Look! We made a gif!

It’s American Archives Month and we’ve been challenged by othmeralia to showcase some of the more interesting finds from our collections. Most of these will also have separate Tumblr posts coming soon, so stay tuned!

1. Holocaust Rescue and Relief: a digital collection of our Unitarian Service Committee records and the work they did aiding displaced persons in Europe during World War II.

2. Sometimes a minister’s papers contain material completely unrelated to religious life. One example is the papers of minister and doctor, Amory Gale, which contains notes on diseases, a medical lecture, and a pair of eyeglasses.

3. Other times a minister’s papers might include oddities such as a receipt (recipe) for cleansing teeth and improving breath, as seen in the papers of Ephraim Abbot.

4. We also have a set of documents from the time of the Spanish Inquisition, detailing questionings and verdicts mostly in the Barcelona area.

5. Finally, the papers of Caspar Rene Gregory, a New Testament scholar, contain over 40 beautiful drawings he did of various sculptures, paintings, and figures.

Thanks so much, othmeralia! We nominate uchicagoscrc, umarchives, usfspecialcollections, baylordigitalcollections, and scuacolgate to show us 5 notable items from their collections and tag us to let us know.

Whew! We made it just under the wire to add our contribution to American Archives Month! We were tagged by The Andover-Harvard Theological Library to add a GIF of interesting materials from our collection, so we chose:

A label from the record containing Dr. George W. Truett’s sermon delivered on December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor Day).

The illustrated title page from a 16th century medieval medical book, The Works of Hippocrates of Cos - the kind of book that could get the wrong people burned at the stake for heresy!

A "bird’s eye view" map of our fair city, Waco, Texas from 1873

The first letter written from Victorian poet Robert Browning to his soon-to-be wife, Elizabeth Barrett (courtesy the Margaret Clapp Library at Wellesley College, a partner in our Browning Letters Project)

A poster for a gospel concert featuring the Sensational Nightingales and many more, November 6, 1977

A page from the 1926 playbook for Baylor Bears football

Obviously, we’re too late to tag anyone new for this cool project, but we want to thank the Andover-Harvard Theological Library for tagging us, and our friends at the Othmer Library of Chemical History for being such excellent Tumblr buddies.


I know the readers of Othmeralia have been looking for instructions on how best to use their blow pipes for chemical tests, well readers look no further! Here is the 4th edition of John Mawe’s popular book Instructions for the Use of the Blow-Pipe,published in 1825 to help you out. It’s pretty simple; to paraphrase Lauren Bacall’s character from To Have and Have not “You just put your lips together and blow.”


On this day in 1869 Dmitrii Mendeleev sketched his first draft of the periodic table.  While Mendeleev’s version remains the most common, alternative arrangements include circular, cylindrical, pyramidal, spiral, and triangular layouts.  Indeed, Edward Mazurs chronicled over 140 types in his seminal work, Graphic Representations of the Periodic System over 100 Years! Which one gets your vote?


Since 2009, Ada Lovelace Day has aimed “to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire.”  The day’s namesake, Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), was the daughter of Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Milbanke.  Ada, in possession of a keen intellect and deep passion for machinery, was educated in mathematics at the insistence of her mother. Later in life, Ada studied the workings of the Analytical Engine developed by mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage. In her notes on the engine, Ada described an algorithm for computing numbers – an algorithm which would distinguish Ada as one of the world’s “first computer programmers.”  

In honor of Ada Lovelace Day, we present some images from the CHF Archives of women working in various chemistry labs. Click on each photo for additional information.

And for more women in science content, consider taking a look at the films in The Catalyst Series: Women in Chemistry by the Chemical Heritage Foundation.


Show and tell with one of our favorite book bindings in the Othmer Library. This book has a contemporary binding of red leather with front and back covers decorated with as many as 437 decorative nails. “Liber Secreti Naturali” is a manuscript of recipes on topics ranging from alchemy and medicine to solutions for simple household problems. Probably from Northwestern Italy, between 1427 and 1447. 


This little gem of a book called A Grammar of Natural and Experimental Philosophy was written in 1826 by Sir Richard Phillips under the pseudonym Rev. David Blair. It shows us the scientific view of the solar system in the early 1800s. Check out the planet chart and see what is missing. Uranus was at the time called Herschel and Neptune wasn’t discovered until 1846! (Let’s not even mention poor little Pluto)


These rich botanical illustrations come from G.S.V. Willis’ 1886 work, A Manual of Vegetable Materia MedicaThis book, written primarily for students, consists of a series of entries in which a specific plant’s botanical name, characteristics, habitat, and therapeutic uses are listed. In addition, the entries include “a short descriptive method of the processes employed in the extraction of most plant constituents, and the means adopted for their examination” (Preface).