Monday, August 16, 2010

NY Times Review

An interesting review in the Times of: THE BOOK IN THE RENAISSANCE. By Andrew Pettegree. Illustrated. 421 pp. Yale University Press. $40

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Elmer L. Andersen Research Scholars Program

Announcing the Elmer L. Andersen Research Scholars Program

The Elmer L. Andersen Research Scholars Program supports scholarly research projects using materials from the Libraries' rare and special collections. Named for former governor and University of Minnesota regent Elmer L. Andersen, the new program honors the Governor's passion for collecting and for expanding the use of the collections. The Research Scholars program is available to scholars including faculty, graduate, postgraduate, and independent researchers using the collections in the Department of Archives and Special Collections. This program is not available to currently enrolled University of Minnesota graduate or undergraduate students.

The program will provide annual support for up to two research projects that require use of one or more of the collections. Awards range from $500 to $2,000 and provide funds for travel, housing and other research related costs. The final research product (e.g., journal article, documentary film) must acknowledge the Libraries' support and be deposited with the University Libraries.

Applications should include the following:

  • Cover letter that provides a detailed project description, placing the project in the context of its larger field of study and describing the anticipated result of the project (e.g. journal article, book, edited volume, etc.). The narrative should articulate the anticipated use of the University Libraries collections with reference to specific collections to be used and their relevance to the project.
  • The applicant's curriculum vitae.
  • Two letters of recommendation.

Application deadline: September 30, 2010
Award announcement: November 1, 2010
Research must be completed: December 30, 2011

Send application to:
Director of Archives and Special Collections
University of Minnesota Libraries
305 Elmer L. Andersen Library
222 21st Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455

About the collections:
The University of Minnesota Libraries Archives and Special Collections contain diverse holdings from clay tablets to documentation of the history of information technology, from children's literature to University records, from the literary and performing arts to gay and lesbian culture. Complete description of the collecting areas at

Monday, August 9, 2010

Allen in Minnesota

These series of posts relate to one of our current Sherlock Holmes exhibits, "Through The Eyes of an Enthusiast -- The Allen Mackler Collection," on display through August 29 in the T. R. Anderson Gallery in Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota. The text comes from the accompanying exhibit booklet.


1990 marked a number of transitions in Allen’s life. By this time he had left the East Coast and his work with public radio and moved to Osseo, Minnesota. Here he found Sherlockian company and friendship through the Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota. At the beginning of the year, at the annual dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars, Allen was honored with an Irregular Shilling and the Investiture of “Sarasate.” It was at this same time that Allen began co-hosting a Morley walk around Manhattan. A later report from the BSJ gives a sense of the stroll.
Guides Mackler and Shields are masters at finding these sights, and those who join them are the beneficiaries. We were told that Morley was fond of strolling around the top of the Woolworth Building in order to find inspiration for his columns. From this perch, he could see the Brooklyn Bridge, the sun glistening off the Manhattan mountains, St. Paul’s churchyard, and Vesey Street. Therefore, we approached the lobby of the Woolworth Building with great anticipation.
May found him in Chicago celebrating Christopher Morley’s one-hundredth birthday at a Morley symposium with members of The Hounds of the Baskerville (sic) and Hugo’s Companions. Allen spoke on Morley’s devotion to New York. By the end of the year Allen had been elected membership director of the Norwegian Explorers and was editing their newsletter, Explorations. The following February Allen presented an evening program on “Sherlock Holmes and Music” at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis.

Allen continued to edit and write for Explorations along with other Sherlockian publications. He deepened his Minnesota roots while still being an active member of the Irregulars and other societies. In 1993 Allen was part of the planning and program for the Norwegian Explorers’ conference “Sherlock Holmes’ Rogues, Rascals, and Ruffians” held in Minneapolis. Two years later he became president of the Explorers, serving for two years. At the end of his term it was reported that “[a]ll members of the Norwegian Explorers would like to thank Allen for his efforts and leadership, and we all look forward to his continued involvement.” A note in The Moriarty Principle indicates another of Allen’s endeavors at this time. “He founded the scion, ‘The Fowl Fanciers,’ in Minnesota in 1990 with the blessing of John Bennett Shaw. He is an expert on the violinist Pablo Sarasate . . . and classical music.” Food, music, Morley, and Holmes--life was good.

