Tag Archives: Rare Books

Instruction Transitions in the SCRC: New Opportunities and Challenges

Alice Price’s Text + Image Course

When the new Charles Library opened in August 2019, the librarians and archivists who do instruction using the Special Collections Research Center collections were perhaps most excited about the new classroom adjacent to the department (Multipurpose Room 113). In the SCRC’s old space in Paley Library, instruction classes  were almost always conducted in the reading room, which was never an ideal situation.

In the new classroom in Charles, which accommodates around 40 people comfortably, we are able to welcome faculty and students without disturbing our individual researchers in the reading room. In addition, the new classroom space has movable tables and chairs which allows for a variety of setups for display of materials and seating during classes. Standard classroom technology in the form of a projection system and a large screen were also a major upgrade to our existing instruction infrastructure. And, finally, an overhead document or “eye in the sky” camera that enables instructors to project images of physical materials, a page of a rare volume or an archival document in real time, was installed this spring to complete the instructional technology in the space.

Alyssa Piro’s Artist Book, Zines and Independent Publishing Course

The first class held in the new space in Charles was Alyssa Piro’s Artist Books, Zines and Independent Publishing (ARTU 2351) on September 10, 2019. The class was co-facilitated by Kimberly Tully, Curator of Rare Books in the SCRC, and Jill Luedke, Art and Architecture Librarian in Learning and Research Services. The plan for the class was an online introduction to zine culture, copyright, and Creative Commons using the screen and projection system, and then students were invited to browse a selection of zines from the SCRC displayed on the tables in the physical space. This collaboration between librarians to provide both context for class-specific materials and access to the materials themselves has been made much easier in the new classroom.

Throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, the SCRC continued to welcome back returning classes and welcome new faculty and students from a variety of academic departments, including History, English, Photography, Printmaking, Art History, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Latin, Intellectual Heritage, Latin American Studies, Geography and Urban Studies, Journalism, Media Studies, Sociology, and Dance. We also continued to welcome classes from area institutions such as the University of the Arts , Bryn Mawr College, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Liv Raddatz, Philadelphia Mosaic class

Depending on the nature of the course and the learning objective for the visit, SCRC instructors were able to use technology seamlessly to introduce students to the SCRC and how to access materials and, through the department website, the Libraries’ catalog, finding aids, and digital collections. Instructors were also able to display materials in a variety of different room configurations to facilitate student hands-on assignments and engagement. The concept of a “humanities laboratory” came alive again in the SCRC classroom this year in Charles.

Amanda D’Amico’s 2D Foundation Principles Course

The importance of the new space is reflected in use statistics.  During the fall 2019 semester, we welcomed  59 instruction sessions, each individually tailored to the courses’ syllabi and the instructors’ needs.  In the shortened Spring 2020 semester, we offered 39 sessions before mid-March.

The new dedicated classroom in Charles Library has transformed the Special Collections Research Center’s instructional services, but with new opportunities come new challenges. In March 2020, when all classes at Temple moved to online instruction amidst the COVID-19 pandemic response, many of our scheduled class visits for the final weeks of classes were cancelled or altered. We were able to assist some faculty and students in wrapping up their on-site research in the final weeks of on-campus instruction. And in at least two instances since mid-March, SCRC instructors have maintained their commitment to primary source  literacy by presenting SCRC materials during a class session over Zoom and by interacting with students and faculty in Canvas. While we look forward to connecting students and faculty with our collections in a physical space once again soon, SCRC staff are also exploring how we will continue to adapt. Like many special collections repositories, we  have  some digital collections to draw upon to support both individual research and online instruction, and SCRC public services and instruction staff continue to be available to answer remote research questions and assist in online instruction. Please contact us at scrc@temple.edu for more information.

-Kimberly Tully
Curator of Rare Books

Making the Renaissance Manuscript

Page with excised coat of armsThe Special Collections Research Center is very pleased to announce the opening of Making the Renaissance Manuscript: Discoveries from Philadelphia Libraries, an exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania.  It features a manuscript from Temple’s Harry  C. Cochran History of Business Collection, built by a Temple business school faculty member.  Temple is one of nine regional lenders to this exhibition of eighty-eight items.

