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Blog Posts by Subject: Manuscripts and Rare Books

Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: MPLP, the New Standard?

During the past several years, the archives profession has been rocked by a paper by Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner titled "More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing."[1] Through examining surveys of archival processing practices, Greene and Meissner proposed that switching the emphasis from physical arrangement and preservation practices to intellectual arrangement and description would expedite the processing of most collections. The upshot of their findings was a plea to end backlogs for unprocessed collections. This method (now 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: After Antietam

September 17, 2012 marked the 150th anniversary of the battle of Antietam, often called "the bloodiest day in American history." With Alexander Gardner's images before us, we can easily imagine the horrific strife of those few hours that left behind over 23,000 casualties. Other contemporary materials can show us what it was like for a soldier to experience that single day within the context of a long and grueling campaign. Project staff member Joseph Lapinski describes such an item encountered in the USSC's 

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: What I Thought I Knew

When I first started the Leary Processing Internship in June, I had what is probably the most common impression of Timothy Leary. I had obviously heard about him before, but honestly, all I knew about him was that he was famous for his line "turn on, tune in, drop out." To me, he was simply the LSD guru of the 1960s. Not having grown up in his heyday, I only knew what was best and most widely known about him.

Fast forward two months, and here I sit at my desk at the New York Public 

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Floriant et Florete: Treason in Translation

The hero's name as written in the manuscript.

The most important factor in Floriant's obscurity is its complete lack of originality. As an imitative rather than an original work, Floriant holds little appeal for either the academic or the amateur. Yet it is precisely Floriant's derivative nature that shines a new light on the practices of rewriting and reinterpretation when they are taken to their logical extremes. In fact, Floriant can be read as a subtle allegory on medieval 

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Floriant et Florete: An Arthurian Romance of the Mediterranean

A marginal decoration of the manuscript of Floriant.Floriant et Florete, a thirteenth-century Arthurian romance, is preserved in a single manuscript that has been held, since 1941, in the Archives and Manuscripts Division of the New York Public Library. Although neglected by scholars and unknown to common readers, its text is not only interesting as an entry in the annals of Arthurian history, it is also fascinating as a work of literary pastiche.

A "pastiche" is a feat that resembles plagiarism in its 

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2012-2013 Short-Term Research Fellowship Recipients Announced

The New York Public Library is pleased to announce the awarding of Short-Term Fellowships to support the following scholars from outside New York who will research the Library's archival and special collections between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013.

Dorot Jewish Division and Slavic, Baltic, and Eastern European Collections  

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Rare Books: Machinae Novae of 1595

We often get asked about firsts in printing history in the Rare Book Division. Machinae novae Favsti Verantii siceni (Venice, 1595) known as Machinae Novae, or New Machines, contains some of the first printed images related to engineering and machinery.

Machinae Novae was written by scholar-diplomat and scientist Fausto Veranzio in Venice; only a few copies 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: A Day at the (Civil War) Office

Anna Peterson, a graduate student at the University of Michigan's School of Information, recently helped us organize some correspondence of the USSC's Hospital Directory office in Philadelphia. Here are Anna's impressions of a letter she found in the collection during her internship with the Manuscripts and Archives Division:

The Hospital Directory, with offices in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Louisville, was established in 1862 to collect and record information concerning the location of sick and wounded soldiers in U.S. Army hospitals. Members of the 

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: The Self-Annotated Papers

Annotations throw a wrench in dating materials, and Timothy Leary liked to annotate... everything. Aware of his demise after being diagnosed with cancer in 1995, he wrote notes and signed printed matter, clippings and correspondence from his personal files. Although he authored the autobiographies High Priest and Flashbacks, it will be his 

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Iceland Moss and Charles Dickens

Thanks to bibliophile George Arents, the Rare Book Division's holdings include an extensive collection of nineteenth century books in parts, and they are fascinating artifacts of their time. Little did I know, however, that I'd learn about a healthful and tasty lichen drink while reading 

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: Applying Archival Processing

A box of unprocessed papersPeople ask me what my work entails as I process the Timothy Leary papers. As I pore through the boxes, I am faced with over 400 linear ft. of material created and collected by Leary which I must process to make available for research. I encounter various media, such as photographs, video tapes, computer disks, prints and posters. I encounter quite a bit of paper.

