A New Handel Acquisition

The Princeton University Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of an eighteenth-century scribal score (297 pages) of George Frideric Handel’s three-act opera Berenice, copied by a contemporary Handel copyist (“S2”) from the composer’s autograph manuscript. The scribal score is complete but for Berenice’s aria “Avvertite mie pupille” and opens with the title page reading, “Berenice Opera Composta per il Sgr G:F: Handel / Comminciato Decembr: 15 1736.” Handel’s opera seria concerning the life and loves of Queen Cleopatra Berenice of Egypt around 80 B.C.E. was based on an Italian libretto by the Florentine poet Antonio Salvi, who entitled it Berenice, regina d’Egitto. The opera premiered at London’s Covent Garden in May 1737. The present score was in the library of Charles Jennens and bears his shelfmark. Jennens was Handel’s patron and is perhaps best known as the librettist of Messiah. The score is for voices and orchestra (strings, oboes, bassoons, and continuo), with figured bass throughout and a few additional figures added by Charles Jennens. The complete manuscript can be viewed online here.

The manuscript will complement the Library’s James S. Hall Collection of George Frideric Handel, in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Among eighteenth-century scribal scores in the manuscripts portion of the Hall-Handel Collection (C0640) are those for the oratorios Belshazzar, John Balus, and Joseph, copied in about 1745 by John Christopher Smith (the elder) for Frederick, Prince of Wales.

The Berenice manuscript, along with several manuscripts and early printed editions from the Hall-Handel Collection will be exhibited in the Library’s Eighteenth-Century Window. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and is on view from February 21 through March 4, weekdays from 9 am to 4:45 pm, and weekends from noon to 5 pm. Additionally, Princeton University will host the American Handel Society’s biennial festival from February 21 through February 23. The 2013 festival will feature three concerts of Handel’s works performed by musicians affiliated with the University, two conference events, and the exhibition in Firestone Library. For more information about the festival, please click here.

Handel, Berenice. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Handel, Berenice. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.


Eyewitnesses to the Civil War

In a letter dated January 19, 1863, Captain Isaac Plumb, Jr., a Civil War soldier of the 61st New York Infantry of the Union Army who fought in many major battles of the war, including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Cold Harbor, wrote, “it may sound very unpatriotic and unsoldier-like in me, but I must express my honest opinion.”  With those few words, the Plumb Family Papers become extraordinarily valuable—what researcher does not want the creator of an archival collection to tell their own truth rather than what that creator thinks their audience wants to hear?  The collection documents Captain Plumb’s extended family and dates from 1767 to 1929, but its particular strength lies in the letters to and from Captain Plumb during his Civil War service, just before his enlistment in 1861 until his death resulting from a wound at Cold Harbor in 1864. He wrote to and received letters from his parents, brother, uncles, and cousin’s husband regularly, and in those letters, all the correspondents, not just Captain Plumb, express their “honest opinions” about politics, philosophical ideas, and their experiences.

From this collection, researchers will see how one New York family felt about the presidential election of 1860, the South seceding from the Union, the start of the Civil War, slavery, race relations, and the value of the sacrifices made by both the Union and the Confederate. The Plumbs are keenly patriotic, and ready to fight for their country to maintain the Union. However, in vivid detail, Captain Plumb describes his loss of faith in his superiors, his real feeling about African Americans, the terrible waste of battle, and an overall disillusionment with the war. He does not protect his family from the horrors of the battlefield, despite the effect his descriptions must have had on his family, worried continually about his safety. Yet despite their fear of the fate of Captain Plumb, the lives of his family do go on; and these letters of calm amidst the chaos of war are equally illuminating as those written from a muddy army camp or a devastated battlefield.  In these letters, researchers see the home front—a landscape of women and older men; witnesses to a changing world; and the steadfast loyalty to the Union and the fight to end slavery, a sentiment increasingly at odds with that of their family member on the battlefield.

Captain Plumb was wounded during the 1864 Battle of Cold Harbor with two apparently superficial wounds, but these wounds became life threatening as infection spread. He had been taken almost immediately to Campbell Hospital in Washington, D.C., and he was fortunate to have family rush to keep him company and send reports homeward. These letters describe the hospital, the efforts by the doctors and nurses, and the “mood” of Washington, D.C., as well as how Captain Plumb received his wound and how he was recovering. He died on July 4, 1864, nearly three weeks after receiving his wounds. The collection contains his wallet, as well as the contents of the wallet at the time of death. Here, a researcher will see Captain Plumb’s unsteady handwriting as he requested company at the hospital; a single playing card; and telegram tape, folded up into a tiny envelope.

