The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

The KJV, Ben Franklin, and Noah Webster

As part of the library’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, the Folger Institute hosted a conference bringing together scholars from across the United States and the United Kingdom to discuss the effect of this Bible on social, cultural and political societies of early Stuart England and colonial America. The breadth of discussion in “An Anglo-American History of the KJV” took us far beyond the King’s castle and our New England roots, however, demonstrating how the language of the KJV was disseminated throughout the various regions and cultures of the United States, including its translation for the native Cherokee nation as well as its role in the lives of slaves and later emancipated African Americans.… Continue Reading

Copperplate illustrations and the question of quality

While looking at early modern book illustration in the undergraduate seminar on Friday, we got to talking about the false assumption that copperplate illustrations always indicate better-quality publications, while woodcuts are inherently lowly. True, the raw material is more expensive: copper plates cost more than wood blocks. True, it’s possible to produce finer lines in copperplate illustrations than in woodcuts, allowing for more detail.… Continue Reading

Folger Tooltips: Cover-to-Cover

19th c. wood engraving showing open books Greetings, dear Readers This episode of Folger Tooltips covers a variety of methods for accessing cover-to-cover page images of early printed books and bound manuscripts from the Folger collection. At the moment there are three basic ways in: via Insight’s tried-and-true “Multi-page documents” (accessible once you have installed our free java client); via Luna’s web-based “BookReader views” (compound digital objects represented by a single thumbnail in search results); and, via what we’re calling “BookReader thumbnails” (sets of Luna search results represented by screens of thumbnails in page-by-page sort order).… Continue Reading

Cataloging and preserving the Shakespeare collection

Cataloging and Preserving the Shakespeare Collection is a three-year project at the Folger Shakespeare Library funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Catalogers are working to create and upgrade definitive records for the Folger’s more than 5,000 Shakespeare works in print from the 18th through 20th centuries. In addition to cataloging the books and making the records available online, the project brings together a team of curators, conservators, and reference members in order to conserve the materials for future generations of scholars, with procedures such as sending high spot volumes for off-site deacidification, as well as housing vulnerable materials in phase boxes, to preserve structural integrity.… Continue Reading

Guyot’s speciman sheet

If you’re a type designer (or a type caster, to be more appropriate to the early modern period), how do you show people examples of your wares? You use a specimen sheet: a 1565 type specimen sheet On this sheet, we see a matched set of roman and italic typefaces, each in three sizes. The roman (from largest to smallest, and from top to bottom) is in canon, double pica, and pica; the italic (zig-zagging from right to left to middle) is in double pica, great primer, and pica.… Continue Reading

Exhibition transformations

It’s that time of year again: for two weeks every four months or so, the Folger’s Great Hall locks its doors and transforms from one exhibition into the next. Or, perhaps that’s how it seems to Folger visitors and readers and staff who are barred from the space and have to wait to see the next show. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind those closed, locked doors, let me give you a little glimpse .… Continue Reading

From printing house to coffee house

Last Friday a much-anticipated package arrived at the Folger, containing a series of fifteen deeds describing the successive ownership of two adjacent properties on Fleet Street (“The King’s Highway”) in London from 1543 to 1735. Deeds can be tedious to muddle through, repetitive and full of arcane terminology. And the Folger doesn’t actively acquire deeds unless they directly relate to a collection strength, 1 but when these were offered to us by a London bookseller, we couldn’t say no.… Continue Reading

Q & A: Michael Witmore, Director

Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library With this post, we inaugurate a Q & A series with Folger staff. It seems fitting to start off with one of the most recent and most public members of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Director Michael Witmore. Although his position as Director might be relatively new, Mike has a long history with the Folger: he has been a Short-term Fellow here, has published in Shakespeare Quarterly, and is co-curator with Rosamond Purcell of an upcoming exhibit, “Very Like a Whale.” Before coming to the Library, Mike was Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin; prior to that, he was Associate Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.… Continue Reading

Undergrads in the Library

Forty-five years ago, Folger Director Louis Wright used his annual report to describe the Library as a haven for student-weary faculty: The time has come when someone should give a word of commendation to long-suffering faculties, and provide them with a refuge from the slings and arrows of outrageous students. We are glad that the Folger Library can qualify as a mind-saving station for scholars weary with the task of trying to stir the undergraduate mind to rational understanding. … Continue Reading

Folger Tooltips: Introduction

Pierre Lombart engraving of the playwright William Cartwright Greetings Dear Readers! Welcome to the first in a series of “tooltips” about how to access and best utilize online resources for conducting research at (or away from) the Folger Shakespeare Library. New bibliographic records and finding aids, and new tools for researchers, are continually in the works.  Some of our collection descriptions and digital toolsets are created in-house, such as the bibliographic records describing 82 First Folios (and fragments).… Continue Reading

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