A Mysterious Manuscript in a Banned Language

By Christine E. Jacobson, Assistant Curator, Modern Books and Manuscripts, Houghton Library

Houghton recently acquired a nineteenth-century bilingual manuscript of Ukrainian and Russian folk songs and verse. At first glance, the work seems unremarkable. At 370 pages, it contains over 120 poems and songs, including well-known works by Alexander Pushkin and Taras Shevchenko as well as many popular songs from the period. Certain details, however, render the object extraordinary. The author of the manuscript copied these verses in a flawless and painstaking stylized script; he also provided page numbers, a table of contents, and title pages complete with dates and place of production. Who would go to such trouble over these common verses and why?

Photo of Makukhin's mysterious manuscript.

Sbornyk ukrainskykh pisenʹ y stykhov … sbornik russkikh pi͡esenʹ i stikhov, 1875-1880, MS Slavic 26. Houghton Library, Harvard University. Purchased with the Bayard L. Kilgour, Jr. Fund for Russian Belles-Lettres and the FHCL Ukrainian National Home of Lorain Ohio Book Fund.


On the Shoulders of Giants: Scientific Innovation and the Apollo 11 Mission

Exhibition poster for Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Apollo 11 at Fifty, including an image of the Saturn V rocket

This post is a condensed version of an essay from the catalogue of Houghton Library’s most recent exhibition, Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Apollo 11 at Fifty, which is on view from April 29 ­­– August 3, 2019. Follow us on Instagram, where we will feature images from the exhibition every Monday during its run.

In 1969, 600 million people watched Commander Neil Armstrong descend the lunar module Eagle’s ladder, stand on the moon, and remark, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong’s achievement was the culmination of a series of small steps and giant leaps in human understanding and innovation, advances driven by the curiosity and wonder of countless generations who had looked up at the heavens.


2019 Philip Hofer Prize Winners

From left to right: Luke Kelly (Harvard College '19), Khin-Kyemon Aung (HMS/HBS '20), and Angela Wheeler (GSD)

From left to right: Luke Kelly (Harvard College ’19), Khin-Kyemon Aung (HMS/HBS ’20), and Angela Wheeler (GSD).

On April 5, 2019, three Harvard students were named winners of the Philip Hofer Prize for Collecting Books or Art. The Hofer Prize was established by Melvin R. Seiden, A.B. ’52, L.L.B. ’55, to encourage student interest in collecting. It is awarded annually to a student or students whose collections of books or works of art best reflect the traditions of breadth, coherence, and imagination exemplified by Philip Hofer, A.B.’21, L.H.D. ’67. Hofer was the founder and first curator of the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts at Houghton Library and secretary of the Fogg Art Museum.

This year, Angela Wheeler, a second-year student in the Graduate School of Design, and Luke Kelly, Harvard College Class of ’19, were co-awarded first prizes of $3,000 each. Khin-Kyemon Aung, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School ’20, was awarded second prize of $1,500.


The Castañé Collection Series: “Two: Officer’s Photo Album”

portraits of Ernst Banaski, owner of a photo album in the Castañé Collection.

All images: Meine dienstzeit, circa 1941-1942. José María Castañé collection of war-related photograph albums, MS Span 183. Houghton Library, Harvard University.

By Michael Austin, Manuscript Cataloger, Houghton Library

In my first post on Houghton Library’s holdings from the Castañé collection of documents and objects relating to European conflicts of the 20th century, I focused on two particularly poignant items: a ration card issued to a young Polish girl early in the Second World War and an armband worn by a “Kapo” at an unspecified Nazi concentration camp.

In this second post, I’ll be examining another category of material strongly represented in the collection: photograph albums created by military personnel in the field.


All Work but Some Play: Jaret Berman, Houghton Library, and the School-to-Work Program

By Vicki Denby, Manuscript End Processor, Houghton Library

Cambridge Rindge and Latin student, Jaret Berman, helps create a custom folder for a scrapbook.

Cambridge Rindge and Latin student, Jaret Berman, helps create a custom folder for a scrapbook.

For the sixth consecutive year, Houghton Library had the opportunity to hire a paid intern from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School (CRLS) to learn about our work by helping with collections end-processing, which among other activities includes labeling and housing items. Through the School-to-Work program, the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) coordinates with the Cambridge Office of Workforce Development, Harvard schools and departments, and Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School to provide job training as well as learning opportunities for high school students.