With the 2014 Winter Olympics right around the corner, and the foot of snow on the ground here in southern New England, I decided to delve into our collections to create a display highlighting all things winter. I was pleased to discover materials ranging from the early nineteenth century through to the mid-twentieth, chronicling everything from the art in a snowflake to the finer points of curling. For the sports enthusiast, I included Skating published in 1892 by John Moyer Heathcote, with contributions from various authors on figure skating, curling, tobogganing, and ice-sailing. All of these contemporary sports are explained in detail and are accompanied by diagrams and pictures to ensure correct form. Also included is Peaks, Passes and Glaciers by Members of the Alpine Club. This work chronicles the Alpine Club of London, England’s many hiking adventures through the mountain passes of Europe. In the book are several maps which highlight the trails the adventurers embarked upon. If you’re looking to get into the Sochi spirit, check out these and other materials available at the Phillips Library on Winter Sports.
I also discovered a number of books written for children, having to do with winter in general and with regard to various holidays. My favorite of these has to be Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, author of famed Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Like Mike Mulligan, Katy is actually a tractor in the fictional city of Geoppolis (based on Gloucester, MA) who can be equipped with a snow plow. Katy is called in to save the day when a massive snow storm surprises the people of Geoppolis. The book, beautifully illustrated, was given to the Essex Institute on March 14, 1967, by Burton herself and is signed by the author.
If you have ever lived in New England, you have doubtless heard of the Blizzard of ’78 (1978) which dumped feet of snow on most of southern New England. Boston and its surroundings were effectively crippled for a week during the storm and its aftermath. If this kind of history interests you, why not check out The Blizzard of ’88 (1888) by Irving Werstein. It follows the events of a massive blizzard which similarly crippled Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut in March of 1888. Published in 1960, this book includes compelling photographs, illustrations, and an analysis of the storm. Using contemporary newspaper reports and memoirs of survivors, Werstein attempts to give a holistic view of the effects of this major New England event.
Finally, I must include Frances E. Chickering’s Cloud Crystals: A Snow-Flake Album, published in 1864. This work is a compilation of scientific, literary, poetic, biblical, and illustrative essays on the various qualities of snow. It is beautifully illustrated by J.F. Richardson.
This display will be on view at the Phillips Library throughout the winter, so be sure to stop by and check it out! The complete bibliography for the display can be viewed here, and as always check out our online catalog PHILCAT for further information.