Posts tagged libraries
What does a marker sketch of Loki by the incomparable Tom Hiddleston have in common with Cornell’s copy of the Gettysburg Address?
Well, as the clearly leading nature of my opening sentence suggests: a lot more than you’d think.
In conjunction with Remembering Lincoln at Gettysburg–an exhibition hosted by Cornell’s Kroch Library in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address–a copy of the speech written in Lincoln’s hand has been display on campus for the past few weeks. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to catch the Gettysburg Address in person the day before it went back into storage!
The Address itself was, as you can see, displayed in a simple, elegant wood frame. The gallery, located two floors beneath Olin’s main entrance, was crowded with students and members of the Cornell community. Most delightfully, the visitors in attendance included a good number of children who possessed remarkable knowledge of Civil War history.
Surrounding the display were cases containing other ephemera related to the Gettysburg Address and its legacy, including the most fantastically named book of all time…
Image from CU’s online exhibition for Remembering Lincoln at Gettysburg.
Though its title may suggest otherwise, The Perfect Tribute was actually a factually incorrect, romanticized version of the Gettysburg Address’s origins: and yet its popularity in schools following its publication in 1906 allowed its fictionalized history to persist for years.
What I found most fascinating, however, was the story behind Cornell’s copy of the Gettysburg Address. Our Address traveled to Cornell in the possession of Wilder Bancroft, a chemistry professor, and was finally donated to the university by Marguerite Noyes in memory of her husband–and yes, that’s Noyes as in West Campus’ Noyes.
What of my tenuous connection to Tom Hiddleston’s “Loki, by Loki,” though?
Image from Mr. Hiddleston’s Twitter (surprising, I know!).
Well, Professor Bancroft received the address by way of his father, who had in turn been given the address by his stepson, Alexander Bliss. Turns out that quite a few people, including Bliss, began asking Lincoln to write out signed copies of the Gettysburg Address in order to procure funds for charitable causes.
Lincoln obliged, and offered this copy to Bliss to include in a book (containing manuscripts by the likes of other public figures such as Edgar Allan Poe) that Bliss was assembling to raise money for the Baltimore Sanitary Fair–kind of like the contemporary celebrity charity auctions where you can purchase Hiddleston’s doodles.
Anyway, somehow Lincoln’s first copy for Bliss turned out to be the 1864 equivalent of the wrong pixel resolution or something, so Lincoln made Bliss yet another address facsimile, while Bliss eventually gave the rejected copy to Bancroft. I’m sure the mix-up inconvenienced Lincoln a little bit, but I’m sure I speak for the rest of Cornell when I say that I’m glad that he inadvertently made an extra that ended up on campus over a century later!
As I mentioned earlier, the Bancroft copy of the Gettysburg Address has now returned to the Disney Vault–I mean, the Kroch collections, but you can still view a facsimile of it and the rest of the Remembering Lincoln exhibition until December 20: so if you have to walk from North to Collegetown or something, why not stop off in Olin to warm up and check out some history?
I thought I knew college-student desperation.
Listening to Emerson, Lake, & Palmer’s Pictures at an Exhibition at 3 in the morning to drown out the drunken debauchery going on outside your walls–that’s desperation. Or getting to the library at 7:30AM because that’s the only way to guarantee a free printer.
But now, after a stressful week of essays galore, I have experienced collegiate desperation in an entirely new way.
Turns out it tastes a lot like the spinners from the Ivy Room.
That’s not a jab at the quality of the Ivy Room spinners (which, in case you didn’t know, are gigantic burrito-like creations stuffed with pretty much anything imaginable). Popular as they are, I’ve never actually had one during my time at Cornell: when I go to the Mexican station, I always order quesadillas (against my better judgment–those dudes are expensive!).
Yet since I’ve never encountered spinners outside of the Ivy Room (and people dear to my heart seem to love the things), they rather epitomize Cornell for me. And as I’ve been feeling homesick (college-sick?) for my Ithaca life, I thought cooking my own spinners might be a comfort.
There are a lot of things that Cornellians–myself included–take for granted when they’re, you know, actually in Ithaca. And it’s not just the big stuff (e.g. Mexican food and the ability to earn money or take more than three classes): unsurprisingly, the hardest part of studying abroad is adapting to those weird little details that ripple out like the proverbial chaotic butterfly.
So if you’re at Cornell and feeling down, rejoice! You, at least, have the following privileges:
Libraries and computer labs everywhere.
Tuesday, March 12. 16:10 PM. The University of Edinburgh Main Library.
I’m hunched over in an awkward round chair, writing my essay on ‘morbid tourism’ and medieval Roman travel guidebooks (told you I could make those boring essay questions interesting!).
Then it happens.
Thanks to years of false alarms in dorms, hearing a fire alarm gives me a quasi-Pavlovian response of mild annoyance instead of fear. Still, I collect my things and exit the building. A loud woman with a megaphone urges all students to ”keep moving down into the courtyard!” Her careful Scottish vowels make her shouts unfortunately comical.
Forty minutes in the cold Edinburgh air. Forty minutes until the signal is given.
And anarchy reigns supreme once more.
What followed was basically the Battle of Helm’s Deep, except with hundreds of grumpy uni students instead of orcs.
