On Jon’s Desk: Uncle Tom’s Cabin — not just some backwoods book


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PS2954-U5-E52a- title_page

Title Page, U.S. First Edition, March 1852


Title Page, Early Great Britain Edition, May 1852

Title: Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly (United States) / Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Negro Life in the Slave States of America (Great Britain)

Author: Harriet Beecher Stowe

First Edition (U.S.) / Early Edition (G.B.)

Published: Boston: John P. Jewett & Company, 1852; Cleveland, Ohio: Jewett, Proctor & Worthington, 1852 (U.S.) / London: Clarke & Co., 1852 (G.B.)

Pages: U.S. edition comprised of two volumes; volume one with 312 pages and volume two with 322 pages. G.B. edition is single volume containing 380 pages. U.S. edition contains six full page illustrations; G.B. edition contains fifty full page illustrations.

Call Number: PS2954 U5 E52a (U.S.) / PS2954 U5 1852 (G.B.)


U.S. First Edition, Illustration, Page 62


Early Great Britain Edition, Illustration, Page 125

When Harriet Beecher Stowe conceived Uncle Tom’s Cabin during the early 1850’s she was living in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the time part of the western frontier. Living in Cincinnati, directly across the Ohio River from the slave state of Kentucky, Stowe was exposed to fugitive slaves and often heard firsthand accounts of the horrors experienced by formerly enslaved people. Sympathetic to their suffering, she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin to expose the tragedies she was hearing about and included many aspects of the firsthand accounts she had heard into the story.

In her concluding remarks Stowe assures us the story is based on true events. She wrote,

“The writer has often been inquired of, by correspondents from different parts of the country, whether this narrative is a true one; and to the inquiries she will give one general answer.

The separate incidents that compose the narrative are to a very great extent authentic, occurring, many of them, either under her own observation or that of her personal friends. She or her friends have         observed characters and the counterparts of almost all that are here introduced; and many of the sayings are word for word as heard herself, or reported to her.”

Stowe’s story from the backwoods of the western frontier became immediately successful throughout the country and quickly thereafter throughout the Western Hemisphere. Initially released as a weekly serial in a newspaper called The National Era from June 1851 to April 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was then printed by John P. Jewett and released March 20, 1852. It sold 3,000 copies the first day, 10,000 copies in the first week, and in the United States 300,000 copies the first year. In Great Britain 200,000 copies were sold the first year, with sales there reaching 1.5 million copies after only a few years. Many of these were infringing, or pirated, editions, having been printed and sold without permission by the copyright owner.

In today’s terms we would say Uncle Tom’s Cabin went viral overnight. Stowe ignited a spark with her writing that caused flames to rise on multiple continents. Her novel brought compassion to the heated economic debate already centuries old, an emotion many had worked hard to suppress. The pen and paper Stowe put to incredible use in a city on the edge of the American frontier played an unquestionable role in history. Ten years after the novel’s publication, when U.S. President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe in 1862, he remarked, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!”

Stowe’s concluding admonition in the novel’s final comments is a strong rebuke on the nation and, as seen by the popularity of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Great Britain, was found completely fitting for application on the world at the time as a whole. She wrote,

“Not by combining together to protect injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved – but by repentance, justice, and mercy; for not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!”

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a critique on the most divisive topic of her time more than one hundred and sixty years ago. Holding these historic editions and reading these words helps us to realize that even after all this time there is a great deal left to accomplish in protecting justice and mercy. Little wonder millions of copies of Uncle Tom’s Cabin have been sold; perhaps a few million more need to be.

Contributed by Jon Bingham, Rare Books Curator

Book of the week — Dido and Aeneas


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“In our deep Vaulted Cell, the Charm wee’l prepare,
Too dreadful a Practice for this open Air”

Nahum Tate (1662-1715)
West Burke, VT: Janus Press; Bangor, ME: Theodore Press, 1989
Z232 J36 T37 1989

Libretto by Nahum Tate to music by Henry Purcell. Compact disc of the opera inserted, performed by the Taverner Choir and Taverner Players, conducted by Andrew Parrott. Book structure and box designed by Claire Van Vliet. Three overlapping sections of accordion-fold paperwork landscape collage with five varying and irregular-sized text pamphlets sewn into each of five openings. The book can be stood in a line or in a star-circle. Housed in a black cloth tray case with paper spine label. Compact disc is in a chemise in a pocket at the front. A rear pocket contains an empty chemise for the owner’s own CD. Printed in honor of the 300th anniversary Nahum Tate’s libretto. The first publication of the libretto was probably distributed to the audience at the first performance of the piece, which celebrated the coming of William and Mary to the English throne in 1689. Edition of one hundred and fifty copies. University of Utah copy is no. 49.


