Dexter, Will, "The Riddle of Chung Ling Soo", (London: Arco, 1955)
“…With his death was revealed one of the great illusions this master of illusions had perpetrated – his own identity.”
William Ellsworth “Billy” Robinson, a native of New York, is best known as Chung Ling Soo. As Soo, he remained silent and only spoke through an interpreter. His first words in public after assuming the identity were his last as his Bullet Catch trick malfunctioned, fatally wounding him.
Billy Robinson began his magic career as Robinson, the Man of Mystery. He and partner Olive Path developed several magic acts. As he continued to practice, Robinson entertained the idea of impersonating an “easterner”, creating personas such as “Achmed Ben Ali” and “Abdul Khan”. Using makeup and mimicry, he filled in for Alexander Herrmann “The Great” and purportedly left no audience member suspicious of his identity. While touring, Robinson and Path found themselves booked alongside a novel act, Ching Ling Foo. This act consisted of a Chinese ex-patriot and his daughter performing magic in a “traditional Chinese style.”
Ching Ling Foo offered a $1000 reward for anyone who could reproduce one of his signature acts, producing a large bowl of water from his robes. Robinson took up the challenge but Ching Ling Foo refused to let him attempt the trick. This gave Robinson the idea to develop his own act based on that of Ching Ling Foo. He joined the more than ten imitators of Foo’s act and developed the Chung Ling Soo character. Soo had soon developed dozens of unique features in his act far surpassing Foo in originality. As this act gained popularity, Foo would challenge him again to perform his tricks, this time for £1000. This challenge may also have been a publicity stunt by Foo, who once again denied Robinson his chance to prove his skill with his absence from the contest.
In The Riddle of Chung Ling Soo, Will Dexter explores the life of Billy Robinson and his personae working backwards from his onstage death at the Willow Green Empire theatre in London in 1918. A magic enthusiast himself, Dexter eulogizes Robinson by explaining the origin of his renowned act which would be his demise.
Harry Houdini, Miracle Mongers and their Methods (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., c1920)
Library Call Number: GV1543.H68 1920
Renowned illusionist Harry Houdini baffled audiences of the early twentieth century with his death-defying feats. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he never claimed superhuman abilities and insisted a rational explanation lay behind his escape acts. As President of the Society of American Magicians, he fulfilled his role of upholding the standards of the profession by exposing charlatans.
Miracle Mongers and their Methods is presented as an exposé but also serves to document the methods of illusionists that peaked Houdini's interest and inspired him to investigate their methods further. The catalogue of acts mentioned in the extended title: “fire eaters, heat resisters, poison eaters, venomous reptile defiers, sword swallowers, human ostriches, strong men, etc.” can be viewed as a list of performers that impressed Houdini and inspired him to understand their methods further. Rather than an indictment of charlatans, this book can be read as a testament to wonder and curiosity.
ARC’s copy of Miracle Monders and their Methods includes Houdini’s original signature. It was acquired to support studies in Psychology, History, and English.
Previously housed at the Witchurch-Stouffville Public Library, Archives and Research Collections recently acquired the former Art Latcham Memorial Magic Collection. It is comprised of books, magazines, and ephemera related to illusion, sleight of hand, and related subjects. This collection is currently being catalogued for inclusion in Archives and Research Collections’ Rare Book collection.
Arthur “Art” Latcham, to whom the collection is dedicated, was a philanthropist in the York Region of Ontario. As a member of the Hat and Rabbit club, Latcham was a magic enthusiast who, rumour has it, always carried a deck of cards to perform magic and sleight of hand at any moment. Many public buildings in Stouffville and neighbouring communities were donated by Latcham, including the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library and the Latcham Gallery in Markham. Art Latcham died in 1979. The first Stouffville Magic Festival was organized in his honour in 1982. The magic collection was created by the festival’s organizer and town librarian, George Schulkbier. The Art Latcham Magic Collection was first dedicated during the first Stouffville Magic Festival on May 9th, 1982.
Huxley, Aldous, Prisons, (London:Trianon, 1949)
Call Number: HV8655.H89 1949
This collection of etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, titled Careri d'invenzione or Imaginary Prisons, is prefaced with an essay by Aldous Huxley.
A Venetian, Piranesi is best known for his etchings of ancient Roman ruins to which he added details to re-imagine them in the time of their glory. The prints in this collection fit within the long capriccio (caprice) tradition of placing together architectural elements in fictional and fantastic combination. Their influence extends to Romanticism and Surrealism, with parallels evident to the distorted worlds of M.C. Escher.
In his prefatory essay, Huxley compares Piranesi's prisons to the panopticism that pervades modern architecture. Every office and factory brings with it a banal tyranny of order and efficiency, reducing humanity to predictable process. Piranesi's etchings, however, show pointlessly elaborate industrial vaults with worn ladders, purposeless machines, and walkways leading infinitely nowhere. The semblance of order within the etching is the illusion of geometry. Within Piranesi's prions, shadowy lost souls labour without end. To Huxley, Piranesi's prisons anticipate a spiritual confusion characteristic of modernity.
