As noted in a previous entry, I have been hard at work cleaning and moving the Special Collection books. Prior, I worked on cleaning and moving Maria Mitchell’s own library and the books of her family members that we have. As I was recently working on the Botany Special Collection (SC) books, I came across this very small and unusually bound book. It is bound with a beautiful wood cover and a lovely detailed ribbon is inserted as an inlay and then varnished over to protect not just the ribbon but the wood as well. The title reads Jerusalem and what I believe is likely the word Jerusalem in Hebrew is above the English.
Inside are wonderful combinations of flowers pressed in intricate patterns and wreaths from sites across Israel – each page labeled as to where the flowers supposedly came from. This is obviously a souvenir that was purchased. What makes it of even more interest, and also out of place with regular botany SC books, is the fact that in it is written, “Brought from Israel by William Mitchell Kendall.” He was the nephew of Maria Mitchell, the son of her younger sister Phebe Mitchell Kendall and her husband Joshua Kendall. William Mitchell Kendall was a senior architect with McKim, Mead, and White and travelled fairly extensively – including taking a trip in his late teens with his parents and his aunt Maria to Europe, including Russia in 1873. I think he was likely influenced by his aunt’s love of travel and exploration. Maria Mitchell once said, “The habit of traveling once adopted cannot be easily given up.”
Now, the book will be placed with the family’s collection of Special Collection books where it belongs. What an exciting find!