Captain Plumb’s physical life may have ended on July 4, but his memory lived on in his family and they document their love for him by erecting monuments, painting portraits, and writing about him in letters to each other, long after his death. Despite the family’s obvious pain at the time of Captain Plumb’s death, they do not seem to think that he died in vain—their patriotism and belief in the cause is evident for years following the conclusion of the Civil War.

Selected items from the Plumb Family Papers will be on exhibit in Firestone Library’s Main Gallery in Spring 2013. We invite researchers to follow these conversations between a family from the North who loyally supported their government on the home front and maintained faith despite the disillusionment of their family member on the battlefield; and one unique soldier who described his experiences honestly: camp life, battles, political and military philosophy, and the hope for the eventual healing of both soldiers and the country.

Portrait of Isaac Plumb, Jr. Not to be reproduced without the permission of Princeton University Library.

Cuneiform Collections in the Princeton University Library

Ancient Mesopotamian clay tablets with cuneiform writing, dating back over 4,000 years, will on display in the Firestone Library’s Eighteenth-Century Window from October 2 to 8. Cuneiform writing was a method of incising script into wet clay with a wedge-shaped writing implement. For nearly 3,000 years, the scribes of Mesopotamia mastered the vertical, horizontal, and oblique strokes necessary to write words and numbers in Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and other languages of the ancient Near East. The Manuscripts Division has a substantial cuneiform collection of approximately 1,350 baked and unbaked clay tablets and tablet cases, as well as some clay cylinders and nail-shaped cones. Most date from the Third Dynasty of Ur (Ur III) or Neo-Sumerian Empire, chiefly in what is now southern Iraq. The conventional date of Ur III, according to the Middle Chronology, is 2119–2004 BCE.  Cuneiform was used for all sorts of writing, from literature, law codes, and mathematical texts, to accounting records and economic documents in archives. Most of Princeton’s clay tablets are documentary and were excavated over a century ago from Telloh, Jokha, and Drehem (modern place names for the ruins of the ancient Girsu, Uma, and Puzrish-Dagan in Southern Mesopotamia). The principal donors of these were Moses Taylor Pyne, Class of 1877; Professor Rudolph Ernst Brünnow, Department of Near Eastern Studies; and other friends and alumni of Princeton University. In addition, there are 244 stone seals that were used to make impressions in clay tablets and their envelopes, from the collections of Moses Taylor Pyne; Robert Garrett, Class of 1897; and Edward D. Balken, Class of 1897. An online finding aid lists clay tablets and stone seals in the Manuscripts Division and The Scheide Library. Other clay tablets and stone seals are to be found in the Princeton University Art Museum. The Princeton Theological Seminary owns a very substantial tablet collection of clay tablets.

The tablets on display include the following:

No. 136. Baked clay cylinder of King Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 604–562 BCE). According to the Old Testament, this Neo-Babylonian king was responsible for the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and for the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem..

No. 555. Nail-shaped cone bearing the inscription of Gudea, the ensi of Lagash, Southern Mesopotamia (r. ca. 2144–2124 BCE).

No. 553. Accounting record listing expenses of women slaves during the reign of King Amar-Suen (r. 2045–2037 BCE). Third Dynasty of Ur.

No. 665. Pay-list of women (2027–2004 BCE). Third Dynasty of Ur.

No. 136. Not to be reproduced without the permission of the Princeton University Library.

No. 665. Not to be reproduced without the permission of the Princeton University Library.

Photographs of the Battle of Antietam in General George McClellan’s Papers

On September 17, we mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam (1862), fought in Maryland near Sharpsburg and Antietam Creek between the armies of the Union Major General George B. McClellan and Confederate General Robert E. Lee. With over 23,000 casualties, the Battle of Antietam is still considered the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. It was also the first American battlefield photographed before those casualties were buried.

