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."

Confronting the Legacies of Racism and Colonialism in Special Collections

For almost a year, we in Special Collections have been working on a statement documenting the ways in which we are trying to confront the legacies of colonialism and racism in our collections. In June 2020, Black students at Bryn Mawr and Haverford composed an open letter to the Bi-College community. Their letter, which demanded that Bryn Mawr Special Collections acknowledge the colonial racism present in Bryn Mawr’s African Collections and, where possible, create a plan to repatriate objects, represents ongoing, student-led anti-racism efforts at the College—efforts that came to the fore again with the Student Strike in fall 2020. The effects of colonialism and racism in the collections are part of the historical and present-day forms of racism and inequity at Bryn Mawr College that we are committed to addressing, foregrounding, and remediating in the department and at the College as a whole. In response to student voices, the concerns of the wider college community and society, and our own professional ethics, we began working on this statement. 

Tied to College and LITS-wide efforts towards diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism, our statement, Confronting the Legacies of Colonialism and Racism in Special Collections, is meant to serve as a starting point for conversation. It is by no means complete or final, and we plan to continue to modify the document as we identify additional ways in which we can address racism and colonialism in Special Collections. As we’ve worked on the statement, we have shared it with some internal stakeholders—the LITS Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism Team, the BMC Collections Committee (which includes faculty and trustees), the President’s Diversity Leadership Group, BMC Alumnae/i Relations and Development, and members of the Bryn Mawr administration. We hope to create a space that allows for on-going discussion, including hosting community-wide conversations about the document in the coming year. 

In the meantime, Special Collections staff are engaged in work aimed at addressing the on-going effects of racism and colonialism in our collections, and at increasing the transparency around them. This is a multi-part, long-term project. In addition to addressing our current collection and how we are presenting the material we currently have to the community, we also need to think about future collections. This means identifying and redressing harmful language in descriptions and metadata, actively and ethically acquiring material from a diverse range of voices, and recognizing that we have a professional and ethical obligation to do this work. Special Collections, comprised at Bryn Mawr of Rare Books & Manuscripts, Art & Artifacts, and the College Archives, is primarily intended to be a teaching collection. As educators and caretakers of these collections, we have a responsibility to continue to learn and grow, and we welcome interrogation, critique, and insight into how we can improve our practice. 

Read the statement: Confronting the Legacies of Colonialism and Racism in Special Collections 

Current, concrete efforts towards this work include: 

TriCollege Libraries Digital Collections : a powerful new tool for research and exploration of the College’s history

As we all find ourselves continuing to live and learn in a largely remote and virtual environment, digital collections provide an opportunity to engage with primary source, historical materials in interactive and exciting new ways. In fact, digital collections allow for methods of interaction that are not possible with physical materials. With digital content, we can do things like zoom in on digital images to see details up-close, do a full-text search of books and newspapers, and listen and view audio-visual content while following along with synchronized transcriptions and captions. Digital content can also be downloaded or mined for data to be used in research projects, exhibitions, or visualizations.

This is why Special Collections is thrilled to announce the launch of our new TriCollege Libraries Digital Collections site–the new home for both digitized materials and born-digital content, like audio and video–to the Bryn Mawr College community in time for the spring 2021 semester. This new site–which currently holds over 40,000 records–has been a work-in-progress, and a joint-effort of the Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore College Libraries, over the past several years. Building the site involved the daunting task of migrating digital collections and their metadata (description) from the former Triptych (CONTENTdm) site into an open-source Islandora software framework that is better designed to facilitate the management and discovery of digital assets. Over time, we will continue to grow and consolidate digital collections in the new site, with the goal of making more and more of our collections discoverable while improving findability, search functionality, and accessibility.

The following are some examples of collections and items you will find on the new site:

The Bryn Mawr College Photo Archives is a growing collection of 5200+ images from the College Archives documenting students, faculty, staff, and events at the College since its founding.

