Rare Book Monthly
An Antiquarian Visits Tufts
By Bruce McKinney
When an antiquarian father visits colleges and universities with his new-age children it’s not surprising that they see these institutions differently. Recently I accompanied my daughter on a ‘visit’ to Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, just an easy gallop for Paul Revere north of Boston which is visible, if not actually accessible, from the roof of their library.
In preparation for this trip I read one of their college catalogues. It begins, “A Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Tufts College 1872-73 printed by John S. Spooner, 4 Province Court, Boston. I make a quick look in ABE’s fifty million listings for other items printed by him, found nothing and concluded he went to his reward without leaving much of a paper trail.
This catalogue starts with the Trustees that number eighteen and includes no one on US currency or coins. Names and places are shown and they are all men, and decidedly New England with one residing in Washington, D. C. Are they authors that have left a trail on the internet? They are. Lucius R. Paige, D. D. and secretary to the board left a variety of printed works of which his histories of Cambridge and Hardwick command low three figures. Richard Frothingham, LLD, the treasurer and apparently once the Mayor of Cambridge, left an array of printed items and signed documents and looks to be an obscure but collectible person. Alonzo A. Miner had no books by him on ABE but had two copies of a biography of him. Timothy T. Sawyer is found once for “Old Charlestown,” a 1902 volume. Henry B. Metcalf left to us his “Papers and Addresses” that one listing dealer describes today as “New England essays on universalism, church, school, citizenship, prohibition, abstinence, [and] church reform. [He] deals with the New England Universalist church.” Then there is the Rev. Elmer H. Capen, AM with three items on ABE, each in a single copy. They are Courage and Resourcefulness: The Fifth Link in the Chain That Binds Man to the Best [Home Culture Series], The People's Bible History; Book III, From the Call of Abraham to the Bondage of Israel, and THE COLLEGE AND THE HIGHER LIFE Baccalaureate Sermons Preached by Elmer Hewitt Capen in Goddard Chapel, Tufts College. Finally there is the Rev. Thomas B. Thayer, DD who left behind The Bible Class Assistant” and “The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment.” How tough was this school exactly?
I gather you needed to be quite serious to be appointed trustee.
In the catalogue each student’s name, address on campus and hometown are given. Not surprisingly the student body is also mainly from New England although John Fred Ridlon came all the way from Momence, Illinois, a place that finds many matches on Google today.