On the cusp of the millennium Allen continued to be active with the Irregulars. He was also a member of an exclusive group, the Sherlockians By Invitation Only Society (SBIOS). I’m not sure when he may have been invited, but it is clear from their 1999 report that Allen was in New York for the annual BSI weekend (my first time at this august gathering) and then headed to London “for the Sherlock Holmes January 16th birthday party sponsored by the Sherlock Holmes Society of London held in the distinguished House of Commons Meeting Room, Parliament.” I’m sure Allen traveled to London many times. Roger Johnson, editor of The District Messenger (the newsletter of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London) noted a final visit. “The last time we met him in England Jean and I were able to direct him to a nice gasogene for his collection.” That gasogene now sits in the sitting room adjacent to this exhibit.

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, at the first meeting of Holmes and James Mortimer, Holmes remarked “You are an enthusiast in your line of thought, I perceive…” Allen was an enthusiast and a good friend to many. Enjoy a few fruits of that enthusiasm and friendship.

Allen the author

These series of posts relate to one of our current Sherlock Holmes exhibits, "Through The Eyes of an Enthusiast -- The Allen Mackler Collection," on display through August 29 in the T. R. Anderson Gallery in Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota. The text comes from the accompanying exhibit booklet.


Allen continued writing and reviewing. Baker Street Miscellanea seemed a favorite venue for his pen. In 1986 he appraised Robert Goldsborough’s Murder in E Minor and John Lescroart’s Son of Holmes. “In the case of the two volumes under discussion, we can almost say, as Sherlock Holmes did to Watson about the nature of his violin-playing, ‘Oh, that’s all right,’ replete with an equally merry laugh.” A year later Allen reported on the fourth Quinquennial Sherlock Holmes Alimentary Festival at the Culinary Institute of America (“the true CIA”) in “A Study in Sumptuousness.” “Holmes once said of Watson that the latter never recognized his merits as housekeeper. Be that as it may, the merits of all responsible for making this weekend what it was were well applauded.” This was followed by a brief report of quotations by the actor Jeremy Brett under the title “Is Jeremy Brett’s Interpretation of Sherlock Holmes Changing?” and a review, in 1990, of The Standard Doyle Company: Christopher Morley on Sherlock Holmes, edited by Steven Rothman. “Morley wrote about Holmes in so many different ways and contexts that even Sherlockians well up on their ‘kinspritship’ (or maybe it should be kinsprits well up on their writings about the Writings) will find many things new to them, or at any rate refreshing.” A year later Allen was back at the CIA and offered “A Reichenbach Repast.”
Over the course of the years during which I have been privileged to attend the irregular celebrations given in honor of Mr. Sherlock Holmes at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, it has been a source of never ending wonder as to how each succeeding event can possibly be better than that which came before. But, happily, such is the case; and no exception to the rule can be invoked in regard to the most recent in the ongoing series, held on May 4 of this year.
Allen was present on the pages of the Baker Street Journal as well. Perhaps the most interesting (and humorous) experience, reported by his co-investigator Sheldon Wesson, involved an event from “The Adventure of the Red Circle.”
The very crux of The Adventure of the Red Circle — the signaling by means of a candle waved across a window — has been subjected to the most rigorous scientific scrutiny. The results of that exercise, by Allen Mackler, scientist, and Sheldon Wesson, laboratory assistant, are described below. The starting point was the lengthy marginal note in Baring-Gould’s Annotated Sherlock Holmes. S. F. Blake is quoted therein as reporting that the full message — ATTENTA ATTENTA ATTENTA PERICOLO PERI — would require 477 waves of the candle across the window and would take about 4 3/4 minutes to deliver.

Those figures have proved to be incorrect. The message requires 384 passes, not 477. We surmise that Mr. Blake may have counted two PERICOLOs, thus accounting for the difference of 93 counts, whereas the Canon describes only one. We determined, too, that sufficient pauses must be allowed between letters and words to promote comprehension: three “beats” between letters, six between words.

The Mackler — Wesson experiments (replicated in part at a meeting of the Red Circle of Washington, D.C.) showed the effects of three different speeds upon the intelligibility of the message….
Based on their close reading of the Canon, the authors concluded: “Factoring in all of these conditions yields a total elapsed time of 7 minutes and 14 seconds — which we now adopt as ‘official.’ We forebear from comment on the questions of language variations raised in Baring-Gould: i.e., the language employed in the signals, Italian, English, or Italian in the English alphabet. This consideration could affect our total elapsed time by at most a few seconds.”