Hold History in Your Hands


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The Rare Books Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah invites students, faculty, and community members to visit the Special Collections Reading Room (Level 4), where you can hold history in your hands.

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The rare book collections of nearly 80,000 pieces includes first editions of Galileo’s Dialogo (1632), Bacon’s Novum Organum (1620), Dickens’ Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836), Hobbes’ Leviathan (1651), Rousseau’s Dictionnaire de Musique (1768), Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Central America (1841), Swift’s Travels into Remote Nations of the World (1726), Thoreau’s Walden (1854), and much, much more.

Rare Books welcomes U!


Book of the week — Decalogus


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Loket, Czech Republic: Jan and Jarmila Sobota, 1999

The ten commandments of the Old Testament in Latin, Czech, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Slovak designed as a cross.

Master bookbinder Jan Bohuslav Sobota (1939-2012) was born in Czechoslovakia. He studied binding in Pilzen and Prague until 1957. In 1982 he defected to Switzerland. He took his family to the United States in 1984, where he worked as a conservator at Case Western Reserve University before going to Bridwell Library, where he was Director of the Conservation Laboratory from 1990 to 1997. He and his family returned to the Czech Republic in 1997

Handmade paper printed in gold. Bound in pale turquoise morocco with binder’s blindstamped monogram on rear cover, upper cover with colored morocco inlays, comprising a central square cross. Issued in gold pouch. Edition of one hundred copies, numbered and signed by the artists. University of Utah copy is no. 6.

N7433.4-S657-T46-1999-(Lord Thy God)N7433.4-S657-T46-1999-(Czech)

Book of the week — John’s Rendezvous San Francisco Wine List


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San Francisco, CA: 1940

Beverage list from “John’s Rendezvous,” a San Francisco restaurant opened by John Sobrato at 50 Osgood Place during the Prohibition. By the 1940s the restaurant had gained a reputation for its food and was considered by many the best restaurant in San Francisco. Among its many patrons were movie stars and giants of the film industry. After John’s death in 1953, his wife sold the restaurant.

This wine list was mailed to interested patrons at the height of the restaurant’s fame. Its style is representative of the late Art Deco period. Printed on cardstock, with foreword and tribute pages preceding six tabbed sections delineating the various liquor options served, including Mixed Drinks and Sweet Wines; California Wines, Imported Wines, Champagnes and Sparkling Wines; Cordials and After Dinner Drinks; and Mineral Waters, Ales & Beers. Each tabbed leaf is illustrated with an orange, brown, and cream silhouette of a semi-nude woman posing with a specific piece of appropriate glassware, followed by a price list of drink options. Each section has a paragraph or two about the type of wine or liquor. Spiral bound with metallic copper paper wrappers.


Book of the week — Fleur-de-neige et d’autres contes de Grimm


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Fleur-de-neige et d’autres contes de Grimm
Paris: L’Edition d’art, 1929

French translation of twelve Brothers Grimm fairy tales, including “Hansel and Gretel,” “Rumplestiltskin,” “The Fisherman and His Wife,” “Briar Rose,” “The Goose Girl,” “The Little Brave Tailor,” “The Six Swans,” and “The Juniper Tree.” Illustrated with full-page mounted color plates by Danish artist Kay Nielsen 91886-1957).

Kay Nielsen, known best for his haunting, whimsical fairy tale illustrations, also painted stage scenery for the Royal Danish Theatre. In the late 1930s, Nielsen left Copenhagen for a career in Hollywood. He worked for the Walt Disney Company from 1937 to 1941. For Disney, Nielsen illustrated “Ave Maria” and “Night on Bald Mountain,” sequences for the movie Fantasia. Bound in three quarter leather with marbled boards and endpapers and raised spine.


