October 11th, 2018

Looking Beyond the Text in Frances Wolfreston’s Books

By Sarah Lindenbaum

In the introduction of Marks in Books, Roger Stoddard’s catalogue of his 1984 exhibit on marginalia and other book traces, he writes, “As anthropologists have discovered, traces of wear can tell us how artifacts were used by human beings. Books no less than tools, apparel, and habits can show signs of wear, but their markings can be far more eloquent of manufacturing processes, specific of provenance, telling of human relations, and suggestive of human thought.”

Frances Middlemore Wolfreston (1607–1677) was a gentrywoman and lifelong native of the English Midlands whose private library of hundreds of volumes was broken up at various intervals during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Her books drifted to libraries as far-flung as New Zealand, Denmark, and even Normal, Illinois, which is where I found her copy of Lady Mary Wroth’s romance The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania (1621).

The most well-known en masse drift of her books occurred on May 24th, 1856, when Sotheby and Wilkinson auctioned a substantial portion of the Wolferstan family library.[1] Since locating Urania in 2013, I have been using this auction catalog to track down more of Wolfreston’s  books, which frequently indicate, through “signs of wear” (to borrow Stoddard’s phrase), how she used them, where they came from, and what she thought of them.

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October 3rd, 2018

Translated for Action: Gabriel Harvey’s Grammar-Drama

This post was written by Andrew S. Keener, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Santa Clara University. A recipient of the Katharine F. Pantzer Jr. Fellowship in Descriptive Bibliography, Keener was a 2016–2017 Houghton Library Visiting Fellow.

The sixteenth-century scholar Gabriel Harvey has fascinated researchers of early modern reading and handwriting for decades, but an investigation of several of his books at three libraries offers a fresh picture of his vernacular language study, and how it involved drama. Caroline Bourland published an essay on this topic in 1940, identifying a number of language manuals that once belonged to Harvey and which he annotated copiously with an array of marks and his characteristic autograph. Held today at the Huntington Library, these printed guides to French, Spanish, and Italian have received recent attention in interesting essays by Joyce Boro and Warren Boutcher, and alongside Harvey’s copy of John Florio’s Firste Fruites, too.

However, one of these language-learning publications, a translated Italian grammar printed in 1575 by the French Huguenot refugee Thomas Vautrollier, is distinct in that Harvey grouped it with several Continental dramatic publications. If we imaginatively reassemble this sammelband (a volume of multiple, bound-together titles), as András Kiséry has, it attests not only to this very particular reader’s interest in exemplary conversation, but also to a project in language learning.

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August 31st, 2018

Summer Spotlight: John Wilkes Booth and the Theatre of Our Discontent

Not all the objects in Houghton Library’s collections have such illustrious, proud histories as a Shakespeare First Folio or Gutenberg Bible.  Objects of less reputable association can provide just as striking of an encounter as these treasured relics, however. During the behind-the-scenes tour of Houghton on my first day of work at the library, I encountered one such item in the Harvard Theatre Collection: an actor’s promptbook of Richard III, belonging to one John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

Promptbook inscribed by Booth

Fly-leaf inscribed by John Wilkes Booth. ‘Shakespeare’s historical tragedy of Richard III: Adapted to representation by Colley Cibber,..’ (New York: Samuel French, [between 1857 and 1862]) pp. 16-17. TS Promptbook Sh154.322. Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Promptbook interior with annotations by Booth

Promptbooks like this allowed actors to note specific stage directions and performance minutiae alongside the text itself. ‘Shakespeare’s historical tragedy of Richard III : Adapted to representation by Colley Cibber,..’ (New York: Samuel French, [between 1857 and 1862]), pp. 16-17. TS Promptbook Sh154.322. Houghton Library, Harvard University.

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August 29th, 2018

Collections Now Available for Research: August 2018

Houghton Library is pleased to announce the following collections are now described online and accessible in the reading room.