Found in the papers of George B. McClellan, Jr. (Class of 1886), a Princeton professor and one-time mayor of New York City, are some papers of his father, General George B. McClellan (1826–1885). Photographs comprise the bulk of these papers, including several dozen photos of the Battle of Antietam, many of which depict dead soldiers on the field or the makeshift tents and straw huts housing the wounded. Antietam was the only battle that McClellan fought from beginning to end, and it produced mixed results for him. Despite being a tactical draw—neither force was able to decimate the other, though General Lee retreated back into Virginia—Antietam was considered a turning point of the war for the North, ending Lee’s first attempt to enter Union territory and giving President Abraham Lincoln the confidence to announce a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. Nevertheless, disappointed with McClellan’s failure to destroy Lee’s army, Lincoln removed him from command on November 5, 1862.

The photographs in McClellan’s papers were taken by Alexander Gardner, staff photographer to McClellan and, later, to other Union generals. As photography became more widely available in the 1830s and 1840s, war photography was encouraged in hopes that it would provide a record of historical events, beginning with daguerreotypes documenting the Mexican-American War in 1847. At the time of the Battle of Antietam, Gardner was working for photographer Mathew Brady, whose studio markings are on the back of the photographs; he would leave Brady’s studio shortly thereafter. Gardner’s photographs of Antietam and the Civil War, which were displayed in Brady’s New York gallery, sold as prints, and published as woodcut engravings in newspapers throughout the country, shocked their viewers, many of whom saw these devastating scenes of war for the first time.

Selections from these photographs will be on display in an upcom­ing exhi­bi­tion of Amer­i­can his­tory in Firestone’s Main Gallery in Spring 2013. McClellan’s papers are among more than a hundred collections in the Manuscripts Division that relate in whole or part to the Civil War. Other collections include the Civil War Letters of Adam Badeau, John S. Copley Civil War Letters, Roswell Lamson Papers, and American Civil War Collection. Bound manuscripts relating to the Civil War, including diaries, letter books, order books, and drafts of memoirs and histories of the war, can also be found in General Manuscripts collections C0199 and C0938, accessible through the Main Catalog. These are complemented by holdings of other divisions and collections of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, as well as the Scheide Library.

Click on each image to see larger photo. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library:

Early American History in the Livingston and Delafield Family Papers

Could an empty box have a story to tell? One such box does. As a result of the ongoing Firestone renovation, Library staff clearing an old storage area recently discovered an early 19th-century document box or chest (36 x 69 x 30 cm), made of wood covered in patterned wallpaper, with residues of red sealing wax, and still with its original hand-wrought iron handles and clasps. The box was probably made in New York around 1815, since it is lined on the inside with printers’ waste from a published address by Dr. David Hosack (1769–1835), Princeton Class of 1789, titled “Observations on the Laws Governing the Communication of Contagious Diseases, and the Means of Arresting their Progress.” Hosack read this address on June 9, 1814 before the newly formed Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York, which published it a year later in its journal, Transactions of the Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York, vol. 1 (1815), pp. 201-239. This volume was printed by Van Winkle & Wiley, a New York printing-and-publishing firm established by Cornelius Van Winkle and Charles Wiley in 1814 at 3 Wall Street–the forerunner of the scientific publisher John Wiley & Sons. Hosack was a physician, botanist, and educator, perhaps best known for treating the mortal wounds of Alexander Hamilton after his duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. In the 1814 address, Hosack gave his opinions about the rate of infection for yellow fever, which had ravaged New York in 1803. The Manuscripts Division has a collection of Hosack’s papers.

A note on the box indicated that it had come to Princeton in the 1980s with the Livingston and Delafield family papers, which were given to the Library in 1986 by Mr. J. Dennis Delafield (Class of 1957) and Professor Penelope D. Johnson. They had originally been housed at Montgomery Place, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., just over a hundred miles north of New York City. Montgomery Place was the ancestral summer residence of many members of the Livingston and Delafield families. In document boxes such as this, family members kept bundles of personal, political, and legal papers.