Former Senator Landon Pearson donated her late husband Geoffrey Pearson's papers to ARC. This documentary collection pertaining to Pearson's career will provide resources for students interested in diplomacy, international relations, and history. View the full story from the Ottawa Citizen here.
Starting November 21st, 2012, ARC resumes regular hours (9 AM - 12 PM, 1 PM - 4 PM Monday to Friday) in room 503 of the MacOdrum Library. Currently, room 503 is only accessible via staircase A.
Upham, Charles W., Salem Witchcraft with an Account of Salem Village and A History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects, Vol. 1, Part 1, (Boston: Wiggin and Lunt, 1867)
Call number: BF1576.U56 1867
An early work in the historiography of Salem witchcraft, written by Charles Wentworth Upham, Mayor of Salem, Massachusetts and later Representative from Massachusetts and member of the U.S. Senate. This book would be useful for the study of the Salem witch trials, which Upham revisits after nearly two hundred years. It is a part of ARC's collection to support research in women's and gender studies, history, and religion.
Archives and Research Collections at the Carleton University Library (ARC) has a Facebook page, and you can do more than just “Like” us. You can preview highlights from our rare book collections, follow our arrangement projects, and see our new acquisitions.
As recently as 2008, ARC’s mandate changed, making us custodians of Carleton University’s heritage material as well as its rare book and archival research collections. For the past year, we have been documenting the arrangement of several collections with dedicated blogs, and, in the case of the Douglas Cardinal project, dedicated social media. These projects previously separate from one another; can now share space on our Facebook page as ARC projects.
Right now you can check out our special feature on the Carleton Veteran Connection.
We can be found on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/ArchivesResearchCollections
We also have joined the Twitter-Verse and can be found @arc_carleton
Due to the temporary closure of the MacOdrum Library's fifth floor, researchers will be unable to access room 503 to use ARC's collection. Arrangements for viewing the collection can be made by contacting email@example.com. ARC's regular office hours in room 503 should resume Tuesday, November 20th. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Title: L'ornement polychrome : deux cent vingt planches en couleur or et argent contenant environ 4,000 motifs de tous les styles, art ancien et asiatique, moyen age, renaissance, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles : recueil historique et pratique / publié sous la direction de A. Racinet, avec des notices explicatives et une introduction générale.
Author: Racinet, A
Call number: NK1530.R33 1888
La Royalle chymie de Crollius. Traduite en français par J. Marcel de Boulene. [Suivi de] Traicte des Signatures, ou vraye et vive Anatomie du grand & petit monde.
As the new school year begins ARC's hours are:
Monday to Friday: 9AM to 12PM and 1PM to 4:00PM
Histoire des Jouets is a wonderful book on the toys and games of children, including sections on
dolls, wagons, soldiers, marionettes, automatons and magic lanterns, hundreds of text illustrations, many reproduced
from works of art or caricatures, 102 color plates. Lg. 4to. Illustrated boards with striking Art Nouveau
design. Text is in French.
In February 2011, The Carleton University Archives and Research Collections (ARC) acquired the Douglas Cardinal Collection. Acquiring a multi-faceted collection such as this allows the Archives and Research Collections to explore web 2.0 in a dynamic way with the aim of opening the door to a new type of researcher.
The Douglas Cardinal Collection consists of 30,000 architectural drawings, 15 architectural models, roughly 100 metres of textual records, photographs and other mixed media. This summer the Carleton Archives and Research Collections, in collaboration with the Carleton University Centre for Public History, has established a web 2.0 presence in order to document the archival processing aspects as well as provide insight on the unique elements of the Cardinal collection for public accessibility.
You can continue to follow the Project on the web.
YouTube Channel: D. Cardinal Archive Project
Archives and Research Collections is proud to participate in the Carleton University Art Gallery’s latest exhibition: Making the News in 18th-Century France, curated by Dr. Stéphane Roy. Archives and Research Collections has loaned a number of rare book titles to the exhibit including:
- Description abrégée des quinze estampes sur les principales journées de la Révolution / gravées par Helman, d'après les dessins de Monnet
- Révolutions de Paris, 1789
- Portraits des personnages célèbres de la révolution, avec tableau historique et notices / par P. Quenard, l'un des représentans de la commune de Paris, en 1789 et 1790, 1798
The exhibit runs between February 13 – April 22, 2012. Dr. Stéphane Roy will give a curatorial tour on Sunday March 18, 2012 at 2:00pm.
For more information on the event follow the link provided:
ARC has been busy adding to the rare book and Modern Poetry collection this year. Some of the highlights that are available in ARC include:
- Sant'Elia An Italian periodical from the 1930's emphasizing Fascist and Futurist architecture.
- Album Record a Gaudi A compendium of articles, essays and criticisms pertaining to Antoni Gaudi's work, ca. 1936.
- Allemagne's Les Cartes The classic two volume work on the history and use of playing cards, 1906.
