April 23rd, 2018

Announcing Houghton Library Visiting Fellows 2018-2019

Each year, Houghton Library awards visiting fellowships to support scholars whose research requires extensive use of the library’s collections. We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018-2019 awards, including two inaugural fellowships: the Maryette Charlton Fellowship for the Performing Arts, and Donald and Mary Hyde Fellowship for Research in Early Modern Black Lives, including Africa and the African Diaspora, 1500-1800. For an insight into the projects and experiences of former Houghton fellows, please read blog posts here.

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April 17th, 2018

More Mystery Film Stills

We received an enthusiastic response to our first post on uncaptioned film stills in our Ludlow-Santo Domingo Collection, including a very nice writeup in the Boston Globe. Thanks to all who posted comments to help us identify those mystery movies. It seemed like readers had fun with the process, so we’ve asked the cataloger of the collection, Elise Ramsey, to provide us with another batch. As last time, please post a comment if you know what movie or performer is shown, and be sure to include the number of the photo.

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April 11th, 2018

Calling All Movie Buffs!

UPDATE: The response to this post was so great we’ve posted 25 new unidentified movie stills–let us know if you can help!

We recently cataloged a collection of several hundred film stills as part of the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library. Many identify the film or actor depicted, but to make this collection as useful as possible to researchers, we’d love your help identifying those with no caption. If you recognize the film or stars in these images, please leave a comment below, and be sure to give the number of the photo you’re referring to.

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April 11th, 2018

Aspects of Edward Lear (Part IV)

‘Never was there a luckier piece of work!’, remarked Philip Hofer when recalling W. B. O. Field’s gift of over 3,500 of Lear’s pictures to Houghton in 1942. In recent years a comprehensive online finding aid has been created, which includes high-resolution images of the drawings and detailed transcriptions of the annotations Lear made on them. Not intended for sale, these pictures were his aide mémoires, references, trials for future work. Yet their unfinished state often lends them an understated, beguiling beauty, and it also allows us to catch the artist in the act of creation, to eavesdrop on his thoughts as he talks to himself while composing. As Hofer observed in his illuminating study, Edward Lear as a Landscape Draughtsman, the year in which Lear began adding nonsense words to his drawings (‘rox’ to denote ‘rocks’, say, or ‘raven’ to signify ‘ravine’) was the same year in which he was preparing his first Book of Nonsense for press. ‘O path!’, he writes on one sketch. Such whimsical hailings might stand as invitations to viewers to take their own unusual paths through the images—and to read them with nonsense in mind.

Granted, many of the pictures are distinctly non-nonsensical:

Near Tivoli: Ponte Nomentano, 1842? Houghton Library, MS Typ 55.26 (229)

Near Tivoli: Ponte Nomentano, 1842? Houghton Library, MS Typ 55.26 (229)

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April 5th, 2018

Born-Digital Post #3: Space

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.

Our born-digital journey continues to be filled with research, trial and error, and lots of excel spreadsheets. Besides all of the technical preparations and planning that make up Houghton’s born-digital project, there are physical requirements that have to be addressed as well. Location, location, location! Physical space is very important to the success of accessioning the backlog identified in the survey; it is one of the factors that determines how quickly we can gain access to the materials. Ironically, digital materials (all those ones and zeros) do take up physical space!

Two of the main concerns are where to house the materials throughout the survey and where to conduct the survey and actually accession the materials. At the beginning we knew right away that we could not house all of the born-digital materials (currently mixed in with manuscript material, so it takes up a ton of space) and accession in the same place due to the physical constraints of our office. So, we determined that if accessioning were to take place in our office, an alternative space needed to be created for staging the materials. In order to find temporary storage we talked to one of our colleagues Micah Hoggatt, Reference Librarian, whose familiarity negotiating space at Houghton came in handy. Micah was able to find temporary space, two bays in our stacks (in the sub-basement).

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April 5th, 2018

Collections Now Available for Research: April 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.

Richard Baldridge Manuscripts and Letters, 1927-1964 (MS Thr 125) – processed by Irina Klyagin

Boris Bilinsky Costume Designs for Cinema, Theater and Ballet, 1924-1943 (MS Thr 317) – processed by Irina Klyagin

Martin Camacho Subject Files on Labor During the Allied Occupation of Japan, 1942-1953 (MS Am 3164) – processed by Ashley Nary

George Chaffee collection of dance prints and original drawings, circa 1613-1921, undated (MS Thr 861) – processed by Betts Coup

Doris Dickinson Dinsmore Papers Relating to Serge Soudeikine, circa 1940-1979 (MS Thr 640) – processed by Irina Klyagin

Monroe Engel Correspondence, circa 1947-1981 (MS Am 3163) – processed by Magdaline Lawhorn