Our item is included in the “Politics, Economics, and the Merchant Class” section of the exhibition–and in the stunning exhibition catalog which accompanies it.   In addition, Curator Nick Herman’s blog provides additional context and information.   A codex in Italian, created by Giorgio de Lorenzo Chiarini (circa 1400-     ), “Tracta di mercantie et usanze di paesi (Book of Trade and Customs of Countries),” Florence, Italy, 1481, the manuscript is  a “commercial manual for the Renaissance merchant.” It features the “types of goods available in a large number of cities, as well as the units of measure and coinage used, their denominations, and their exchanges rates with principal domestic currencies.”  sample page

The exhibit, and its sister exhibit, Reflections on Medieval Life, soon to open at the Free Library of Philadelphia, are a celebration of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries’  Council on Library and Information Resources  Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project, It supported digitization and enhanced cataloging of medieval and renaissance manuscripts throughout the region–including 43 from Temple.  The Free Lbrary exhibition will feature two additional items from Temple’s Cochran collection–more on that soon.

–Margery N. Sly, Director, SCRC

 

 

Medieval Collections: Ledgers and Account Books

Spanish Treasury in Peru Account Book, 1571.
Spanish Treasury in Peru Account Book, 1571. (SPC) MSS BH 056 COCH.

As part of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) project Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis, the Special Collections Research Center has been cataloging and digitizing its medieval and early modern collections, which include financial ledgers, notated music, a Book of Hours, and philosophical texts.

While illuminated manuscripts are what immediately comes to mind when most people think of medieval manuscripts, Temple’s collections are a little different. We do hold the beautiful Book of Hours: Use of Toul from the 15th century, but the bulk of our medieval and early modern manuscripts are financial or legal documents.

While less artistically inclined, these manuscripts provide a glimpse into the everyday life of the period: how people held and transferred property, how businesses conducted their work, how banks managed their customers’ money, and how governments taxed their citizens.

Banking Ledger, 1593-1595
Banking Ledger, 1593-1595. (SPC) MSS BH 130 COCH.

In that last category, the Spanish Treasury in Peru Account Book is a ledger maintained by the Royal Treasury of Peru in 1571, then under Spanish control. The volume records not only general revenue and expenses, but also the tributes forcibly levied against the native people whose land was colonized by Spain. Another 16th century volume, an Italian Banking Ledger covering 1593-1595, is notable primarily for its extravagant binding and large size: over 19 inches tall. It contains debits and credits for a banking firm based in Rome.

Florentine Grain Dealer Account Book, 1466-1524.
Florentine Grain Dealer Account Book, 1466-1524. (SPC) MSS BH 005 COCH.

An earlier manuscript, the  Florentine Grain Dealer Account Book, which covers the years 1466-1524, contains entries showing payments made for grain, rent, taxes, alms, and other income for this Italian business. The Marcoux Family Estate Account Book, which begins around the same time but continues into the 18th century, documents income for the estate, which was located in Dauphiné, France. The volume contains pages written right side up and upside down, as well as multiple paging conventions—perhaps to be expected in a ledger used for around three hundred years.

Marcoux Family Estate Account book, 1488-approximately 1700-1799?
Marcoux Family Estate Account book, 1488-approximately 1700-1799? SCRC 389 Cochran.

These are just four of the finance-related manuscripts recently digitized for the project. All four belong to SCRC’s Harry C. Cochran History of Business Collection, which was established by Temple University Head Librarian Walter Hausdorfer in 1950. The Cochran Collection includes a wide range of manuscripts and a smaller number of books documenting the evolution of commerce in Europe and the Americas between the 4th and 20th centuries.

The Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), and aims to digitize and make available online medieval manuscripts from fifteen institutions in the Philadelphia area. Images and descriptive metadata will be released into the public domain and easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. Temple is contributing nearly forty manuscripts to the project. SCRC’s digitized manuscripts are also being added to Temple’s Digital Collections website.

–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC

Medieval Collections: Music Leaves

Medieval Collections: Music Leaves

Antiphonary leaf, circa 16th century.
Antiphonary leaf, circa 16th century. SCRC 373.

The Special Collections Research Center holds several leaves of medieval music, all of which have recently been digitized as part of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries‘ (PACSCL) project Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis. The project is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), and aims to digitize and make available online medieval manuscripts from fifteen institutions in the Philadelphia region.

All of SCRC’s medieval music manuscripts are leaves, meaning single pages. Originally, these leaves would each have been one page in a larger bound volume. Practice in previous times was often to cut apart such volumes in order to sell the individual pages at higher prices–which meant that the context of the original item was lost. The practice did, however, allow libraries which might not have been able to afford an entire medieval manuscript volume to acquire an example in the form of a single page.

