Five Years – and Counting!

Cover of the book One Two Three Four. A leashed dog at the top of a short staris barks at two kittens who are drinking milk from an spilled bowl on the step between them and the dog.At the beginning of May 2016, the first of 634 boxes of books arrived at the loading dock of Canaday Library. The enormous collection of 19th and 20th-century works for young readers had been bequeathed to the College by Ellery Yale Wood (Class of 1952).

Delivery worker draggins a pallet of 45 large boxes onto a dolly

The books arrived by the pallet-load.

Over the next three months six student employees unpacked, vacuumed, aired out, and roughly sorted approximately 17,000 books.

Student amployees vacuum and shleve incoming books

First: unpack! Second: vacuum!

By the end of that summer, all the books had been sorted and organized by author.

Catalogers and student employees, in processing room, hole up a book above a shipping box.

Last box of books!

In the succeeding five years, 37 of our student employees have worked on the Wood collection. They alphabetized. They helped identify duplicate volumes. They helped find books to answer reference questions and requests for images – a very difficult task before the books were cataloged and given call numbers. They shelved newly cataloged books, and retrieved and then reshelved books for readers and classes. They put acid-free covers on books with dust jackets, and measured books for the conservation boxes we use for fragile items. Three students – Toby, Kate, and Beck – did preparatory work identifying online records to save our professional catalogers time.

Studetn employee looks at one book whlie seated at a computer. A cart of books in the foreground.

Toby checked new books against those we already held, and annotated lists to help the catalogers.

Three of the students who worked on the collection in the first year wrote blog posts – on the Golliwog, Mrs. Molesworth, and Beauty and the Beast.

A stack of 40 books by Mrs. Molesworth.

Books by the once-popular, and very prolific, author, Mrs. Molesworth.

In addition to the students’ posts, we have blogged about the collection 26 times. This blog is the twenty-seventh.

Handmade doll with modern paper clothing made from magazine pages, superimposed on the mid-19th century book

Blog post on Paper Dolls and How to Make Them (1857) with a homemade doll dressed in modern clothing

Subsets of the collection – paper dolls, movable books, fairy tales – are large enough to provide significant resources for scholarly research. This year’s Friends of the Libraries intern, Juliet Smith, is the third student to work on the world-class sub-collection of books about Old Dame Trot. We currently have 62 individual historic books and 25 books which include the poem among other texts. Juliet’s efforts will result in an online bibliography and guide by the end of the summer. Two other students are working on Little Goody Two Shoes and The Butterfly’s Ball – and all of their imitators and derivative works.

Student employee examines a book in our reading room. A cartful of books is behind her.

Juliet works with the Dame Trot collection

The collection has been used by 28 Bryn Mawr and Haverford classes in our seminar room. Besides English courses, these include first year writing seminars, Russian Literature, Classics, Museum Studies, and History of the Book. In Fall 2018 a 360° cluster centered around children’s literature included English, Creative Writing, and Sociology courses, with classes and individual students using the collection repeatedly.

Pages from The Orphan Girl, showing the protagonist praying and selling flowers

The Orphan Girl (1812), used in the History of the Book class

We have presented two exhibitions of these books. To Increase Your Delight introduced the collection to the community in Fall 2016. Four students – Hannah, Isabella, Julia, and Cassidy – spoke on their experiences with the books at an event celebrating the exhibition.

Sign for the exhibtion To Incrase Your Delight, with title, dates Septrem to December 2018, and an image of a teenage girl reading to other girlsThe Girl’s Own Book ran through the 2020-2021 academic year; pandemic restrictions meant that most visitors experienced the show remotely. An online version included the full text of the show and links to online versions of many of the books.

Sign for The Girl's Own Book: Selections from the Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Books for Young Readers

Six students did background research and wrote draft labels for The Girl’s Own Book. Four helped install the show.

Student employee stands next to partially mounted exhibition signage.

Lucy helped hang the signs for The Girl’s Own Book

To date, 42 books from the Wood Collection have been fully digitized and shared globally on the Internet Archive. Because it is time-consuming, we digitize only works in the public domain that are not otherwise freely available.