Robert D. Graff Papers on the Production of Young Cassidy, 1960-1976 (MS Thr 318) – processed by Irina Klyagin

Lowell Family Papers, 1836-1928 (MS Am 3166) – processed by Elizabeth Amos and Adrien Hilton

Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library Pulp Fiction Collection, circa 1900-1970s (MS Am 3136) – processed by Adrien Hilton, Elise Ramsey, Ryan Wheeler, and a number of student assistants

Norman Mailer 1969 New York Mayoral Campaign Papers, circa 1968-1970 (MS Am 3168) – processed by Melanie Wisner

James Metcalf Collection of Correspondence and Photographs By and Related to Tennessee Williams (MS Thr 1774) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Costume Designs by William J. C. Pitcher for Ballet and Theater, 1889-1905 (MS Thr 1770) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Letters to Sarah and William Siddons, 1780-1795 (MS Thr 395) – processed by Irina Klyagin

Ernst Weil Catalog Cards, circa 1924-1965 (MS Eng 1822) – processed by Ashley Nary

March 22nd, 2018

Exhibition catalogs digitized

Picturing Prayer coverWe’re pleased to share the news that we’ve digitized a few of our favorite exhibition catalogs from the past, focused on our collection of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. We hope those interested in the field will find them a valuable resource.

Late Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, 1350-1525, in the Houghton Library (1983)
The Bible in the Twelfth Century: An Exhibition of Manuscripts at the Houghton Library (1988)
The Marks in the Fields: Essays on the Uses of Manuscripts (1992)
Picturing Prayer: the Book of Hours in the Middle Ages (2006)
Of Current Interest: Recent Research on Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Houghton Library (2006)

March 6th, 2018

Collections Now Available for Research: March 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.

Anne Barry correspondence with Norman Mailer and related papers, circa 1961-2009 (MS Am 3159) – processed by Melanie Wisner

Artcraft Lithograph & Printing Co. Window Cards, 1941-1979 (MS Thr 1752) – processed by Melanie Wisner

William Ernest Hocking Papers, 1860-1979 (MS Am 2375) – additions added by Adrien Hilton

 Florence Milner Papers on Lewis Carroll, circa 1860s-1930s (MS Eng 1820) – processed by various staff as part of archival training

Alfonso de Orléans Papers, circa 1937-1975 (MS Span 1870) – processed by Ashley Nary

Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library Collection of Film Stills, circa 1894-2002 (MS Thr 1678) – processed by Elise Ramsey

Alfred K. Schroeder Photographs of the Boston Ballet, circa 1960-1970 (MS Thr 1731) – processed by Magee Lawhorn

Langdon Warner Papers, 1900-1959 (MS Am 3138) – processed by Fletcher Coleman

Charles H. Waterbury Correspondence and Scrapbooks on Chess Problems, 1858-1878 (MS Am 2483) – processed by various staff as part of archival training

Leo Van Witsen Designs and Photographs,1935-1973 (MS Thr 1740) – processed by Betts Coup

March 1st, 2018

Born-Digital Blog Post #2: Generating the Report

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.

 Houghton’s born-digital survey journey continues to the next stage, beginning with the procurement and analysis of reports illuminating the extent of our holdings. You might be thinking…..why are they bothering with generating reports from materials already at Houghton? Why not just create new workflows and policies that are mindful of born-digital handling for future ingest? In this case we are looking to the past to inform our present and future practices. But first, we must find and preserve the media hidden in our collections. It is estimated that this media won’t be readable by 2030.

We want to be as thorough as possible, in the hopes that we will eliminate the need for a future born-digital backlog survey. No longer will born-digital materials get cast aside, overlooked, and overshadowed by their analog counterparts. In conjunction with the backlog survey we are updating our accessioning procedures to incorporate born-digital material practices. With these new workflows we will log media at accessioning, by removing, photographing, and creating a unique identifier for each object. By employing these changes we remedy the problem that born-digital materials in our holdings are currently facing, allowing us to forge ahead without adding to the backlog.

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February 24th, 2018

The Origins of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra

Today, the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, America’s oldest symphony orchestra, will perform its annual Junior Family Weekend concert in the university’s Sanders Theatre. The HRO began life in 1808 as the quirkily named Pierian Sodality, founded by six Harvard students seeking to further their shared interest in serenading and socializing. The original Pierian Sodality  appears to have concentrated on the latter and members were frequently censured by the university, with four of its musicians actually expelled in 1834. At this particularly low point a single stalwart member remained in the Sodality: Henry Gassett 34, a flautist. Gassett insisted on holding rehearsals and performances of one, paying himself dues and convening solo meetings. Gradually rebuilt in the intervening years, the Sodality would in 1942 become the Harvard Radcliffe-Orchestra (although they retain the name “Pierian Sodality of 1808” for their alumni board).

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