston Public Library
American Civil War 20th Massachusetts Regiment (Collection of Distinction) – 1 item added to existing collection
Book of Common Prayer (Collection of Distinction) – 1 item
Carte de Visite Collection – 21 items added to existing collection
Colonial and Revolutionary America – 4 items added to existing collection
Colonial and Revolutionary Boston (Collection of Distinction) – 5 items added to existing collection
Early, Rare, and Exceptional Items from Special Collections, Rare Books – 9 items added to existing collection

Needlepoint alphabet sampler
Alphabet Verse Sample from Historic New England Digitized Museum Collections

Incunabula (Collection of Distinction) – 5 items added to existing collection
John Sullivan Dwight correspondence regarding Brook Farm, 1840-1848 – 32 items
Medieval and Early Renaissance Manuscripts (Collection of Distinction) – 17 items added to existing collection
Paintings and Fine Arts Collection at the Boston Public Library – 1 item added to existing collection
Spanish and Portuguese Literature (Collection of Distinction) – 1 item added to existing collection

Historic New England
139 new collections – 54,104 records harvested

Needham Free Public Library
Needham Historical House Collection – 3,583 items added to existing collection

All of May’s contributors are return customers.  The Boston Public Library has added significant holdings of prints and drawings.  The Atwood House Museum of the Chatham Historical Society has contributed more nautical charts while the Wilbraham Public Library has digitized more photographs. Special mention has to be made of the Lawrence Public Library, which has added fourteen collections ranging from 1 to 68 items.

House, people Lawrence Cyclone Photo Collection
House, people, from Lawrence, Mass. Cyclone July 26, 1890 Photograph Collection

Most striking are the photographs of the aftermath of the “Great Cyclone” of 1890.  Eight people died and 65 were injured.  The tornado did $60,000 worth of damage.  ($1.5 million in today’s money)  The house on the left is just one of many that did not survive the storm.

On a happier note, Lawrence Public Library also digitized a collection of sheet music.  It almost doesn’t matter how tuneful the songs are when the covers are this colorful. (See below.)

Atwood House Museum of the Chatham Historical Society
Nautical Chart Collection of the Chatham Historical Society – 40 items added to existing collection

Boston Public Library
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910). Prints and Drawings – 115 items
George Cruikshank (1792-1878). Prints and Drawings – 86 items
Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904). Lithographs and Other Prints – 478 items
William Hogarth (1697-1764). Prints – 162 items

Lawrence Public Library

 V for victory march, from Lawrence Public Library Sheet Music Collection
V for victory march, from Lawrence Public Library Sheet Music Collection

Alfred I. Earle – 1 item
Augustinian Priests Photograph Collection – 13 items
Bernard Sullivan Photographs – 3 items
Bob Dziadosz – 1 iteM
Elsie Marsden Photographs – 3 items
Father James T. O’Reilly – 2 items
Fred H. and Anna C. Sargent Photographs – 2 items
Hurricane, September 21, 1938 – 17 items
Lawrence, Mass. Before Redevelopment Photograph Collection – 58 item
Lawrence, Mass. Cyclone July 26, 1890 Photograph Collection – 68 items
Lawrence, Mass. Mayors Photograph Collection – 51 items
Lawrence, Mass. United States Post Office – 2 items
Panama Pacific International Exposition – 2 items added to existing collection
Sheet Music Collection – 27 items

Wilbraham Public Library
Wilbraham Town Archives Photographic Collection – 143 items

Avant l'assaut. Images of World War I Battlefields. Franklin Historical Museum.
Avant l’assaut, from Images of World War I Battlefields (Franklin Historical Museum)

All those April showers (rain and snow alike) brought over 3,300 new items to the Digital Commonwealth.  The largest donation came from the National Archives at Boston with its Watertown Arsenal Photographs collection.  The photos of bright shining new armaments contrast sharply with the Franklin Historical Museum’s riveting Images of World War I Battlefields collection.  (See Avant l’assaut to left.)

On balance, the Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation and Jacob Edwards Library (Southbridge) have added images of everyday life in small town Massachusetts.  The Boston Public Library enhances the everyday with the artistic and, happily, the humorous.  In this case, most of us might associate running and bulls with Ernest Hemingway and Pamplona.  For Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, the association becomes running from bulls – and there is nothing macho about it.  (See La vache enragée below.)

Boston Public Library
Emily Tennyson Letters, 1858-1873 – 83 items
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). Prints and Drawings – 351 items
Mary Cassatt (1844-1926). Prints and Drawings – 8 items
Paintings and Fine Arts Collection at the Boston Public Library – 1 item added to existing collection
Walt Whitman Collection (1819-1892) – 1 item

Franklin Historical Museum

La vache enragee. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. BPL.
La vache enragée, from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). Prints and Drawings (BPL)


Images of World War I Battlefields – 48 items
Maps of Franklin, Massachusetts – 9 items

Jacob Edwards Library
New Topographical Atlas of Worcester County – 3 items

National Archives at Boston
Watertown Arsenal Photographs – 2,833 items

Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation
Life in Granville, Massachusetts Collection – 11 items
NCCHP Museum Collection – 2 items added to existing collection
Noble & Cooley Business Correspondence Collection – 1 item added to existing collection
Noble & Cooley Catalog Collection – 1 item
Noble & Cooley Employee Collection – 3 items added to existing collection
Toy Manufacturing Industry – 1 item
Trade Catalog Collection – 13 items added to existing collection

Path of Life I M. C. Escher (1898-1972). Prints and Drawings (BPL)
Path of Life I M. C. Escher (1898-1972). Prints and Drawings (BPL)

This month, the Boston Public Library (BPL) added 36 items from its M.C. Escher prints and drawings collection.  It also happens that this month the Museum of Fine Arts opened an exhibit of M.C. Escher prints.  Great minds really do think alike.