The Edward Livingston Papers, comprising 165 boxes of papers as well as maps, rolls, and other artifacts, is one of Princeton University Library’s most extensive collections documenting the early American republic. These papers trace the career of American lawyer, diplomat, statesman, and legal theorist Edward Livingston (1764–1836). The bulk of the collection consists of 56 boxes of Livingston’s correspondence, spanning most of his adult life, including letters from renowned lawyers, economists, jurists, and politicians. Jeremy Bentham, Aaron Burr, Mathew Carey, Henry Dilworth Gilpin, and Martin Van Buren are just a few of the correspondents. Livingston’s papers also document his work on the Louisiana Civil Code and advocacy of penal reform and the abolition of capital punishment, as well as his role in President Andrew Jackson’s administration as a supporter in the Congress and Senate, and later as U.S. Secretary of State and minister to France. Perhaps the most important document in his papers is his draft of the “Nullification Proclamation,” written by Livingston for Jackson during the Nullification Crisis in 1832.

Moreover, the collection encompasses an abundance of legal records, land records, and financial records, many of which pertain to Livingston’s law practice and private affairs, from a scandal involving the disappearance of customs house funds in 1803 to his entanglement with General James Wilkinson over his alleged conspiracy with Aaron Burr and his split with President Thomas Jefferson over title to land in New Orleans, Louisiana. The collection also contains the land records and financial documents of Livingston’s mother and sister, the Hudson Valley landowners Margaret Beekman Livingston (1724–1800) and Janet Livingston Montgomery (1743–1828), and almost three centuries’ worth of ledgers, account books, rent books, day books, receipts, and balance sheets.

The Delafields were avid collectors of family history and family-related memorabilia in the Hudson River Valley region. John Ross Delafield (Class of 1896)’s papers comprise the largest segment of the Delafield Family Papers. As president of the Reserve Officers Association from 1923 to 1926 and of the Military Order of World War from 1930 to 1933, his correspondence and other records reflect his avid interest in genealogy and local history, his views on the cancellation of Allied war debts from World War I, and his advocacy of military preparedness. The papers of John Ross Delafield’s grandfather, Joseph Delafield (1790-1875), a lawyer, soldier, and scientist, are also extensively represented. They include college notebooks; correspondence, proceedings, survey maps, and accounts relating to the United States Boundary Commission survey of the Canadian border under the Treaty of Ghent; correspondence relating to the Lyceum of Natural History (later the New York Academy of Science), of which he was president from 1827 to 1866; and records of the 46th Infantry during the War of 1812 and the bounty claims of some its veterans. Major Delafield’s main correspondents include John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Benjamin Silliman, and Benjamin Tallmadge.

J. Dennis Delafield and Penelope Johnson also gave the Library a generous endowment that supported the cataloging and preservation of these papers, and which continues to support the processing of other early American manuscript collections. The Library looks forward to reporting on further discoveries to be made from these collections. Other significant collections of early American history in the Manuscripts Division include the Andre De Coppet Collection (Class of 1915), Louis Alexandre Berthier Collection, Blair and Lee Family Papers, Rush Family Papers, and Stockton Family Papers. Items from many of these collections, including this document box, will be on display in an upcoming exhibition of American history in Firestone’s Main Gallery in Spring 2013.

Document box, open. Edward Livingston Papers and Delafield Family Papers. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Document box, closed. Edward Livingston Papers and Delafield Family Papers. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Fitzgerald in Hollywood

The Princeton University Library’s extensive collections of materials relating to F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896—1940) (Class of 1917) have been enhanced by a recent gift of 22 items from Margaret Finney McPherson. These include over a dozen letters from Fitzgerald to McPherson’s parents, Fitzgerald’s Princeton classmate and friend Eben Finney (Class of 1919) and Eben’s wife, Margaret, as well as letters by Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda (1900—1948), and his daughter, Scottie (1921—1986).

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s letters are dated between 1936 and 1938, and serve as a window into the last years of his life, when he moved to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter. As he explains to the Finneys in one letter, “A writer not writing is practically a maniac within himself. Because of this—I mean too many anxieties and too much introspection I’m going to Hollywood next month & extrovert a while, do a picture on order for Harlowe & Robert Taylor, and then some other work for Metro if they want me to stay on.”

In Hollywood, Fitzgerald signed a contract with MGM for $1,000 a week, which was later renewed for $1,250, a substantial sum during the Depression. He worked on many movies, including Gone with the Wind, but received a screenwriting credit for only one, Three Comrades. He describes his work on Three Comrades in a letter to the Finneys, written on MGM letterhead; in other letters, he mentions working with the actor and screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart and offers his impressions of Hollywood and the movie industry.

