Thursday, October 06, 2011

Union's First Library Online

Last weekend I worked on finishing up a LibraryThing Legacy Library catalog for the first library of Union College: this one's near and dear to my heart; I went to Union, and spent the year after I graduated working in the special collections there. During that year I helped work on this collection, and quite literally turned every single page of the almost 800 volumes in the collection, noting down marginalia &c.

The library was the subject of my 2007 masters' thesis at Simmons, part of which was published in 2008 ... and ever since then I've been thinking about how the collection needed to come to LT. Now, in advance of a talk I'll be giving at Union later in the fall, here it is at last!

One of the really neat things about this library (purchased 1795-1799) is that more than half of the original copies still exist, as does almost all the "paperwork" surrounding the acquisition of the books. So we know where the books came from, how much they cost, and in many cases how they were used (a good example is the original set of Shakespeare's works, which contains a wonderful amount of marginalia left by generations of students).

One of my favorite marginal notations appears in William Russell's The History of America, published in 1778: where the text reads "it is now in the bosom of fate, whether France or Great Britain shall give law to America," a student has added in ink: "And is now concluded to be neither."

I've added a bunch of images of the books and marginalia to the gallery, and enhanced the catalog by adding a whole bunch of collections to note the original sources of the books, &c. Enjoy!

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