In addition, the BPL added items to six existing collections as well as lithographs, etchings and drawings of James McNeill Whistler, a Commonwealth-born artist most famous for his mother’s portrait.

The Leicester Public Library has uploaded a collection of architectural drawings while the Atwood House Museum of the Chatham Historical Society and the Jamaica Plain Historical Society have added new items to existing collection.

It appears winter is not done with us yet, so let the wonders on Digital Commonwealth warm your day and inspire your spirit.

 

Atwood House Museum of the Chatham Historical Society
Nautical Chart Collection of the Chatham Historical Society – 49 items added to existing collection

Boston Public Library

Boston Printmakers Collection – 110 items added to existing collection

Colonial and Revolutionary Boston (Collection of Distinction) – 7 items added to existing

collection

Incunabula (Collection of Distinction) – 2 items added to existing collection

James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). Lithographs, Etchings, and Drawings – 239 items

M.C. Escher (1898-1972). Prints and Drawings – 87 items

Medieval and Early Renaissance Manuscripts (Collection of Distinction) – 36 items added to existing collection

Paintings and Fine Arts Collection at the Boston Public Library – 1 item added to existing collection

Stereograph Collection – 1 item added to existing collection

Jamaica Plain Historical Society

James Michael Curley Negatives – 71 items added to existing collection

Leicester Public Library

Leicester Public Library Architectural Drawings c. 1895 – 19 items

 The observatory, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.  from Anna Maria College Blumsack Travel Postcards
The observatory, Smith College, Northampton, Mass. from Anna Maria College Blumsack Travel Postcards

Have you kept your New Year’s resolution to digitize your historical treasures? These institutions did.  Anna Maria College’s The Travel Postcards of Charles Bumsack Collection includes this view of Smith College’s Observatory (left).  If you explore more, you’ll also find views of the Crab, Dumbbell and Horsehead Nebulae.  I kid you not.

If whimsy is not your cup of tea, the BPL has added some significant correspondence collections and Barre Historical Society has added maps. (See example below.)  Wilbraham Public Library chips in some photographs of the Glendale section of town while the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) has added prints, sculptures, photos and more in its six collections.

Earlier this month Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so we have six more weeks of winter. Plenty of time to visit all these great collections.

Anna Maria College

Travel Postcards of Charles Blumsack – 120 items

Barre Historical Society

Barre Historical Society Map Collection – 11 items

 Map of the town of Barre, Worcester County, Mass. from Barre Historical Society Map Collection
Map of the town of Barre, Worcester County, Mass. from Barre Historical Society Map Collection

Boston Public Library

Alphonse Legros (1837-1911). Prints and Drawings – 1943 items added to existing collection John Brown: Correspondence relating to John Brown and the raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia – 227 items
Sophia Hawthorne correspondence with James and Annie Fields, 1851-1904 – 252 items

Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

Harvested 6 collections – 3623 items

Wilbraham Public Library

Glendale Collection – 44 items

Frozen  fountain on the Common, from the Stereo Slide Collection of the Lawrence Public Library
Frozen fountain on the Common from the Stereo Slide Collection of the Lawrence Public Library

Admit it.  You took it easy last month.  After exams or while planning office parties, you let some things slide.  The digitization team working on the Lawrence Public Library collections added twenty three collections in December: 23.  No slackers there.  Take the Stereo Slide Collection for example.  It contains 108 items, including the Frozen Fountain on the Common slide (Left).  Is it too soon after our own deep freeze to appreciate this icy monument?

Maybe you would find the variety of the Hamilton Historical Society’s collection of photos of parades, historic houses, town celebrations and prominent citizens cozier.  For Civil War students, we have letters from the Jubb brothers courtesy of the J. V. Fletcher Library in Westford.  As always, we have maps.  December saw the Leventhal Map Center add yet more to their collection while the Wilbraham Library’s Maps Collection included the Hampden and Hampshire highway map below.

