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Grinnell ephemera

Topics/tags: Grinnell, short

Once in a while, I look online for old books related to Grinnell. I don’t usually buy them, but I appreciate learning new things about Grinnell. The other day, I discovered an expensive volume related to Grinnell, entitled Ikaria: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Kommunismus.; Autorisierte ausgabe. Deutsch von M. Jacobi.

An advertisement for a book entitled 'Ikaria: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Kommunismus.; Autorisierte ausgabe. Deutsch von M. Jacobi'.  The bookseller is Bartleby's Books of Chevy Chase, Maryland.  The left of the page has a description of the book (transcribed later in this page); the right has an image of the book.  The price is $600.

The book is about Icaria, a Utopian socialist society in Iowa. Since dad grew up in a socialist commune [1], such societies are always of a bit of interest to me [2].

What does this have to do with Grinnell? Well, Albert Shaw, the author, is a Grinnell alum (class of 1879). More precisely, Shaw is an Iowa College alum. From the bookseller’s description, it sounds like Shaw was in Grinnell when the community fractured into two communities [3]. However, the two towns are about 150 miles apart, so it’s hard to envision what connection there was. Perhaps he learned some things about Icaria while working for the Grinnell Herald.

What about the book? It’s a translation of Shaw’s book on Icaria, which was itself an extension of his doctoral thesis. Is it worth $600? Not to me. But the seller notes that only nine copies are known to exist and this is the author’s own copy. You can also buy a facsimile copy for under $20 or read the original English-language edition on

Postscript: For those who are having difficulty reading the text in the image, here’s what it says.

Shaw, Albert (1857-1947)

Ikaria: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Kommunismus.; Autorisierte ausgabe. Deutsch von M. Jacobi.

Stuttgart: Verlag von Robert Lutz, 1886. 8vo. vii, 139 pp. Printed in Fraktur. Original brown printed wrappers, stitched. Wrappers brittle and chipped at the edges; title and last leaf browned by the wrappers, else very good. Item #48308

First edition in German. The author’s own copy, with his ownership signature at the head of the front wrapper. Albert Shaw, who graduated in 1879 from Iowa College, now Grinnell, was a student there during the rupture of the Corning, Iowa, Icarian community. In 1884 he both completed a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and published Icaria: A Chapter in the History of Communism, from which this German edition was translated. It follows the course of the movement from 1848 on and closes with a consideration of other reform societies. Shaw was a journalist and author who wrote particularly on government and political systems and was editor of the Review of Reviews and newspapers. OCLC locates 8 copies in the U.S. and one in Europe.

Price: $600.00

Postscript: This search of random books also led to the discovery of an important piece of Grinnell history that the College did not own. I passed on the information to the Librarian of the College [4], and it sounds like we will be acquiring it. That makes me feel good.

Postscript: Other interesting discoveries included an essay on women’s suffrage by Jesse Macy, a volume by Macy on Political Science from the Women’s Citizen’s Library, published by the Civics Society of Chicago in 1913, and an article by Macy entitled Parliamentary Procedure. I had thought to forward the last to our parliamentarian. However, I see that it’s not a guide to parliamentary procedure. Rather, it’s a comparison of the English and American forms of government.

I’m thinking about using the Macy essay as a transcription challenge in my digital humanities course.

[1] The Ferrer Colony in Stelton, New Jersey, if I recall correctly.

[2] Not enough to do research on them or anything, but enough that I like reading Wikipedia pages about them or stumbling upon them.

[3] I see from p. 127 of Shaw’s book that new Articles of Incorporation were put into place on 16 April 1879, presumably just before Shaw graduated.

[4] Our primary archivist is on leave.

Version 1.0 of 2018-10-25.