Sunday, January 18, 2015

Links & Reviews

- Max Kutner reports for Smithsonian about a new "rapid-capture" digitization process being used at the National Museum of American History.

- Andrea Cawelti blogs about an 1842 music score printed on (very!) glossy paper she found while cataloging a collection of social dance scores at the Houghton Library.

- Goucher College is raising funds to mount an open-access digital surrogate of the 1816 Philadelphia edition of Jane Austen's Emma and "add contextual materials to create an interactive online experience centered on this exceptional edition." See the project website for more.

- UVA professor Karen Parshall volunteered to process an archival collection and has blogged about the experience for Notes from Under Grounds.

- Jennifer Schuessler reports for the NYTimes on the archival find that prompted Eric Foner's forthcoming book, Gateway to Freedom.

- From Heather Wolfe at The Collation, a nifty early modern color guide found in a manuscript heraldic miscellany.

- The surviving children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are squabbling over ownership of the civil rights leader's personal Bible and Nobel Peace Prize medal. The NYTimes ran a long piece on the dispute this week, and MSNBC has a followup after the judge declined to issue a ruling this week. A trial could begin as early as 16 February.

- The Harvard Library staff news covers James Capobianco's recent Harvard Libraries staff talk about the history of Harvard call numbers. James' slides are also available.

- Paul Collins talked to Nate Pedersen for a Fine Books & Collections interview about his Duel with the Devil (and offers some hope for us Collins Library fans that perhaps more volumes might be forthcoming!)

- The anonymous Edinburgh book sculptor talked with BBC Scotland about her work.

- At the Hakluyt Society blog, Claire Jowett offers a progress report on her efforts to produce a new scholarly edition of Hakluyt's Principal Navigation.

- The annual conference of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand will be held 26-27 November 2015, and will focus on "Bibliographical Innovation and the Legacy of Aldus Manutius." They are currently inviting paper proposals for the conference.

- The Boston Globe highlights the BPL's Digital Commonwealth initiative, which assists public libraries with digitization efforts.

- Christopher Cook's note in The Library on a 1650 book order from an Oxford bookseller's wife is now available online.


- Phyllis Lee Levin's The Remarkable Education of John Quincy Adams; review by Steve Donoghue in the Washington Post.

- James Morrow's Galápagos Regained; review by Ron Charles in the Washington Post.

- Eric Nelson's The Royalist Revolution; review by Michael Hattem at The Junto.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Links & Reviews

- Bibliography Week is coming up in New York! There's a schedule of events here, and Bob McCamant has announced the speakers for the APHA meeting.

- The DPLA has published its strategic plan for the next three years.

- FB&C revisits Laura Massey, now of Alembic Books, for their Bright Young Booksellers series.

- There's a pretty excellent new acquisition at UVA's special collections library: an unrecorded copy of the 1701 edition of Michael Wigglesworth's Day of Doom, bound with the 1689 edition of Meat out of the eater. David Whitesell writes about the bibliographical significance of this copy, and about the conservation treatments required to make it ready for use by researchers.

- The Authors Guild has dropped its suit against HathiTrust.

- Literary forger Lee Israel died on 24 December at the age of 75. The NYTimes ran an obituary.

- Richard Adams spoke with Alison Flood of the Guardian about his writing career.

- The MHS has announced a book prize to honor Rev. Peter Gomes.

- UNC Press has received a $988,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to support a platform for the production of digital monographs by university presses.

- Anne Kingston writes for Maclean's about the continued drama at Libraries and Archives Canada. She highlights a new report by the Royal Society of Canada, "The Future Now: Canada's Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory."

- Jeffrey J. Williams writes for the Chronicle about "The New Modesty in Literary Criticism."

- Don't miss Robert Darnton's NYRB post from this week, "Laughter and Terror."

- There's a piece in the Sunday Times about the recovery of some of the Doves Press type (unfortunately the article is behind a paywall). The search team has also posted a short video shot during the search.


- Marilyn Johnson's Lives in Ruins; review by John Glassie in the NYTimes.

