Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Blog Posts by Subject: Manuscripts and Rare Books

Puccini's La fanciulla del West 100 years ago

The December 10, 2010 performance of the Metropolitan Opera’s production (which opens tonight) of Giacomo Puccini’s La fanciulla del West will mark the 100th anniversary of the opera, which had its premiere at the Met on the same date in 1910 featuring a stellar cast of Emmy Destinn, Enrico Caruso, and Pasquale Amato with Arturo Toscanini conducting.

Read More ›

Romantic Interests: Shelley's Ghost appears in Oxford; Godwin's Juvenile Library gets Animated

Twelve treasures from the New York Public Library’s Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle will be featured in Shelley’s Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family, a major exhibition which opens today at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.

Read More ›

United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: Harvests for Health

The United States Sanitary Commission records might not be the first port of call for anyone interested in studying 19th-century American agriculture or the culinary arts, but the visit could well repay the effort. 

From the first days of its existence, the USSC concerned itself with identifying suitable ingredients for a soldier's diet. A healthy diet kept men in fighting strength and in good spirits, prevented disease, and helped them recuperate more quickly from wounds and sickness. The Commission and 

... Read More ›

Special Collections Highlights: Mary Löwenkopf Weiss Papers

In December 1938, Mary Löwenkopf, a 13 year old Jewish girl from Nazi-occupied Vienna, left on a Kindertransport and settled in The Netherlands for the next 8 years. After liberation, she emigrated to the United States.

The Mary Löwenkopf Weiss Papers, a small archival collection in the Dorot Jewish Division documenting this World War II refugee, is a great example of how the remnants of 

... Read More ›

Follow An Archive Day in the Music Division

Friday November 12, 2010 was a special day for users of Twitter and users of archives.  The day was designated as “Follow An Archive Day” or, to use the Twitter hashtag, #followanarchiveday

All over the world, archives were encouraging users to visit an archive and tweet about it.  These archives could send out tweets reminding the world of its existence. (Twitter hashtags, i.e. the word preceded by a # sign, allow for posts from different users to be searched and retrieved by 

... Read More ›

Scribing the Sacred

If you find inspiration in thoughts of pen angles and letter heights, please visit the “Scriptorium” at The New York Public Library’s “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam” exhibition.

In the Scriptorium you will see the tools of the scribe: paper, ink, and pens, and learn how they have been used to create religious manuscripts over the centuries. The exhibit hall also contains a lighted table, with 

... Read More ›

Behind the Scenes at Three Faiths: A Conversation with Senior Exhibitions Conservator Myriam de Arteni

Myriam de Arteni has been painstakingly repairing the library’s vast collections for more than three decades. But for de Arteni, conserving works in the “Three Faiths” exhibit--which include some of the library’s oldest and most precious documents--has been one of her most ambitious projects yet.

How does this exhibit compare to other exhibits you’ve worked on? Was it among the most ambitious?

Yes, it was very challenging because it features such rare and fragile 

... Read More ›

Guardians of the Sacred Word

The first multilingual Psalter. Genoa, 1516. The New York Public Library, Rare Book Division.For very long time, Jews, Christians and Muslims have behaved toward one another like members of a dysfunctional family, like the competitors for an immense inheritance, the favor of Almighty God. But the current exhibition at the New York Public Library uncovers quite another strain of familiarity among the three, their devotion to the book.

Many cultures value the written word, the art of writing and a reverence for 

... Read More ›

USSC Processing Project: the U.S. Sanitary Commission's Archive Department

As we work towards our goal of providing optimal access to the collection, we encounter, learn about, and engage with the work of our 19th-century predecessors—the staff of the USSC’s Archive Department and their successors.

Metropolitan Fair stationery, 1864Although the USSC’s military campaign relief services were essentially completed in the summer of 1865, and many of its offices closed, others carried on, finishing their relief work and distributing remaining supplies to the 

... Read More ›

USSC Processing Project: Diving In

Our first blog post announced the United States Sanitary Commission Records Processing Project, a three-year project to comprehensively process (arrange, describe, and physically preserve) the archival records of the United States Sanitary Commission, a civilian organization that supported the health, comfort and efficiency of Union forces during the American Civil War.