Looking forward to — Book Arts Program workshop, “The Practice of Ukiyo-e Woodblock”


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The Practice of Ukiyo-e Woodblock
Keiji Shinohara, instructor

August 5-6
Friday & Saturday, 10:00-6:00
Book Arts Studio, J. Willard Marriott Library, Level 4
Registration for this workshop is closed.

Leave the brayers, pallet knives, rag papers, and presses behind, and journey eastward. With brushes and barrens, master printmaker Keiji Shinohara guides participants gently through the traditional Ukiyo-e technique of woodblock printing on Japanese papers. As new practitioners, participants have time to carve small, simple blocks using one or two colors. The focus of the workshop is on observance and practice of process rather than on a producing a masterful print.
– – – – –
Keiji Shinohara was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. After 10 years as an apprentice to the renowned Keiichiro Uesugi in Kyoto, he became a Master Printmaker and moved to the United States. Shinohara’s nature-based abstractions are printed on handmade kozo paper using water-based pigment onto woodblocks in the ukiyo-e style–the traditional Japanese printmaking method dating to 600 CE. Though Shinohara employs ancient methods in creating his woodblock prints, he also diverges from tradition by experimenting with ink application and different materials to add texture to his prints. He is currently teaching printmaking at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and has been a visiting artist at over 100 venues and 30 solo shows. He has received grants from the Japan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and his work is in many public collections, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Library of Congress.

Rare Books is pleased to support the Book Arts Program with its collections.


Altar Book of Gorecki
Middleton, CT: Robin Price, Publisher, 1996

Inspired by a 1992 recording of Henryk Goreski’s Symphony No. 3. English translation by Krystyna Carter. Calligraphy of Polish lyrics by Paul Shaw. Bird illustrations are from seventeenth-century copperplate engravings by Francis Willughby. Photographed by John Wareham, the illustrations were digitally adapted and made into polymer plates by Gerald Lange. Woodcut designed and carved by Keiji Shinowara. Triptych structure with the consultation of Daniel Kelm. Box design and construction by Franklin Nichols Woodworking. Designed, printed and bound by Robin Price. Edition of sixty copies.



Ravaged With Joy
William Everson (1912-1994)
Middletown, CT: R. Price, 1998
PS3509 V65 R38 1998

A record of the poetry reading at the University of California, Davis, on May 16, 1975. Woodcuts by Keiji Shinohara. Issued in slipcase. Edition of one hundred and fifty copies, signed by the artist. University of Utah copy is no. 62.

We recommend — Evolution and Imagination in Victorian Children’s Literature


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Evolution and Imagination in Victorian Children’s Literature
Jessica Straley
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016

From the publisher: “Evolutionary theory sparked numerous speculations about human development, and one of the most ardently embraced was the idea that children are animals recapitulating the ascent of the species. After Darwin’s Origin of Species, scientific, pedagogical, and literary works featuring beastly babes and wild children interrogated how our ancestors evolved and what children must do in order to repeat this course to humanity. Exploring fictions by Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, Frances Hodgson, Burnett, Charles Kingsley, and Margaret Gatty, Jessica Straley argues that Victorian children’s literature not only adopted this new taxonomy of the animal child, but also suggested ways to complete the child’s evolution. In the midst of debates about elementary education and the rising dominance of the sciences, children’s authors plotted miniaturized evolutions for their protagonists and readers and, more pointedly, proposed that the decisive evolutionary leap for both our ancestors and ourselves is the advent of the literary imagination.

Jessica Straley is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Utah. She has published articles on evolutionary theory, vivisection, and Victorian literature in Victorian Studies and Nineteenth-Century Literature and has contributed a chapter to Drawing on the Victorian: The Palimsest of Victorian and Non-Victorian Graphic Texts, edited by Anna Maria Jones and Rebecca N. Mitchell.”

The Rare Books Department is pleased to have contributed images to this book from its copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865).

Congratulations, Professor Straley!

Book of the Week — The Democratic Book


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“Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1936

Philadelphia?, 1936?
JK2313 1936 D38 oversize

This book was given to delegates at the 1936 Democratic convention, held that year in Philadelphia. It contains information such as the party’s platform, election results, and statements from the President, his cabinet members, other important members of his administration, and the first lady.