Many of his letters also reveal his anxieties about parenting his teenage daughter Frances Scott “Scottie” Fitzgerald. He expressed concerns about her grades, her romantic life, and the influence of his lifestyle upon her own, and repeatedly urged the Finneys to allow their daughter, Margaret “Peaches” Finney, to join Scottie on a visit to Hollywood where, he promised, he would introduce them to movie stars but not to alcohol or marijuana. In 1938, Peaches and Scottie did visit Hollywood, where they had their picture taken with the actor Errol Flynn.

Fitzgerald died of a massive heart attack in Hollywood at age 44. His last work, left unfinished at the time of his death and published posthumously as The Last Tycoon (1941), reflects his years in Hollywood in its main character, Monroe Stahr, who was inspired by the producer Irving Thalberg. The collection includes a letter from Fitzgerald’s widow, Zelda, thanking Margaret Finney for her support after Fitzgerald’s death. The Finneys lived in Baltimore, where the Fitzgeralds had also lived for several years. “[Fitzgerald] thought so happily of Baltimore,” Zelda wrote. “His people came from Maryland and he always felt that getting back to those flowering and peaceful slopes was to be going home. He loved the hospitable white roads and the immaculacy of the bright green fields, and always hoped that someday he would be able to live there forever.”

These materials have been added to the F. Scott Fitzgerald Additional Papers. Other collections at the Library with extensive material related to the Fitzgeralds include the F. Scott Fitzgerald Papers, Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, Zelda Fitzgerald Papers, Craig House Medical Records on Zelda Fitzgerald, Ginevra King Collection Relating to F. Scott Fitzgerald, and H. N. Swanson Files on F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Carl Van Vechten, photograph of F. Scott Fitzgerald, undated. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Carlos Fuentes and Latin American Literary Archives at Princeton

In 1995 the Princeton University Library acquired the papers of the acclaimed Mexican author Carlos Fuentes (1928–2012), whose passing on May 15 has been marked internationally by all who admired his major contributions to modern literature and his role as a cultural and political commentator on Latin America, past and present. The Carlos Fuentes Papers contain more than 125 linear feet of materials, including notebooks, manuscripts of novels and novellas, short stories, plays, screenplays, nonfiction writings, speeches, translations, correspondence, drawings, documents, photographs, magnetic media, scrapbooks, correspondence, and other research materials dating from the 1940s to 1990s. When the acquisition of the papers was first announced, the Mexican political scientist Jorge Castañeda (Class of 1973) said, “Carlos Fuentes’s correspondence, manu­scripts, and other papers read like a modern history of the region’s litera­ture, politics, and personal relationships. The author’s involve­ment in all facets of Latin American life, his friendships with political and literary figures from all over the world, his travels, and nearly a half-century of writing make his personal papers a trove of information, opinions, stories, and history for literary critics, historians, and political scien­tists of all persuasions.”

Fuentes was the author of La muerte de Artemio Cruz (1962), Aura (1962), Terra nostra (1975), and El gringo viejo (1985), as well as many other novels, plays, screen­plays, short stories, essays, criticism, and works of journalism during his long literary career. He was a leading figure in the literary “Boom” of the 1960s, when previously unknown Latin American writers began attracting inter­national audiences both in the original Spanish and in transla­tion. Well documented in his papers is the story of how Latin American literature rose from its regional roots to acquire an international status, which has been recognized in part by the conferral of five Nobel Prizes in literature since 1967. The Chilean novelist José Donoso (Class of 1951) once called Fuentes “the first active and conscious agent of the internationalization of the Spanish American novel.” Frequently honored in Latin America and the United States, Fuentes received the prestigious Miguel de Cervantes Award from King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1988. Fuentes lived in Princeton from 1979 to 1980, when he was as a Fellow in the Humanities and worked on his novel Una familia lejana (1980). Like his father Rafael Fuentes Boettiger, Carlos Fuentes was a diplomat. He served in various capacities in Mexico during the 1950s and later as ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977. He was a member of Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights and was active in the search for peace in Central America. Politics and literature are inextricably intertwined in the life and work of Carlos Fuentes, as with so many other Latin American writers. Common themes emerging in the papers of Latin American authors since the 1960s are militarism and dicta­torship, human rights and exile, left- and right-wing politics, and historical relations with the United States.