If there’s trouble in Olin, Cornellians can just pop over to Uris to finish their work. Even if Uris, too, is affected by these theoretical flames, there are at least ten other places to study and print on campus. Edinburgh has a couple of libraries, true, but only one with significant computer labs.
Still, how could so many people possibly have work due at the same time? Well, you wouldn’t understand, readers, since…
Cornell has no ‘essay week.’
Sure, sometimes it seems like our profs are conspiring against us, but there’s usually some variation in each individual college’s deadlines.
In Edinburgh, essays have their own special celebration. Classes are cancelled, and everyone has papers due. Nice idea, maybe, but this means every single orc–I mean, student–out there needs to use the printers. At the same time.
Better hope those fire alarms don’t go off, right?
And even if you’re not relaxing in your lovely Cornell libraries, you still have the added advantage of…
One word: Wegmans.
Actually, I could’ve just as easily said ‘Target’ up there. That’s how challenging my shopping situation is. Wegmans is comprehensive, and even Target, for all its flaws, tends to carry most major items. (Hey, they sell my Icelandic yoghurt, so that’s good enough for me!)
There are grocery stories here that do carry most necessities, but some of it is ridiculously expensive. And, call me crazy, but I’m not going to buy something for £5 at Tesco that’s half the price elsewhere.
As a result, I visit about five different supermarkets to fulfill my shopping needs. Neurotic? Maybe. But by shopping at Lidl (the German import store) and the severely underrated Maqbool’s (a Indian and Middle Eastern store), I can at least try to beat the high Scottish prices while getting exposed to some cool new brands.
Walking to all these stores is especially tricky, though: maybe even harder than hopping on the TCAT. After all…
‘No winter maintenance’? You guys ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Cornell’s winter resilience impresses (and alarms) me. Even if there’s enough snow to merit cancelling morning classes, things are usually up and running by about 11. Why?
Because our winter maintenance system is amazing. Edinburgh received what my Ithacan self would call a ‘dusting’ of snow earlier in the week, and I thought the entire city might shut down. Cars inched along the icy roads. The sidewalk connecting my building to the main road looked like the wall of a glacier. We may gripe about missing out on a day off from classes back in the States, but at least our system helps more people get to work and school safely.
Bonus words of wisdom: show RedRover some love!
Do you know how many times I’ve had to reconnect my annoyingly poor wireless during the process of writing this post? Or how frequently my family’s faces are transformed into hideous pixellated blobs over Skype? KeyCom Wireless, I know you’re listening, and you should know: Cornell does it better.
(Of course, using my Internet connection to openly criticize it is probably not so wise. If I should mysteriously vanish after writing this post…well, you know who to blame.)
(I do apologize for the pitiful, pitiful title, but I just couldn’t help it.)
As a child, I knew well that Halloween night was not to be feared. The real horror happens on All Hallow’s Eve Eve—you see, that’s when all the dark spirits head back to their devilish dwellings. On October 30, however, those spooks pack their spirit-suitcases and fly in to prepare for a night of terror.
(That was in Hawai’i, of course. On the Mainland they can probably take the train.)
Thus, in the vein of my childhood fear of (and delight in) the day before Halloween, I’ve decided to dedicate my Sunday afternoon post to some ghostly goings-on in Ithaca. The Cornell University Library System would be so proud of me, too! In honor of the eeriest part of October, the libraries have sponsored a “trick or truth” research contest. Students are encouraged to “put Ruloff’s ghost to rest” (Two-faced Ithacan Edward Ruloff was known as the “learned murderer” and got into all sorts of scrapes (and by “scrapes” I mean “he killed some folks and got executed but swore before his death that he’d haunt all his foes forever”) by researching primary sources for evidence concerning Ruloff’s crimes. If you’re interested, you can trick-or-truth yourself on the Library homepage. (Although I’m warning you, I’m playing to win—I’d even hold a seance if it meant winning a $25 iTunes gift card!)
Reading Ruloff’s story made me want to do a little more ghost-busting myself, so I decided to look further into my alma mater’s unseelie past. Because googling “Cornell ghosts” failed miserably (apparently there is a singer by the name of Cornell who happens to sing a song titled “Ghosts”; go figure), I decided to search “Cornell hauntings” instead and came upon an old edition of Dear Uncle Ezra, Cornell’s advice column.
Though parts of Ezra’s metaphysical answer read like an ad for The Ghost Whisperer, his stories were a little encouraging. My buddy Ez even claimed that
“in the late 1800s, there may have been a visit or two from the famed English writers/poets Longfellow and Browning. Hiram Corson, a Cornell Professor of Anglo Saxon Literature (1828-1911), apparently studied these 2 authors very closely, and was purported to have had numerous post-humous conversations with them.”
Chatting with Longfellow and Browning? Personally, I really think the English department’s “Ghostly Lecture Series” should be reinstated.
If you’ve got a dead poet wandering the halls of your Ithaca home and are wondering who you gonna call, look no further. The Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes seems like an interesting organization, but even after examining through their photo galleries, I still think their website’s hideous black background is the scariest thing they’ve encountered.
Oh, and since I’m on a Ghostbusters kick, I may as well mention that Bill Murray came to Cornell! (That’s what googling “ghostbusters Cornell” will get you.)
So, happy pre-Halloween, readers! If you need me tomorrow night, I’ll be out in the Plantations waiting for the Great Pumpkin.