- First edition of Irving Layton's Here and Now, 1945
- Coffin 1 An odd collection of poems, illustrations and photographs by various poets, 196?.
- The complete poetry works by First Nations publisher Kegedonce Press.
- The complete run of the poetry journal Van Gogh's Ear.
- Graven Images A portfolio of 19th C wood engravings, 2010
More titles to come!
The Carleton University Archives and Research Collections are in early stages of utilizing Historypin to document the built heritage of Carleton College before the move to the Rideau River Campus in 1961. By juxtaposing historic photographs from our collection to contemporary street views, users and researchers can gain insight into the evolution of Carleton from the College years to Carleton as a University located on the Rideau River.
Historypin is an online tool hosted by We Are What We Do in conjunction with Google launched in London, U.K. in June 2010. Although still in Beta stages of development many historical institutions have started making use of this virtual tool to bring historical photographs to life.
We are always looking to add to our historic photo collection. If you have photographs that you feel would supplement this ongoing project we are always looking to add to our collection. Feel free to comment on any of the photographs and add your own Carleton memories.
To view our current Historypin collection please follow the link below:
The 2009/2010 year is a fond memory and ARC is happy to announce that twenty-one new titles were added to the rare book collection and the Modern Poetry collection.
As indicated previously, we focused on the acquisition of rare broadsides and broadside collections as well as poetry journals. Aside from the poetry ARC also procured material for the rare book collection, specifically supporting the W. McAllister Johnson Collection, including La Motte's Fables nouvelles, dédiées au roy: avec un discours sur la fable. An archtectural gem by Jochem, Das Haus des Bürgers : Projekt 1--Projekt 5 , and a very scarce Surrealist work, Le Da Costa encyclopédique also stand out in the ARC collection.
ARC has acquired some great new titles this past year.
We have added substantially more to our broadsides in our Modern Poetry Collection including:
- Phyllis Webb’s Four swans in Fulford Harbour
- Irving Layton’s Boys Bathing
- Al Purdy’s Unexplored Country
We also acquired further editions of Weed and Tish magazines.
Some highlights in our Rare Book acquisitions include:
- Materials to support the McAllister Johnson Collection (Henri Béraldi’s Les graveurs du XIXe siècle : guide de l'amateur d'estampes moderns; M. de La Motte’s Fables nouvelles, dédiées au roy : avec un discours sur la fable and Album illustré du Salon de 1848)
- A rare work on Jugendstil Architecture (F. W. Jochem’s Das Haus des Bürgers : Projekt 1--Projekt 5)
- An exceptionally rare Surrealist work (Le Da Costa encyclopédique)
As always, ARC is dedicated to acquiring works that support teaching, learning and research and we look forward bringing you more new acquisitions in 2010-2011.
CUAG and the Archives and Research Collections department, MacOdrum Library are pleased to announce a free public lecture by Dr. W. McAllister Johnson.
- When: Paterson Hall, Room 303
- Where: Monday, February 22, 2010 - 2:30pm
Dr. McAllister is a specialist in 18th-century French art and his scholarly activities have spanned the academic and museum worlds.
His lecture, “A Scholar’s Collection: Books and Prints as Art History,” surveys his fascinating research in the Print Cabinet of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the largest print collection in the world, and relates how building his collection of books and prints paralleled his scholarship.
Dr. Johnson is an American-born art historian of international repute who studied under Erwin Panofsky, one of the 20th century’s leading art historians, before coming to Canada in the 1960s to teach. He has published extensively on a variety of subjects, including French graphic art of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the discipline of art history, and French mannerist painting and engraving. In addition to his print donation, he also gave almost 1000 titles from his library, including many antiquarian volumes, to Carleton’s MacOdrum Library in 2005. This lecture is held in conjunction with the exhibition Eros and Endearment: The Look of Love in 18th-Century French Prints, which opens on 22 February at 5:00pm.
ARC has recently acquired the following archival collections:
- George Bemi - Ottawa post-war architect - more info
- John Hobbs - Peterborough heritage building restoration architect
- Herb Stovel - educator, consultant, and advisor in heritage conservation both nationally and internationally
- Heritage Canada Foundation - Canadian organization with built heritage programming since 1973
- Jacques Dalibard - Heritage Conservator, Professor, International Consultant, Civil Servant
All of these will become part of the Carleton Library Archives and Research Collections Heritage Conservation Research Collection.
2008 found ARC under new leadership and with a new strategic plan. Department Head, archivist Patti Harper and the Archives and Research Assistant, Lloyd Keane, have been busy building collections as well as building connections with community outreach programmes.
During the past year we've collected rare books to support, among other things, our McAllister Johnson Collection (books and prints related to art history, specifically French art from the 1500's to present day) including works by Jacques-François Blondel, M. l'abbé Pérau, and the Commission municipale du vieux Paris. We've also been building research collections in architecture, heritage conservation and modern poetry. This year, we'll continue to pursue research collections on a variety of subject areas such as, though not limited to, architecture, art history, heritage preservation, and industrial design.