More on the Mackler Exhibit

These series of posts relate to one of our current Sherlock Holmes exhibits, "Through The Eyes of an Enthusiast -- The Allen Mackler Collection," on display through August 29 in the T. R. Anderson Gallery in Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota. The text comes from the accompanying exhibit booklet. Photographs are from the booklet and also of the exhibit. This photograph is of Allen's library in his home.

In 1982 Allen was writing more about food in another article for BSM entitled “Knowledge of Gastronomy - Immense,” a report on the Third Quinquennial Sherlock Holmes Alimentary Festival held at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. His account covered the full weekend, complete with side trips to local bookstores and museums, and a running commentary on the various foods encountered (and enjoyed) along the way. “The weekend was something I would not have missed for worlds, for it was definitely not one of those unwelcome social summonses which call upon a man either to be bored or to lie. And unlike the experience of the hapless John Scott Eccles, all our meals, indeed, were well prepared and well served.”

Allen’s involvement with various Sherlockian societies continued. In early April 1984 Allen attended “the first public meeting of the Clients of Sherlock Holmes” held at the Faculty Club of the University of Pennsylvania. Here Allen’s love of classical music came to the fore. The event, reported in the BSJ, noted that “[a]fter dinner, Allan Mackler presented a comprehensive talk on music in the Canon, and played extremely rare recordings of Sarasate, Norman-Neruda, Paganini, and others, just as Holmes had heard them.” In early December 1985 Allen was again with the Red Circle of Washington, displaying both his culinary interests and knowledge of the Canon. “‘We still have the feathers, legs, crop, and so on,’ was the call to table for The Red Circle’s ‘Blue Carbuncle Dinner’ at the Piccadilly Restaurant . . . The menu, carefully selected by Allen Mackler, featured mock turtle soup, shrimp in cream with lettuce, roast goose, and plum pudding with brandy sauce . . . . Sheldon Wesson’s ‘Sherlockian IQ Test’ produced four winners: Allen Mackler, Marina Stajic, Melissa Ennis, and Jim Smith.” It was one of many quizzes won by Allen.

Spirits of Sherlock Holmes

OK, so it took me a bit longer to get back to posting here. Immediately after the wedding I dove into preparations for our triennial conference, "The Spirits of Sherlock Holmes." And that's what I've been up to since Thursday.

It was a delightful weekend, full of excellent papers and good-spirited fun. Jon Lellenberg has a few observations on his blog. If you're interested in Baker Street Irregular history, I invite you to follow Jon's new initiative.

As a recap, here was the conference schedule:

Friday Aug. 6
1:30 pm “221B”; A Study in Starrett - Ray Betzner, BSI
2:30 pm The Current State of Affairs - Tim Johnson, Catherine Cooke, Neil McCaw, Peggy Perdue
3:30 pm Stranded on the Shelves: A Leaf through The Saturday Review - Steven Rothman, BSI
5 pm - Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections Meeting

Saturday Aug. 7
9:00 am Vintage and Spirited -Gideon Hill, MD, BSI
10:00 am Future Directions - Catherine Cooke, BSI, ASH; Tim Johnson; Neil McCaw and Peggy Perdue
11:00 am The Curious Case of Holmes in Silent Cinema- Russell Merritt , BSI
12 noon - Lunch
1:30 pm The Great Game: A Debate Covering the Founding of Sherlockian Scholarship - Jon Lellenberg BSI and Richard Sveum, BSI
2:30 pm Sherlock Holmes and the Spirit of Detective Fiction - Les Klinger, BSI
3:30 pm Boys and Girls Together - Evelyn Herzog, BSI , ASH
4:45 pm A Visit to the 221B’s Sitting Room—Wilson Library - Paul Martin, BSI and Jon Lellenberg, BSI
7:00 pm Banquet, Rewriting History…Again - Brad Keefauver, BSI, ASH

Sunday Aug. 8
9:30 am Guy de Maupassant’s “Le Horla” and the Haunting of Sherlock Holmes - Tim Reich
10:30 am Haunting Libraries in Search of a Guaranteed Medium - S. E. Dahlinger, BSI, ASH
11:30 am “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” - The Red-Throated League of the Norwegian Explorers
12:30 pm - Closing Remarks

I know there will be more reaction to the conference. I'll try to pick up some of those threads and post them here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More on Holmes Exhibits Coming

My apologies for not posting more about our current Holmes exhibits, but I was delightfully delayed by my son's wedding last weekend. It was the most marvelous and beautiful wedding, with a great gathering of family and friends.

I'll get back to posting more on Holmes later tonight or early tomorrow, but for the moment this proud papa is still basking in the glow. Here's a picture from the weekend.