The fate of the remainder of the volumes from which the SCRC leaves came is unknown. One benefit to digitizing dis-bound leaves is the possibility of one day finding their former companions and digitally reuniting the dismembered book, such as the project to reconstruct the Beauvais Missal.

Spanish Antiphonary Leaf for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 16th century.
Spanish Antiphonary Leaf for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 16th century. SCRC 370.

One leaf typical of SCRC’s holdings is from a 16th century Spanish antiphonary or choir book displaying a page of music with Latin text for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This leaf would have been bound in a huge volume—over 30 inches tall—originally used by the choir of Jaén Cathedral in southern Spain. Antiphonaries were volumes containing the sung portions of the Divine Office and were intended to be placed in front of the choir for reference, hence their large size.

SCRC holds several antiphonary leaves, all presumed to be from Spain.

French Missal Leaf, 1285.
French Missal Leaf, 1285. SCRC 368.

A French missal leaf from 1285 is an outlier in size at only a little over 7.5 inches tall. A missal is a liturgical book containing the texts necessary for the celebration of the Mass.

All images and descriptive metadata for manuscripts in the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project will be released into the public domain, easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. Temple is contributing nearly forty manuscripts to the project. SCRC’s digitized manuscripts are also being added to Temple’s Digital Collections website.

–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC

Medieval Manuscript: Pore Caitif

Pore Caitif binding
16th century binding. Pore Caitiff, [14–]. (SPC) MSS LT 085. Special Collections Research Center.
The Special Collections Research Center holds a number of medieval manuscripts of various types, including financial ledgers, notated music, a Book of Hours, and philosophical texts.

One interesting volume in the collection is a manuscript of the “Pore Caitif,” a late 14th and 15th century devotional text consisting of tracts intended for home use by the laity. The compilation of this handbook for religious instruction is most frequently attributed to English reformer John Wycliffe (1330 – 1384), and it contains approximately fourteen tracts intended to teach the reader about the Ten Commandments, the Paternoster, the Creed, and other basic aspects of Christianity. The number of Pore Caitif manuscripts in existence–more than fifty–demonstrates that this text was extremely popular during this time period.

Pore Caitif first page
First page of text. Pore Caitiff, [14–]. (SPC) MSS LT 085. Special Collections Research Center.
It is unlikely that the compiler of this instructional volume was the one to assign the title “Pore Caitif,” even though that title seems to have been used as early as the 14th century. Most likely the common title was taken from the manner in which the compiler refers to himself: “pore” being an alternate spelling of “poor,” and “caitiff” or “caitif” meaning “wretched” or “despicable.”

Temple’s Pore Caitif dates from the 14th century. It has a later binding from the 16th century, made of black Moroccan leather, and contains the bookplate of Robert R. Dearden, a 20th century Philadelphia book collector. An inscription on the last pages of the manuscript indicates that Dame Margaret Hasley, a sister in the Order of Minoresses, presented this work to another sister.

Pore Caitif last page
Last page of text. Inscription in red states that Margaret Hasley presented the volume to another sister in the Order of Minoresses. Pore Caitiff, [14–]. (SPC) MSS LT 085. Special Collections Research Center.
The volume was recently digitized for the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project, funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and sponsored by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL). The project aims to digitize and make available online medieval manuscripts from fifteen institutions in the Philadelphia area. Images and descriptive metadata will be released into the public domain and easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. Temple is contributing over twenty manuscripts to the project.

–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC

Books of Hours

First page of the calendar
First page of the calendar. Book of Hours: Use of Toul, between 1450 and 1499.

The Special Collections Research Center is fortunate to hold two Books of Hours from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in its collection. Looking at these two volumes side by side, visitors to the SCRC can see for themselves the transition from the manuscript tradition to the printing tradition during the early years of the printing press.

Books of Hours were generally created during the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, and contain prayers dedicated to the Virgin Mary to be read throughout the day. These prayer books were intended to aid personal prayer rather than public worship in a church or cathedral. Books of Hours were enormously popular with the middle class of the day, and even today are the most common type of book or manuscript remaining from the medieval period. For more information on books of hours, see the tutorial on the Les Enluminures web site.

