March 3, 2016

Aero View of Middletown, Connecticut, 1915

This panoramic map shows Middletown, Connecticut, as it appeared in 1915. Located along the Connecticut River, Middletown was originally known as Mattabeseck, the American Indian name for the area. Middletown was a port city and had extensive industry. The map shows ships in the river near Middletown, with densely-packed buildings (including homes, churches, shops, industry, and other city facilities) spreading away from the riverbank. The city sprawls into the surrounding hills. A train travels away from the area on the Air Line Railroad. Smaller images above and below the map provide greater detail of various points of interest. At the top are views of Main Street, schools, banks, shops, municipal buildings, and Wesleyan University, which was founded in Middletown in 1831. Below the main map are views of 13 factories and industrial complexes, which turned out lumber, woolens, typewriters, and other products. The panoramic map was a cartographic form in popular use to depict U.S. and Canadian cities and towns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Also known as bird’s-eye views or perspective maps, these works are representations of cities portrayed as if viewed from above at an oblique angle. Not generally drawn to scale, they show street patterns, individual buildings, and major landscape features in perspective. This map is by Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler (1842–1922), one of the most prolific makers of panoramic maps. Fowler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, and fought and was wounded in the American Civil War. After working for an uncle who was a photographer, in 1870 he established his own panoramic map firm. Over the course of a long career, Fowler made panoramic maps of cities in 21 states and parts of Canada.

The Haftarah

This illuminated, undated codex thought to date from the 18th century consists of a Haftarah (also seen as Haftorah) in 263 parchment sheets stitched together in a leather binding. In the Jewish tradition, a Haftarah is a reading from the Prophets for the Sabbath, festivals, and holy days. This one contains the five books of Moses (also known as the Pentateuch); parts of the books of the Prophets; transcriptions of the five short books of the Hebrew Bible (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther) that form a group known as the Hamesh Megillot (Five scrolls); the Book of Proverbs; and prayers for every day, Sabbaths, and holy days (according to Ashkenazi practice). The scribe and probably the illuminator of this manuscript was Abraham bar Chizkija ha Lévi. The manuscript previously was owned by Samuel Gráf of Csakatorn and by Anton Kohn of Zagreb, who had it in his possession around 1858. A third owner was Moses Issachar, son of Isaac of Schleining. It is now in the collections of the Slovak National Library.

Letter from Robert William Seton-Watson to Svetozar Hurban-Vajanský, 1908

Shown here is a letter dated June 15, 1908, from British historian and journalist R.W. [Robert William] Seton-Watson (1879‒1951) to Svetozár Hurban-Vajanský (1847‒1916), a Slovak writer, journalist, literary critic, and politician. Seton-Watson took a great interest in, and wrote widely on, the history of the Slavic peoples and the ethnic situation in Hungary. He was particularly concerned about the status of the Slovaks in Hungary. Over time he became a sympathizer with, and friend of, the Slovaks and wrote articles about ethnic conflicts in Hungary. He visited the territory of present-day Slovakia (then part of Hungary) several times before World War I, where he developed contacts with Slovak politicians and Slovak cultural personalities. The letter concerns Racial Problems in Hungary, which Seton-Watson published in 1908 under the pseudonym Scotus Viator. The book is a detailed study, running to more than 500 pages, of Hungary and its history, particularly as it related to the situation of the Slovak minority. Seton-Watson wrote almost the entire book, but three chapters on Slovak popular culture were contributed by Slovak authors. Hurban-Vajanský wrote the chapter entitled “Slovak Popular Poetry.” In the letter, which is in German, Seton-Watson implores his collaborator to send his chapter immediately, so that Seton-Watson can translate it and send it to the publisher and the book can be printed by the end of September.

Advertisement of a Reward for the Apprehension of the Organizers of the Slovak Nationalist Movement

Presented here is an advertisement, issued by the local Hungarian authorities, calling for the arrest of the leaders of the Slovak uprising of 1848‒49, Ľudovít Štúr (1815‒56), Michal Miloslav Hodža (1811‒70), and Jozef Miloslav Hurban (1817‒88). The advertising bill is in three languages, Hungarian, German, and Slovak. It contains descriptions of the three wanted men and announces a 100-forint reward for their apprehension. Slovakia was at this time part of Hungary, which in turn was part of Austria-Hungary. When the revolution of 1848 broke out in Hungary, leaders of the Slovak minority issued their “Petition of the Slovak Nation” calling for national and individual rights. The revolutionary Hungarian government of Lajos Kossuth declined to grant the Slovaks minority rights, which prompted the Slovak National Council under Hurban, Štúr, and Hodža to declare national independence on September 19, 1848. The uprising was suppressed by the Hungarian authorities, but Hurban, Štúr, and Hodža became national heroes.

Shepherd's Harmony

As a young man, the composer, organist, and copyist Georgius (also seen as Jozef) Juraj Zrunek (1736–89) became a member of the Franciscan order, where he excelled as a music teacher. He worked especially in present-day Slovakia, in Hlohovec as an organist alongside Paulin Bajan (1721‒92) and in Žilina with Edmund Pascha (1714–72), also known as Claudianus Ostern, a brother Franciscan who was a composer, poet, and organist. Zrunek’s activities as a composer have been the subject of research, as some of his works previously were attributed to Pascha. Zrunek was an important creator of Christmas hymns and masses. His works include the Harmonia pastoralis (Shepherd’s harmony), a compendium of three works composed in the 1760s, of which the score in his own hand is presented here. The most famous of his Harmonia pastoralis compositions is his Christmas Mass in F major for organ, solo voice, and choir, which combines in an original manner the Latin text of the Mass Ordinary with parentheses of Slovak folk origin (corresponding to the spirit of the traditional nativity play). The second mass in this volume is written in the same bilingual style. The third work is the Latin antiphon Tota pulchra (All beautiful). The title page of another Zrunek compendium, Prosae Pastorales (Pastor’s songs) concludes this volume but the rest of that work is not present. Another manuscript from the Slovak National Library containing Harmonia pastoralis, Prosae Pastorales, and other compositions by Zrunek is also in World Digital Library.

Fragment of the Picatrix

The document presented here is a two-page fragment of the work known in medieval Europe as the Picatrix. This was a book of astronomy, astrology, mystical and occult knowledge, alchemy, and magic composed in Arabic in Moorish Spain some time before the middle of the 11th century. The version known in Europe was a Latin translation of a lost Arabic original, dating from around 1250. The original work was often attributed to the astronomer and mathematician Maslama ibn Ahmad al-Majriti (died circa 1004), but this attribution was disproved by modern scholarship. The title “Picatrix” is thought to be a distortion of the name of the great Greek physician Hippocrates. The fragment shown here dates from the 14th century and was long preserved in the Piarist library in Podolínec, northern Slovakia. It is now in the collections of the Slovak National Library. The German Arabist Wilhelm Printz discovered the Arabic original of the Picatrix in around 1920, the title of which (Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm) has been translated as “The Aim of the Sage” or “The Goal of The Wise.”