Category Archives: Just for Fun

Free Comic Books!

Today is Free Comic Book Day, which means that comic book shops all over the world will be giving away free comics.

But every day is Free Comic Book Day at the RBMSCL, where everyone can use all of our 56,000 comic books (in the Edwin and Terry Murray Comic Book Collection) for free! You can’t take them with you, but you can spend as much time with them as you want in our reading room.

If you do want to take home some free comics (and who doesn’t?), the closest participating store is Ultimate Comics on Ninth Street in Durham.

Post contributed by Megan Lewis, Technical Services Archivist for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.

The Story of the 6,487 Books

On this day in 1800, Congress approved the creation of the Library of Congress (here’s the birthday blog post from the Library of Congress Blog). By 1814, the collection numbered some 3,000 volumes, many of which burned when the British army invaded the capital city in in August.

On 30 January 1815, Congress and President James Madison turned to former President Thomas Jefferson to help rebuild the library’s collection. Jefferson was offered $23,950 for his Monticello library of 6,487 volumes.

That very week, on February 3rd, Francis Calley Gray and George Ticknor arrived at Monticello to pay a visit of a few days to their friend Mr. Jefferson—a visit which Mr. Gray meticulously recorded in his diary, which we hold here at the RBMSCL.

Francis Calley Gray's diary.
Francis Calley Gray's diary. Nice handwriting!

The morning after a welcoming dinner—complete with silver goblets engraved “from G.W. to T.J.”—Mr. Jefferson had prepared a special treat for his guests, both bibliophiles and collectors. As Gray wrote in his diary:

Mr. Jefferson gave me the catalogue of his books to examine + soon after conducted us to his library, + passed an hour there in pointing out to us its principal treasures. His collection of ancient classics was complete as to the authors but very careless in the editions. They were generally interleaved with the best English Translations. The Ancient English authors were also all here + some very rare editions of them. a black letter Chaucer + the first of Milton’s Paradise Lost divided into ten books were the most remarkable. . . . Of all branches of learning however relating to the History of North + South America is the most perfectly displayed in this library. The collection on this subject is without a question the most valuable in the world. Here are the works of all the Spanish [travelers?] in America + the great work of De Brie in which he has collected latin translations of the smaller works published by the earliest visitors of America whose original publications are now lost. It is finely printed + adorned with many plates. Here also is a copy of the letters of Fernando Cortes in Spanish, one of a small edition, + the copy retained by the Editor the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo for himself, but given by him to the American Consul for Mr. Jefferson.

On February 27, following his friends’ departure, Mr. Jefferson wrote to bookdealer Joseph Milligan (letter provided by the Library of Congress) to request his assistance in transporting the entire collection to Washington, D.C. These 6,487 books, some of which Mr. Gray had the good fortune to see, now belonged to the American people.

Sadly, an 1851 fire destroyed much of the Library of Congress’ collection, including two-thirds of Jefferson’s library. Which prompts us to remind everyone that MayDay is coming!

Thanks to Crystal Reinhardt, University Archives Graduate Student Assistant, for helping with this post.

Pharaoh Peepses II

Meghan Lyon, our technical services assistant, just came back from a week in the Land of the Pharaohs. Just for fun, she and her husband Vaughn took along a packet of Peeps. “The weirdest part,” she notes, “was that they never melted, despite it being over 100 degrees on most days.”

This photograph, taken at the Ramesseum, is included in National Geographic Traveler’s Peeps in Places contest. We hope she wins! (Go vote!)

And, lest you object that this post doesn’t relate to the RBMSCL’s collections, we offer this fragment of a literary text from our papyri collection. It dates from Ramesses II’s lifetime.

A Valentine’s Day Puzzle

William Tell Steiger, undated
William Tell Steiger, undated

In November 1828, William Tell Steiger wrote in his notebook that he had presented his beloved Anna Maria Shriver with an anagram: “O evil here I am at.”

He continues, “she deciphered it and returned an anagram in answer containing the following: ‘That love deserves to be returned.'”

Three years later, the couple married on September 20th.

We leave you to puzzle out the first anagram (which you can find in our Steiger-Shriver Family Papers). And yes, Anna Maria Shriver was the great-great-great aunt of journalist and First Lady of California Maria Shriver.

Hot Toddy Weather

What with all of the cold and the snow, RBMSCL folks have been craving warming beverages. Luckily, the Nicole Di Bona Peterson Collection of Advertising Cookbooks (which contains over 1800 cookbooks!) has come to our rescue. We thought we’d share this Hot Toddy recipe from Fine Cocktails Made Easy:

Place in 5 oz. glass: 2 cloves, 1 lump of sugar.

Add 2 oz. bourbon, rye, or blended whiskey.

Fill with hot water.

Stir.

Add thin slice of lemon.

Serve with a small spoon.

And, of course, please sled responsibly.

Getting Past the Gates

Postcard of the Trinity College Gates, 1906
Postcard of the Trinity College Gates, 1906

This past Saturday was the deadline for applications to Duke University’s undergraduate class of 2014. We thought we’d mark the occasion with a look back at a time before Scantrons and SAT prep courses, when students seeking admission to Trinity College (the forerunner of Duke University) might be asked to take a rather perilous entrance examination.

Administered to students without records of study from approved schools, the results of the examination determined which curriculum and class the student would join. The Annual Catalogue of Trinity College for the 1900-1901 school year presented prospective students with “Specimen Entrance Examination Questions” to help them prepare for the July examinations. Here they are, slightly edited for length.

Let us know how you do. We’ll be in the stacks, reading up on Silas Marner and the Battle of Buena Vista.

