The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Not for the faint of heart

Thanks to everyone who registered a guess for this month’s Crocodile Mystery and congratulations to those of you who answered correctly! As many of you pointed out, the oddity in the final disposition of characters is Macbeth’s full-bodied presence on the stage—usually we just see his head, held aloft by Macduff! Read on for the gory details… A while ago, I wrote about the stinky ingredients used to create the effect of the witches’ cauldron in Macbeth.… Continue Reading

Invitation to preview our new catalog

Psssst…. we’re working on a new online catalog for the Folger collection. Do you want to help out by having an early look? If so, please keep reading! The link is deliberately buried deep in this blog post because there’s some context we want you to have, and some important warnings about the parts that we’re still working on.… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: May 2022

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Crocodile Mystery for May. This month, take a moment to examine this image from a 19th century printed text of Macbeth published as a promptbook for performance. What is odd about the disposition of characters in the book’s suggestion for the play’s final staging? Lock in your guesses in the comments below. See you next week for the big reveal!… Continue Reading

Reading the Past and Researching During COVID-19

a guest post by Daniel Davies I defended my Ph.D. dissertation on April 3, 2020. The defense happened on Zoom, which has become standard academic operating procedure by now but at the time felt like an extreme oddity. ‘Zoom is a really easy-to-use program and is more reliable, and flexible, than Skype,’ I wrote to my advisor on March 12, without any sense of how this program would come to define our lives.… Continue Reading

Postcards in the (home) archive 1940

a guest post by Stephen Grant Printed on picture side: FOLGER SHAKESPEARIAN LIBRARY, WASHINGTON, D. C. Printed on address side: THE UNION NEWS COMPANY FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY. East Capitol and 2nd Streets. This important addition to the cultural wealth of the nation was the gift of the late Henry C. Folger. The Collection includes more than 70,000 volumes, as well as pictures and other relics of the great poet’s life and work.… Continue Reading

Different versions of a print, or different states?

When I began working on the March 1 Collation post about watchpapers, I saw right away I’d need to make a correction to the catalog record for Mr. Quin in the character of Sr. John Falstaff. Hamnet gave the publisher’s address as the Golden Buck “opposite Felter Lane.” My dissertation involved close study of mid-18th-century London print publishing, so I know there’s no such address.… Continue Reading

Printed Pamphlets for the Witch of Wapping

During September of last year, while browsing digital resources in the London Metropolitan Archives, a familiar name caught my eye. It was a 1652 indictment from the Middlesex quarter sessions, which tried criminal cases, where a woman named Joan Peterson (or Micholson) was accused of murdering a wealthy older woman through witchcraft. The Folger has an interesting (and heartwrenching) document that I’ve shown before to visitors who are interested in witch trials: the lone such document in a group of letters related to the Lenthall and Warcup families, it appears to be a transfer, or warrant, describing the same woman.… Continue Reading


Interview and excerpt: Simon P. Newman, Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London

At the Folger, we are proud to sponsor research inquiry within a vibrant and intellectually generous community. Periodically, as that research is published, we circle back to talk with recent authors to showcase the role of collections-based inquiry on their methods and arguments. Today, we pose a series of questions to 2018-2019 long-term fellow Simon P. Newman, followed by an excerpt from his new book, Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London, published by University of London Press.… Continue Reading

A Blessing to Booksellers

In her 1616 mother’s advice book, The Mothers Blessing, Puritan author Dorothy Leigh exhorts her readers: “Teach a childe in his youth the trade of his life, and he will not forget it, not depart from it when he is old.” This well-known Bible verse explains the lifelong project of labor for spiritual learning required for the practicing Christian. Leigh’s godly advice applies to her readers at all stages of life as they learn the precepts of faith in youth through their adulthood until their old age when they shall reap the fruit of their spiritual labor in death.… Continue Reading