The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

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

Visualizing Shakespeare’s Birds

a guest post by Missy Dunaway Greetings! I was the Folger Shakespeare Library’s artist-in-residence in November of 2021. I dedicated my Folger Institute Fellowship to a painting project entitled Birds of the Bard. This growing collection of paintings will catalog every bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays and poems—at least 65 species. My paintings aim to present natural science facts and literary analysis about each species.… Continue Reading

18th-century watchpapers

Thanks for the great guesses about the March 2022 Crocodile Mystery! All were different, all were plausible, and all were incorrect. It would have been easier if I’d included other examples of the same type of print,  because they’re always circular: It also would have been easier if I’d included something for scale, because they’re all between about an inch and a half to two inches in diameter (4 cm to 5 cm).… Continue Reading

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

As you’re waiting for the interminable month of February to finally expire, distract yourself with the following thought: Prints like this one were useful as well as decorative. What use did they serve? Leave your thoughts and guesses in the comments below, and we’ll be back next week with more information.… Continue Reading

A Folger Original: Edwin Eliott Willoughby

a guest post by Stephen Grant “Until he finally reached retirement age, Willoughby was a problem,” penned Louis B. Wright in Of Books and Men (University of South Carolina Press, 1976, p.135), looking back on two decades as Folger Director, 1948–1968.  I had not thought about Edwin Willoughby for years. Then, on September 20, 2021, I visited Mary L. Martin Ltd, the world’s largest postcard shop, located near the Susquehanna River in Havre de Grace, MD.… Continue Reading