A Stellar Intern

By Vicki Denby, Manuscript End Processor, Technical Services Department, Houghton Library

This past spring, Houghton Library Technical Services had the superluminous pleasure of working with Zoe Padilla, a senior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS). This is the seventh consecutive year we been able to hire a paid intern from CRLS to learn about our work by helping end-process our collections.

Through the School-to-Work (STW) program, the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) coordinates with the Cambridge Office of Workforce Development, Harvard schools/departments, and CRLS to provide job training and learning opportunities for high school students. Joie Gelband of HUCTW helps select students to work in departments for three afternoons a week as paid interns. Each student has an HUCTW member as a supervisor the student an overview of the work and specific assignments. They explain how the student’s work fits into the mission of the department, and check in regularly with updates and feedback.


An “Old Prayer Book”, Yet Not “a ‘dull’ one”: The Liber ordinarius of Nivelles


By Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Department of Art & Architecture, Harvard University

Edmund Bishop, the famous historian of Catholic liturgy, once posed the question: “Is the subject ‘An Old Prayer Book’ a ‘dull’ one?” Tongue-in-cheek, he replied that he would prefer the dullest form possible, namely, a tabulation of its contents, adding that “any subject is sure to prove dull to somebody.” By Bishop’s definition, a Liber ordinarius, which offers little more than a list constituting the ordo or order of the liturgy for a given church or community, would be a very dull book indeed. However, the Liber ordinarius of Nivelles (which has been fully digitized and now bears the Houghton call number MS Lat 422) demonstrates the contrary.

The front of the Liber ordinarius, which has two clasps across the front.

The front board of the Liber ordinarius (MS Lat 422), Houghton Library, Harvard University.


Longfellow Rides Again

By Vicki Denby, Houghton Library Technical Services

A museum case displays three books and a small card under glass.

Houghton Library’s manuscript of “Paul Revere’s Ride” [center], from the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow papers (MS Am 1340 [105]), on display at the Concord Museum. Photo by Laura Larkin, Houghton Library.

A Houghton Library manuscript, on loan as part of the exhibition Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere, will once again be on public view when the Concord Museum reopens on August 6, 2020.


Houghton From Home: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Candle-lightin’ Time

Paul Laurence Dunbar is one of the most celebrated American poets of the late 19th century. Dunbar was raised in Dayton, Ohio by formerly enslaved parents who were emancipated after the Civil War. He began writing poetry at the age of six and published his first poem at 16. Though he died young, Dunbar published over a dozen collections of poetry, four novels, several short story collections, and an original play before succumbing to tuberculosis at age 33. Dunbar’s work, enjoyed by presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, centers the everyday experience of Black men and women in fin de siècle America.

Dunbar collaborated with the Hampton Institute Camera Club to illustrate six of his poetry collections. The Club’s affirming portraits of Black Americans became some of the mostly widely distributed images of African American visual culture in U.S. history. Dunbar’s 1901 work, Candle-lightin’ Time is a prime example of their partnership. The collection’s first poem, “Dinah Kneading Dough,” tenderly describes Dinah’s breadmaking accompanied by images of a Black woman elbow-deep in flour in her kitchen.


How Sergeant William Harvey Carney Rescued the Old Flag in the Assault on Fort Wagner in the American Civil War

By Peter X. Accardo, Scholarly and Public Programs Librarian

William Harvey Carney wearing his Medal of Honor.

Sergeant William Harvey Carney after the war, wearing his Medal of Honor, ca. 1901-1908. Gelatin silver print by James E Reed, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University. Public Domain.

Born into slavery in 1840, William Harvey Carney and his family left Virginia sometime in the 1850s before settling in New Bedford, Massachusetts, an active hub on the Underground Railroad and the same town where Frederick Douglass had brought his own family in 1838 at the start of his prophetic career. Carney was among the first to join Company C of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an all-Black Union army regiment under the command of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, member of a prominent New York-Boston family and a former Harvard student (Shaw’s family letters are in the collection of Houghton Library and were consulted during the production of the 1989 film Glory).