The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Imagining a lost set of commonplace books

As observed by one of our respondents, last week’s Crocodile was a detail from a blank leaf bisected by a vertical line in graphite, with a column of handwritten letters consisting of the Roman alphabet followed by the Greek alphabet. Folger MS L.f.317, part of the E. Williams watermark collection. Photograph by Heather Wolfe. Slightly better image available upon request. The leaf is from a commonplace book.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: June 2017

Welcome to the end of another month and another Crocodile Mystery. This month’s Crocodile is brought to you by Folger manuscripts! Here’s a detail from a bifolium that is part of a collection of papers described at the item-level in our finding aids. The collection is partly artificial, but the bifolium seems to be connected to other bifolia within the collection, even though their call numbers are not consecutive.… Continue Reading

Happy Birthday, Elias Ashmole!

Today is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Elias Ashmole. Perhaps best known today for giving his name (and the founding collection of antiquities and “curiosities”) to the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford, this 17th-century antiquarian had a wide range of interests, including astrology and alchemy. Ashmole’s first appearance in print was due to his interest astrology.1 In 1647, two of his translations appeared in William Lilly’s The Worlds Catastrophe.… Continue Reading

How to catalog 100,000 playbills (give or take a few thousand)

You’re probably aware that a significant amount of the Folger’s collection remains uncataloged; the majority of items have at least brief records in our online catalog Hamnet, but even today some collections are accessible only through the card catalog. We don’t like that any more than you do—we want all our materials to easily findable, in one place! However, we have so many materials and only a small staff, and we don’t want to put inaccurate information into the catalog just to have something there.… Continue Reading

The Reformation at Folger

As this year marks the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 theses and along with it, the beginning of the Reformation, a blog post on the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Reformation collection is in order.1 Our collections in this area became prominent in 1977 when the library acquired the books and pamphlets collected by the Swiss writer Emanuel Stickelberger (1884-1962). Stickelberger’s collection contained 850 titles, 516 of which were printed before 1531.… Continue Reading

New resources, old plays: expanding A Digital Anthology of Early Modern Drama

The Folger’s Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama (EMED) is delighted to announce the release of twenty early modern plays, freely available to read and download. EMED offers you the chance to explore the vibrant scene of professional theater in early modern London, from a swash-buckling maid to ghastly—but creative—revenge. Left: Title page of Thomas Heywood, The Fair Maid of the West (London: Miles Flesher for Richard Royston, 1631), Folger STC 13320 v.1.… Continue Reading

Okay, but what does it mean, or how do you regularize an early modern transcription?

As one reader guessed, the phrase shown in last week’s Crocodile mystery image is in secretary hand, i.e., a type of handwritten script widely used in the British Isles (and elsewhere in Europe) during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As transcribed in Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) from the upper right corner of a manuscript certificate, the phrase is “Est horse lee.” Ah, of course!… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: May 2017

For the Crocodile Mystery this month, peer into the handwriting of this manuscript and let us know what word or words you see and/or what they mean. Leave your thoughts and guesses as a reply in the Comments section. Check back next week for the answer.… Continue Reading

Announcement: 2017-2018 Long-Term Fellows

The Folger Institute is pleased to announce our 2017-18 cohort of Long-Term Fellows. This year we will welcome seven long-term scholars to the Folger: James Bromley, Urvashi Chakravarty, Surekha Davies, Nicholas Popper, Nigel Smith, Julianne Werlin, and Jessica Wolfe. The Folger Institute awards two fellowships via the National Endowment for the Humanities and its Grants for Fellowship Programs at Independent Research Institutions (FPIRI).… Continue Reading

New Vault Material Walks Into a Library…

New staff members (and researchers!) are sometimes surprised to find that on-order and newly received collection materials show up in Hamnet searches. Many special collections libraries keep that information staff-only until the material has arrived, been processed, and sent to the vault. But it doesn’t feel right to us to hide information that might be useful to researchers. Even if you can’t see an item right now because it was only ordered yesterday, you at least know that it exists, and is on its way.… Continue Reading

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