From the Gospel of Matthew
From the Gospel of Matthew. Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Ro[m]me toutes au long sans require. Ont este imprimees nouuellement a Paris.: Par Germaine Hardouyn demourant audict lieu: Entre les deux portes du Palais: A lenseigne Saincte Marguerite, [1534].
Specific content of Books of Hours varies widely. While all contain the Hours of the Virgin, some might also contain the Hours of the Cross, or certain psalms. The liturgical content of a Book of Hours is referred to as its “use,” and is typically named for the region or area where that use was common, such as “Use of Rome.”

Flight into Egypt miniature
Flight into Egypt miniature. Book of Hours: Use of Toul, between 1450 and 1499

SCRC’s manuscript book of hours is thought to be from Toul, France (Book of Hours: Use of Toul), and dates from between 1450 and 1499. It is written on parchment, which is made from animal skin, and it contains hand painted miniatures. As a manuscript, it is a unique item. The printed Book of Hours (Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Ro[m]me, or Book of Hours: Use of Rome), printed in Paris around 1534 by Germain Hardouyn, contains metalcuts hand painted by artist Jean Pichore. It is printed on vellum, which is a finer quality parchment made from the skin of a calf or other young animal. This volume is believed to be one of only three remaining copies of this edition.

Planetary Man
Planetary Man. Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Ro[m]me toutes au long sans require. Ont este imprimees nouuellement a Paris.: Par Germaine Hardouyn demourant audict lieu: Entre les deux portes du Palais: A lenseigne Saincte Marguerite, [1534].
The manuscript Book of Hours was recently digitized for Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis a Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) project, funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) . The project aims to digitize and make available online medieval manuscripts from fifteen institutions in the Philadelphia area. Images and descriptive metadata will be released into the public domain and easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. Temple is contributing over twenty manuscripts to the project.

–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC
With thanks to Katharine Chandler, Bryn Mawr College, for her assistance

Cervantes: The Man Who Invented Fiction

Cervantes Portrait, London, 1738
Cervantes portrait from Cervantes, Miguel de. Vida y Hechos del Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de La Mancha. London: J. and R. Tonson, 1738.

This year, 2016, marks the 400th anniversary of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes’s death, and worldwide celebrations of  his life and work abound. On Monday, September 26, 2016, at noon in Paley Library Lecture Hall, Temple University Libraries’ is co-sponsoring a lecture by William Egginton, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University, with Temple’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Dr. Egginton will be speaking about Miguel de Cervantes and how his Don Quixote radically changed the nature of literature and created a new way of viewing the world. Egginton recently published The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered in the Modern World.  (New York, NY:  Bloomsbury, 2016).

To quote from the publisher’s description of Egginton’s book:   “… Don Quixote went on to sell more copies than any other book beside the Bible, making its author, Miguel de Cervantes, the single most-read author in human history. Cervantes did more than just publish a bestseller…. He invented a way of writing. This book is about how Cervantes came to create what we now call fiction, and how fiction changed the world.   The Man Who Invented Fiction explores Cervantes’s life and the world he lived in, showing how his influences converged in his work, and how his work–especially Don Quixote–radically changed the nature of literature and created a new way of viewing the world. Finally, it explains how that worldview went on to infiltrate art, politics, and science, and how the world today would be unimaginable without it.”

from: Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote de La Mancha. Illustrated by Tony Johannot. London: J.J. Dubochet & Co., 1838.
Don Quixote from: Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote de La Mancha. Illustrated by Tony Johannot. London: J.J. Dubochet & Co., 1838.

This semester the Libraries’ is also featuring a mini-exhibit of illustrated editions of Cervantes’s works, published between the 17th and 20th centuries, held by the  Special Collections Research Center.  This exhibit, on Paley Library’s mezzanine, includes a true gem in the printing history of Don Quixote, the first edition of the work published in England in Spanish. This London edition, printed by J. and R. Tonson in 1738, features over sixty copperplate engravings and includes the first known portrait of Cervantes, based on the author’s own self-description. Other highlights include a 19th century edition with the dramatic depictions of the tale by French illustrator Gustave Doré and more abstract 20th century interpretations of the hero and his world.

Special thanks go to Dr. José M. Pereiro Otero, Associate Professor in Temple’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, for providing the narrative for the display.

The originals of all of the books featured in the exhibit will be on display in the SCRC’s Reading Room on the ground floor of Paley library after the Dr. Egginton’s noon lecture on Monday, September 26.  The lecture, and the reception and open house following, all are free and open to the public.

