Wednesday, July 11, 2012

PEAES Conference on International Investment

Join us for the twelfth annual PEAES conference conference, Foreign Confidence: International Investment in North America, 1700 to 1860.  During the colonial and early republic years in North America, various foreign networks of individuals and institutions provided funds, credit, and knowledge to North Americans. These resources became vital forms of transnational investment for many commercial, internal development, philanthropic, and banking enterprises. New research highlights the great reach of foreign capital and credit into North America, as well as the role of strategic international marriages, transnational secrecy, and collaborations of families across imperial boundaries, and collaborative and competitive lending by both individuals and early banks across national boundaries. Indeed, all major kinds of development during these years drew upon the money and expertise of Europeans, South Americans, North Africans, and Caribbean peoples. The papers for this conference explore many facets of this blurring of boundaries among international resources and peoples and will engage the audience in some reflections about the rich international archives that illuminate these relationships between North Americans and foreign investors.

Click Here to Register Online

NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers

Thanks to generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) the Library Company is again the site of a Summer Seminar for School Teachers.  Sixteen teachers from around the country, chosen from a record number of applications, will spend four weeks immersed in a course entitled The Abolitionist Movement: Fighting Slavery and Racial Injustice from the American Revolution to the Civil War under the direction of Richard Newman, Associate Professor of History at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The seminar participants will examine key themes such as slave rebellions, inter-racial activism, and women’s role as abolitionists, and they will explore teaching strategies, films, and other media that will enhance their own performance in the classroom. Several visiting scholars will share their expertise with the group, and one of the field trips is a day-long excursion to Gettysburg. The participants also have an opportunity to conduct research in primary sources in the Library Company’s extensive collections. Professor Newman has described the seminar’s main goal as integrating new scholarly perspectives on abolitionism into classic interpretations of the movement, with a central focus on the use of original documents in the classroom.

To learn more about the NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers visit our webpage.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Stuff of Everyday Life at the Library Company

Page from volume 1 of Joseph Breintnall, Nature Prints of Leaves, ca. 1731 - ca. 1742.
Francis Stearns & Co. Manufacturing Pharmacists, Detroit, Mich., U.S.A. ([Detroit], ca. 1890). Line photoengraving.  Gift of William Helfand.
Flash card from Illustrations for the Berlitz Method ([United States?], ca. 1895).  Chromolithograph.  Gift of Helen Beitler.
After two years of dedicated work, the Library Company has completed an extensive National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)-funded project to catalog, conserve, and selectively digitize our uncataloged collections of 18th- and 19th century printed and graphic ephemera.  A rich resource for the study of the everyday life of past generations, ephemera has begun to emerge from the shadow of traditional primary source material in the past few years.  The Library Company's holdings have great significance for the study of early American visual, material, and popular culture, economic history, and Philadelphiana and, thanks to the NEH, we are at the forefront of providing access to these materials.  

Nearly 30,000 items from our ephemera collections, including such things as broadsides, blank forms, trade cards, advertisements, almanacs world's fair souvenirs, and post cards, as well as more than 7,000 representative digital files of these materials, are now included in our WolfPAC catalog and ImPAC digital catalog.  Philadelphia amateur scientist Joseph Breintnall's nature print leaves, given to the library in 1746 and one of our earliest acquisitions of ephemera, can now be perused page by page on line.  Other newly accessible material includes itemized billheads for patent medicine dealers active in the Progressive era, such as Frederick Stearns & Co., as well as more esoteric materials, such as circa 1895 color-printed flash cards to teach foreing languages through the Berlitz Method.

Although cataloging work under the grant has been completed, efforts to disseminate these intellecutally and visually engaging collections to a wider patron base continue.  In May 2013 an exhibition examining the life-cycle of ephemera in the home, the workplace, and the street will open in the main gallery.  The following September, the Library Company's Visual Culture Program (VCP at LCP) will co-sponsor a conference on the scholarly study of ephemera with the Ephemera Society of America.  In addition, reproductions of items from our stereograph, postcard, and broadside collections will be featured in a temporary exhibition about "Life in Philadelphia" at the Philadelphia International Airport this fall.  Without the support of NEH these programs showcasing the historical importance of the Library Company's ephemera collection would not have been possible. 

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!

Welcome Krystal Appiah

We are very pleased to announce that Krystal Appiah started as the Library Company's African Americana Specialist and Reference Librarian on June 11.  She comes to the Library Company from the Maryland State Archives, where she improved access to the papers of the Maryland State Colonization Society as an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) fellow.  The IMLS sponsors an innovative national program to train library and archives professionals interested in working with African Americana.  Thanks to Krystal's work at the Maryland State Archives, researchers can now locate information about Society-sponsored emigrants to Liberia more easily.

Previously, Krystal obtained two masters degrees--one in library science from UCLA and one in public humanities from Brown University, which was also her undergraduate alma mater. As part of her training, she worked at Brown University's Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, where she created lesson plans for middle-school educators; at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American History and Culture in Atlanta, Georgia, where she developed social media; and at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum in Los Angeles, where she cataloged rare 

We could not be more delighted by this newest addition to the staff of the Reading Room and the Program in African American History. Please drop by and say hello to Krystal soon.

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