Screenshot of search results for the EY Wood Colllection books on the Internet Archive

Books from the Wood Collection on the Internet Archive

The most strenuous effort in processing any donation of books is cataloging – describing the books and entering them into the library’s public catalog. Historically, fiction – even children’s fiction – has been added to catalogs with little or no information about the major themes in the stories. In cataloging the Wood Collection we broke with tradition to include extensive lists of topics (“subject headings” in library-speak) in the catalog records. So books are not just described as “Juvenile literature”, but with terms like Problem children, Siblings, Orphans, Child labor, Dolls, Boarding Schools,  Dreams, Imaginary Voyages, Imperialism, Stereotypes, Adaptations. This deep cataloging has made it possible for students, staff, faculty, and researchers to use Tripod (our online catalog) find books on topics of interest – impossible to do otherwise in a collection of 13,000 books.

Compared screen shots showing 9099 results for the Tripod catalog search ' "juvenile fiction" yale wood' and 54 for the search ' "boarding schools" yale wood'

Extensive cataloging permits readers to find the books they need

Three catalogers and three cataloging assistants have worked on the collection. In the first two years Patrick Crowley, Katharine Chandler, Jo Dutilloy (BMC 2017), and Rayna Andrews (BMC 2011), working part-time, added records for 2750 books.

Starting in 2018, a generous gift from Ellen Michelson (P’09) and additional support from the Friends of the Bryn Mawr College Libraries made it possible to hire a full-time cataloger and a part-time assistant to work exclusively on the Wood Collection. Amy Graham and Maria Gorbunova together cataloged 10,811 books before their appointments ended March 31, 2021. Maria worked primarily on 20th-century books, although her extensive language skills helped us add Russian, Japanese, French, and German titles as well. Cataloger Amy Graham managed the cataloging project and concentrated on the earlier volumes.

Maria Gorbunova and Amy Graham in the Special Collections office, smiling. Maria wears a t-shrt printed "No Meta-Data No Future."

Maria (left) and Amy on their last day of work

Nearly 600 of the catalog records Amy created were “original” – she was not able to use another library’s description for the book, but needed to catalog it from the beginning based on the book itself and her research on its publisher, author, date, and contents.

Title page of the book La civilité puérile et honneste pour l'instruction des enfans.

La civilité puérile et honneste pour l’instruction des enfans (1736) – one of the books Amy cataloged “from scratch”

As of June 2021, there were 13,402 books cataloged in the Ellery Yale Wood Collection.

One desnely packed aisle of the EY Wood Collection in the library stacks.The collection is still growing. Curator Marianne Hansen has taken over cataloging, to make information about additional books accessible. A relatively small number of books from the bequest still need to be added to Tripod. We have recently received three donations of twentieth-century picture books for young readers, totaling 125 books. Finally, we buy books to add to our collection – 50 in the last year – and those books must also be cataloged. We look forward to building the collection and making it available to readers for years to come!

Image from a book cover with a girl about eight years old, counting the fingers of a toddler. Below is written "One Two Three Four Five."

Triarte: Newly Improved!!!

Since Spring Break LITS staff and students (Megan Sligar (PhD candidate CNEA), Kaylee Verkruisen (Graduate Student, HART), Esme Read ‘22 and Katie Perry ‘21) have been working to upgrade our online collections database with a new server, software and expanded cataloging.  Upgrading the software gave us more robust features for the user. 

New or Greatly improved features include: Browse by Donor, Exhibitions, Publications and User Portfolios. The Advanced Search has been enhanced and the Advanced Search of Artists (including ULAN biographies), Exhibitions, and Bibliography is new.  Additionally, Donor Biographies, an Enhanced Bibliographic Section with Images of Comparanda and a Conservation Section for some Object Records are all new.

Browse by Exhibition lists Exhibitions that Tri-Co Objects have been in on campus and at outside institutions internationally. Within the exhibition you can find things like the objects exhibited, installation views, and catalogs.

Here you can see information about the recent conservation of The Bibliophile; Accession Number: 2011.6.121. The conservation report and technical study conducted by The University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum Art Conservation Program are included along with images before, during and after the treatment.



We hope you will take the time to explore and let us know what features you would like to see expanded and what features you find most helpful.