My responsibilities include determining the record keeping structure and making decisions 

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The Pompadour's Book: A Mystery Manuscript Owned by Madame de Pompadour

It's a small volume, neatly but unostentatiously bound in mottled calf. The gilt ornamentation is discreet, except for an impressive coat of arms on both boards. That becomes even more impressive when we identify it as the blazon of one of the standout personalities of 18th-century France, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, marquise de Pompadour — elevated from her haute-bourgeois background and a boring union with a certain M. Lenormand d'Étioles (nephew of her mother's lover) to become the official maîtresse-en-titre to 

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Hough's American Woods

Romeyn Hough (1857-1924) was single-minded in his devotion to trees. He was also a New Yorker, and when he embarked on The American Woods, he turned to the trees of his state first in what would eventually grow to be a 14-volume masterwork. The American Woods remains invaluable today due to the range and age of the tree samples Hough included, and the Library's Rare Book Division holds a complete set of this delicate and 

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Women's and Gender Studies: A Research Guide

March is Women's History Month. This year, the theme of Women's History Month is Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This blog post will explore how one can conduct research in women's and gender studies and history.

The research collections of The 

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A Luxury Cruise in 1928: The Rose de Rose Papers

Rose de Rose and her mother, 1928When socialite Rose de Rose accompanied her mother on the 1928 round-the-world cruise aboard Empress of Australia, it was one of Canadian Pacific’s most luxurious vessels. By the 1920s, Canadian Pacific had diversified from rail travel to launching its own fleets of ships — first for the movement of goods, and then for travel and leisure. The very popular round-the-world cruises were offered on its three luxury ships — the Empress of Britain, the Empress of Canada, and the Empress of Australia.

The

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E.E. Cummings: To My Valentine

Copyright by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust.When Edward Estlin Cummings met Marion Morehouse in 1932, he was in the middle of a painful split from his second wife, Anne Barton. But loss soon gave way to what Cummings later described as "an ecstatic arrival." This was Marion.

Morehouse was tall and thin, of Choctaw Indian ancestry, with brown eyes and a narrow face like a Modigliani. Edward Steichen called her "the greatest fashion model [he] ever shot." Aside from Steichen, 

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A Century of Music at The New York Public Library

As the centennial year of The New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building comes to a close and the next 100 years begin, it's a good opportunity to journey through the history, collections, and people behind the scenes of one of the world's premiere music collections. 

This engraving by Paul Revere serves as the frontispiece of William Billings New England Psalm Singer published in 1770The music holdings of The New York Public Library were brought together as part of the merger in 1895 of the library of John Jacob Astor (about 4,000 music items) and 

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Musical of the Month: "Babes in Toyland"

A Guest Blog by Larry Moore

Original cast of "Babes in Toyland"In the NYPL Rare Books Division, among the Townsend Walsh correspondence, there is an undated 1902 letter from director Julian Mitchell to his publicist/business manager, Townsend Walsh, informing Walsh in confidence that he had asked Glen MacDonough to rewrite the libretto for The Wizard of Oz before it opened at New York's Majestic Theatre at 

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Emblem Books, or, What's Going On in this Engraving?

This is one of over a hundred such puzzling images you can find in Symbolorvm & emblematvm ex animalibvs qvadrupedibvs desvmtorvm centvria altera, a 1595 book printed in Nuremberg, Germany.

Emblem books like this one were common in 16th- and 17th-century Europe, and a typical example of this genre contained dozens of emblems — each made up of an image and some explanatory text meant to be approached as a small mystery to be solved by the reader (and often designed to impart a moral lesson). Because 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: Army of the Potomac

The Army of the Potomac Archives, part of the United States Sanitary Commission Records, is an important resource for anyone interested in studying the USSC’s work alongside the Union armies on campaign in eastern Virginia from 1862-1865, especially during the long and bloody struggle from the battle of the Wilderness in 1864 to the fall of Petersburg and Richmond in 1865. Archivist Elizabeth Delmage shares materials explored during processing, which shed light on how the USSC geared up its systems to meet ever-growing military and humanitarian needs.

Journals 

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