A recent donation of five travel scrapbooks that once belonged to a former Grosvenor Library staff member have been added to the many unique collections in the Grosvenor Rare Book Room.
Jane Van Arnam, later Wiseman, was the daughter of Seymour and Harriet Van Arnam who resided at 76 Highland Ave. in Buffalo. Seymour was an executive at the Pitts Company, a leading manufacturer of machinery prior to World War II, and Harriet was active in church, clubs, and charity work. Jane graduated from the Buffalo Seminary in 1920 and soon after joined her sister Anna as an assistant in the Catalog Department of the Grosvenor Reference Library, later moving to the Periodical Department and working as a librarian until 1954. Her meticulous skills as a reference librarian are evident from the 5-volume travel scrapbooks she maintained from 1925 until the late 1940’s.
Within the carefully organized volumes are photographs, post cards, letters, menus, passenger lists and pamphlets from the many trips she took throughout Europe, Canada, the U. S., South America and other exotic places. The scrapbooks as a whole provide a glimpse into the life of a working Buffalo blueblood, as well as the world of popular travel in the early-to-mid-20th century. Jane died in 1989 at the age of 86.
For this blog entry we will take one final dip into the Holiday and Post Card collections. While the history of Valentine’s Day may have begun with the Roman Empire, the picturesque expressions of romantic sentiment most likely started during the Middle Ages with the literary concept of courtly love.
Be my Valentine and I’ll break the news to Mother, n.d.
Many of the post cards from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries presented quaint sentiment to a loved one with flowers, cherubic figures and beautiful maidens.
All For You My Valentine, postmarked 1911
True Love’s Offering, postmarked 1903
To My Love, postmarked 1905
More elaborate cards were considered Art Valentines and were often intricate and colorful. Here is just a small selection from our collections.
As Thanksgiving greetings from the Rare Book Room staff, presented here are two items from our many special collections. The post card, A Peaceful Thanksgiving, is from 1910 and includes a quote from the John Greenleaf Whittier poem, “My Triumph.”
The manuscript is from President Grover Cleveland’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1885, designating and setting apart the day for public Thanksgiving, reunion of families, the suspension of all secular business, and deeds of charity for the poor.
Enjoy the Holiday!