Monday, July 2, 2012

African Americana and Frank H. Taylor Collections Now on ImPAC

Sarah Mapps Douglass, "A token of love from me, to thee," ca. 1833.  Watercolor and gouache

Three of the rarest and most popular resources for African American research in the Print and Photograph Department are now accessible in ImPAC, our digital collections catalog.  The 19th-cenutry African American women's friendship albums by Amy Matilda Cassey and the sisters Mary Anne and Martina Dickerson, inaugurate our newly created African Americana Digital Collection.  The three volumes, of only four of their kind known, provide unique insights into the culture, politics, and gender relationships of African American women of the antebellum era.

Compiled by three young women with ties to the anti-slavery community, the albums contain essays, poetry, sketches and floral watercolors contributed by figures prominent in the movement, including Sarah Mapps Douglass (see above image), Margaretta Forten, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Wendell Phillips, to name a few. These artifacts augment an ever-increasing number of Library Company collections available through our digital catalog.  

Another recent addition, the result of several years of hard work by interns and volunteers, is the Frank H. Taylor Collection comprising prints from his Ever-Changing Philadelphia, and later Old Philadelphia, series. The views, dated between 1895 and 1924, document the built environment of the city, with a focus on architectural landmarks, and also often portray scenes of daily life from that period. Many of the prints include detailed captions about the history and/or significance of the structures depicted, which are transcribed in the ImPAC records.

Frank H. Taylor, Forty-Fith and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, 1888.  Ink, wash, and gouache.  Gift of Mr. & Mrs. John J. Nesbitt III.

Although the majority of the digital collection is made up of prints, two watercolors by Taylor are also included. This recent acquisition, a view showing the corner of Forty-Fifth & Walnut Streets in West Philadelphia in 1888, is one of the two original pieces. Thanks to Ellen Nigro, Concetta Barbera, and Lydia Bello this excellent resource for the study of Philadelphia’s cityscape can now be perused online in its entirety.

With the inclusion of these new collections on ImPAC, we have close to 30,000 digital files of Library Company holdings available for research “virtually” all day, every day!

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