Interlibrary Loan, 1917

This afternoon I sifted through boxes of early library records with great pleasure. This particular set of exchanges, which revolve around eight books on the Victorian writer George Meredith (who would have thought there would be so many?) that Rice had borrowed from the Library of Congress.

First Miss Alice Dean needed to get them back from the faculty member who had them. In this case it is Frederic Thomas Blanchard, who taught in Rice’s English Department for several years beginning in 1913:

New library returns 1

She then sent them back to Washington with a nice note:

New library returns 2

And received a polite acknowledgement of their receipt in return:

New library returns 3

 The stately pace and graciousness of this entire correspondence–even the simple acknowledgment from the Superintendent of the Reading Room–filled me with longing. It probably won’t surprise you to know that interlibrary loan was extraordinarily important in the Institute’s early years, when our own collection was in its infancy.

In case anyone is curious, the markings on these papers that read “19-28” relate to an internal library filing system.

Bonus: Frederic Thomas Blanchard left Rice for the University of California, where he taught English at their “Southern Branch,” later known as UCLA. I don’t know much about him except that he seems to have specialized in composition and creative writing. I did, though, come across this moving little piece about the English Reading Room at UCLA and his part in creating what Mrs. Grace Hunt nurtured into a real treasure.

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6 Responses to Interlibrary Loan, 1917

  1. Nice italic nib on the pen of the Superintendent of Reading Room. Note the dramatic difference in the thickness of the vertical and horizontal strokes. I like how the stroke crossing the double T’s in “letter” does’t touch them, but we don’t even notice.

    Most italic writing holds the nib at an angle, but this is pretty square. The verticals slant slightly to the left, so I wonder if the Superintendent was a lefty who had learned to conform.

    The note from Miss Alice Dean looks to be in pencil. I love high-res scans.

    And while I’m nerding out, the typewritten note is from a manual typewriter, because the character impressions are uneven.

    Interlibrary loan is awesome. It is a layer of the bedrock of our shared history.

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      That manner of crossing a “t” in a genealogy search of census records would cause me months in purgatory!
      MY “Martitia” was incorrectly deciphered by another as “Marlilia” because of a curious method of crossing the “t”. The error was then propagated by others.

    • almadenmike says:

      While a few early models had been developed earlier, the first commercial electric typewriters weren’t produced until the 1920s. The first truly popular one was IBM’s introduced in 1935.

  2. marmer01 says:

    And of course this is just a month after the United States had entered WWI. Big, harsh changes were coming.

  3. marmer01 says:

    I wonder: at this time were office telephones even present? Or possible? Or would even the everyday communications of academic life be done through notes?

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