What do you do when an angry elephant is terrorizing your menagerie? That was the problem facing legendary circus manager P. T. Barnum in this 1883 inquiry in which he seeks advice from an unidentified Professor about a “ferocious” male elephant that he “must kill or castrate.” Although the letter calls to mind the world-famous Jumbo, he was unlikely to have been the unfortunate subject of castration. By this time, he was already quite tame, having carried children on his back for years at the London Zoo before coming to Barnum's circus in 1882.
Was the gold-digging protagonist of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes a proto-blogger? Curator Christine Nelson revisits this jazz-age novel written in the form of a diary.
This playful image from a French 15th-century manuscript depicts a topsy-turvy world in which canine patients seek treatment from a rabbit physician wearing eyeglasses. Some years ago, The Morgan was approached by a firm that wished to use the image in an advertisement for imported burgundy. The red liquid in the beaker the rabbit physician is scrutinizing would, it was hoped, illustrate the wine’s superlative body and flavor.
Quaker abolitionist Jacob Heaton was an important figure in the anti-slavery movement. He lived in Salem, Ohio, and his home served both as a stop on the Underground Railway and as a meeting-place for fellow abolitionists and reformers. As Susan B. Anthony, Salmon P. Chase, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, George Thompson, and others passed through his "Quaker Tavern," Heaton invited them to sign his "Record of Friends" -- a scrapbook that he compiled and which contains over 100 entries, letters, poems, photographs, engravings, clippings and ephemera related primarily to the American abolitionist movement.
Catholic Church. Breviary. Breuiarium romanum. Venice: Giovanni Varisco & Company, 1562. Purchased as the gift of Jamie K. Kamph and on the Harper Fund, 2011.
During the trial for his involvement in the raid on Harpers Ferry, abolitionist John Brown declared: "If it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice and mingle my blood with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I say let it be done." The October 16th raid had been a failure -- no slaves were freed and fully half of his men died -- and, after only forty-five minutes of deliberation, John Brown was sentenced to die by the gallows on December 2, 1859.
Curator Christine Nelson honors the lovers who opened their hearts in the diaries now on view at the Morgan.
Francesco Bianchini (1662-1729). Hesperi et Phosphori nova phaenomena, sive, Observationes circa planetam Veneris. Rome: Giovanni Maria Salvioni, 1728. Purchased as the gift of Mr. & Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr., and on the L. Colgate Harper Fund, 2010.
Andechs (Germany). Benedictine priory. Chronick dess hochberümbten Closters, vnd Gottshauses, heiligen Berg Andechs, S. Benedicten Ordens, Augspurger Bistthumbs, in Obern Bayrn gelegen. Munich: Johann Jäcklin, 1657. Purchased on the Henry S. Morgan Fund, 2007.
Aelius Donatus. Ars minor. Mainz: Johann Schöffer, ca. 1517-1518. Purchased on the Henry S. Morgan Fund, 2010.