De-Installation of Presidential Portraits in Thomas Great Hall

IMG_8558(1) IMG_8550The presidential portraits that hang in Thomas Great Hall were de-installed today to protect them during repair work on the building’s roof. Professional art-handlers were hired to take the paintings down, to pack them, and then transport them off campus to climate-controlled art storage. The portraits will return in November of 2016.

More information about the portraits can be found here:

IMG_8574    IMG_8583

X-Radiographs of a Mummified Crocodile

Mummified Crocodile

ca. 1550 BCE – 600 CE
Linen and faunal remains
12 11/16 in. x 1 3/16 in. x 7/8 in. (32.3 cm x 3 cm x 2.2 cm)
Gift of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
Geography: Africa, Egypt
Classification: Raw Materials and Organic Remains; Organic Remains

Today our mummified crocodile, #24225 was x-rayed to help verify that the skeletal structure was in fact that of a crocodile and not some other type of lizard.







The x-radiographs created will become part of the object’s permanent record.

24225_XRAY_3 24225_XRAY_2 24225_XRAY

Behind the Scenes: Conservation of Artifacts at The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Last semester six objects from the Bryn Mawr College Art and Artifact collections were sent to The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University for conservation treatment. Over the course of the fall semester, students in the conservation program researched, cleaned, and repaired these objects. The objects were in need of varying treatments including re-treatment where old repair methods were causing new damage and repair to broken elements that were not structurally stable.

Several of the items were constructed of fragile or organic materials that had naturally begun to deteriorate or change over time, such as the fragile cotton and wool threads used in a pair of North American Ojibwe Beaded Garters.


Before Treatment


Documentation indicating areas of damage.


After Treatment

The deterioration of the threads was causing the garter to unravel and resulting in bead loss. The conservator reinforced the garter by weaving polyester threads into the unstable sections and reattaching the loose beads and surface cleaned the beadwork.


Basket Interior Before Treatment

The plant fibers that were woven to create a North American Tlingit berrying basket had also become brittle and broken in several places. In addition, the basket had several older repairs that were contributing to the damage.


Before Treatment Detail


After Treatment Detail








Before Treatment


After Treatment








As the older repairs were deteriorating, distorting the shape of the basket, and visually distracting, they were removed and the basket was surface cleaned. The conservator was able to fill in the gaps and fix small splits to replace the older repairs and ensure that the basket would be more structurally sound.


Before Treatment

Repairs to the fragile pieces of a small ivory sculpture depicting rabbits bringing rice dumplings to the rabbit in the moon also needed to be replaced. An older repair had left a visually distracting residue and was no longer stable. Thus, the conservator removed the older adhesive, surface cleaned the entire sculpture and reattached the rabbits and oar with a less obtrusive and more effective material.


After Treatment

Several of the objects bore evidence of use and were in need of repair. The gourd and wood structure of a Japanese gourd-shaped box had cracked in several places, which caused the lacquer and gold sheet inlay decoration to flake off. These damages may be explained by use and possibly an incident resulting in impact. Animal hide glue, acrylic resins, and balsa wood were used to repair cracks and losses in the gourd and wooden structure. The conservator then used a variety of acrylic resins, copolymers, and putties to stabilize the lacquer surface.


Before Treatment


After Treatment











A Peruvian (possibly Ica) feathered mosaic miniature dress fragment bore evidence of its deposition circumstances. The fabric was buried alongside another fabric piece with silver medallions, and several medallions transferred during that contact. In addition, the delicate nature of the feathers that constitute the decoration of the garment also necessitated treatment. Although the silver medallions were not part of the original garment, they are important evidence of the context, history and use of the artifact. Thus they were stabilized and retained. The feathers were brushed into alignment and loose feathers were reattached.

Treatment Object 2

After Treatment

A North American Inupiaq drawstring bag made of fish skin was very brittle and fragile from age and had been flattened in storage, losing its original shape, in addition to having many, tears, and losses. The bag was carefully reshaped using gentle humidification and slowly expanding it into its original shape.  Before and during this process the bag was also surface cleaned.


After Treatment


Fish Skin Bag Report Draft_FINAL(1)

Before Treatment

The conservator treating this bag created a time-lapse video of her repair work: (see link below)

We wish to thank the graduate conservation students at The Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, Emily Frank, Rebecca Gridley, and Bermet Nishanova, as well as their professor, conservator Samantha Alderson, and Manager, Laboratories and Study Collection Catherine A. Lukaszewski for working on these artifacts to help preserve them for future generations.


