Archives & Research Collections

Stephen Leacock’s Gone Fishing!

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Most people are joyous when a book appears under their name. Alas, this is not the case with Carl Spadoni’s latest book of Stephen Leacock’s whimsical essays entitled Gone Fishing! (published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box in Shelburne, Ontario). We interviewed Dr. Spadoni, the Research Collections Librarian, at his home in Westdale, a few blocks away from McMaster University Library. Nursing his third large whisky, he was barely coherent. "Frankly, I’m disappointed with the book.


Library Receives Grant to Develop Website on Peace and War

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The Division of Archives and Research Collections at Mills Memorial Library has been awarded almost $100,000 to develop a state of the art website on Peace and War in the Twentieth Century. The grant was provided by the Canadian Memory Fund through the Department of Canadian Heritage's Canadian Culture Online Programme. Read more at the Daily News.

Exhibit: Marjorie Harris's Garden of the World

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Spring is sprung / de grass is riz / I wonder where dem birdies is! In this dithyrambic season of renewal, we are pleased to announce a new exhibition entitled Marjorie Harris's Garden of the World. An alumna of McMaster University and a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for Arts, Marjorie Harris is currently editor-at-large of Gardening Life magazine and the garden columnist for the Globe and Mail. Her archives are housed here at the University Library. On 30 May 2007, she returned to McMaster and gave a wonderful, entertaining presentation for library donors at the University Club. In addition to her many books and an array of archival documents, the exhibition features a selection of rare books about the art of gardening, beginning in 1648 with The Country Hovse-Wives Garden. We have even included material from the Bertrand Russell archives, although the philosopher-mathematician belonged to the notorious black-thumb school of gardening. The exhibition can be seen in the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections until the end of August 2007. The exhibition can also be viewed virtually. We welcome you to this enchanting garden of archives and books.


Celebrating a Famous, Literary Family

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In January 2005 Peter J. Bassnett of Toronto donated his Powys collection of some 750 items to McMaster University Library. The collection consists of first and later editions, journals, manuscripts, autographed letters, ephemera and secondary literature related to the Powys brothers and their circle. The contribution of the Powys family to the arts has been significant. John Cowper Powys (1872-1963), T. F. Powys (1875-1953), and Llewlelyn Powys (1884-1939) were from a family of eleven children.


Reading Poetry with Bertrand Russell

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"Bertie Russell attracted, frightened me; but everything he said had an intense, piercing, convincing quality." This was Lady Ottoline Morrell’s first impression of Bertrand Russell when they met in London at a dinner party in March 1911. She was an English aristocrat and the hostess of the Garsington circle with luminaries such as Lytton Strachey, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, Herbert Asquith, and Virginia Woolf. Saddled in an unhappy marriage with his first wife, Russell quickly fell in love with Ottoline.


Primitive history, explained and annotated

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The eighteenth century abounds in many curious books of extraordinary scholarship. One such work entitled Primitive History from Creation to Cadmus (1789) was written by William Williams, formerly of St. John’s College, Cambridge. In a most learned fashion, Williams sets about to explain the origins of the world and the earliest civilizations and mythologies from a Christian perspective. In the first chapter of Primitive History, for example, Williams discusses the solar system, the timing of comets, and the earth’s habitation, all in terms of the six days of creation.


Valour at Vimy

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The Preservation Unit recently treated an exceptionally large panoramic photograph (91 inches!) taken the day after Canadian forces captured Vimy Ridge in France. The image was shot from the highest point of the ridge "Hill 145" and overlooks the plains towards Lens and Rouvroy which were still in German hands. This photograph is part of the World War I fonds.


A Monarchist's Poetical Treasure Trove

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John Masefield (1878-1967), Poet Laureate of Great Britain from 1930 until his death, was only 22 when he wrote those memorable lines from "Sea Fever": "I must go down to the seas again, / to the lonely sea and the sky, / And all I ask is a tall ship / and a star to steer her by...." The lines are so famous that they are quoted by Dr. McCoy in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. McCoy forgets Masefield’s name, but Mr. Spock with his Vulcan intelligence has no trouble identifying the poem’s author.


Canada: A Colony of Wood and Water

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A truly fascinating book that has been recently restored by the Preservation Department is entitled The Illustrated Exhibitor (Res. Coll. T 690.B1.I6).


In Search of the Nile

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The nineteenth century was an age of empire and exploration. The public’s obsession with the discovery and mastery of nature led explorers on expeditions to far-flung places–to find the Northwest Passage and the North and South Poles and to uncover the secrets of dark, unknown continents. One such adventure concerned the Nile, the largest river in Africa whose source had been impenetrable since the early futile attempts by the Greeks and the Romans.


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