Friday, July 12, 2013

Primary Sources that lead back to periodicals which are also primary sources!


I'm feeling more whimsical than didactic today, so prepare yourself for some breezy prose and some enjoyable images. Earlier this week, I posted a rather bookcharmerish post on my Art Librarian blog, so turnabout being fair play, this post is inspired from what was originally an art history exploration. Early in the Spring semester, I worked with some of the SJSU art history students as they gathered information on the history of the Art Department, which is preparing an exhibition and publication to commemorate its centennial. Happily, Back In The Day, The Normal School produced very nice yearbooks. I am sad to tell you SJSU does not currently publish a yearbook and has not since the mid-60s. This is a huge loss to future researchers.

But I digress. The SJSU Yearbooks, which are beautifully digitized and available for online viewing here:
Along with course catalogs, the student newspaper, and other University history collections, the yearbooks are a vital source of information on campus life. I noted in the 1910 yearbook a description of the spring Festival, and that its ceremonies had been written up in Ladies' Home Journal.

Now, if you've read my previous posts, you know my weakness for periodicals is nearly as great as my love of subject headings. However, being the busy Bookcharmer that I am, I had to simply make a note of this interesting tidbit in one of my many notebooks and move along with the madness of the semester. In the heart of summer, when I have time to dig through my assorted notebooks, decipher my writing, and remember these little tidbits, it was time to go find that reference and learn a little bit more about this event.

If you haven't used periodicals from 100 years ago, get yourself to your nearest archive with your best reading glasses and settle in. Of course, many issues will bear testament to the indignities with which they have been handled over the century. Missing pages, dog-eared corners. But the printing you will find very interesting, as you will also find the advertisements. Companies that are still flourishing today, like Quaker Oats and Crane Stationery, were frequent advertisers in the 1910 issues of Ladies' Home Journal, so your Bookcharmer was already feeling quite at home in the century.

I am pleased to report the pages I had hoped to find where in fine condition. Here is an image for your viewing pleasure.

The article about the May  Day celebration is a two page spread.  The author is given as Florence Villiers Brown, but the photographer is not named.  The date of publication is interesting, because this article appeared in the April 1910 issue, but if we recall how the months go, March April May...were the photos from a previous year's celebration?  And, when did we stop having this fete, and why?

I leave those questions to you dear reader, and leave you with an image that likely inspired a reader of the February 1910 issue to think about her winter fashions!

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