Carlos Fuentes had been been the subject of scores of monographs and dissertations, even before his papers became available for research at Princeton. Access to his papers has permitted hundreds of Princeton-based and visiting scholars to study the evolution of particular works from concept to pub­lished book, while shedding light on the development of Fuentes’s complex narra­tive style, the influence of popular culture, the transforma­tion of prose into cinema, and other subjects. In addition to literature, major cultural and historical currents are documented in Fuentes’s extensive correspondence with leading ­authors, intellec­tuals, film direc­tors, publishers, and political figures­. Over the past fifteen years, the Carlos Fuentes Papers have been one of the most heavily used Latin American literary archives in the Manuscripts Division. Holdings have grown to more than sixty author archives and relation collections, including Reinaldo Arenas, José Bianco, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Emir Rodríguez Monegal, Alejandra Pizarnik, and Mario Vargas Llosa (Nobel Prize in Literature, 2010). The acquisition of Carlos Fuentes’s papers opened the door to the acquisition of other major Mexican author archives, such as Juan García Ponce, Elena Garro, Margo Glantz, Jorge Ibargüengoitia, Vicente Leñero, Sergio Pitol, and Alejandro Rossi. For a listing, go to http://firestone.princeton.edu/latinam/literarymss.php.  For reference assistance about Princeton’s holdings, contact rbsc@princeton.edu.

The Carlos Fuentes Papers were recently featured in Reforma. To read the article, please click here.

Carlos Fuentes, Liverpool St., Mexico City, 1967. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

From left to right: Carlos Monsiváis, José Luis Cuevas, Fernando Benítez, and Carlos Fuentes, Opera Bar, Mexico City, 1969. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Moe Berg, Class of 1923: Baseball Player, World War II Spy

The Manuscripts Division has recently received a large portion of the personal papers of Morris “Moe” Berg (1902–1972) as a gift from Dr. William Sear. Berg is best known as a Major League Baseball player who became a spy during World War II and participated in a plot that almost resulted in the assassination of the German physicist and Nobel laureate Werner Heisenberg in 1945. The Moe Berg Papers offer researchers a glimpse into his mysterious life and complex personality.

Born in Harlem to Jewish immigrants, Berg spent his childhood in the Roseville section of Newark, New Jersey. At Princeton University, Berg played shortstop on the university baseball team while studying several languages. He became captain of the baseball team his senior year, and just before he graduated magna cum laude in June 1923, he accepted an offer to play for the Brooklyn Robins (later the Brooklyn Dodgers). He went on to play catcher for four Major League teams. Between seasons, he studied at the Sorbonne and Columbia Law. As a player, Berg was better known as “Professor Moe,” the most learned man in baseball, than for his exploits on the field. The scout Mike Gonzalez coined the phrase “good field, no hit” for Berg in the early 1920s, though Berg did accompany Babe Ruth to Japan for an all-star exposition tour in 1934.

Galvanized by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Berg left baseball in January 1942 for a post under Nelson A. Rockefeller in the Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA), working in South America. In 1944 he was accepted into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), where he spent the next two years reporting on scientific advancements being made by Germany and Italy.

Berg returned to the United States after the war. He drifted from place to place, ultimately living with his siblings in Newark. He never married or held another full-time job, and maintained a secretive and solitary lifestyle until his death on May 29, 1972.

The Moe Berg Papers consist of correspondence, handwritten notes, photographs, newspaper clippings, financial materials, and items about Berg collected by others. Official correspondence, which comprise the bulk of the papers, relates mainly to Berg’s time with the Office of Strategic Services. Many of the materials are carbon copies of letters and documentation sent by government pouch during World War II, as well as drafts of cables, official orders, and scientific documentation acquired for or during Berg’s many assignments. The collection includes letters from Nelson A. Rockefeller, Vannevar Bush, and General Leslie R. Groves, as well as love letters from Berg’s only known long-term romantic interest, Estella Huni.

The Papers also contain Berg’s copious notes from the 1930s through the 1960s, which range from scribbled names and dates to elaborate memoirs. Some notes relate directly to his government work; others record his social life, tracing a vast network of friends in all capacities of baseball, government and law, and society on the East Coast. Notes on linguistics and books Berg read reflect his continued interest in academic pursuits, while later notes contain autobiographical reflections.

