Among the manuscripts on exhibition in the Widener Treasure Room in connection with educational development is a display portraying the life and works of Professor Francis J. Child, or "Stubby", as he was known to the undergraduates at Harvard. He corrected English A themes for 25 years, even though he had attained national fame as a writer of ballads. There are ten characteristic poses of the man, both as student and as teacher.
Also on display is his famous Italian operetta. "II Pesceballo", which was written in 1862 and which has a very interesting history. It is based upon the familiar college song of former times, "The Lay of One Fishball." His purpose in writing it was to have it sung as a public entertainment, the proceeds to be used for helping the loyalists of eastern Tennessee who had been impoverished by the ravages of the Civil War. Professor Child submitted his Italian verses to James Russell Lowell '38 for revision. Lowell at once "dashed off" an English version, and the thing was printed as a little pamphlet of 31 pages, with the Italian verses on one side of the leaf and Lowell's English interpretations on the opposite side. This pamphlet has been much sought after by Lowell collectors. It has no "title-page" but a "dropped head". There are three distinct forms of the pamphlet, with slight textual and typographic variations.
It is the third edition of Child's "II Pesceballo" that is on exhibition. It is issued on a pale green printed cover, bearing the title and imprint "Cambridge Printed at the Riverside Press, 1802." The first and second editions were issued as a stitched pamphlet, without a cover, and the first edition contains several misprints.