Boston Public Library

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection – 233 items added to existing collection

Hamilton Historical Society

Hamilton Historical Society Collection – 2,408 items

 J. V. Fletcher Library

Jubb Brothers Civil War Letters – 83 items

Lawrence Public Library

Advertisements – 10 items
Aerial Photograph – 1 item
Arlington Mills – 8 items
Art Work of Lawrence and Vicinity Photograph Collection – 19 items
Boston Bridge Works – 8 items
David Burke – 1 item
Forrest C. Hinckley Photograph Collection – 11 items
Gary Keating – 1 item
George H. Farrell Photograph – 1 item

Highway map, Hampden and Hampshire counties, Mass. from the Wilbraham Library Maps Collection
Highway map, Hampden and Hampshire counties, Mass. from the Wilbraham Library Maps Collection

John Deacy Photograph – 1 item
John J. Murphy – 1 item
John McCann Photograph Collection – 5 items
Kenneth Kerwin Photographs – 2 items
Lawrence City Mission – 1 item
Lawrence, Mass. School Committee – 1 item
Massachusetts Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States – 1 item
Massachusetts Legislature 1888 25th Anniversary Reunion – 1 item
Massachusetts National Guard – 1 item
Ora Beal Photographs – 3 items
Rendle Homestead – 1 item
St. Patrick’s School Class of 1931 – 1 item
Stereo Slide Collection – 108 items
United Textile Workers of America, Local 1113, Arlington Mills – 16 items

Wilbraham Public Library

Wilbraham Library Maps Collection – 21 items

USS Constitution Museum

War of 1812 Collection – 87 items added to existing collection

If you were a little sad to see your feathered friends head south last month, take a gander (pun intended) at the John James Audubon The Birds of America drawings digitized by the Boston Public Library in November.  You won’t want to miss the weirdly wonderful Roseate Spoonbill below:

 Roseate spoonbill from the Boston Public Library's The Birds of America collection
Roseate spoonbill from the Boston Public Library’s The Birds of America collection

There is, once again, something for everyone in this past month’s additions: large collections and small; photos, letters, music; artwork, nature, history.  You want it?  Digital Commonwealth’s got it!  Special mention has to go to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library’s Edward Hale Lincoln Collection of flora in nature photographs.  The photos are in black and white, but are so sharp and clear that winter weary Bay Staters may find inspiration for their spring gardens in these photos.  Never ask me to choose a favorite orchid, but the nearby Cattleya Snow Queen seems an appropriate choice for a December post.  And if you need some color, try Mass Hort’s previously digitized Botanical Prints collection. Gorgeous, even to us non-gardeners.

 Cattleya Snow Queen from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library's Edwin Hale Lincoln Collection
Cattleya Snow Queen from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library’s Edwin Hale Lincoln Collection

Berkley Public Library
Berkley Public Library Local History – 1 item

Boston College
15 collections – 2,985 items (Re-harvested; numbers for new items only)

Boston Public Library
The Birds of America: From Original Drawings by John James Audubon – 547 items
James McBey (1883-1959). Prints and Drawings – 1,065 items
Medieval and Early Renaissance Manuscripts – 1 item added to existing collection

Framingham State University
Henry Whittemore Library – 8 collections, 824 records

Hingham Public Library
Governor John D. Long Letters – 151 items

Jamaica Plain Historical Society
Jamaica Plain Historical Society Photo Gallery – 25 items added to existing collection

Lee Library Association
Lee Library Historical Photograph Collection – 1,027 items

Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library
Edwin Hale Lincoln Collection – 1,298 items

Phillips Academy Andover
Abbot Academy Photographs – 1,249 items added to existing collection

Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library
Bates-Weston-Chapman Collection – 2 items added to existing collection
Civil War Personal Papers and Currency – 3 items added to existing collection
Fifield Family Collection – 23 items added to existing collection
Fifield Music Collection – 1 item
Pamphlet Collection – 1 item added to existing collection
Weymouth Map Collection – 3 items

Charleston, SC April 1865 from The Medford Historical Society & Museum
Charleston, SC April 1865, from The Medford Historical Society & Museum

As we pack away the ghosts and goblins of Halloween and prepare for Thanksgiving, let us give thanks:

…to the Annisquam Historical Society for sharing a lovely sketch of the I Am Here schooner amongst its 86 historical documents.
…to the Boston Public Library – and especially to the Leventhal Map Center – for continuing to add too many wonderful items to mention individually.
…to the Medford Historical Society & Museum for adding a superb collection of Civil War photographs, ranging from cartes de visites to battle scenes to fortifications to the haunting photo of a devastated Charleston, S.C. (Left)
…to the Sharon Public Library for a wonderful variety of photos, including photos taken after the Blizzard of ’78. “Foot of my driveway” is exactly the kind of titles I give my photos, but the Cobb’s Corner photos give a better idea of the scale. (Below)

Take a look and let us know what you’re thankful for.

Annisquam Historical Society

Annisquam Historical Society’s Collection of Historical Documents – 86 items

Cobb's Corner, Sharon, February 8, 1978>, from the Sharon Public Library Photo Collection
Cobb’s Corner, Sharon, February 8, 1978>, from the Sharon Public Library Photo Collection

Boston Public Library

Early English Printers – 1 item

Incunabula (Collection of Distinction) – 1 item added to an existing collection

Medieval and Early Renaissance Manuscripts (Collection of Distinction) – 18 items added to an existing collection

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection – 728 items added to an existing collection

Medford Historical Society & Museum

The Medford Historical Society Civil War Photograph Collection – 742 items

Sharon Public Library

Sharon Public Library Photo Collection – 155 items