 

–Kimberly Tully, curator of rare books, Special Collections Research Center

 

Philip Nordell, Collector

Matthew Hopkins ,Witchfinder General
From An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft….
London: Printed for R. Knaplock and D. Midwinter, 1718
This illustration is “Matthew Hopkins Witchfinder general,” a 1793 reproduction of a well-known 1647 woodcut. The image was inserted as a frontispiece in the book after its publication.

Philip Gardiner Nordell (1894-1976), graduated from Dartmouth College in 1916, where he was an All-American in the running broad jump. He claimed to have invented the predecessor to boxed cake mixes in the 1920s—founding a business that combined the dry ingredients for muffins, allowing the baker to simply add water. Nordell’s primary research interest was early American lotteries, which he studied for over thirty years. His personal collection of early lottery tickets and related newspaper announcements, brochures, and broadsides, is now at Princeton University.

Nordell also assembled an extraordinary collection of books documenting religion, politics, and science in Britain and New England in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Temple Special Collections acquired this collection from Nordell in 1965. It contains more than 250 books, including a significant number of rare British  and American imprints on religion from the 17th and 18th centuries. The collection documents the predominant and often conflicting ideas during this period, particularly related to religion, religious liberty, and rationalism in England and the New England colonies. Included in the collection are many books on “fringe” groups, such as Anabaptists, Levellers, Ranters, and atheists, as well as many works on witchcraft. Authors represented include Francis Bacon, John Cotton, Thomas Edwards, Joseph Glanvill, Thomas Hobbes, John Lilburne, Cotton Mather, and William Prynne.

Of particular interest are the books on witchcraft which represent a very comprehensive view of the topic.  Originating on both sides of the Atlantic, they document the conversation that old and new worlds were having about sources, causes, and cures for witchcraft–and the eventual repudiation of  the belief that witches exist.

In a 1965 letter, Nordell said: “My central aim in gathering the collection has been to furnish important source material helpful in appraising the comparative mental patterns in old and New England.… In different words, the collection furnishes much of the basic source material to form a sound judgment as to the truth of an observation made in the 1640′s, that while New England was becoming old, old England was becoming new.”

–Margery Sly, Director of Special Collections, and Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, Special Collections Research Center

“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?” Hamilton in the Special Collections Research Center

In the Broadway musical Hamilton, George Washington tells Alexander Hamilton, “You have no control … who tells your story.” In archives and special collections, stories are preserved and told every day, whether they are the stories of presidents and politicians or those of everyday people. While the Special Collections Research Center is better known for its collections documenting modern day people and events, we do hold some materials related to our founding fathers, including those represented in Hamilton.

Hamilton bank order
Alexander Hamilton. Order on First Bank of United States, May 16, 1794. Cochran History of Business Collection

Alexander Hamilton’s own handwriting can be seen in the original 1794 document “Order on First Bank of United States,” which shows Hamilton in his capacity as Secretary of the Treasury authorizing the Secretary of State, Edmund Randolph, to be paid $900 for “certain expenses which have occurred in the West Indies in relation to public service.” His work is also represented by his publication The Soundness of the Policy of Protecting Domestic Manufactures (Philadelphia: printed by J. R. A. Skerrett, 1817).

Eighteenth century printed materials in SCRC demonstrate that the personal attacks shown in the musical were just as vindictive in real life: the pamphlet Letters to Alexander Hamilton, King of the Feds (New York: orinted by Richard Reynolds, 1802), attributed to expert scandalmonger James Thomson Callender (the man credited with revealing Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds), attacks Hamilton for 64 pages.

Burr novel
Cover of An American Colonel: A Story of Thrilling Times During the Revolution and the Great Rivalry of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, by Jeremiah Clemens (Akron, Ohio: Wolfe Pub. Co., 1900)

Multiple books in SCRC detail the life and death of Hamilton, including Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton’s The Conqueror: Being the True and Romantic Story of Alexander Hamilton (New York: Macmillan, 1902) and William Coleman’s 1804 publication A Collection of the Facts and Documents, Relative to the Death of Major-General Alexander Hamilton (Boston: Reprinted by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1904).

Aaron Burr’s troubles did not end after he killed Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel. In 1807 he was arrested for treason at the behest of President Jefferson. The trial is extensively detailed in the two volumes of Reports of the Trials of Colonel Aaron Burr (Philadelphia: published by Hopkins and Earle. Fry and Kammerer, printers, 1808). For Burr apologists, the book An American Colonel: A Story of Thrilling Times During the Revolution and the Great Rivalry of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, by Jeremiah Clemens (Akron, Ohio: Wolfe Pub. Co., 1900) tells the story of Hamilton and Burr’s rivalry in pro-Burr fashion.

