Book on History of European Colonization is the Featured Book for May 2015


raynal set

Histoire philosophique et politique des établissemens et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes / by Guillame-Thomas Raynal.  Londres: [s.l.]. 1792.

The Histoire philosophique et politique des établissemens et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes is primarily the work of Guillaume-Thomas Raynal, a French writer and political philosopher.  Raynal’s book is a history of European colonization in the East and West Indies, South America, and North America.  The first edition of this work was published in 1770 in Amsterdam, and it consisted of only 4 volumes.  Raynal’s work was an immediate success with his Enlightenment contemporaries as Raynal was one of the first to denounce European colonialism, the exploitation of indigenous populations, and slavery. Cet ouvrage connut un vif succès auprès des philosophes de l’époque des lumières et fut condamné au feu en 1781, Raynal dut se réfugier en Suisse et en Prusse.

From 1770 to 1820, this multi-volume work was revised and published 30 times and in several different languages including English and Italian.  With each new edition, the text was expanded and augmented to include sections written by several of the leading intellectuals of the Enlightenment, including Diderot and the Baron d’Holbach.

Because the work supported the principles of revolution as a basic right and promoted less than favorable views of the monarchy, the French Parliament condemned l’Histoire as impious.  The Roman Catholic Church officially banned the book in 1774 and ordered all of it copies to be burned in Paris by the public executioner.  These reactions to Raynal’s work led to his exile in Switzerland from where he traveled to the court of Frederick the Great in Prussia and then later to Petersburg to the court of Catherine the II.  In 1787, Raynal was permitted to return to France, but not to Paris.  After the revolution, Raynal returned to Paris and later died in 1796.  Although his work was criticized by his contemporaries as being reactionary, both in Europe and the American colonies, Raynal’s work has been credited for helping set the foundation for 18th and 19th century political thought

The Haggerty Collection’s copy was printed in 1792.  This edition consists of 17 volumes, of which16 volumes are of text and the 17th is an atlas containing 49 engraved maps relating to Europe, Asia, Africa and America, and 23 folded tables of statistical data on trade with the East Indies.  The Haggerty Collection’s copy is considered to be in fine condition, although incomplete as it is missing the atlas.  The volumes have a quarter calf binding with Fantasy pattern marbled paper covered boards.  The binding is not original and most likely the set was rebound in the mid to late 19th century as the Fantasy marbled paper pattern was not manufactured until then.  

Each volume has a highly detailed engraved frontispiece representing an important event, natural or the result of human actions, which had occurred in one of the French colonies.  The first engraving is of the death of the British officer, Major General James Wolfe at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. The second is of a hurricane that devastated several islands in the Lesser Antilles, and the third engraving is of a murder that occurred on the island of Saint Kitts.  These examples of engraved illustrations are extremely rare in the collection.

morte de wolfe raynal90001 murder2

Of particular interest to scholars is the false imprint information.  This edition was not printed in London.  Rather, it was printed in Paris, and although the printer was not listed on the title page, it is believed to have been printed by Cazain and his printing house.  This false imprint was an attempt to protect the identity of the printer as Raynal was still in exile at the time of the printing.  False imprints are fairly rare to find, and they can make life difficult for curators, but they add an intrinsic value to the bibliographic history of such works.


Call number:   D22 .R33 1792 t.1-16, The William J. Haggerty Collection of French Colonial History, Special Collections.

The William J. Haggerty Collection is the former library of the Union coloniale française, a French colonial lobby organization.  The Haggerty Collection is housed in the Special Collections department of the Binghamton University Libraries.  the departmentis open to the public, Monday – Friday from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, and by appointment.

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Nepal quake leaves century-old library in ruins

By Claire Cozens

May 11, 2015 1:05 PM

An employee looks at damaged book shelves at the Kaiser Library in Kathmandu on May 7, 2015

Janaki Karmacharya sits on a plastic chair under the tarpaulin that now serves as her office and despairs at the wreckage of her once magnificent library in the heart of Kathmandu.

Until last month’s earthquake, the Kaiser Library buzzed with Nepali students, intellectuals and tourists attracted by its collection of rare books, maps and ancient manuscripts — all housed in an opulent former palace.

