Friday, October 18, 2013

282nd Annual Dinner

On Tuesday, November 19, the Library Company will hold its 282nd Annual Dinner. The event includes a reception at the Wells Fargo History Museum, dinner at the Union League, and a presentation by Michael F. Suarez, S.J., one of the rare book world’s most engaging ambassadors.

Courtesy of Rare Book School

Director of Rare Book School and Honorary Curator of Special Collections at the University of Virginia, Professor Suarez is a formidable force in literary, book, and library studies. He is former president and long-time board member of the Northeast American Society for 18th-Century Studies is the co-editor of The Oxford Companion to the Book and The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume 5, 1695-1830. He has written many articles on various aspects of 18th-century literature, satirical prints, religion, politics, and book history, and won several awards for his poetry, as well as his bibliography and literary criticism.


He holds four master’s degrees (two in English and two in Theology) and a doctorate in English literature from the University of Oxford. Professor Suarez is a former Marshall Scholar and recipient of research fellowships from the Radcliff Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Studies, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. A dynamic and demanding teacher and a passionate and enthusiastic lecturer, Professor Suarez is one of the most articulate advocates of the importance of books and rare book research libraries in the digital age. As Editor in Chief of Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, he is able to put into practice his belief in the essential utility of digital resources—but their ultimate insufficiency for the study of the history of the book.

This year’s event is especially meaningful because it will be John Van Horne’s last Annual Dinner as Director of the Library Company. You can purchase tickets for this event and find information about being an event sponsor by visiting the Annual Dinner event page on our website.

Philadelphia Ephemera Acquired

The Library Company has acquired the Joe Freedman Collection of Philadelphia Ephemera. Compiled over many decades by a distinguished collector with a discerning eye for historical significance, the Freedman Collection comprises nearly 900 pieces of ephemera, prints, manuscripts, and books. Gems from the collection include nearly 100 trade cards dating from the mid-18th to the late-19th century; a portfolio of manuscript maps surveying the early development of South Philadelphia during the 18th century; one of the earliest printed American bills of fare (ca. 1850); and rare bills of lading from the press of Benjamin Franklin (1760 and 1761). Go to our Flickr page for samples from the collection.

Announcing the acquisition at their successful recent ephemera conference, Visual Culture Program co-Directors Erika Piola and Rachel D’Agostino reflected on the importance of this collection to the Program, and to the Library Company’s stature with respect to promoting the research uses of ephemera. “Scholars are making increasingly inspired uses of printed ephemera as historical source material and we are thrilled to be providing leadership to the field. ” The acquisition complements a number of existing collection and research strengths, including women’s history, African American history, philanthropy, Philadelphia urban history, and, particularly, visual culture and early American economic history.

Through a recent ephemera cataloging project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, an exhibition, and the “Unmediated History” conference, the Library Company has positioned itself at the forefront of preserving and providing access to historical ephemera collections. Highlights of the ephemera collection can be viewed in the exhibition Remnants of Everyday Life: Historical Ephemera in the Workplace, Street, and Home, on display through December. Whimsical reflections on ephemera by contemporary artists of the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society are also on display in a small accompanying exhibition.

Conference on Colonial Economies

On October 24 and 25, the Library Company will present the 13th Annual Conference of the Program in Early American Economy and Society (PEAES). This year’s topic, “Ligaments: Everyday Connections of Colonial Economies,” focuses on the ways in which ordinary people navigated the economies of local North American places and at the same time traded across the boundaries of empire in the early modern era. Whether a widowed tavernkeeper in Montreal, a merchant in Veracruz, or a stonemason in Charleston, imperial subjects had to know how to make a sale, evaluate forms of money, judge a neighbor’s reliability, and set the value of goods.

Comprising ninety-minute sessions on “Cities on the Rim: Between Oceans and Interiors”; “Commercial Go-Betweens: Captains, Pilots, Chapmen, Outfitters”; “Mitigating Risk, Making the Sale”; “Connective Urban Spaces: Shops, Markets, Streets”; and “Economic Authority of Special Knowledge,” the two-day conference will present work by distinguished scholars, including many past and current PEAES fellows. This year, the conference is being held in conjunction with GlobalPhilly 2013, an exposition celebrating Philadelphia as a world city from September 15 to November 1.  

Each year, the Library Company awards post-doctoral, dissertation, and short-term fellowships through its PEAES program.  PEAES promotes scholarship in and public understanding of the origins and development of the early American economy—broadly conceived to encompass business, finance, commerce, manufacturing, labor, political economy, households and gender, and technology—through these fellowships, a monograph publication series with Johns Hopkins University Press, publication of conference proceedings in scholarly journals, seminars, public programs, and the acquisition, cataloging, and conservation of material. Past PEAES conferences have focused on plantation management in the colonial Chesapeake and women’s economies of early America. For more information about the program for this free, public conference go to the PEAES conference page. To register go to  

Documentary Filmmaker Gives A Gift of Light

Film stills from Thomas Paine: Revolution in America by Rick Feist (Clockwise from top left: Lewis Lapham, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Brooke Gladstone)

Since 2009, the Library Company has been assisting documentary filmmaker Rick Feist with a project entitled Thomas Paine: Revolution in America, which explores the life and writings of Founding Father Thomas Paine. Paine’s revolutionary writings inspired Feist to create a documentary to educate viewers about the contemporary relevance of his ideas. The film includes readings of poignant passages from Paine’s works by prominent individuals, including Lewis Lapham, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Brooke Gladstone, and Kwame Anthony Appiah.

Nicole Joniec assisting Rick Feist with document photography.
Feist has been conducting regular photo shoots at the Library Company to collect images from original editions of Paine’s writings, as well as contemporary illustrations. He is moved by the thought that the imprints from our stacks were read and handled by Library Company members and patrons over the course of almost 250 years since they were first published. Feist says he “hopes that the film can convey a sense of the awesome beauty of these historic pamphlets and newspapers. These words in these very printings changed the world. They are inspiring treasures, particularly in this world of ubiquitous electronic media.”

To thank the Library Company for our role in this project, Feist has generously donated the LED lights he purchased for his shoots. These lights will greatly increase the Library Company’s in-house photographic capabilities.

To follow the film’s progress or learn more about the project, visit:

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