Lab 5: pXRF

On December 4th, for our final lab session, Dr. Anthony Lagalante, from Villanova University presented a lecture and lab session on utilizing a portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer.


Dr. Lagalante demonstrating the spectrum capture software.









Portable XRF units are commonly used to help non-destructively identify the surface elemental composition of metal alloys, pigments and other fine art and archaeological artifacts.  The data is generally qualitative when used in a non-destructive manner.


Analyzing pigment on an Egyptian polychromed wood sarcophagus fragment.








Students were able to operate the instrument and the computer during the data capture and looked at a variety of object types including; Roman coins, polychromed Egyptian materials, and Greek pottery.


Determining where to take a spectrum on a polychromed terracotta Ushabti.











Analysis of differences in the surface composition in Attic pottery between the black-glaze and clay body.

Lab 4: Microchemical and Related Testing

For week 4, the class focused on different tests to identify materials.


Marianne administers a lead spot test.

First, Marianne demonstrated different spot tests and micro-chemical tests that can be applied to identify or to ascertain the presence of certain materials in or on an object. One test determined whether chlorides were present in pottery. Marianne combined silver nitrate, deionized water, and pulverized ceramic material in a test tube. Chloride was present, so silver chloride precipitated out.


Spot test for nitrates and nitrites in soil








Students then examined the makeup of different ceramics through a process known as petrographic analysis. A thin section is cut from the vessel and examined under a microscope. In this manner, the different minerals or vegetal material that the ceramic is made of are easier to identify.


Examining petrographic thin-sections


Lastly, Marianne discussed the different ways of identifying fabric. Animal, plant, and synthetic fibers have different characteristics that can be identified through various examinations.


Examining different fibers under the microscope


Animal, vegetal, and synthetic fibers all look different.

Not only do fibers appear visually different under a microscope, but when placed in an open flame burn in a variety of ways.


Students identifying the different burn characteristics of some common fibers.


Testing Common Fibers.


Testing Common Fibers.











Lab 3: Mending Pottery and Glass

The third lab focused on the art of mending pottery and glass.


Marianne demonstrating mending glass

Marianne demonstrated mending broken glass with the adhesive Hxtal (NYL-1). She first made repairs to a piece of flat colored glass from a leaded window and then to a drinking glass.


Broken glassware and window glass


Adhesive, Hxtal (NYL-1)







Marianne then showed the students how to create a plaster fill in a terracotta pot.  She first placed tape along the inside of the broken pot at the location of the missing piece to act as a backing.  This can also be achieved with dental sheet wax.  She then applied 10-15% Acryloid B72 in acetone onto the pot in the area to be filled.  This will help to prevent the plaster from becoming embedded in the surface of the pot while the fill is being leveled.  She then mixed plaster and filled in the loss area.


Marianne creating a plaster infill for a pot


Filled loss


Loss before filling


Next, Marianne demonstrated the art of mending broken pottery.  Each student was given a broken flower pot (with some pieces missing) and assigned the task of dry-fitting the pieces back together.  Then Marianne showed the students the steps involved in mending the pottery following the procedure outlined in:  Koob, Stephen, and Tony Sigel. 1997. “Conservation and Restoration under Field Conditions: Ceramics Treatment at Sardis, Turkey.” Objects Specialty Group Postprints: American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 5: 98–115.


Students mending pottery


Applying Glue


Piecing two halves back together


Lab 2: Examination Techniques and Accession Numbers

The second lab focused on the examination processes one walks through to get acquainted with an object.


Getting Acquainted with Objects

Marianne demonstrated several different ways to look at and manipulate an object to learn more about it. First the class examined a Laconian kylix (cup) and an Attic jug under ultraviolet light, as the repairs made the vessels can be made clearer under UV light.


Using an IR microscope

Marianne also demonstrated how different materials appear under different lighting conditions including infrared light and raking light. For example, the presence of carbon containing inks may become clearer under IR light, which can be used to see the under-drawing of a painting. On a fragment of pottery, when examined under raking light, one could see the outline of a different shape (a kylix or cup) underneath the final image of an amphora (storage vessel).