A glimpse of USSC in the stacksIn the meantime, we have been planning our work, evaluating the collection from top to bottom, studying the Sanitary Commission’s operations, acquiring supplies, 

... Read More ›

Movable books in the Spencer Collection

Books with movable flaps, pop-up pages, and other "interactive" features are known to librarians as "Toy and movable books" and more than a thousand examples can be found in the Library's catalog. Most are modern children's books, but the genre has a surprisingly long history, pre-dating even the dawn of printing, and most early examples were 

... Read More ›

The Brown Pelican: Reluctant Heroine of the Gulf Coast Oil Disaster

The Brown Pelican (Pelcanus Occidentalis) is described on many web sites as one of seven or eight species of pelicans with a wing span over 7 feet...

It is the smallest of all the pelicans. One of the features that make this brown bird so distinctive is its large bill; when resting, the neck bends in two places. Standing out from the pack, the Brown Pelican dives directly into the water, beak first, for its food. The habitant of the Brown Pelican is along coastal waterways.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology captured the sights and sound of the

... Read More ›

A Language of Our Own: America’s English and the Influence of Noah Webster

Most people are familiar with the name Noah Webster as the father of the American Dictionary, a book that we all grew up with and still use today.  What many people may not know is that besides being a lexicographer, he was also a dedicated orthographer and philologist, working in spelling reform and lingustics, and had a large influence on the early American language.

Webster began his career as a schoolteacher and recognized a need for a quality teaching tool for children learning grammar and 

... Read More ›

Engaging the Text: Literary Marginalia in the Berg Collection

As Edmund Blunden's biographer tells it, the poets Edmund Blunden and Siegfried Sassoon sat down together on the night of November 7, 1929 to annotate a book. That book was Robert Graves’ memoir Goodbye to All That, and their notes were anything but laudatory.

Graves had published Goodbye to All That, an account of his early years and service in the first world war, to critical acclaim earlier that year.  Blunden and 

... Read More ›

A Passenger to Remember: Introducing the Spencer Collection

"A collection ... of the finest illustrated books that can be procured, of any country and in any language ... bound in handsome bindings representing the work of the most noted book-binders of all countries..."

* * *

The Titanic disaster portrayed on a contemporary songsheet coverSometime in 1910, according to an often-repeated story that has acquired the status of legend, William Augustus Spencer visited the new central building of the New York Public Library, still

... Read More ›

Lamenting the Greater Fall: 19th Century Prison Reform and The Women's Prison Association Records

An entry from Isaac T. Hopper's logbook of released prison inmates

November 27, 1846: "William Haynes, a native of Ireland, has been in this country about two years and six months.  He was sent to Blackwells Island three months for selling pernicious books."

December 30, 1846: "John H. Gilman, 41 years old, a native of Vermont, was convicted in this city for forgery in passing counterfeit money and sentenced to Sing Sing for seven years and three months."

January 22, 1847: "Cecelia Elizabeth Doremus, a native of this City 

... Read More ›

The United States Sanitary Commission Records Processing Project

The Manuscripts and Archives Division has embarked on a three-year project to comprehensively arrange, describe, and physically preserve the United States Sanitary Commission Records, made possible by a generous donation enabling The New York Public Library to expand access to its archival collections. This blog will introduce you to the organization, its records, and the processing project, with further explorations and updates to 

... Read More ›

Novelist as Contrarian: James Morrow Reads Voltaire

Note: for those of you just joining us, the following is a digest of the latest round of comments on Candide 2.0, an interactive edition of Voltaire's book mounted in conjunction with the Library's exhibition Candide at 250: Scandal and Success.

James Morrow names his 10th-grade World Literature teacher, James Giordano, as his literary hero. In the reader’s guide notes to his novel, The Last 

... Read More ›

Voltaire's 'Candide' as Media Event

The title page of the [Geneva] 1759 true first edition (NYPL Digital Gallery)To say that Candide enjoyed an immediate success is an understatement. Candide was a phenomenon. The novel was published through the medium of print, a fact which we too easily take for granted. The print world of the eighteenth century was unlike our own and posed two particular challenges.

The first was censorship. England enjoyed a fairly free press, but most European countries had various systems for controlling the 

... Read More ›

A Burroughs Christmas Story

For many years, William S. Burroughs sent Otto Belue of Saint Louis, Missouri a Christmas card with a check in it. The cards arrived like clockwork, from London, Paris, New York…wherever Burroughs had landed at the time. Letters in the William S. Burroughs Collection of Papers sent by Belue in late December and early January during the sixties and early seventies to Burroughs offer interesting insight into one of Burroughs’s strongest ties from childhood.

Burroughs grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri, the 

... Read More ›
Previous Page 4 of 5 Next