Pick of the week, Jan. 25: Indian Hill Cemetery map, 1850

An association for the establishment of a rural cemetery in Middletown was organzied on July 3, 1850. It purchased property known as Indian Hill. The association charged Dr. Horatio Stone with laying out the grounds. The cemetery was dedicated on Sept. 30, 1850, and among the participants were the mayor, other city officials, clergymen, prominent … Read more

Pick of the week, Jan. 4: The Rubáiyát of a Persian Kitten

Love those silly internet cat sites?  Adorable kitties getting into trouble have been around forever.  Here’s one of many too-cute-to-be-true images from Oliver Herford’s Rubáiyát of a Persian Kitten (New York: Scribner’s, 1922, c1904).  This sweet little stray wandered off the library’s weeding list into a safe, new home in Special Collections & Archives, already … Read more

Pick of the week, Nov. 9: E. E. Cummings on Krazy Kat

This week, a patron requested to see the SC&A copy of Krazy Kat by George Herriman with an introduction by the avant-garde poet E. E. Cummings (New York: H. Holt and Company, 1946). For the uninitiated, Krazy Kat was a bizarre, existential comic strip that involved a clueless cat (the title character); Ignatz Mouse, whose … Read more

Pick of the week, Sept. 21

It’s been just over a year since the Occupy Wall Street protest movement began.  In honor of the anniversary of the movement’s beginning (on September 17, 2011), here are some images from a new addition to our collection, just cataloged this week: an artist’s book consisting of 24 plastic cards, made to look like credit … Read more

The legacy of one of our library student workers

To our student workers, without whom the library could not function: You never know how much of an impact you may make on us!  Special Collections & Archives recently received a gift of a 1577 English legal book, presented to Wesleyan University “in honor of Kent Olson, Wesleyan Class of 1977, whose intelligence, energy and … Read more

Jewish books from Middletown’s Congregation Adath Israel

Last spring, a group of rare, Jewish-related books arrived at Special Collections & Archives, as a result of a new partnership between Wesleyan University’s Special Collection & Archives, Wesleyan’s Jewish and Israel Studies Program, and Middletown’s Congregation Adath Israel.  These rare books from Adath Israel are now on long-term loan to Special Collections & Archives … Read more

A mystery solved

The other day, I discovered a mystery in Special Collections: an extremely skimpy catalog record for a book in our collection.  All it said about this book was: Bible.  N.T. [for New Testament].  French [Nouveau testament] [S.l. : S.n., not after 1762.] 665 p. ; 19 cm. Title page missing. What does all that mean? … Read more

Shelf Prep I

This class album needs protection!

Through our work at Special Collections & Archives, we student workers have become sensitive to the cause of preserving historical objects.  All of us handle fragile objects nearly every shift, and through handling these objects we see firsthand the effects of afflictions such as “red rot” (where the leather binding of a book begins to rot and leave chestnut smudges everywhere), which can damage our collection and undermine our work.

These volumes will be safe from harm as long as we continue to treat them well

Our library already has a department that specializes in restoring damaged books, namely the Preservation department.  At Special Collections & Archives however, we focus on enclosing and protecting books in their current state.  Each year, a small team of student workers attempts to protect as many objects as possible.  This past year, three seniors—Anna Katten ’11, Jessica Levin ’11, and myself, Julius Berman ’11—have been charged with this task.

We call ourselves “Shelf Prep” and we take our work very seriously.  After the jump, follow me down the hidden spiral staircase into the basement workroom where I will show you how this important Special Collections work gets done.

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