September 18, 2014
by The Collation

Q & A: Paul Dingman, EMMO Project Manager

face-pic_Paul-DPaul Dingman started at the Folger Shakespeare Library in late May of this year as the Project Manager for EMMO (Early Modern Manuscripts Online). Before that, he served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Alfred University where he taught classes in history and literature of the medieval/early modern periods. Paul earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of Rochester in 2013; he also has an M.A. in Theatre from the SUNY University Center at Albany. Most of his research focuses on the cultural history of pre-modern Europe, especially the ways in which imaginative literature often reveals submerged ideas or attitudes; he wrote his dissertation on the expression of noble friendship in popular epic poems, romances, and drama as well as in contemporary letters, treatises, and chronicles. In between (and sometimes during) his scholarly pursuits, Paul worked many years in the field of Information Technology on projects ranging from providing software instruction to designing databases to managing networks, software upgrades, IT budgets, and websites. These dual career paths have complemented each other well and helped lead to Paul’s keen interest in the digital humanities along with more traditional humanistic studies. While attending a panel this past April on data visualizations of historical documents at the Society for French Historical Studies (SFHS) Conference in Montreal, he heard the word “centaur” used (positively) to describe individuals who feel at ease in both the academic and computing worlds and has since adopted that label with a smile.  Continue Reading →

September 16, 2014
by Sarah Werner
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Surprised by Stanhope

My favorite encounter with a book is one where I think I know what I’m going to find, but then something else entirely happens. My most recent serendipitous encounter came thanks to a tweet: Sjoerd Levelt was tweeting some images for #FlyleafFriday and shared an image of one of the Folger’s books, a copy of Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning that has as its flyleaf the last leaf of John Selden’s Titles of Honor (STC 1166 copy 6):


That’s pretty fun in and of itself (and you can see more images of the flyleaves and binding in our digital image collection), but Sjoerd noticed something else. Among the various ownership marks on the opening is a lightly penciled annotation, “Shakespeare mentioned on page 225.”  Continue Reading →

September 12, 2014
by Erin Blake
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Folger Tooltips: Getting raw Hamnet data

Non-librarians out there, have you ever clicked the “MARC View” or “Staff view” link in an online catalog record? In Hamnet, the Folger’s online catalog, it’s the third choice at the top of each record. Image of MARC View button I vividly remember the first time I did. It was back when I was building a relational database to manage my dissertation research (and back when I thought I wanted to be an Art History professor). I’d been carefully recording information about early modern printers’ names, printing locations, dates, and subject matter in different fields in my database, and was incensed to discover that the information had already been broken down in the library catalog, but “they” were hiding it from me! Continue Reading →

September 8, 2014
by Sarah Werner
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Constructing volvelles

As Elizabeth Bruxer correctly identified within a few short hours of its posting, this month’s crocodile mystery showed the inner disc of an unconstructed volvelle from a copy of the 1591 edition of Giambattista della Porta’s De furtivis literarum  notis (STC 20118). The key to her identification lay in recognizing the image as being part of a volvelle and guessing that it was connected to ciphers. (Read her comment for a full elucidation of how she solved the mystery.)

What I showed you last week was just one inner disc, although the “3” written below it might have clued you in that there were other similar objects. A view of the full page opening makes it more clear, I think, what we’re looking at:

the inner discs of unconstructed volvelles, bound in after sig. I4

the inner discs of unconstructed volvelles, bound in after sig. I4 (just before the first volvelle on sig. K1r)

There, in the upper right-hand corner is our disc number 3, along with a nearly identical disc labeled “1” and at the bottom of the page, disc 2. Why would these discs be numbered? So that the person constructing the volvelles knows which frame they belong to:  Continue Reading →

August 27, 2014
by Sarah Werner

Pop Shakespeare’s typography

If you’ve been spending any time on social media recently, you’re likely to have come across Pop Sonnets, a new Tumblr that provides, in their words, “Old twists on new tunes, every Thursday.” Here, for instance, is their deft rewriting of Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 hit, “I Will Survive“:

Pop Sonnets' adaptation of Gloria Gaynor

Pop Sonnets’ adaptation of Gloria Gaynor


If you know Gaynor’s song, you’ll appreciate the adaptation of the song’s chorus and verse structure to the sonnet’s characteristic use of the final turn. If you know your Shakespeare, you’ll also appreciate the echoes of Pop Sonnet’s couplet with that of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18: Continue Reading →

August 19, 2014
by The Collation

In memoriam: Nadia Seiler

“It’s satisfying to put the pieces of a puzzle together when we can, but it’s just as exciting to think of the undiscovered treasures that might be hiding in this collection.”—Nadia Seiler

Nadia Seiler (1978-2014)

Nadia Seiler (1978-2014)

To be a great cataloger is to love a puzzle, to obsess over details, and to delight in sharing discoveries. Nadia Seiler was one such cataloger, someone whose work contributed to the scholarly record and whose joy in revealing collection materials helped shape what we do. In her seven years at the Folger, Nadia added 2,614 records to Hamnet, edited thousands more, and was responsible for describing 4,208 individual manuscripts in Folger finding aids. She identified a previously unattributed autograph poem from noted writer Hannah More to theater impresario David Garrick (Y.d.1089 (18)). Her familiarity with, and interest in, Shakespeare and the Folger’s collection made her the perfect assistant to Folger Director Michael Witmore and artist Rosamund Purcell as they prepared their 2012 exhibit, “Very Like a Whale,” which sought to forge connections between Shakespeare’s words and the spiraling associations they provoke across the Folger collection and into the domains of natural history and photography. Continue Reading →

August 12, 2014
by Erin Blake

Free cultural works! Come get your free cultural works!

It’s official: pictures in the Folger’s Digital Image Collection are now licensed CC BY-SA! That is, they can be used under a Creative Commons Attribution–ShareAlike 4.0 International License, one of the two Creative Commons licenses “approved for free cultural works.” That’s almost 80,000 images, and counting. We’ve already started adding images to Wikimedia Commons for use in Wikipedia and elsewhere, and encourage you to do the same. Here’s the message that now appears at the bottom of every page in the database: Continue Reading →

August 5, 2014
by Goran Proot
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Miracles lately vvrovght: the use of “vv” for “w” in 17th-century titles

In earlier posts I surveyed the use of “v” for “u” in titles and imprints of books printed in the Southern Netherlands. In both cases, this habit clearly faded out in the course of the seventeenth century. These findings, in combination with the following title page, prompt the question what happens with the combination of “V”s representing a “W.”

VV used for W on a 1606 title page. Copy Folger STC 18746

“VV” used for “W” on a 1606 title page (Folger STC 18746)

The best known example of this usage of “VV” for “W” probably is the title page of the First Folio. The reason for the usage of the combination of two “V”s is that originally the “W” was not included in the printer’s lettercase.

I was wondering whether the “VV” for “W” would disappear in the course of the seventeenth century at the same time as the “V” for “U” in title words of books printed in the Southern Netherlands. Continue Reading →

July 31, 2014
by Sarah Werner
1 Comment


Sometimes books surprise us, and not always for the reasons we expect. Is there something unusual about the book below? Is is maybe a bit more narrowly oblong than usual?

a 16xx Barlement

an oddly shaped book

Two years ago, I took Rare Book School’s course on descriptive bibliography. It was a great experience—it immersed me, and a group of other similarly dedicated biblionerds (as one of my friends affectionately refers to those of us who ooh and ahh at the intricacies and oddities of rare books), into the details of producing descriptions of rare books according to the established principles of bibliographical description. (“What would Bowers do?” was our mantra.)  Continue Reading →