Now wooden bookcases lie smashed on the floor of the 120-year-old building, which was gifted to the nation by the Rana dynasty that ruled Nepal for more than a century before losing power in 1951.

The library was closed on April 25 when the quake struck, and Karmacharya said it was two days before she plucked up the courage to go and see the destruction.

“I was speechless for a while… it was hard to believe the extent of the damage,” the 58-year-old chief librarian told AFP as she surveyed the impact of the 7.8-magnitude quake, which killed more than 7,800 people.

“I cried when I got came back home, I couldn’t help myself. The books are like my children, and I love them very much.

“Thank God it was a Saturday and there were no readers inside.”

Karmacharya estimates that the quake damaged around a third of the 28,000 books in the Kaiser Library.

They were the collection of Kaiser Shumsher, a scion of the Rana family who travelled to England in 1908 and fell in love with the grand houses and their private libraries.

When he returned to Nepal he decided to build his own in his palace in central Kathmandu.

Inside the building, antique statues lie in pieces on the floor and stuffed animal heads and portraits of Nepal’s former rulers in full military dress hang precariously on severely cracked walls.

In one room are the fragments of a suit of armour smashed to pieces in the quake; in another, a stuffed Bengal tiger and a huge bearskin rug, the head and paws still attached.

Books in the English section — many of which Shumsher brought back from his visit to England — include John Buchan’s adventure classics and such titles as “The Big Game of Asia”.

But the library is more than an eccentric throwback to a bygone era in Nepal, a feudal Hindu kingdom until just seven years ago when the monarchy was abolished following a Maoist revolution.

It also houses rare South Asian manuscripts on Buddhism, Tantrism and astrology, some so old they are written on palm-leaves.

They include a 1,100-year-old copy of the Susrutasamhita, an ancient Sanskrit text on medicine, which is listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register.

“The damage in the Kaiser library is a huge loss to us as it was not only a home for books but an archive of invaluable historic scripts of archaeological importance,” said Labha Dev Awasthi, joint secretary at Nepal’s education ministry.

“We are concerned about the security of the books, paintings and other antique items that were kept in the library.”

Awasthi said the ministry was urgently seeking somewhere safe to store the valuable contents of the building, which is so badly damaged that staff have been advised not to enter.

With frequent aftershocks still rocking Nepal’s capital and the monsoon rains just weeks away, that task now appears urgent.

An official notice pinned to the door states that the structure is unsafe, and many of the old beams and pillars are broken.

“There are lots of cracks and aftershocks happen every day so this building isn’t safe anymore,” said Karmacharya, who now meets with her staff every day under a tarpaulin in the library’s tree-filled garden near the former royal palace.

“It will be a really big challenge for us to manage the library and move the books somewhere else. But we are concerned about the safety of these books.”

The government said the building would also be restored eventually, although it may be resurrected as an art gallery rather than a library.

For freelance journalist and 26-year-old Kathmandu resident Ayush Niroula, who used to read there as a student, that would be a shame.

“There are not a lot of libraries here in Kathmandu and on top of that it’s a really beautiful place to read,” he told AFP.

“They can transfer the books somewhere else, but it has a vibe of its own.”

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“Abruzzo” Donation Complements Libraries’ Italian Collection

Italian Books Post

Sandro Sticca, Professor of French and Comparative Literature; Caryl Ward, Head of Acquisitions and Subject Librarian for Comparative Literature, LACAS and Romance Languages; and Susannah Gal, Interim Dean of the Libraries (seated).

Professor of French and Comparative Literature Sandro Sticcca  has continued a custom of many decades through his recent donation of two books to the Libraries’ Special Collections. “Gabriele D’Annunzio,” a richly illustrated book highlighting places in the Abruzzo region of Italy, rendered famous by its most famous modern poet; and “Pescara,” a lush pictorial description of the poet’s own native city.

The books were generously sent to Sticca following his receipt of  a complimentary issue of Abruzzo’s leading magazine “Tesori d’Abruzzo” — (Abruzzo’s Treasures), which was sent in recognition of his long dedication to the region. In a subsequent gesture of appreciation, a subscription to the magazine was gifted by the publishing house to Binghamton University Libraries.

