A Closer Look at Cotsen’s Collection: Audio Interviews with Curator Andrea Immel by Byrd Pinkerton

The text below is adapted from Byrd Pinkerton’s WPRB blog posting and links to the audio interviews that Byrd conducted with Andrea Immel, Cotsen Curator, in June and July, 2013, with additional photographs taken by Byrd of the items discussed. (Byrd Pinkerton ’15 is a German major who works for WPRB, the Princeton student-run radio station.) A Closer Look at Cotsen’s Collection: Audio Interviews with Cotsen’s Curator by Byrd Pinkerton

It’s easy to experience the Cotsen Gallery, with its giant indoor tree and little cottage. But behind the gallery’s glass wall, there are thousands of books–some tiny, some massive, some gilt or marbled. That’s just a fraction of the collection, since more books (and dolls and lantern slides and board games and toy theaters…) are hiding out elsewhere in the vaults of Firestone.

And though they can’t be climbed on or played with in quite the same way as the Gallery furniture is, these treasures are accessible too. This summer, Princeton student and Cotsen staffer Byrd Pinkerton began a series of radio stories on different objects from the Cotsen Collection, which are now posted on Princeton’s WPRB Station blog.

In each piece, she talks to Cotsen Curator, Andrea Immel about an item, its history, what we do or don’t know about it, and why it might be interesting to researchers. The audio is complemented with text and photographs, but listeners can also page the items themselves and enjoy them in the reading room.

Paper People in the Cotsen Library

Paper dolls at a war conference  ("The Paper People")

Paper dolls at a war conference
(“The Paper People”)

Taken literally, the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ usually applies to your average book in a bookstore. It also applies, however, to rare books.

When I first decided to highlight pieces of Cotsen Library’s rare book collection for this series, I was eager to talk about some of the showier items the collection has to offer-Queen Elizabeth’s Latin grammar book, the Beatrix Potter original letters or elegant Spanish toy theaters from the 1930s.

Instead, Andrea and I decided to begin with The Paper People an unassuming text, printed and cloth-bound in the 1800s, and see what the information that can be gleaned from the contents, the cover, the catalogue of advertisements, and even the end-papers.

Hear the audio interview, with illustrations, on WPRB blog site.

Jeu de Cavagnole

French game "Jeu de Cavagnole" inside its box

French game “Jeu de Cavagnole” inside its box

I’m not a fan of bingo. I would go so far as to say that I strongly dislike it. But even I was delighted to play with this 18th century pre-cursor to the game, the French Jeu de Cavagnole.

During our interview, Andrea and I walked through the complicated apparatus of the game, all kinds of ivory spindles, cages and beads with scrolls…

One of the biggest differences between this game and your average bingo experience is the game board.  Jeu de Cavagnole decorations have nothing to do with the gameplay at all. They’re just conversation pieces, designed to move the experience beyond simple gambling.

Hear the audio interview, with illustrations, on WPRB blog site.

A is for Alphabet

Panorama cylinder strip

Panorama cylinder strip

Once we figure out that LMNO isn’t all one letter and S, C and K stop seeming quite so redundant and confusing, we generally don’t spent a lot of time learning the alphabet.

Still, whether we’re thinking about it or not, there’s a new line of alphabet teaching tools for every generation of kids: alphabet puzzles, alphabet blocks, songs and poems and books with associative word pictures.

This week, my conversation with Andrea was all about alphabets throughout the ages. While we’re probably not going to learn a whole about the alphabet itself from these games and books, it turns out that they can tell us a lot about us: the most common parts of our day-to-day, the moral values we want to pass down to our children, even our sense of humor.

Hear the audio interview, with illustrations, on WPRB blog site.

Cotsen Conference: Sept. 11-13 – “Putting the Figure on the Map”

On September 11-13, 2013 (Wed-Fri), the Cotsen Children’s Library will host the conference: “Putting the Figure on the Map: Imagining Sameness and Difference for Children” on the campus of Princeton University, Princeton NJ.

This interdisciplinary program co-organized by Emer O’Sullivan and Cotsen Curator, Andrea Immel will draw on the approaches in imagology, history, anthropology, psychology, and literary criticism.  It will focus on modes of expression arising within or without the classroom that either target children or appropriate discourses for them that create competing, complimentary, or contradictory images of foreign nations and their

The program will also feature a workshop featuring primary resources from the Cotsen collection.

Registration is free to Princeton University students, faculty and staff; $25 for all others.  You may register online at the conference site.

See below for the conference schedule.

For speaker biographies and abstracts,visit the conference website.

See the conference poster (in PDF format).

Conference Schedule:

Sept. 11 (Wed)

5:30-7:00 pm

Cotsen Children’s Library, Firestone Library


Sept. 12 (Thurs)

Rm 113 Friend Center, William Street

9:30 am

Registration and coffee 

10:15 am


10:30 am

Session 1: Ethnography on Display

Emer O’Sullivan  “Picturing the World for Children: Early Nineteenth-Century Images of Foreign Nations”

Gillian Lathey “Figuring the World: Representing Children’s Encounters with Other Peoples and Cultures at the 1851 Great Exhibition”

Silke Meyer (via Skype)  “Politics in the Children’s Perspective: National Stereotypes in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Prints”

12:30 pm


 2:00 pm

Session 2:  Images Instrumentalized

Martina Seifert “Appropriating the Wild North: The Image of Canada and Its Exploitation in German Children’s Literature”

Lara Saguisag “Foreign Yet Familiar: Theorizing the Immigrant Child in Progressive Era Comic Strips, 1896-1912”

3:15-3:30 pm  [break]

Amanda Brian  “Civilizing Children and Animals in Lothar Meggendorfer’s Moveable Books”

Eric J. Johnson  “Politicizing Childhood: Oncle Hansi and Alsatian Nationalism, 1912-1919”

Sept 13 (Fri) 

Venue to be announced

10:00 am

Session 3: Internationalism, Pacifism, and Tolerance, I

Nina Christensen “Education to Tolerance: Citizens of the World in Eighteenth-Century Children’s Literature and Children’s Literature of Today”

Cynthia Koepp “An Anthropologist Shows Children a World of Difference: The Pedagogical Imagination of Louis-François Jauffret”

Minjie Chen “Foreigners Not (Yet) in One Box: Discourse on Race and Foreign Nationals in Chinese Children’s Reading Materials, 1890-1920

12:00 pm


1:15 pm

Session 4: Internationalism, Pacifism, and Tolerance, II

Farah Mendlesohn “National Characters, National Character: Children in Pacifist and Anti-Militaristic Publications for Children Between the Wars”

Gabriele von Glasenapp “Information or Exoticization?: Constructing Religious Difference in Children’s Non-Fiction”

Margaret R. Higonnet “No Child Is an Island”

3:30 pm

Session 5: Primary Materials Workshop 

Cotsen Children’s Library, Firestone Library

 Jill Shefrin  “Pictures for Tarry-at-home Travellers”

 Setsuko Noguchi  “Around the World in One Game: Japanese Picture Sugoroku”

 5:00 pm

Closing words

 For more information, please contact Andrea Immel, Cotsen Curator.