This copy belonged to Wilson McCarthy (1884-1956), a judge who sat on Utah’s Third District Court in 1919. He left the bench a year later and earned a fortune as a private practice attorney. In 1926 he was elected to the Utah state senate. A lifelong Democrat, he was appointed by Republican President Herbert Hoover to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in 1932. A year later, he began a career in banking in San Francisco. In 1934, the RFC asked him to take control of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, which had just defaulted on a $10 million loan. It took McCarthy and others nearly two decades to rehabilitate the company. In 1937 alone, $18 million was pumped into the property.

Under McCarthy’s administration the Rio Grande built more than 1100 bridges and laid more than two million railroad ties. By the end of World War II, the railroad’s revenues had increased from $17 million to $75 million per year. During this time, McCarthy anchored the Rio Grande between Salt Lake City (his birthplace) and Denver. Freight time between these two points dropped from 54 hours to just under 24 hours. McCarthy, in conjunction with the Western Pacific Railroad began the “California Zephyr,” a luxury service between Chicago and the Bay Area. He also added the train’s signature vista-dome cars.

In addition to his turn-around of the fortunes of the railroad, McCarthy helped bring Geneva Steel to Utah. On the day of his funeral, every Rio Grande train stopped, their crews observing two minutes of silence.

This book was also published, with some variations, under the title The Democratic National Convention, 1936. The book contains dozens of contemporary advertisements, many in color. Illustrated with nineteen full-page portraits and dozens of in-text half-tones and illustrations, and a facsimile of the Constitution. Bound in full brown morocco gilt, watered silk endpapers, top edge gilt. Limited edition of unknown quantity. University of Utah copy is no. 1464, stamped in gilt “Wilson McCarthy” and signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Gift of Wilson McCarthy.

On Jon’s Desk: A gift from Ed Firmage raises questions


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front board

front board

title page

title page

Title: Life of Brigham Young; or, Utah and Her Founders
Author: Edward W. Tullidge
Published: New York, (s.n.), 1876

Pages: 458 with 81 additional pages comprising a supplement containing biographical sketches of other prominent Utah leaders (Contains Errata slip: “Biographical sketches of the late Willard Richards, Joseph A. Young, and others, not received by the printer in time for this issue will be inserted in subsequent editions.”)

Bound in ornamental gilt stamped purple cloth. Blind stamped borders; blind stamped title on rear cover; coated end papers.

Signed, presentation copy: “Presented to G. Henry Snell by Brigham Young [signed], Salt Lake City, U.T., October 16th, 1876”



Includes an engraving of Brigham Young by H.R. Hall & Sons (of New York)

Brigham Young portrait

Brigham Young portrait

A gift from Ed Firmage (University of Utah Professor Emeritus) to the Rare Books Department raises intriguing questions. In the front of this well preserved copy of the Life of Brigham Young; or, Utah and Her Founders, published in 1876, is a calligraphic inscription wherein Brigham Young presents this copy to G. Henry Snell. According to an obituary, George Henry Snell was a successful business man in the Salt Lake City area during the latter half of the 19th century. Born in St. Louis, he moved to the Salt Lake Valley as a young child. Mr. Snell operated the Utah Soap Company and was one of the original stockholders in the Saltair Beach Resort. He suffered from a heart condition that resulted in an early death at fifty years of age. What is not known is the nature of the relationship between Henry Snell and Brigham Young, the then President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, as the memoir shows, one of the most powerful men in the American West at the time.

Written by Edward W. Tullidge, this biography of Brigham Young includes memoirs concerning many of the prominent early LDS church leaders in Utah. Despite evidence Brigham Young was not opposed to this biography (the fact that he presented copies as gifts, as seen above), Tullidge was not sanctioned by the LDS church to write it. The author himself tells us his reasons for undertaking the work in the preface:

“That the matters embodied in the chapters of this book are eminently worthy an enduring record will, I think, be cheerfully conceded. Of myself let me say, if the manner in which I have handled the subject betrays my love for the Mormon people, I confess it. But it must not be forgotten that I have been, for many years, an apostate, and cannot be justly charged with a spirit of Mormon propagandism. Rather have I striven to treat the subject with an artist’s fidelity, and with the earnestness of one concerned.”