Finally, the photographs—snapshots, professional press images, and copy prints from the 1980s—capture the events and people most commonly associated with Moe Berg: his baseball career, pre-war trips to Japan, experiences abroad during World War II, and his relationships with friends and family, including fellow baseball players Babe Ruth, “Lefty” O’Doul, Joe Cronin, and Hollis Thurston.

The Moe Berg Papers were featured in a recent article in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, and selected items are currently on display as part of the exhibition “A Fine Addi­tion: New & Notable Acqui­si­tions in Princeton’s Spe­cial Col­lec­tions” in the Main Gallery of Firestone Library. The Papers join several other Moe Berg collections at Princeton: the Moe Berg Collection (AC326) and the Dr. and Mrs. Arnold S. Breitbart Collection on Moe Berg (AC388), both at the Mudd Manuscript Library.

Berg, right, with player-manager and friend Joe Cronin in the Boston Red Sox dugout, circa 1937. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Berg poses with Allied military officials in Oslo, Norway, in June 1945. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.


Peck Shahnamah Goes Online

The Peck Shahnamah (Islamic MSS, 3rd series, no. 310), which is the finest Persian illuminated manuscript among nearly 10,000 Islamic manuscripts in the Princeton University Library, is the most recent addition to the Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts. This sumptuous manuscript of the Persian national epic Shahnamah, or “Book of Kings,” was written and illuminated in Safavid Persia. From the 16th to 18th centuries, the Safavid dynastry ruled a far-flung empire that extended from Turkey to the Indian subcontinent. The Peck Shahnamah is one of the most extraordinary Safavid illuminated manuscripts of Firdawsī’s epic and has been compared to better-known examples such as the Houghton Shahnamah and Windsor Castle Shahnamah. The Persian poet Hakīm Abu’l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī commonly known as Firdawsī (933/4–1025 CE) completed the epic in 1009/10. The text begins with the first legendary Persian king and ends with the fall of the Sassanian empire to the Arabs in the middle of the 7th century. Prof. Charles Melville, Pembroke College, Cambridge, who has studied the proliferation of illuminated Shahnamah manuscripts since the end of the 13th century, sees in Firdawsī’s work not just a masterpiece of Persian epic poetry, but a text that “has come to encapsulate Iran’s pride in her past and to serve as a source for understanding her political culture.”

The scribe Qiwām ibn Muḥammad of Shīrāz prepared the manuscript. The date 998 H, which he provides, corresponds to 1589/90 CE. On stylistic grounds, the paintings are also localizable to Shīrāz, an important center of manuscript production in southwestern Iran. The Peck Shahnamah has 475 paper folios and a full painting cycle of 45 full-page miniatures spread throughout the text, as well as double-page miniatures at the beginning, middle, and end of the manuscript. The miniatures are of high quality and substantial size, measuring 47.0 × 32.5 cm. The manuscript has had a distinguished provenance. From an inscription in the manuscript, we know that Khayrāt Khan, an envoy from ‘Abd Allāh Quṭbshāh to Iṣfahān, acquired it from a woman who was the daughter of the Safavid provincial ruler Khān Aḥmad Khān of Gīlān and widow of Emperor Shāh Abbās I of Persia (1571–1629), in Rajab (1040 H/1631 CE). By the 18th century, the manuscript was in England, where around 1780 it was elaborately rebound by a London bookbinder in a western-style red morocco binding. Later the manuscript was later in the collection of Sir George Holford (1860–1926). The American antiquarian bookseller and collector A.S.W. Rosenbach (1876–1952) sold the manuscript in 1946 to Clara S. Peck, an American collector and horse breeder, who lived at Whigancek Farm in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, New Jersey. The manuscript was Peck’s 1983 bequest to the Princeton University Library, in memory of her brother Fremont C. Peck, Class of 1920.

