Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
REDIRECT ALERT!(Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)
Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.
This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough::
So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.
MONTGOMERY -- George Stewart unearthed a gem when he opened one of many boxes containing thousands of books given to the state archives, books left boxed, unused and all but forgotten for 50 years or more.
Stewart said he had no idea what was in this particular box, stored with others on the eighth level of the state archives building.
What he found was a 1611 edition of the Geneva Bible, a Bible first printed in 1560. The Pilgrims on the Mayflower used the Geneva Bible. So did Shakespeare. [...]
Wow. Who knew Shakespeare was on the Mayflower?!
Stewart, 59, retired director of the Birmingham Public Library, figures that as many as 10,000 books sat in boxes since probably the 1940s or 1950s before he started opening boxes three years ago. Nobody put them on shelves or listed them in a card catalog or computer record. They just sat.
"It is a treasure that was neglected. It's not anybody's fault. It's just that they (archives officials) never had money to have the staff to do it," Stewart said.
State archives Director Ed Bridges in 2000 hired Stewart for a part-time job, some of which involves opening boxes of books donated decades ago and putting the books on metal shelves.
Stewart said opening a box is "kind of neat."
"It's sort of a treasure hunt, not knowing. You may open it and it's full of magazines, or it may be really neat books," he said.
The unboxed books eventually are supposed to be cataloged and listed on the archives' Web site, but Stewart said that process has hardly started.
Stewart said some of his finds include:
A Spanish language history of Florida, published in 1722 in Madrid.
A speech on the settlement of New England made in 1820 by statesman and orator Daniel Webster. The speech, printed in 1821, was donated by the Alabama Society of Mayflower Descendants.
A complete set of "The War," a weekly published every Saturday in 1812-1814 by S. Woodworth & Co. in New York to cover the War of 1812. "We found it in a box. We don't know where it came from," Stewart said.
The five volumes of "Indian Tribes of the U.S.," written by Henry Schoolcraft and published by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1853, and a 1926 edition of "The North American Indians" by George Catlin. The books are filled with color prints and illustrations. "They're in such good condition," Stewart said. "You seldom see them like that."
"Snedecor's Greene County Directory," a listing of the county's white residents published in Mobile in 1856. Stewart said it's a collector's item, partly because not many books were published in Alabama back then. The archives already had a copy, but Stewart said this second one is in better shape.
Books collected from the mid-1800s through 1912 by Montgomery attorney John Sanford, including a copy of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species." Sanford wrote in the book that he got his copy in 1860, a year after its release.
All five volumes of an oral history project, started in the 1920s by Fisk University, containing the life stories of former slaves.
Annual editions of "The National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans," published in 1834, 1835, 1836 and 1839.
Records, published in 1834, of the first Congress, which met in 1789-91.
All three volumes of an encyclopedia printed in Europe in 1789, each found in a different place. "That's part of the fun, too, trying to track down missing volumes when you're reasonably sure they all are there," Stewart said.
"Instruction for Heavy Artillery" printed in Richmond, Va., during the Civil War, in 1862. [...]
Interesting stuff. Makes you wonder how much other sorts of things are squirrelled away in libraries and courthouses around the state.