Collection of Anderson Entertainment Bureau Printed Ephemera, circa 1900-1910 (MS Thr 1844) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Boyle Family Papers, 1657-1903 (MS Eng 218) – processed by Michael Austin

British Prompt Book Collection and Theatrical Manuscript Collection, circa 1680-2000 (MS Thr 1816) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine Drawings, circa 1891-1922 (MS Thr 1823) – processed by Betts Coup

Rodney G. Dennis Poems and Related Papers, circa 1997-2012 (MS Am 3187) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Collection of Prints and Proofs by John DePol (MS Typ 1225) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Lyonel Feininger Papers, 1883-1960 (MS Ger 146-146.3) – additions processed by Adrien Hilton

David Gascoyne papers, 1941-2005, undated (MS Eng 1745) – processed by Rachel Parker

Nikos Gatsos Papers, circa 1930-1993 (MS Gr 40) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Harvard Theatre Collection Cabinet Photographs of Men with Dwarfism (TCS 5) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Cabinet Photographs of Women with Dwarfism (TCS 6) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Cabinet Photographs of Men in “Freak Shows” (TCS 7) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Cabinet Photographs of Women in “Freak Shows” (TCS 8) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Cabinet Photographs of Popular Entertainment (TCS 10) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Cabinet Photographs of Scenes (TCS 11) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Photographic Portrait Postcards, circa 1870-2010 (TCS 14) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Cartes-de-visite Photographs of Men, circa 1854-1879 (TCS 18) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Cartes-de-visite Photographs of Women, circa 1854-1879 (TCS 19) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Popular Entertainment Playbills, Posters, Prints, and Clippings, 1618-1979 (inclusive), 1805-1895 (bulk) (MS Thr 1835) – processed by Betts Coup

Houghton Library Collection of Printing Ephemera, 2008-2018 (MS Typ 1222) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Houghton Library Collection of Printed Material Designed by Fré Cohen, 1922-1938 (MS Typ 1226) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Realia Related to Samuel Johnson, circa 1748-1957 (MS Hyde 105) – processed by Michael Austin

Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library Poster Collection, 1840-2011 (MS Am 3135) – processed by Rachel Parker

Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library Real Free Press collection, 1965-1980 (MS Dutch 24) – processed by Susan Wyssen and Rachel Parker

National and World’s Peace Jubilees And Music Festivals Collection, 1869-1872 (MS Thr 1837) – processed by Betts Coup

Printed Ephemera Relating to Theatricals at Strawberry Hill House, 1801-1804 (MS Thr 1843) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane Contracts, 1834-1867 (MS Thr 616) – processed by Melanie Wisner

July 31st, 2018

Collections Now Available for Research: July 2018

Houghton Library is pleased to announce the following collections are now described online and accessible in the reading room.

Dyke Benjamin Collection of John Ruskin and His Circle, 1815-1916 (MS Eng 1812) – processed by Magee Lawhorn

José María Castañé Collection of 20th Century War-related Manuscripts, Photographs, and Objects, circa 1898-1990 (MS Span 185) – processed by Michael Austin

José María Castañé Collection of Manuscripts from the Spanish Civil War and Early Francoist Spain, Circa 1923-1982 (MS Span 188) – processed by Michael Austin

Joseph D. Everingham Collection, 1956-1981, undated (MS Thr 1822) – processed by Betts Coup

William Friedkin Autograph Manuscript, Audio Recordings, and Research Materials for the Memoir The Friedkin Connection, circa 2009-2013 (MS Am 3183) – processed by – Magee Lawhorn

Alfred Frueh caricatures (MS Thr 1818) – processed by Betts Coup

John and Carol Garrard Collection for Russian Orthodoxy Resurgent, circa 1959-2005 (MS Russ 147) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Harvard Theatre Collection Cabinet Photographs of Groups of Performers (TCS 3) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Cabinet photographs of European operetta performers (TCS 4) – processed by Sarah Mirseyedi

Harvard Theatre Collection Original Drawings (MS Thr 1810) – processed by Betts Coup

Harvard Theatre Collection Shakespeare fantasy prints (MS Thr 1821) – processed by Betts Coup

Harvard University Student Theatre Posters, Designs, and Photographs, circa 1905-2017 (MS Thr 1809) – processed by Betts Coup

Kelly E. Laukemann Research Collection on the Boston Opera House, circa 1970-2003 (MS Thr 1812) – processed by Magee Lawhorn

