Happy Halloween!

A few scares in the records in honor of the season:

A Bat in the Stacks
Happy Halloween from the Wildlife Conservation Society Archives! This vampire bat image was likely taken during a 1934 expedition to Trinidad, where the Bronx Zoo’s first Herpetology Curator Raymond Ditmars and his associate Arthur Greenhall studied the elusive species and brought back specimens for the zoo.

A Vampire Bat, WCS Archives Accession 2014.121.

An NHPRC grant to the WCS went to support a project to arrange and describe 13 collections (approximately 191.25 linear feet) that document the mid-20th century environmental and wildlife conservation movements and the developing field of animal care in zoos and aquariums.

More at https://library.wcs.org/

An Utter Obsession
“Quoth the raven, nevermore…” Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven” seem an appropriate choice as we near Halloween, not only for its spooky cadence, but for the strange connection between pondering over works of forgotten lore and one of the first projects supported by the NHPRC.It all goes back to the obsession of collector John Henry Ingram, who when he died in Brighton, England in l9l6, possessed, as he expressed it “a room-full of Poe.” He had gathered the materials in an attempt to restore Poe’s literary reputation, which had sullied by the publication of the Memoir that Rufus W. Griswold had written and published in l850, a year after Poe’s death. While that reputation began to turn around by the 1870s, Ingram could not shake his obsession with the master of the macabre.

According to the Finding Aid for the John Henry Ingram’s Poe collection:

“At that time scholars on both sides of the Atlantic were well aware of Ingram’s collection of Poe materials. Both its size and value had been suggested by Ingram’s four-volume edition of Poe’s works, prefaced by an original and controversial Memoir, and its worth had further been proved by the two-volume biography of Poe in which Ingram had published a great deal of new and important information. So impressed was the New England editor and critic Thomas Wentworth Higginson that he addressed an anxious communication to Ingram on February l, l880, about his collection: “I hope that if you should ever have occasion to sell it or should bequeath it (absit omen! in either case) it may come to some Public Library in this country.

Ingram’s Poe collection was to grow enormously through many more years, and in the end Higginson’s wish was to be fulfilled: it was sold and it did come to America, to the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia.”

There it was processed and, with one of the first grants from NHPRC, it was microfilmed for wider access. And Poe scholars have relied upon it to further the reputation of this American writer. The wonderful finding aid–which tells the story of Ingram’s obsession in great detail–is available at the University of Virginia Library.

Perfect reading for the Halloween season.

Edgar Allan Poe, aguerreotype by W.S. Hartshorn, 1848; C.T. Tatman, c1904. Prints & Photograph Division, Library of Congress.

A Ghost in Founders Online

In September 1763, Abigail Smith wrote to her sweetheart John Adams, about a strange incident occurring at her home in Weymouth, Massachusetts:
Abigail Adams

“Have you heard the News? that two Apparitions were seen one evening this week hovering about this house, which very much resembled you and a Cousin of yours. How it should ever enter into the head of an Apparition to assume a form like yours, I cannot devise. When I was told of it I could scarcly believe it, yet I could not declare the contrary, for I did not see it, and therefore had not that demonstration which generally convinces me, that you are not a Ghost.”

Abigail married John on October 25, 1764, so her fears must have been conquered.

You can read the whole letter at the NHPRC-supported project Founders Online http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-01-02-0010

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