So we see that Edward Tullidge wrote his account because of his love for the Mormon people and believed the events of the time period covered in his book were “worthy an enduring record.” But he also divulged he was an apostate, or one who had left the church.

Born in England in 1829 and having been introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there in the 1840’s, Edward Tullidge immigrated to the Salt Lake valley in the early 1860’s where he became a literary critic, newspaper editor, playwright, and historian. He wrote numerous journal articles, several plays, and five books (including the Life of Brigham Young). Although still technically a member of the LDS Church at the time of writing the biography (despite the claim of being apostate in the preface), Tullidge participated in the Godbeite movement (which initially sought to reform the church by breaking Brigham Young’s hold on secular and economic matters) and then in the late 1870’s joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Some LDS church leaders did not approve of the biography Tullidge wrote about Brigham Young. There is evidence of this in an article published in the Millenial Star in November of 1878. The article relates an interview between President John Taylor and Edward Tullidge concerning his publishing of Life of Brigham Young and his interest in writing a biography on Joseph Smith. During the interview President Taylor inquired about the statement in the biography’s preface concerning him being an apostate and forbade Tullidge from having access to the church’s Historian’s Office.

Millenial Star

Millenial Star

Life of Brigham Young is a historical treatise dealing primarily with the socio-political developments of the Latter-day Saints from their arrival in the Salt Lake valley in the late 1840’s to the mid 1870’s when the book was published. At publication Brigham Young was seventy-five years old and still the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the book shows many ways in which the federal government and dissidents in the Salt Lake valley had drawn secular power away from him over the previous two decades (1850’s – 1860’s). Tullidge showcased the deep cultural issues of the time with passages such as (page 366-367):

“Governor Shaffer arrived in Utah in the latter end of March, 1870. Casting about for some object on which to expand his belligerency, he made enquiry of a prominent schismatic as to the feasibility of successfully attacking polygamy. The answer was: ‘I married my wives in good faith. They married me in good faith. They have borne me children. We have lived together for years, believing it was the will of God. The same is true of the Mormon people generally. Before I will abandon my wives as concubines, and cast off my children as bastards, I will fight the United States Government down to my boots. What would you do, Governor, in the like case?’

‘By —, I would do the same!’ [the Governor replied.]”

Tullidge also wrote of significant historical events that came to fruition under Brigham Young’s leadership such as (page 362-363):

“The next important event in the history of Utah was the laying of the last rail of the Utah Central Railroad. The completion of the Union and Central Pacific lines was a national event, affecting greatly the destiny of Utah as well as that of the entire Pacific coast; but the completion of the Utah Central was the proper local sign of radical changes. …

It was January 10th, 1870; the weather was cold; a heavy fog hung over the city of the Great Salt Lake; but the multitude assembled, and by two o’clock P.M. there is said to have been gathered around the depot block not less than fifteen thousand people. … A large steel mallet had been prepared for the occasion, made at the blacksmith’s shop of the public works of the Church. The last ‘spike’ was forged of Utah iron, … The mallet was elegantly chased, bearing on the top an engraved bee-hive (the emblem of the State of Deseret), surrounded by the inscription ‘Holiness to the Lord,’ and underneath the bee-hive were the letters U.C.R.R.; a similar ornament consecrated the spike, both intending to symbolize that Utah, with the railroad, should still be the ‘Kingdom of God.’ … The honor of driving the last spike in the first railroad built by the Mormon people, was assigned to President Young.”

The Life of Brigham Young provides a dual perspective of an important time in Utah’s history from an author who loved the Mormon people yet disagreed with some of the policies of the prominent leaders he wrote about. This perspective adds value to the historical record of the two decades following the settling of the Salt Lake Valley by the early Mormon pioneers.

Questions that the Rare Books staff will continue to research include the number of copies printed and how many of those Brigham Young gave (with the front inscription) to others. We know of one other inscribed copy (given to Eliza R. Snow, wife of Brigham Young), which is in the Kenneth and Linda Brailsford manuscript collection (Accn 2935).

Contributed by Jon Bingham, Rare Books Curator