Wrapping Up 2007 – part 2

Continuing last week’s summarization of researchers, we had email and telephone contacts from researchers and librarians (as well as librarians who are themselves researchers) at the following institutions:  
Harvard University
Dumbarton Oaks
Northwestern University
Princeton University
University of California – Berkeley
Brandywine River Museum
University of Michigan
New York University
Rosenbach Museum and Library

…and from the following other geographic locations: 
Washington, DC
North Carolina
Brooklyn, NY

…interested in researching such things as: vellum fragments used to bind our copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle

determining whether our set of the “Pages from the past. Portfolio set I: History of the written word” contained a leaf from an old Spanish manuscript which a professor and some colleagues are trying to reconstruct.  Unfortunately, our set of these leaves does not include that manuscript, but we were able to provide some important bibliographic clues to the creation and marketing of these sets, along with the current contact information ( now in Costa Rica!) of the man who sold them back in the 1960s – so that our researcher could continue the documentation of these sets of leaves;

for another researcher, a bit of “Greek papyrus” from the “Pages from the Past. Portfolio Set I, History of the Written Word” collection, which turns out to be Coptic, not Greek;

the “Daily X-Ray” published in Beaver, PA in 1903-1904, of which our copies appear to be the only ones in existence;

genealogical inquiries of various kinds;

the only known complete copy of  A Journal of the Rev. John Marrant (London, 1790) for which we have now mounted a copy in our CONTENTdm collection in the Access Pennsylvania Digital Repository (Marrant was an African-American preacher);

an elementary school geography text published in Pennsylvania;

depictions of foreign flags flown in the 1880s for an art conservator working on the ceiling in an important political office in Washington DC where he found flag paintings under 22 coats of paint;

our copies of the manuscript General Orders of the Army that were promulgated by General Winfield Scott during the Mexican War;

the life and work of Lydia Bailey, a printer in Philadelphia;

a history of architects in Harrisburg – this researcher called and said he’d found a call slip he wrote some 20 years ago for which, back at that time, the State Library staff told him they could not find the item in question.  He was wondering if it is still “lost.”  Turns out I was able to locate it. (Hooray for his persistence, and for our current cataloging!)  

Published in: on 31 December 2007 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wrapping up 2007

This isn’t a serious statistical report for the calendar year.  It’s more of a simple summary of some of the recent research activity here.

Researchers coming to the Rare Collections Library during 2007 included several unaffiliated researchers, as well as scholars from:

  •  City of Harrisburg
  • Clarion University
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Pennsylvania Museum and Historic Commission
  • Temple University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Office of the Speaker of the Pennsylvania General Assembly
  • Tufts University
  • Widener School of Law
  • Millersville University
  • Cooley Law School (Michigan)
  • Kutztown University

 Other researchers came to us over the telephone and via email from across Pennsylvania, but also from as far away as northern Illinois (Northwestern University) and California.  Sometimes those distant researchers just needed a citation checked, but sometimes we did scanning or photocopying for them. 

What kinds of subjects were researched here this year?  The topics written in on registration forms this year included the following:

  •  Religious symbolism in traditional Pennsylvania German folk art;
  • 18th century frontier journeys;
  • Effect of the Whiskey Rebellion on murder laws in Pennsylvania;
  • Dorothea Dix;
  • Lewis and Clark expedition;
  • Hiester Clymer;
  • Pennsylvania railroads;
  • Development of the legal profession;
  • Fort Wagner;
  • Pennsylvania in the Cold War;
  • Abraham Lincoln;
  • 20th century amateur minstrelry;
  • Steelton, Pennsylvania;
  • Eastern State Penitentiary;
  • Negro suffrage;
  • Nineteenth century lexicography;
  • Historic book bindings

Tours of our facility were taken, for the most part, by citizens of the Commonwealth.  And, actually, I think that this year most of the tours were conducted for elected officials who wanted to have their visits recorded for broadcast on their websites and local cable channels.  As a result, I had a number of people stop me to say “I saw you on tv the other night.”

Published in: on 28 December 2007 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Article

Well, we made the news out in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has an article about our rare books in its 2 April 2007 issue (the online version, anyway) , written by Mike Wereschagin under the headline “Treasures from Pa.’s past abound in rare books room.”

One thing, though … we didn’t get any $3 million from NARA. Not sure where that comes from, unless the reporter misunderstood something one of the other people in the interview said about possible savings at NARA if they think that our architect’s design with fewer air exchanges per day actually works. The point would be that in the stacks it’s okay to bring in less fresh air each day — resulting in less gross heating (in winter), less gross cooling (in summer), and less running the fans to move the air in and out. Could point to huge savings on the utility bills for NARA and others.

But we didn’t get $3 million from NARA for the renovation project.

Thanks to Lee Jay Stoltzfus for pointing out the article in his Rare Book News blog yesterday.

Published in: on 3 April 2007 at 6:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Our Books on TV

The local ABC television affiliate, WHTM, was downstairs in our new reading room on Tuesday morning filming. They taped interviews with the lieutenant governor, with our deputy secretary of the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, with the project architect, and with the head of conservation at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (who are working on our “Assembly Collection” under a ‘Save America’s Treasures‘ grant).

My part was to select and display some of our treasures so that they could talk about the grand preservation project that our construction embodies.

The video clip was broadcast on the evening of 30 January and is available at the WHTM web site. In it you’ll see the people I just mentioned, along with the new reading room. (Yes, the stained glass and the black cherry paneling makes up my ‘office,’ too.) What a wonderful place to work (once the move is accomplished)!

Books you’ll see: the “Assembly Bible” (a 1739 ‘King James Version’ from London upon which Pennsylvania’s legislators take their oath of office); a volume of Alexander Wilson’s American Ornithology; our 1493 German translation of Liber chronicarum (a.k.a. the Nuremberg Chronicle); and — the opening shot — the 19 October 1975 Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper in which Ben Franklin published an account of his ‘kite and key’ experiment (the trick to not getting electrocuted is to stand in a doorway during the lightning storm). We had other gems out on the granite reading room table, but they aren’t highlighted in the film.

Published in: on 1 February 2007 at 8:06 am  Comments (3)