- Sven Beckert's Empire of Cotton; review by Daniel Walker Howe in the WaPo.

- John Oller's American Queen; review by Amanda Vaill in the NYTimes.

- Anita Anand's Sophia; review by Carolyn Kellogg in the LATimes.

- Robert Tombs' The English and Their History; review by Linda Colley in the TLS.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Links & Reviews

- Americana Exchange has posted their list of the top 500 auction prices paid for books and manuscripts in 2014.

- More details are emerging from the Rosenbach's lawsuit over Maurice Sendak's estate; the value and categorization of some of Sendak's rare books (all supposed to go to the Rosenbach based on his will) is being hotly contested.

- A new book alleges that the Israeli National Library engaged in some decidedly unsavory acquisition practices, according to a report in Haaretz.

- From Sarah Werner, "being a reader, again and still," a lovely personal essay on reading.

- The LATimes reports on contemporary challenges facing bookbinding businesses.

- The first 25,000 texts transcribed as part of the EEBO-TCP Partnership Phase I were released into the public domain in 1 January.

- Danny Heitman writes about E.B. White for the Jan/Feb issue of Humanities.

- John Windle writes for the ABAA blog about a pretty remarkable biblio-find (what he calls a "bibliophilic miracle").

- Over at the AAS blog, a new list of recent publications by AAS members and fellows.

- Also from AAS, Vince Golden writes on the challenges facing would-be printers of Chinese-language newspapers.


- Phyllis Lee Levin's The Remarkable Education of John Quincy Adams; review by Julia M. Klein in the Boston Globe.

- Sven Beckert's Empire of Cotton; review by Thomas Bender in the NYTimes.

- John Merriman's Massacre; review by Mary McAuliffe in the WaPo.

- Heather Cox Richardson's To Make Men Free; review by Jonathan Rauch in the NYTimes.

- Richard S. Dunn's A Tale of Two Plantations; review by Greg Gandon in the NYTimes.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Literary Anniversaries 2015

A few (obviously selected) literary anniversaries coming up in 2015.

50 years ago (1965):

- J.K. Rowling born, 31 July.
- T.S. Eliot dies, 4 January.
- Thornton W. Burgess dies, 5 June.
- W. Somerset Maugham dies, 16 December.
- Frank Herbert's Dune published.
- John le Carré's The Looking-Glass War published.
- Sylvia Plath's Ariel published.

100 years ago (1915):

- Saul Bellow born, 10 June.
- Arthur Miller born, 17 October.
- Rupert Brooke dies, 23 April.
- Widener Library (Harvard) dedicated.
- Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis published.
- John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps published.
- Arthur Conan Doyle's The Valley of Fear published.
- T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock published.
- Alfred A. Knopf publishing house founded.

150 years ago (1865):

- W.B. Yeats born, 13 June.
- Rudyard Kipling born, 30 December.
- Isabella Beeton dies, 6 February.
- Lydia Sigourney dies, 10 June.
- Elizabeth Gaskell dies, 12 November.
- Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland published.

200 years ago (1815):

- Anthony Trollope born, 24 April.
- Ada Lovelace born, 10 December.
- North American Review begins publication.
- Jane Austen's Emma published.

250 years ago (1765):

- Edward Young dies, 5 April.
- Diderot's Encyclopédie completed.
- Johnson and Steevens' edition of Shakespeare's Works published.
- William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England published.

300 years ago (1715):

- John Hawkesworth born (approx.)
- Gilbert Burnet dies, 17 March.
- Nahum Tate dies, 30 July.
- Joseph Addison's Free-Holder published.

350 years ago (1665):

- Jacques Lelong born, 19 April.
- Kenelm Digby dies, 11 June.
- Journal des sçavans and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society begin publication.
- Robert Hooke's Micrographia published.

400 years ago (1615):

- Giambattista della Porta dies, 4 February.
- Part 2 of Cervantes' Don Quixote published.

450 years ago (1565):

- William Rastell dies, 27 August.