History.
1. Describe the English explorations in North America.
2. Say what you can about the career of Capt. John Smith in America.
3. Compare the life of the Southern and the Northern Colonies.
4. Discuss the Navigation Laws.
5. What were the policies of Hamilton, Jefferson, and Calhoun?
6. Describe the battles of Saratoga, New Orleans, Buena Vista, and Gettysburg.
7. Who were Lycurgus, Plato, Cicero, and Solon?
8. Give outline of the Persian wars against Greece.
9. Say what you can about the Reformation.
10. What part did England take in the Wars against Napoleon?

English.
I. Decline it, who, goose, man-servant, heir-at-law.

II. Indicate possession in the following expressions by means of the possessive case instead of the phrase:
1. The armies of Lee and Grant.
2. The army of neither Lee nor Grant.
3. The property of Mr. Brown, book-seller and publisher.

III. Discuss all errors in the following:
1. This is his most favorite expression.
2. He is wiser than all men of his age.
3. He walked as if he was flying.
4. I wish I was in New York.
5. He promises to earnestly try and do better.
6. You feared you would miss the train.

V. Questions on the Required Reading:
1. What part do the Witches play in Macbeth?
2. Give an account of the Banquet scene.
3. Write a paragraph on the character of Macduff.
4. Comment on the following words in Macbeth: Obscene bird, benison, addition, seeling night, speculation, surcease, a modern ecstacy.
5. Give the story of Comus.
6. What authors are mentioned in L’Allegro and Il Penseroso? What landscapes are described?
7. Comment on the following expressions in Milton’s Minor Poems:

  1. Yet once more, O ye laurels.
  2. Sisters of the sacred well.
  3. In Heaven yclep’ d Euphrosyne.
  4. How faery Mab the junkets eat.
  5. All in a robe of darkest grain.
  6. Ennobled hath the buskined stage.

8. What does Macaulay say of the Puritans in his essay on Milton?
9. What reasons does Burke give for the love of liberty in America?

VI. Devote an hour to writing a paper on one of the following subjects, making special effort to give the story accurately, and to express it correctly as to spelling, punctuation, use of capital letters, and division into paragraphs:
1. The Tournament Scene in Ivanhoe.
2. The Story of Silas Marner.
3. The Spectator Club.
4. The Woman’s College in the Princess.

Mathematics.
1. Multiply ap + 3ap-2 – 2ap-1 by 2apx1 + apx2 – 3ap.
2. Divide x3n + y3n by xn + yn.
3. Factor 8x3 – 27.
4. [(2x + 3) ÷ (2x + 1)] + (1 ÷ 3x) = (1 ÷ x) + 1. Find x.

State what books in Mathematics you have studied and the amount of work done in each.

Latin.
1. State the Latin authors you have read and the amount from each.
2. Translate—Cæsar, De Bell. Gall. iv, 15.

  1.   Construe fully each word in section I.

3. Cicero In Cat. iii, 4, ll 1-11. (Do not translate).

  1. Select and decline one noun from each declension represented in the section.
  2. Locate the verb forms, explaining the subjunctives.

4. Translate Vergil, Aen., v, 13-25.
5. Write the Latin for the following: The Belgians, who inhabit one of the three parts of Gaul, are the bravest of all the Gauls, because they do not import wine.

Greek.
(The following sentences are taken from Woodruff’s Greek Prose Composition).

Translate into Greek:

69. 5. Tarsus is a large and prosperous city, at which the Cilician queen arrived five days before Cyrus. When the inhabitants of this city heard that Cyrus was coming, they fled to the mountains.

125. 2. Clearchus first spoke of the oaths which they had taken in the name of the gods, and said he would not count the man happy who was conscious that he had violated them. He said the Greeks would be insane, if they should kill Tissaphernes, for he was their greatest blessing.

French.
1. Translate into good English: One page selected from the texts the student may have read.
2. Give the disjunctive pronouns in full.
3. Explain the partitive constructions in full.
4. Give the principal parts of: Etre, dire, aller, pouvoir, faire, tenir.
5. Translate the following phrases:

  1. Ces chevaux-la sont a Paul.
  2. Je me mets a lire.
  3. Nous en serons-nous alles.
  4. Il vient d’apparaitre dans la rue.

6. Translate into French: I see a book on the table; whose is it? It is your brother’s. Take it to him, if you please. I will give it to him when I see him this evening. At what o’clock do you think he will come? I think he will not come before eight or nine. My house is larger than yours, but yours is finer than mine. Have you read the paper this morning? No, I have not yet read it; I am going to read it immediately.

German.
1. Translate into good English:
One page selected from the texts the student may have read.
2. Inflect in full:

  1. Der kleine Bruder.
  2. Diese schoene Frau.
  3. Kein kaltes Wasser.
  4. Grosses Hans.

3. Inflect in full:

  1. Ich.
  2. Er.
  3. Jener.

4. Give the principal parts of: Entlassen, befehlen, geschehen, ausbringen, kennen, denken, studieren.
5. Translate the following phrases:

  1. Es wurde viel getanzt.
  2. Er soll sehr reich sein.
  3. Das kind kam gelaufen.
  4. Wie lange sind Sie in Berlin gewesen?

6. Translate into German:

  1. In the room we found three little girls who had beautiful flowers in their hands.
  2. When will you go to Paris? I wanted to go to-day, but now I shall be obliged to wait till (bis) to-morrow.
  3. If he had taken the book with him, he would have told me so.
  4. He looks (aussehen) as if lie were sick.
  5. His younger brother said that he had arrived (ankommen) in town.
  6. He claims to have read the book.
  7. I did this in order to see if he could speak German.
  8. The letter has not yet been written, but it will be carried (tragen) to the city this afternoon.
  9. Come at half-past six and drink a cup of tea with us.
  10. Tell him he is to go and get (holen) me some bread.