The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

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

Portrait of a Young African Woman

A guest post by Alicia Meyer The Folger Shakespeare Library houses three etchings of African diasporic people by Wenceslaus Hollar. While we may never know the identities of the figures in these images, Hollar’s artistic choices direct how we see and remember seventeenth-century black lives. In this set of images, the vulnerabilities of youth, gender, and rank, as well as skin color, refract the figures’ agency and influence the viewer’s gaze to different ends.… Continue Reading

Drawn by Hayman, etched by Gravelot, preserved in Folger ART Vol. b72

For the June 2019 “Crocodile Mystery” we asked you to spot the differences between these two pictures: The main difference, of course, is that one is pretty much the reverse of the other. There are significant compositional differences too, though: Background figures in A do not appear in B Running man holds out an open palm in A and a sword in B Scabbards and legs in A make oblique angles; in B they are parallel or near-parallel (they’re also moved so that figures in both A and B can draw their swords right-handed).… Continue Reading

“What manner o’thing is your crocodile?”: June 2019

Last month’s Crocodile Mystery asked you to name what the images had in common. This month we ask the opposite: what’s different? Click the image for a larger view. Much MUCH larger versions of both pictures are available, but we’re only interested in differences that can be spotted at this scale. Please do not attempt to count the leaves (or, if you do, please do not expect Folger staff to verify your count).… Continue Reading