Lifestyles of the Rich & Noble

Don’t be sooooo 12th century. Get with the times whilst also enjoying this complementary copy of Medieval Vogue! Katie designed this gorgeous little mag for a massive Robin Hood shindig my library hosted some years ago. If you’d like to browse Medieval Vogue for the newest trends in poulaines this season, here is part 1 and part 2 *. For more about the event, read on!

Robin Hood was the book du jour for Princyclopedia, an annual large-scale event that involved bringing a book to life from all sorts of angles – history, science, music, art, food, performances, live animals, you name it! Each table had either a demo, a hands-on activity, or something cool to take home. The 2-sided event map showed you all the table activities and also matched relevant book quotes or historical blurbs to them.

Medieval Vogue was a free take-home at the “Lifestyles of the Rich & Noble” table. Here, we were delighted to be joined by Rose Fox and Kim Hanley from Medieval Scenarios and Recreation.They brought TONS of clothes and costumes for kids to look at and try on, and answered questions about fashion from this time period.

At another table, we had a different take on wearables. Namely, the armor of Sir John Williams (right) and friend (left), two knights who professionally joust at Renaissance Fairs! They brought all their gear and expertise and were simply amazing.

We had a TON of other activities as well…the chemistry of alchemy, venison chili, musical performances on period instruments, live hawks, the science of stained glass, actual longbows with a kid-safe shooting range, illuminated art, the math of taxation, a big play space with multiple cardboard castles, the science of stained glass, herbal amulets, siege engines, gargoyle sculpting, nature tracking, professional stage fight demos, forest conservation, two free roving court jesters, and more! And yes…a table on all the Medieval jobs you DON’T want.

Another fantastic component of the event is that it was a food drive. Families were invited to bring can and box goods to the event to benefit the Arm in Arm food pantry (formally the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County). We donated almost 500lbs of food!

I’ll finish today’s post by sharing the literacy-based table the Princeton Public Library hosted. Since literacy was uncommon during the Middle Ages, shops typically featured pictures of their goods and/or services on their signs. So we designed a game! First, we selected a bunch of images of Medieval signs. Then, we asked kids to guess what the signs represented. Rothenburg, Germany has some fantastic signs currently in use (it being an actual historic Medieval town, wow!).

Image source Wikipedia

We also wanted kids to make a personal connection, so Katie and I photographed a few local shops. We photoshopped out any words, then asked kids to guess what the signs represented. They were tickled to recognize signs they saw everyday and make a Medieval literacy connection!


* Images used for Medieval Vogue may be subject to copyright. Please contact danas@princeton.edu if you are the author of one or more of images used here and have objection in such a use.

Cotsen Pumpkin Patch

Denslow’s ABC Book. Denslow, W. W. New York : G.W. Dillingham Co., 1903. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library

Halloween is just around the corner, which means it’s time to head to the pumpkin patch for your favorite festive gourd! Katie and I thought it would be fun to venture into the Cotsen Children’s Library’s special collections vaults and pull a few pumpkin treasures. Enjoy some historic pumpkins from 1900-1990!

Halloween ABC, poems by Eve Merriam ; illustrations by Lane Smith. New York : Macmillan, c1987. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library

See My Lovely Poison Ivy : and Other Verses About Witches, Ghosts, and Things. By Lilian Moore, pictures by Diane Dawson.New York : Atheneum, c1975. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library

The Sun-Bonnet Babies. by Bertha L. Corbett. Minneapolis, Minnesota (no publisher given). c1900. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library

Halloween. Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner. New York : Atheneum, c1993. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library. Photograph by Sylvia Plachy.

One quick note about the pumpkin patch photographed above. It’s from a book titled Halloween (Atheneum, 1993). Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner, it features amazing photographers like Sylvia Plachy, William Wegman, Sally Mann, and Phyllis Galembo. All the royalties and profits were donated to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. There is a touching introduction to the work of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation by Francesca DeLaurentis, age 10. The book is an incredible collaboration on so many levels.

Halloween. Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner. New York : Atheneum, c1993. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library. Photograph by William Wegman.

Halloween. Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner. New York : Atheneum, c1993. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library. Photograph by Sally Mann.

Halloween. Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner. New York : Atheneum, c1993. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library. Photograph by Phyllis Galembo.


Images  may be subject to copyright. Please contact danas@princeton.edu if you are the author of one or more of images used here and have objection in such a use.

Destination: Sleepy Hollow

When the pumpkins begin to grow ripe on the vine, my thoughts always turn to my favorite spooky story since childhood, Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I’ve always wanted to visit Sleepy Hollow and walk across that famous bridge, and this past weekend, I got my chance!

The tale was first published in 1820, and begins in Tarrytown, New York, on the banks of the Hudson river. Sleepy Hollow is a quiet glen a few miles away. Tarrytown most definitely exists, and North Tarrytown was officially renamed Sleepy Hollow in 1996. Here you will find all the famous sites, such as the cemetery where the Headless Horseman is said to materialize.

I love the graphics on top of this historical sign…

The churchyard is part of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, which was constructed in the 17th century. Featured in Irving’s short story, it’s one of the of the oldest churches in New York State.

From the church, we headed down to the FAMOUS BRIDGE. Which, as it turns out, is the “is the most popular destination in Sleepy Hollow that doesn’t exist.” Because the simple 1700s wooden bridge that inspired Irving has long since disintegrated (you can read a little more bridge history here).

The bridge is located in a pretty major intersection with a gas station nearby. So it’s almost a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it historical literary moment. Here’s the bridge as it stands today…

And here’s a postcard image of the historic bridge! With the logs, the stonework, and the silken water…you can absolutely imagine being clocked by a pumpkin at a ghostly hour.

Not far from the bridge is the town’s official statue, depicting Ichabod’s fatal race home. This was a bit of a surprise too. I expected something more traditional. But I like the metal layers on this interpretation – they’re almost like a paper cut silhouettes. Unveiled Halloween 2006, the statue was designed by artist Linda Perlmutter, and fabricated by MILGO/BUFKIN.

The Sleepy Hollow cemetery, church, bridge, and statue are all across the street from the Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills, which is a restored 18th century living-history museum (you can read more here). It’s currently closed for restoration work.

We also got an unexpected surprise at the nearby Philipse Manor train station, which operates on the Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson Line. The station’s pedestrian bridge had really cool stained glass windows…

And check out the VIEW of the Hudson River on the other side!

I also recommend heading to Patriot Park, which is on the border of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. It boasts stone bridges, staircases, and water. And plenty of green space to run around on!

At this point, we were getting hungry, so we headed over to Tarrytown for some bites. Main Street was charming, walk-able, and there were plenty of eateries to chose from.

One other building of note is the historic Tarrytown Music Hall, a 136 year-old historic theater. Supposedly haunted, and yes, they DO have ghost tours. And yes, I’m definitely kicking myself for not thinking of buying tickets in advance of my trip!

The sun was starting to set as we headed back to New Jersey with haunted places still on our minds. This Halloween, when I revisit Irving’s tale, I’ll actually be able to say that I’ve walked through the cemetery, stood next to the church, and crossed the bridge! How awesome is that?