500 years ago (1515):

- Roger Ascham born.
- Aldus Manutius dies, 6 February.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year-End Reading Report 2014

Another year draws to a close, if you can believe it. I got rather more reading done than last year, partly due to a big push to "read and weed" books I had on the shelves and wanted to read, but knew I wouldn't keep once I'd done so. In both January and December those books made up a good portion of what I read (and will again in January, too).

As I have for the past several years, I took part in the 75 Books Challenge for 2014 group at LibraryThing (see my group thread), and enjoyed that part of the reading process as well.

In 2014 I finished 196 books, the most I've read since I've been keeping track, for an average of one every 1.86 days. Total page count for books was 67,551. Again due to "read and weed" I read more non-fiction this year than I often do: 128 non-fiction titles this year, and 68 fiction. Among those were 120 hardcovers, 57 paperbacks, and 19 ARCs. Full way more statistical geekery, see this post.

And now, my favorite five fiction and non-fiction reads for 2014 (in no particular order within the lists):


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell


Religio Medici and Urne-Buriall by Sir Thomas Browne

Before the Storm and Nixonland by Rick Perlstein

The Map Thief by Michael Blanding

A Feathered River Across the Sky by Joel Greenberg

The Meaning of Human Existence by E.O. Wilson

Happy New Year to you all, and good reading!

Previous year's reports: 20132012201120102009200820072006.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Links & Reviews

- Vincent Noce has a report for The Art Newspaper about the ongoing investigation into Gérard Lhéritier's alleged manuscripts Ponzi scheme.

- A Library Company of Philadelphia press release has more information on the identification of nature printing blocks used in Franklin's shop.

- Duke University will return a 10th-century Byzantine manuscript to Greece. The manuscript, like another returned last year by the Getty, was stolen from a Greek monastery in the 1960s.

- The BL has posted 46 newly-digitized Greek manuscripts.

- The Guardian reports that Navajo officials successfully purchased seven tribal masks at a French auction, which the U.S. government and tribal leaders had tried to stop going forward. Hopi leaders declined to bid, saying they viewed the sale as "sacrilege."

- Speaking of the BL, as of 5 January you will be able to photograph materials in certain reading rooms; this service will be extended in March to include the Manuscripts and Rare Books reading rooms.

- Several recently-funded provenance and marginalia projects are highlighted in the NYTimes (second section of article).

- The University of Illinois has received a $498,942 grant to catalog the Cavagna Collection of rare Italian books.

- John Overholt noted a neat column in the October 1876 Atlantic Monthly, "A Librarian's Work."

- Heather Wolfe writes about "Hard hands and strange words" (or, the trials and tribulations of paleographers) at The Collation.

- The schedule for the AAS's Digital Antiquarian conference (29-30 May 2015) is now available.

- Jonathan Kearns will open his own rare books and curiosities shop in the new year.

- Videos from the Case Western colloquium on the future of special collections are now available online.

- FB&C profiles Eric Johnson for their Bright Young Librarians series.

- There's an interview with Phillips Library director Sid Berger about his new book for ALA Editions, Rare Books and Special Collections.

- Yale researchers have identified Samson Occom as the author of a 1776 manuscript account of a young Mohegan woman's deathbed words (there's much more to this story: read the whole report).

- The MHS has completed digitization of six Civil War photograph collections.

- Manuscript Road Trip visits New Jersey, covering manuscripts at Princeton and Rutgers.

- Simon Beattie highlights the Russian edition of Dickens' No Thoroughfare, published in London for Christmas 1867 and passed by the imperial censor in Russia on 3 January 1868. Simon notes that this speed of transmission seems extraordinarily fast.

- The NYTimes has a piece on the renovation of the nave at Yale's Sterling Library.

- Ellen Terrell has a very neat post on the LC's Inside Adams blog about researching the Scrooge & Marley firm.

- A Havard Medical School study suggests that e-reading in bed may be bad for your health.

- Researchers have found that J.R.R. Tolkien, sent home from the WWI front with trench fever, barely escaped a massive German bombardment of his unit's position.


- Jill Lepore's The Secret History of Wonder Woman; review by Helen Brown in The Telegraph.

