In History, Uncategorized, Yale on November 6, 2010 at 9:16 am

Yale has lots of things packed away in the attic.  Which of these treasures is not in their collections?


1.  A rose kissed by Alice B. Toklas

2.  A piece of the True Cross

3.  Alfred Lord Tennyson’s hair

4.  William Howard Taft’s underpants

Yale has a plate, a scarf, and a wax seal all bearing Gertrude Stein’s famous “A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE,” and even an empty envelope that once contained a rose, but no rose kissed by Alice.  There is, however, a rose kissed by Byron and another kissed by Liszt.  And doesn’t everybody have a piece of the True Cross?

According to Joseph W. Reed, former chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Yale Library Associates, Yale has a lot of hair.  Besides Tennyson, there is a lock from Lord Byron, owned by the Elizabethan Club, and another from Napoleon, bound into a volume of St. Helena memoirs.  When Reed put together an exhibition of “Things” from Yale’s attic in 1995, he decided the most disgusting hirsute memento is from Major John Andre, the British spy, collected from his corpse 40 years after his burial and sent to Benjamin Silliman. 

Much to Reed’s dismay though, while rounding up exhibition items, he discovered that Taft’s underpants, despite their size, seem to have gone missing.


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