The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Acquisitions Night: February 5, 2015

Got your tickets yet? Acquisitions Night is just over a week away! This once-a-year event directly supports the growth of the collection by giving people the chance to “adopt” selected items acquired over the past year—that is, reimburse the purchase price to the library so that more material can be purchased. Attend in person to enjoy a buffet dinner, talk with Folger staff, and examine almost one hundred new items with your own eyes (you’re under no obligation to adopt).… Continue Reading

A brief introduction to RDA

Below are four copies of Hamlet. They’re four editions of a French translation by Carlo Rusconi, and at first glance look fairly similar. However, they have some significant differences, such as publisher, date, and inclusion in a series. In order to make sure that someone searching Hamnet for French translations of Hamlet knows what they’re finding, their catalog records each need to reflect these small but important differences, as well as specifying their location in the Folger Library.… Continue Reading

An early modern color guide

As I was answering a reference question yesterday relating to heraldic funeral processions in Folger MS V.a.447—a heraldic miscellany written by John Guillim shortly after he was made Portsmouth Pursuivant of Arms—my eyes snagged on a subsection near the end titled, “The names of all Coloures pertaining to Lymminge.” The list of names immediately made me think of the colors that J.… Continue Reading

From comet tales to bear tails

After watching NASA’s test-launch of the Orion Spacecraft last month, I was inspired to dive into the Folger’s collection of astronomical texts. Quite by accident, I stumbled upon the works of John Bainbridge. I’ve had just enough history of science for that name to ring a bell, so I decided to go digging, into both his texts and life. Bainbridge was educated at Cambridge and received his MD in 1614, at the age of 32.… Continue Reading

Twelfth Night

What better play to consider on the twelfth night of Christmas than Twelfth Night? Although there are discrepant practices today whether the Feast of the Epiphany—marking the visit of the Three Kings to Bethlehem to worship the Christ child—is celebrated on the 5th of January or the 6th, in Elizabethan England, the Epiphany was celebrated on the 6th. Like other festivities in the season, Twelfth Night was a time of topsy turvy celebrations inverting social order: boys crowned in mock religious processions, heavy drinking and lavish feasts, parody and misrule replacing stern morality.… Continue Reading

Out with the old? The A.L.A. Portrait Index of 1906

To create more work space, we’re starting to sort through the hundreds of “ready reference” books that fill the shelves in the shared staff areas on Deck A, pulling out volumes that really don’t need to be kept that handy. For example,  it’s a safe bet that Art Information and the Internet (How to Find It, How to Use It), written in 1998, won’t be of much help in 2015.… Continue Reading

Farewell to 2014

The end of the year is a time that invites self-reflection and speculation for the future. As the editor of The Collation, late December makes me want to assess how our year here went—how many readers did we reach, how much information and entertainment did we convey, how well did we open up our collections? So here is a quick look at what 2014 brought us.… Continue Reading

Storming Shakespeare: creating an artists’ book

A guest post by Jan Kellett Editor’s note: When the Folger acquired the lovely artist’s book Storming Shakespeare from Jan Kellett last year, Erin Blake asked if she would be willing to share some information with our readers about the making of the book. The post that follows is Kellett’s account of the inspiration and physical process of creating Storming ShakespeareContinue Reading

Hard hands and strange words

Until you get the hang of it, Henry Oxinden’s secretary hand is just plain difficult. Take a stab at this passage from p. 469 of his Miscellany (ca. 1642-1670), Folger MS V.b.110, extracted from a sermon delivered by Charles Herle at Winwick, Lancashire, in 1654. It is typical of the entire manuscript. What does it say? Our crack team of advanced paleographers transcribed Oxinden’s messy and abbreviated secretary hand as follows: Certainly if there bee any thing glorious in the world it is a minde that contemnes that glory.… Continue Reading

A transcriba… what?

The typical first awkwardly formed question is, “A transcriba…what, wait, what is it, again?” (Answer: “Transcribathon, an event running from noon to midnight in which we transcribe and encode manuscripts, the very first experimental event of its kind for Early Modern Manuscripts Online.”) The next question following fast on its heels is usually, “Why would anyone want to do that for twelve hours?” Well, over 35 transcribers, many of whom had never tried their hands or eyes at early modern paleography before, could tell you: because it’s fun!… Continue Reading