The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Discovering Early Modern Digital Resources

This post was written with the invaluable contribution of Sophie Byvik. Ever been puzzled by a date in one of our manuscripts? Want to know how much a manipulus is in your early modern recipe? How much did that early modern bar tab scrawled in the back of a book set the reader back? Where is Pissing Alley in London? (Not a trick question, I swear.) This link roundup offers a sampling of easy-to-use, open-access digital tools that help folks understand the early modern period: everything linked to here is free.… Continue Reading



Imagining an 18th century Jane Doe

A fake woman with fake initials and a fake seal? What is going on with these early 18th century affidavits? Curator of Manuscripts Heather Wolfe explores burials, bureaucracy, and "ritualized compliance" in this post about two recent acquisitions.

The Strange and Practical Beauty of Small-Format Herbals

A guest post by Katarzyna Lecky The Folger Shakespeare Library has a wealth of pre-Linnaean English herbals (printed guides to the medicinal qualities of plants) ranging from gorgeous folios to pocket-sized reference manuals. Although the large-format botanical works boast an undeniable aesthetic appeal with their elaborate frontispieces and pages filled with engraved plates of flora, little herbals are often more compelling for those of us interested in who used them, how, and why.… Continue Reading

Of Counts and Causes: The Emergence of the London Bills of Mortality

A guest post by Dr. Kristin Heitman The Folger’s rare holdings let us glimpse aspects of Renaissance and early modern practices otherwise lost to us. For example, while many European cities and towns had well-documented methods for monitoring the health of their residents, particularly during plague epidemics, significant details of the programs’ inner workings are disclosed only in a series of Folger documents—particularly for the City of London.… Continue Reading