Examining a pottery sherd under raking light


Step 1: In regular lighting, one can see a red amphora (storage vessel), lying on its side.


Step 2: Under Raking light, a small kylix (cup) can be seen in outline inside the area of the red amphora (storage vessel)








Professor Lindenlauf and Marianne explained how magnification can elucidate the fabric of a vessel to understand how it was manufactured or the average number of warp and weft threads per centimeter in a Coptic textile.


Examining vessel fabric


Using the digital microscope to examine a Coptic textile

In addition to spending time really looking at an object to discover more about it, Marianne explained that if an object represents a known type, research can help point to features that one may not be able to see, but can be found if you look. For example, Marianne demonstrated how when air moves through a pair of Peruvian pots, the vessel whistles. The whistling would occur when the vessel was tipped to pour out liquids.


Whistling Pots


Munsell charts and Pantone color cards








Color cards for photographs, Munsell charts for pottery, and Pantone color cards for fine arts all increase one’s ability to accurately document color. Calipers, rulers, scales, and vessel diameter charts quantitatively describe an object’s size, shape, and weight.

All of the data gathered about the object would go into a condition report. Marianne and Professor Lindenlauf walked through some of the processes with a vessel by the Bryn Mawr Painter and recorded the data on a sample condition report form.


Examining the Bryn Mawr Painter Plate


Loan Condition Report Example


Sample Condition Report Form

In addition, the class learned how accession numbers are applied to objects. Each object has its own unique accession number that identifies it within the collection. In order to ensure that an object is always identifiable, this number is attached to the object in a variety of ways. Marianne demonstrated two different techniques. For metal, stone and ceramic objects, a small layer of acrylic resin (Acryloid B72 in Acetone) is applied to create a base layer upon which the accession number can be written in permanent ink or acrylic emulsion artist paints. The resin protects the object from the ink and can easily be removed with acetone. In addition, a top coat of a different resin (Acryloid B67 in Naptha) is applied to protect the number from smudging or wear. Another type of label that can be used is a small piece of cotton twill tape with the number written on it which can be applied with a few tacking stitches to a textile object (as long as the object is in good condition and sturdy enough for this type of numbering system).


Test Objects Ready to Receive Accession Numbers


Accession Numbers Added to Labels







Lab 1: Making a Storage Mount

For the next few weeks, this blog will gain exclusive access to the lab sessions for a new course taught by Professor Astrid Lindenlauf and conservator Marianne Weldon up in special collections called: Introduction into Principles of Preservation and Conservation for Archaeologists (ARCH B137).

The first lab focused on creating mounts for objects when in storage.

While one mostly thinks about objects on display in exhibitions behind glass on black velvet with dramatic lighting, it is easy to forget that they spend a large amount of time in storage or in transport to and from exhibitions and study spaces. When in storage or transport, many objects need additional padding, support, or cradling to protect them from rolling around, bumping into one another, being crushed, squished, or other possible damages.


Objects in Storage within their mounts

Objects in Different Types of Storage Mounts

Storage mounts are created specifically to protect these objects and thus are an important part of storing an object safely for future use and study.

Choosing the materials from which to make a mount is the first step. One wants to ensure that the mount will not inadvertently damage the object through contact with reactive materials.

Examples of Storage Mount-Making Materials

Examples of New Biodegradable Materials

Marianne Weldon presented several tables of mount-making materials and tools: foams, tissue papers, boxes, silica gel, cloth-ribbon, glue-guns, paper labels, pillows, etc. She emphasized the archival properties of the materials (e.g. acid-free) and the new trend toward biodegradable materials.

She also demonstrated the Beilstein test in which one can test plastics for the presence of chloride by burning the plastic. If the flame burns green, the plastic is not safe for use.


Testing plastics for the presence of chloride.

There are a couple of different ways in which mounts can be made, but just like how every object is unique, every mount is unique to the object.  Marianne pointed out that what is most important is that the object can sit safely and can be removed from the mount easily and safely.

Students chose from a selection of objects that needed storage mounts for their lab project. Ceramic vessels and terracotta figurines were up for grabs. Over the course of the next several weeks, students will come in and create a mount for their object.