Sticca has written widely on the Abruzzo region, with his most recent book entitled “From Prehistory to History. Abruzzo’s Cultural Heritage.” In addition to having been born in Abruzzo, the Professor has also taught at the University of L’Aquila, located in Abruzzo’s capital.

Currently, Sticca and Stefano de Pamphilis, another native of Abruzzo and one of the magazine’s most prominent writers, are collaborating on a book about instructor in painting, Torquato Di Felice.

Special Collections is thrilled with this generous gift!

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T.H. Tsien, 105, Dies; Scholar of Chinese Books

The New York Times

T.H. Tsien, 105, Dies; Scholar of Chinese Books Rescued 30,000 of Them

By  APRIL 19, 2015

 T. H. Tsien was one of the world’s renowned scholars of Chinese bibliography and paleography, the study of ancient writing.  [Credit University of Chicago]

T. H. Tsien, a scholar of Chinese books and printing who in 1941 risked his life to smuggle tens of thousands of rare volumes to safety amid the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, died on April 9 at his home in Chicago. He was 105.

His death was announced by the University of Chicago, with which he had been associated since the late 1940s. At his death, he was an emeritus professor of East Asian languages and civilizations there and an emeritus curator of the university’s East Asian library.

One of the world’s most renowned scholars of Chinese bibliography and paleography — the study of ancient writing — Professor Tsien (pronounced chee-AHN) was the author of scores of books and articles, many in English, about the august history of the written word in China. As he was fond of reminding people, movable type originated in China centuries before Gutenberg.

Professor Tsien, who was born in China in the twilight of the reign of its last emperor, was a young librarian there during the Japanese occupation, which lasted from 1931 until the end of World War II. Working in secret, he was charged with keeping a trove of precious volumes, some dating to the first millennium B.C., from falling into the occupiers’ hands.

The Library of Congress in Washington agreed to take some 30,000 volumes, but the difficulty lay in getting them out of Shanghai. By 1941, the city’s harbor and customs office were under the control of the Japanese, who would have seized the books and very likely destroyed them. Had Professor Tsien’s work been uncovered, he would almost certainly have been executed.

Determined to get the books out of China at all costs, Professor Tsien could not have done so, he later wrote, had it not been for a turn of fate.

Read more here

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The impact of gender on Civil War suicides/everyday life of a Civil War soldier

Visit the Libraries from noon-1 p.m. today, Wednesday, April 15, for the latest installment of Special Collections’ Occasional Lecture Series. Diane Miller Sommerville, associate professor of history, and Yvonne Deligato, University archivist, will present the “Civil War Experience and Artifact: North and South and the Aftermath of April 15, 1861.”

Sommerville will focus on her current project, a study of suicide among Southerners during and after the Civil War that explores how gender shaped decisions about suicide in the wake of the physical and emotional devastation wrought by war. Using the personal diaries and letters from the University Libraries’ Civil War Collections, Deligato will share details from the everyday life of the soldiers who were there.

The event takes place in Special Collections, on the second floor of Bartle Library.

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Image, Imitation, Imagination: Woodcut Illustrations in Adriano Banchieri’s Music Books


Paul Schleuse, associate professor of musicology, will present “Image, Imitation, Imagination: Woodcut Illustrations in Adriano Banchieri’s Music Books” at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, in LN-1106, IASH Conference Room.

Illustrations in prints of renaissance music are extremely rare, beyond generic elements like initial letters, decorative borders on title pages and printer’s marks. When they do appear they can tell us much about a book’s function: as unusual and expensive additions they could not have been used haphazardly; as images not visible to a separate audience they strongly suggest that the music was intended for the enjoyment of the singers themselves. A handful of Venetian prints from the years around 1600 use images of theatrical performances in precisely this wayI will show that most of Banchieri’s images were recycled from a set of at least 31 generic theatrical woodcuts that first appeared in prints of Venetian comedies in 1591 and 1592. These illustrations will shed new light on Banchieri’s purpose in repeatedly re-inventing his theatrically themed canzonettas on the recreational function of these books and on his shifting views of performance practice for these works at a time that also saw the emergence of opera.

