Archives & Research Collections
Filed under Library News: Mills Archives & Research Collections Web Resources
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A pamphleteer writes and distributes pamphlets or little publications for social or political purposes. In his long life Bertrand Russell, the philosopher, Nobel Prize winner, and ardent social reformer, was certainly a great pamphleteer. During the Wimbledon bye election campaign in 1907, for example, when Russell stood for parliament and advocated women's suffrage, he issued a pamphlet entitled To the electors of the Wimbledon Division of Surrey. A leaflet that Russell wrote anonymously in 1916 under the auspices of the No-Conscription Fellowship, Two years' hard labour for refusing to disobey the dictates of conscience (known as the Everett leaflet), was distributed in thousands of copies throughout England and led to his prosecution. In old age Russell became the master pamphleteer, writing statements about many causes, such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons, civil disobedience, political prisoners, and the Vietnam War. Like so many publications of this kind, Russell's pamphlets are ephemeral and often very difficult to locate.
We are pleased to announce that Wade Wyckoff and a team of able cataloguers have now described Russell's pamphlets. They are accessible bibliographically on the Library's online catalogue. For purposes of identification, a note-Bertrand Russell Pamphlet Collection-has been added to each record.