Feature Article

History Uncovered at Brennan Library

The Prince and the Pauper Fascinates 12 year-old Gabriello Adler

(Very) young researcher Gabriello Adler.

Twelve year-old Gabriello Adler of Medford just wanted to see the illustrations.

A home-schooled sixth grader with a love for late-edition books, Alder set about to borrow the oldest edition he could find of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper within the Minuteman Library Network last Fall. The network connects town libraries from Cambridge to Newton and beyond - including Lasell's Brennan Library.

Through an inter-library loan, Alder received what he thought was a 1940 edition of the volume. But it was much more.

He soon realized that despite its 1940s cover, the inside was actually a first edition - from 1886.

After conducting further research, Adler and his parents contacted the Brennan Library staff to schedule a meeting to present Adler's case for taking the book out of circulation and giving it a permanent home in the Winslow Archives.

"Gabriello gave an impressive and convincing presentation," says Lydia Sampson, head of technical library services. "He explained what he knew about the book's history, the evidence supporting his belief that we owned a first edition, sources for us to refer to, and his proposal -- that we remove the book from the circulating collection to preserve it and protect it from damage."

The find also prompted Lasell's Archivist Bobbie Sproat to conduct some research of her own about Twain's link to the College.

Sproat found that the Lasell Seminary Class of 1904 had invited Mark Twain to be an "honorary member" of the class - a long-standing tradition at the time. Also, Twain's autographed photo was displayed in the school's 1904 yearbook as well as in class photographs.

"The College's connections in its early years are impressive and Gabriello helped us uncover one," says Sproat.

Because of this connection and Adler's research, the volume has a new home in the archives on Brennan Library's second floor.

In its place in regular circulation will be a newer, less valuable edition of The Prince and the Pauper - recommended by Adler - that includes some of those early illustrations that he favors so much.

 


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