The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Summer Retrospective: Uncut, unopened, untrimmed, uh-oh

It seems fitting that with last week’s retrospective post being all about paper, this week we should turn to the age-old question: just what do you call it when a book still has pages joined together (aside from “difficult to read”)? Learn the answer in Uncut, unopened, untrimmed, uh-oh.… Continue Reading

Launching Global Environmental History: Dr. Thomas Short on Air and Diseases in 1749

A guest post by Ruma Chopra It took the English doctor Thomas Short eighteen years to publish his nearly 1000-page assessment of the relationship between climates and diseases. Published in 1749, his two-volume history, A general chronological history of the air, weather, seasons, meteors, &c. in sundry places and different times, more particularly for the space of 250 years, together with some of their most remarkable effects on animal (especially human) bodies, and vegetables (Folger 203- 254q) correlates astronomical and climatic conditions to a variety of distempers and diseases in various parts of the world by placing hundreds of scattered episodes in one chronological sequence.… Continue Reading

Summer Retrospective: All About Paper

One of the most important physical aspects of our collection is the very paper on which the books, manuscripts, and drawings were created. Unsurprisingly, we’ve had quite a few posts on this topic! This week, we invite you to take a look at some of them: Learning to “Read” Old Paper—what’s the difference between laid and woven paper anyway? Find out!… Continue Reading

Postcards in the Folger Archives: The 1879 Hyde Prize in Oratory at Amherst College

A guest post by Stephen Grant My first descent into the underground vault took place in 2007 during a short-term Folger fellowship. Since a Summer Retrospective is the order of the day with The Collation, I should like to acknowledge the Feb. 16, 2012 post honoring fellowship administrator, Carol Brobeck. With a tape measure stuffed into a side pocket, I trailed Betsy Walsh, head of reader services, as she led me to yards of shelving supporting dozens of gray archival boxes 10 x 13 x 4” laid out horizontally that formed the Folger Collection she called “Folger Coll.” The Sept.… Continue Reading

Summer Retrospective: Early modern eyebrow interpretation

Eyebrow shaping has been a thing for a long time. Including in the early modern period. Another one of our favorite posts from the past comes from the time when Heather Wolfe found a whole section on eyebrows in one of our manuscripts. Curious to learn more? Read all about it in Early modern eyebrow interpretation, or what it means to have a unibrow… Continue Reading

Summer Retrospective: Woodcut, engraving, or what?

If you’ve ever been confused by the differences between woodcuts, engravings, and etchings, clearly you’re not alone! This post by Erin Blake, from 2012, is perennially one of our most popular. So in case you missed it the first time around, take a look at Woodcut, engraving, or what?… Continue Reading

Summer Retrospective

Happy summer, everyone! (Or happy winter, if you’re in the southern hemisphere!) From now until the end of August, we’re going to be doing a summer retrospective here on The Collation, highlighting some of our past posts. This blog has been around for eight (8!) years now, so we’ve got quite the pool to choose from! To start off, let us take you back to where this all began, with our very first post from August 2011: Welcome to The Collation We hope you enjoy these looks back into some of our favorite content, while we prepare to bring you even more new posts in the future.… Continue Reading

“What’s in a Name?” or, Going Sideways

When, in Act 2 of William Shakespeare’s famous teen suicide play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet muses “[w]hat’s in a name? That which we call a rose / [b]y any other word would smell as sweet,” it’s lucky for her that she isn’t speaking to a librarian. Although her sentiment is poetic, we librarians prefer to be a bit more precise when it comes to terminology.… Continue Reading


All the world and half a dozen lemons

A guest post by Lauren Working Thomas Wood’s 1576 letter to Richard Bagot begins conventionally enough. Wood was sending some artichoke “slips” with his letter, and he begins by describing the optimal way to plant the specimens to guarantee their growth. He accompanies this description with a simple sketch in the margin before turning to news from the Continent, including the story of a Polish duke who had “turned Turk,” or converted to Islam.… Continue Reading