Lafayette letter
Marquis de Lafayette letter to “My dear sir,” December 19, 1784. Jay Edwin Sturgis Nagle Papers.

Marquis de Lafayette is represented in SCRC collections by a handwritten 1784 letter from the Jay Edwin Sturgis Nagle Collection, as well as multiple printed eulogies given upon his death in 1834. An unusual take on the Marquis is given in Walt Whitman’s short publication, Lafayette in Brooklyn (New York: George D. Smith, 1905), in which he describes being picked up and kissed by Lafayette as a small child.

Thomas Jefferson, of course, is well documented in many resources, including two letters from the Alexander James and George Mifflin Dallas Papers. SCRC also holds an early edition of Jefferson’s only full-length book, Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia: R.T. Rawle, publisher, John Thompson, printer, June, 1801). The Dallas Papers also contain one letter by James Madison.

Madison letter
Letter, James Madison to George Mifflin Dallas, June 23, 1821. Alexander James and George Mifflin Dallas Papers

George Washington, like Jefferson, is extensively documented. One particularly beautiful Washington-related book is an 1858 publication of his farewell address upon his retirement from the presidency–the basis for the song “One Last Time” (Washington’s Farewell Address to the People of the United States: Embellished with Arabesque Designs & Illuminations. Philadelphia: Devereux & Company, 1858).

–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC

Undergraduate Instruction in the SCRC: Engaging Historically and Artistically with the Book as Object

 

seminar visit
Mosaic seminar

One of the ongoing missions of the Special Collections Research Center is to use our collections to enhance the teaching, learning, and research activities in the undergraduate curriculum at Temple. Over the course of spring semester 2016, the SCRC has hosted over twenty five classes representing a variety of departments and programs on campus.

A recent visit by Professor John Dern’s Intellectual Heritage Honors Mosaic Humanities Seminar, a required general education course in the College of Liberal Arts, gave us the opportunity to highlight some treasures from our rare book collections and gave the students an opportunity to see and turn the pages of first editions of Galileo and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mosaic seminar
Mosaic seminar

The goal of the Seminar is to “introduce students to philosophical, political and scientific texts that are challenging in at least one of several ways: rhetorically, historically or culturally.” In Professor Dern’s section, students read Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger), Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women, and Thucydides’ On Justice, Power and Human Nature, among other assigned texts. When the students visited in early April, we pulled Temple’s first editions of Galileo’s final work, Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche, intorno à due nuoue scienze, printed in 1638 in Leiden, and the first edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s seminal proto-feminist work, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, printed in London in 1792. Connecting their class reading of Galileo’s most famous work to how his later works appeared in the European marketplace in the early 17th century provides an invaluable lesson in early modern scientific discovery, censorship, and the dissemination of information across the European continent.

In addition to the first edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s landmark text advocating equal education opportunities and related 18th century texts, the students also engaged with a 15th century manuscript on the lives of the ancient philosophers, a 16th century edition in Greek of the Roman historian Appian, and an 1804 illustrated volume depicting the punishment of criminals in China according to the Qing penal code. Students were encouraged to turn the pages of these texts, ask questions, and even snap pictures with their always-handy smartphones. Exposure to the physical artifacts of the texts they’re studying in class brings the students closer to an understanding of how the texts entered the cultural marketplace, the historical record, and our collective, intellectual heritage.

M. Dages class
Another of our late semester class visits provided a different kind of connection to the physical book format for the  students. In mid-April, Professor Marianne Dages brought her Tyler School of Art Foundation program class in 2D Foundation Principles to the SCRC to view a selection from our large artists’ books collection. For their own final book-making projects in the class, students were asked to incorporate both a strong use of color and interesting book structures. The selections pulled from the collection provided both examples of strong color technique and unique structures, as well as inspiration for the students’ own work. Just as in the Humanities Seminar, the smartphones were put to good use documenting what they saw for future reference!

Dages class
Tyler students with artists’ books

Whether a class visit to see the SCRC’s print collection enhances the contextual understanding of class readings or directly influences student work, it does prove that the physical book form is still an integral part of undergraduate teaching and learning at Temple.

— Kimberly Tully, Curator of Rare Books, SCRC