- Adam Nicolson's Why Homer Matters; review by Bryan Doerries in the NYTimes.

- E.O. Wilson's The Meaning of Human Existence; review by Richard Di Dio in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

- Nick Bunker's An Empire on the Edge; review by J.L. Bell at Boston 1775.

- Kathryn Harrison's Joan of Arc; review by Sarah Dunant in the NYTimes.

- Janice Hadlow's A Royal Experiment; review by Andrea Wulf in the NYTimes.

- Molly Guptil Manning's When Books Went to War; reviews by Janet Maslin in the NYTimes and Emily Cataneo in the CSM.

- Jeffrey Richards' The Golden Age of Pantomine and Linda Simon's The Greatest Shows on Earth; review by Jacqueline Banerjee in the TLS.

- Bradford Morrow's The Forgers; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"I hope and trust all will be well"

I've been spending some time while at home for Christmas organizing a number of family papers, and one caught my eye that I thought I'd share. This is from William Brooks (my maternal great-great-great-grandfather) to Ann Eliza Mortimer. He's writing from the farm he had purchased a few years prior (which my uncle still operates as a dairy farm) near South New Berlin, NY, to Ann in Cincinnatus. I've included a photo of the first page of the letter, and an unedited transcription. Beneath the transcription is, as they say, "the rest of the story."

Wednesday Eve Dec. 18/.61
My Dear Ann,
                         I salute you forty miles away. It is with deep regret that the prospects are so unfair for me to be with you next sunday ne,r to be separated. I have not had any news from you no answer from my letter last week so as to get your advice or council. I think it will be impossible for me to come as soon as we arranged it, and I will give you some of the reasons. 1st I am afraid to start in a waggon this time of year, for fear of getting snowed up, if we should get forty or fifty miles from home, it may snow in one night so that I could not get the waggon home in all winter, without a great deal of trouble.
2nd my cows gives considerable of milk, & I dont want to stop milking as long as the weather is open.
3d I have not butchered my hogs yet & I dont want to, till the weather is colder so as to keep the meat fresh.
4th Prince is lame (your pony you know) ha ha [these circled with dotted lines]. I dont know what the matter is but I hope he will get well in a few days. I cant come out there without him (that so) 5th. It is an excellent time to work, as the old saying is, I want to make hay while the sun shines. My dear, be of good cheer. hope on hope ever. all is well that ends well. and I hope and trust all will be well. I know you will be disappointed, and provoked, & even mad, and I shan,t blame you a bit. I was in such a hurry, so impatient, and now you are ready first. I have been very uneasy and watched the clouds for the last two weeks and dont see any more signs of snow than there was last July. every  o'[?] body is in a fever for sleighing. Now I will say to you. have evry thing all ready for the first sleighing. or we may come before, I will keep you posted by writing often. Jane is with me now, after an absence of nine days what do you think of that! in this land where women is so plenty and no boys. The young folks around here has all been down to the Donation tonight, they are just going past home now 10. O.clock. Mr Amsden has traded his house and shop for a farm in Pittsfield about three miles from New Berlin nice farm 133 acres keep 20 cows. Mrs Amsden is quite well she thinks of naming her baby Anna.
I have had an application tonight to board a young lady for her work and go to school this winter a girl in our neighborhood. What do you think about it, I did not say much to her nor I shan,t, till I see and hear from you. Jane & I are going to write a letter to England she has wrote hers tonight Mother is going to send her likeness in it to Aunt Martha. Mother was here to day & made a good visit drove her own horse. We had some Oysters tonight I got a keg supposed to be spoiled, but proved to be good, we feasted I can tell you. All that was lacking as Ann E Mortimer of Cincinnatus. Bless her little heart. May it never be grieved. 
Please write long & often I shall be happy to hear from you evry day.
Believe me ever true and faithful
            Yours With Love
                       Wm. Brooks

So, what happened? Well, it snowed! William and Ann were married just eight days after this letter was written, on 26 December 1861. And thankfully the oysters did prove to be good, or that might have been an early end to things.

And now, back to the organizing. Happy Holidays to you all!