JF Ptak Science Books Post 2271
Years ago I purchased a very large collection of pamphlets from the Library of Congress, something like 2000 crumbling blue document boxes on two long ranges of metal shelving. It was creatively called (and stamped) "Pamphlet Collection" and rounded up to about 90,000 items, all of which needed to be hand stamped "Library of Congress Surplus Duplicate". Now the great majority of these were things like updates to the Cleveland plumbing code of 1922, but there were still many thousands of interesting items, and even after all of this time I really haven't dealt with all of it.
(The remarkable thing is that on the next range over was housed a very large collection of a (or the) Ray Eames archive. There were models, boxes labeled "1939 World's Fair", "IBM", so on--and his phone. I walked the range of this collection but didn't touch or open anything, which was remarkably tempting. It was all very dusty--years of dust.)
The arrangement of storage of the pamphlets was also very precise and thorough and also almost entirely useless. Even though if you squinted everything could be in its proper box, the sorting was very democratic, with things arranged by title and subject and author and period, all within one single category, making the notes on the side of the box just hopeful expressions of what might be inside. It made for an interesting hunt.
One of my favorite categories of pamphlets from this collection were the mimeographed or early-photo-mechanical reproduction productions, things that were home/office produced, and usually for a very restricted audience. These people meant business. For example:
The Struggle for Life in Los Angeles County, published by Edward Reimer (825 West 8th St), Los Angeles; presumably Reimer printed the document, as well, it just has that homemade feel to it, and it seems to be an early mimeographic reproduction production, and, probably, of very limited distribution. It was printed on 11x8.5" sheets in purple ink, 107pp, running about 60,000 words, and is also the Copyright Deposit copy (serial A 208715, July 6, 1936). This seems to be the only available copy of any interesting report on the conditions and remedies of social and economic conditions in Los Angeles in the mid-1930's, and I think in the right hands could be brought back to life again as a semi-lost social document.
[All of the following are available for purchase via the blog bookstore/social history section.]
And another, being everything you wanted to know and then more so on operating movable bridges in New York City, Isidor Lubin's Bridges and Bridge Operating in New York City, printed in 1939. It is 11x8", a 114pp, single-spaced typed and mimeographed document of about 70,000 words. This also seems to be a copyright deposit copy, with no copy turning up in the massive WorldCat catalog, and seemingly no copy available in libraries worldwide. In exhaustive detail Lubin discusses the operations and maintenance of movable bridges--and I mean all manner of things, from oiling to fuse boxes and lighting scenarios of control boxes and communicating with landside control; uniforms, courtesies, questions given in promotion examination to bridge operators (with answers), duties of bridge operators and tenders in operating drawbridges, distress signals and on and on.
Then there's this--a profesisonal production but still of very limited distribution, at least in this format, a work produced at the Harvard University Department of Psychology by Henry A. Murray (1893-1988). The Worksheets on Morale. Seminar in Psychological Problems of Morale was published in 1942 and contains a section that turns out to be the first psychological profile of Adolf Hitler--this copy was formerly in the library of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor and incubator of the CIA.
The sections include: (1) Aim of Seminar, 2 lvs; (2) Selected Bibliography, 1941, 3 lvs; (3) Notes on the Definition of Morale, 3+3lvs; (4) Determinants of Good and Bad Morale, 18 lvs; (5) Historical Trends of National Socialist Ideology, 14 lvs; (6) Hitler the Man, Notes for a Case Study, 22 lvs; (7) Education in Nazi Germany, 8 lvs; (9) Strategy and Tactics for anti-Nazi propaganda, 10 lvs; (10) Democratic vs. Totalitarian Morale in Groups, 5 lvs; (11) Standards of Democratic Morale-Building in the U.S., 6 lvs; (12) Civilian Morale Building Techniques, 7pp; (13) Psychology of Influence (Education Persuasion) Applied to Morale Building in America, 16 lvs; (14) Long-term Aspects of Democratic Morale-Building, 7 lvs; (15) Analysis and Execution of Propaganda Campaigns, 18 lvs.
The portions of this publication concerning the psychological profile of Hitler seem to pre-date the very recent re-publication of Murray's very obscure 1943 work again published for the OSS on the psychological composition of Hitler. The date of publication of these sheets is somewhat uncertain, although there are no references dated after 1941.
These sheets were obviously not intended for a wide distribution. It is interesting to note the circulation card in the pocket at the rear of this work as it bears the signature of David N. Yerkes. I spoke with Mr. Yerkes about 15 years ago (he was a neighbor in Georgetown as it turns out, living about six blocks north of the store) and inquired after his interest in this work (taken out on 7 June 1944 and returned 14 June 1944). He told the story that Henry Murray was a pupil of his father's, who was Robert Yerkes, former president of the American Psychological Association, Professor of Psychology at Harvard and innovator in the use of psychological testing and training of American servicemen during WWI. He didn't remember requesting or reading this report, though--after 55 years there's probably not a lot that most people remember about what they were reading, and when, six decades earlier.
These are just a few examples of these towering minor classics that I find fantastic and fascinating.