Lear family correspondence, 1847-1873 (MS Eng 1826) – processed by Michael Austin

Marilyn Miller Scrapbooks, 1891-1918 (MS Thr 1811) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of Foreign Missions Records, circa 1833-1911 (MS Am 3173) – processed by Ashley Nary

Winifred Coombe Tennant Papers, circa 1911-1945 (MS Eng 1825) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Watermark Tracings from the Topkapi Palace Museum Archives (MS Typ 1215) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Woodberry Poetry Room Records, circa 1827-2000 (MS Am 3170) – processed by Ashley Nary

July 30th, 2018

Born-Digital Blog Post #6: Accessioning Workflow part 1

This post continues the series, “Behind the Scenes at Houghton”, giving a glimpse into the inner workings of the library’s mission to support teaching and research. Thanks to Magdaline Lawhorn, Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Resident & Project Archivist, for contributing this post.

Library and information professionals love developing workflows! Workflows make our work more manageable by increasing efficiency through step-by-step procedures that accommodate different scenarios. Houghton’s Born-Digital team is also Houghton’s accessioning team. We are fluent in accessioning manuscript collections. But does accessioning change when dealing with born-digital materials? Should it? Given the relative fragility of born-digital media, there are different elements we have to capture and account for in order to achieve a base level of physical and intellectual control of born-digital materials. Putting policies and systems in place to create records that track the handling of born-digital materials allows us to provide a higher level of service to our patrons. Our accessioning workflow is the first step in providing access to materials that are presently inaccessible to interested researchers and scholars.

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July 23rd, 2018

Summer Spotlight: Soldier-Poets of World War I

Announcing the Summer Spotlight Series    

I am a recent graduate of Harvard College, and I began working as a library assistant at Houghton in May.  Mostly, that means I hunt down books for patrons and return them to the shelf when they’re done.  An indelible part of my subterranean stack-roaming has been a whole lot of gawking (and a nonzero number of bona fide gasps, I’ll inform you).  Safeguarding and delivering the material in the stacks requires a certain amount of day-to-day tedium, true—but nothing prevents fatigue like arriving at the end of a long trail of call-number crumbs to find a case containing a lock of Byron’s hair.  And then remembering that it’s your job to bring that hair to someone upstairs, perhaps igniting some researcher’s last deposit of fan-club devotion buried by years of wrangling with a monstrous monograph.  It’s this excitement lurking behind every unassuming call number that makes the job a treasured rarity, a true first edition in a world of reprints.  Yes, working in a place that is this genuinely cool will make you start saying corny stuff like that—and maybe even believe it.

This post is the first in a two-part series called “Summer Spotlight,” in which I will feature some of the more interesting or peculiar items I encounter in the stacks.

-Mitchell Edwards, Harvard College ’18, Houghton Student Library Assistant

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June 15th, 2018

Collections Now Available for Research: June 2018

In surveying our collections for born-digital materials while also committing two staff to processing backlog collections and providing access at point of accession, we are excited to announce the following 22 collections are now more fully described and discoverable online.

Russell Ball Photographs, circa 1920-1930 (MS Thr 1792) – processed by Betts Coup

Lucia Berlin Papers, circa 1955-2004 (MS Am 3095) — processed by Magee Lawhorn

Elizabeth Bishop Poetry Reading and Commemorative Lectures with Related Material, 1976 (MS Am 3180) – processed by Melanie Wisner

José María Castañé Collection of War Photographs by Soviet Photojournalists, 1941-1946 (MS Russ 145) — processed by Irina Klyagin

Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made Against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials : photographs, 1937 (MS Russ 146) – processed by Magee Lawhorn

Anna Erskine Crouse Theatrical Portrait And Scene Photographs, 1933-1938, undated (MS Thr 1790) — processed by Betts Coup

Dance in Art : Reproductions of Works of Art in Various Media, circa 2002 (MS Thr 1804) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Harry C. Phibbs Goodman Theatre Production Photographs, circa 1925-1928 (MS Thr 1791) — processed by Betts Coup

Edward Hoagland Papers, circa 1936-2017 (MS Am 3176) — processed by Melanie Wisner

Collection of Promotional Material, Photographs, and Periodicals Relating to Sir Lady Java (MS Thr 1777) — processed by Melanie Wisner