The miniatures in the Peck Shahnamah were initially digitized so that they could be added to the Shahnama Project website, which was created by Jerome W. Clinton (1937–2003), a professor of Persian in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton. In cooperation with the Library, digital images and descriptions of 277 miniatures from five Princeton manuscripts were added to the website. In addition to Peck, the Shahnama Project includes miniatures in four Shahnamah manuscripts (1544–1674) that were the 1942 gift of Robert Garrett (1875–1961), Class of 1897. With grant support from the J. Paul Getty Trust, Professor Clinton and the art historian Marianna Shreve Simpson began a collaborative study on the interrelationship of text and image in manuscripts of the Shahnamah. Their research paid special attention to the Peck Shahnamah. Clinton and Simpson provided some of the Getty grant funds to the Library in 2002 in order to digitize the entire manuscript, including all text folios and miniatures. Initially, the digital images were used for the research project, which was completed by Simpson after Clinton’s untimely death. However, once the Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts was created, with the generous support of the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project, it became the perfect vehicle for disseminating the fully digitized manuscript. Recently uploaded, the Peck Shahnamah joins more than 200 other digitized Islamic manuscripts from the Manuscripts Division. View the Peck Shahnamah here.

For further reading on the Peck Shahnamah, see the following: (1) Louise Marlow, “A Persian Book of Kings: The Peck Shahnameh,” Princeton University Library Chronicle 46 (1985), pp. 192–214; (2) Louise Marlow, “The Peck Shahnameh: Manuscript Production in Late Sixteenth-Century Shiraz,” in Michel M. Mazzaoui and Vera B. Moreen, eds., Intellectual Studies on Islam: Essays Written in Honor of Martin B. Dickson (Salt Lake City, 1990), pp. 229–243; and (3) Jerome W. Clinton and Marianna S. Simpson, “How Rustam Killed White Div: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry,” Iranian Studies 26:2 (2006), pp. 171–197.

“Royal Hunt,” Peck Shanamah, folio 473. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Conrad Richter: A Simple Man?

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce that it has received the remainder of the papers of American author Conrad Richter (1890-1968) as a bequest from the estate of his daughter, Prof. Harvena Richter, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Conrad Richter Papers [46 linear feet] have now been fully arranged and described in a finding aid.

The title of Conrad Richter’s book A Simple Honorable Man (1962) may well have been fashioned after the author’s own self image. Richter, an American novelist active during the middle decades of the twentieth century, wrote books about honest, earthy people: pioneers, settlers, cowboys, and American Indians were among his favorite subjects. The author was born in Pine Grove, PA, in 1890, the eldest son of a Pennsylvania German family, the son and grandson of Lutheran ministers. He did not go to college, nor did he wish to join the ministry. Plagued with what he referred to as “bad nerves,” the young Richter tried his hand at a number of occupations. Among them was writing, which he did assiduously, intent on providing for his wife and daughter.  By 1951 Richter had won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Town (1951), the third installment in his trilogy The Awakening Land. There were film adaptations of his novels, such as The Sea of Grass (1937), starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, directed by Elia Kazan.

A 1950 letter from Julian P. Boyd, Princeton University Librarian, to Alfred Knopf, Richter’s publisher, points to the beginning of Princeton’s first interest in Richter’s papers. Though Richter offered two manuscripts to Princeton as a gift, Boyd writes in his letter to Knopf, “I intend to have [Richter’s] manuscripts handsomely done up in slip cases – something like the way in which Dreiser’s Sister Carrie is cared for by the New York Public Library” [“Letter to Alfred Knopf,” May 23, 1950, Conrad Richter Papers, Box 38, Folder 5, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library]. Over the next few months Boyd and Richter corresponded, conversing amiably about Firestone Library, which had opened in 1949. In an acknowledgement letter (July 10, 1950), Boyd thanks Richter for his gift to the library.

Over the next 60 years, Princeton continued to receive gifts from the Richter family of the author’s papers and manuscripts, which included sizeable correspondence files, photographs, and manuscripts. Among the most valuable research materials in Richter’s papers are the author’s journals and notebooks, beginning in the 1920s and kept throughout his life; and correspondence with his publisher, Alfred and Blanche Knopf; and with his literary agent, Paul Reynolds. In various places the Richter Papers reveal a slightly more nuanced individual than “a simple, honorable man” might indicate; correspondence with psychologists, psychics, and sleep specialists indicate Richter’s preoccupation, or at the very least interest, with the metaphysical, and a personal letter from J. Edgar Hoover also gives pause.  Now available, the collection gives researchers the opportunity to rediscover and learn more about this thoroughly American novelist.

Conrad Richter as a cowboy, circa 1940. Box 99, Folder 4. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.


Conrad Richter: A Simple Honorable Man, circa 1962. Box 99, Folder 5. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.