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Civil War talk to be held in Special Collections

Civil War Lecture

On Wednesday April 15, 12-1 p.m., Diane Miller Sommerville, Associate Professor of History and Yvonne Deligato, University Archivist will be giving a presentation as part of the Special Collections Occasional Lecture Series.  The talk is titled “Civil War Experience and Artifact: North & South and the Aftermath of April 15, 1861”.  Diane Sommerville’s talk focuses on her current project, a study of suicide among Southerners during and after the Civil War that explores how gender shaped decisions about suicide in the wake of war’s physical and emotional devastation.   Yvonne Deligato’s discussion, using the personal diaries and letters from the University Libraries’ Civil War Collections, will describe the everyday life of soldiers during the war.

Location: Huppe Reading Room, Special Collections, Bartle Library

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Doctor Zhivago: The Screenplay is Special Collections Featured Book for April


Binghamton University Special Collections Featured Book for April is Robert Bolt’s screenplay for Doctor Zhivago: The Screenplay from the John McLaughlin Collection based on the novel by Boris Pasternak.

British playwright, Robert Bolt (1924-1995), and a two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter, known for writing the screenplays for Lawrence of ArabiaDoctor Zhivago and A Man for All Seasons, the latter two of which won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. In his author’s note, he writes: “It ought not to need saying but in case it does had better be said at once: This book is not intended to be any kind of substitute for Pasternak’s novel. It is intended for people interested in film and is an account of the film, which we drew from the novel-the fullest possible account, being in effect the filmscript.”

Doctor Zhivago was a British-American 1965 epic drama–romance film directed by David Lean, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. It is interesting to note that the Pasternak novel was banned in the Soviet Union at the time and, for that reason, the film could not be made there and was instead filmed mostly in Spain.

The film follows the life of a Russian physician and poet, Yuri Zhivago, who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist’s wife and experiences hardship during the First World War and then the October Revolution.  Zhivago is torn between fidelity to his wife, an upper-class girl who is devoted to him,  and passion for the women who would become his muse. Sympathetic with the revolution but shaken by the wars and purges, he struggles to retain his individualism as a humanist amid the spirit of collectivism.


Doctor Zhivago: The Screenplay contains color images of scenes from the movie and is signed by Rod Steiger, who played Victor Komarovsky in the film.


To view this book, we welcome you to come to Special Collections. We are located on the second floor of the Bartle Library, off of the North Reading Room.

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Cool Connections, Hot Alumni Speaker Series: Natalie Elisha ’09

Natalie Elisha ’09, partner at Rubenstein & Elisha, PLLC, will speak to students at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, in UU-133A.

After graduating from Binghamton two years early, majoring in both PPL and philosophy, Elisha received a full scholarship to earn her law degree from St. John’s University. In 2014, at only 25, she co-founded her own law firm, Rubinstein & Elisha, PLLC. Her practice focuses on family and asset protection and already has three offices in the New York Metropolitan area with plans to continue expanding internationally. She will provide valuable insight into what a career in law entails, as well as advice on how to successfully prepare and transition into the world of work.

“Cool Connections, Hot Alumni” programs are for students to learn more about different careers and to create potential contacts with industry professionals who also happen to be Binghamton alumni. The series is a collaboration between the Alumni Association and the Fleishman Center. Faculty and staff who know of students who might be interested in these programs are encouraged to pass along the event information.

For more information, contact Francis Borrego via e-mail.

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Exhibitions at the Binghamton University Art Museum feature Special Collections materials


The Multi-Modernist Tilly Losch: Dancer, Actress & Artist exhibit at the Binghamton University Art Museum. Photograph by Beth Turcy Kilmarx.

Two student-curated exhibits at the Binghamton University Art Museum feature materials from the Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections.

The exhibits are:

The Civil War: Images of Ruin, curated by graduate students from the Departments of History and Art History, which includes several issues of Harper’s Weekly held by Special Collections from the years 1862, 1863 & 1865. These issues include images taken by Mathew B. Brady an American photographer best known for his scenes of the Civil War. Brady’s use of a mobile studio and darkroom enabled vivid battlefield photographs that brought home the reality of war to the public.

The Multi-Modernist Tilly Losch: Dancer, Actress & Artist, Curated by Kara Lynn Nandin ’15, which features several portrait photographs of Tilly Losch that are held in Special Collections, including one by American visual artist, Man Ray, and a photograph  taken by the noted Austrian-born American photographer, Trude Fleischmann.

Find more information here

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