Leo and Louise Kerz Papers and Designs, circa 1920-1996 (MS Thr 1796) — processed by Melanie Wisner

Dorothy Coit King-Coit School And Children’s Theatre Collection, circa 1922-1979 (MS Thr 1795) — processed by Betts Coup

Frederick R. Koch Photographs Of Modern And Ballet Dancers (MS Thr 1797) — processed by Betts Coup

Towards the Meaning of James Laughlin : Transcripts, 2001 (MS Am 3179) – processed by Melanie Wisner and Magee Lawhorn

Little, Brown and Company Medical Division Book Covers, 1963-1982 (MS Am 3171) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Milton Morris Pinkus Photographs and Papers Concerning World War I Ambulance Corps Service, circa 1914-1918 (MS Am 3182) – processed by Melanie Wisner and Magee Lawhorn

Skinner Family Papers (MS Thr 857) – processed by Betts Coup

Eleanor Steber Collection, circa 1920-1990 (MS Thr 1793) – processed by Betts Coup

Roger E. Stoddard Collection of Photographs of European Booksellers, 1997-1999 (MS Am 3169) — processed by Adrien Hilton

Theatrical organization photographs, circa 1860-1925 (TCS 41) – processed by Betts Coup

Theatrical Photographs By Photographer, circa 1915-1977, undated (TCS 42) – processed by Betts Coup

Wes Wallace Collection of Zines and Comics, circa 1990-2002 (MS Am 3178) – processed by Melanie Wisner

June 1st, 2018

Born-Digital Blog Post #5 : Analyzing Results of the Survey

This post continues the series, “Behind the Scenes at Houghton”, giving a glimpse into the inner workings of the library’s mission to support teaching and research. Thanks to Magdaline Lawhorn, Administrative Fellow & Project Archivist, for contributing this post.

So far in this series, I have discussed Houghton’s first steps in the born-digital initiative, the burgeoning digital forensic workstation, allocation of physical space, and our strategy thus far. Let us take a few steps back in order to move forward and revisit the survey report we discussed in Blog Post #2. Through Cognos, a reporting tool, we surveyed our holdings by pulling a report from Aleph (the staff mode of our integrated library system) querying specific fields with a devised vocabulary (i.e. terms such as USB, flash drive, thumb drive, etc.). This tool has allowed us to search for and identify collections that have born-digital components.

Statistics from the Cognos report pulled from Aleph. Undetermined data represents inconclusive information.

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May 15th, 2018

Collections Now Available for Research: May 2018

Houghton Library is pleased to announce that the following collections now have descriptive finding aids and are available for research in the library’s reading room.

José María Castañé Collection of German Wartime Propaganda Flyers in Russian, 1942-1944 (MS Russ 144) – processed by Irina Klyagin

Angna Enters Collection, 1929-1962, and undated (MS Thr 1784) – processed by Betts Coup

T.T. Gill Scene Designs, circa 1900-1930 (MS Thr 1779) – processed by Betts Coup

Father Michael J. Gillgannon Collection of Missionary Writings on Bolivia, circa 1976-2002 (MS Am 3172) – processed by Magdaline Lawhorn

David Hilberman “The Mother Of Us All” Designs, 1947-1965 (MS Thr 1781) – processed by Betts Coup

George Holland Papers, circa 1817-1869 (MS Thr 1786) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Joan Personette Costume Designs, circa 1940s (MS Thr 1782) – processed by Betts Coup

Daniel Rabel ballet drawings, 1625-1626 (MS Thr 1775) – processed by Betts Coup

Alekseĭ Remizov Letters to Boris Ungebaun with Related Papers, 1920-1963 (MS Russ 143) – processed by Magdaline Lawhorn

Theatrical Portrait Photographs (TCS 28) – processed by Betts Coup

Theatrical Scene Photographs (TCS 29) – processed by Betts Coup

Jo Ellis Tracy ballet drawings, circa 1990-1999 (MS Thr 1776) – processed by Betts Coup

Wulkan Family Theatrical Cabinet Cards, circa 1880-1900 (MS Thr 1773) – processed by Magdaline Lawhorn

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