Photograph from the Bryn Mawr College Photo Archives

A photograph from the Photo Archives collection, showing the Bryn Mawr College gymnastics team, circa 1928. [Gymnastics team, 1928, Bryn Mawr College Photo Archives, PAE_Sports_Gymnastics_018, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections]

The Bryn Mawr College Scrapbook and Photo Album Collection includes 37 scrapbooks and photograph albums, dating from 1889 to 1952, assembled and donated by alumnae/i, documenting their years at the College.

Page from Amy L. Steiner photograph album, circa 1899

Page from the Amy L. Steiner photograph album showing students in theatrical costumes. [“Amy L. Steiner photograph album, circa 1899,” Bryn Mawr College scrapbook and photo album collection, Item 9LS 1 (SCP27), Bryn Mawr College Special Collections]

Explore the history of the Summer School for Women Workers in Industry, a residential summer school program that brought approximately 100 young working women—mostly factory workers with minimal education—to the Bryn Mawr College campus for eight weeks of liberal arts study between 1921 and 1938.

Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry photograph

Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry students sitting for a group photograph in the Cloisters, 1930. [Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry, 1930, Bryn Mawr College Photo Archives, PAE, SSWWI_00035, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections]

View photographs collected by internationally recognized suffragist, feminist, and political activist Carrie Chapman Catt, documenting the American and international women’s suffrage movements.

Photograph from the Carrie Chapman Catt collection

A photograph from the Carrie Chapman Catt collection showing the Egyptian Delegates, Geneva Conference International Woman Suffrage Association, 1920. [Catt, Carrie Chapman (compiler), Egyptian delegates at the Geneva Conference, ca. 1913-1920, Carrie Chapman Catt papers, BMC-M15, Box 6, Folder 14, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections]

Explore College yearbooks from 1901 through 1949 (look for yearbooks through the late 1970s coming soon) and read all issues of the Bryn Mawr College News from 1914 through 1968.

Pages from 1942 Bryn Mawr College yearbook

Two pages from the 1942 Bryn Mawr College yearbook, shown in the new digital collections book viewer. The book viewer has page-turning functionality, zoom options, and full-text search. [“Bryn Mawr College Yearbook Class of 1942,” 9PY 1942, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections]

Read correspondence written by Bryn Mawr students during the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.

Page from the Bryn Mawr College News

Front page of the Bryn Mawr College News, November 7, 1918, with an article titled, “Quarantine Lifted Gradually.” [“College news, November 7, 1918,” Bryn Mawr College News, BMC-News-vol5-no6, Bryn Mawr College Special Collections] 

The new digital collections site isn’t just a space for historical materials; you will also find new collections documenting current and recent experiences at the College. Documenting COVID-19 at Bryn Mawr College is a community-sourced archive of personal experiences and reactions to the pandemic. (You can submit materials to the archive here.) Over the next few months, look for more collections that document the 2020 Bryn Mawr College Strike and the history of Perry House, as well as oral histories with alumnae/i providing first-hand accounts of their experiences at Bryn Mawr.

We hope you will find TriCollege Libraries Digital Collections to be a powerful new tool in conducting research and exploring the history of the College.

Do you have questions or feedback about the new site?: Contact Special Collections via email or use this form.

Home for the – Victorian – Holidays

Adults and children playing Snapdragon, wiht a large platter aflame in the middle of the table and participants reaching into the flames

A family playing Snapdragon. See footnote for further information on the game.

This year, many of us are struggling with unfamiliar versions of our celebrations of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year. Affordable transportation, flexible schedules, and leisure for the middle class (comparable to that available only to the wealthy during Victoria’s reign) have made vacation travel to join family in December an annual pleasure – and obligation – for many of us. As we choose to stay apart this year to protect our loved ones, we may think bitterly of the ideal gatherings depicted in movies and stories, and blame the Victorians for inventing the Christmases we think of as traditional, with a lighted tree, a roast goose (more modernly a turkey), gifts, happy children, and the entire family brought together under one roof.

Of course, we all know that most holiday gatherings fall short of that ideal, no matter how much effort Mother expends. Uncle Harry tells jokes that offend everyone, the turkey takes seven hours to cook instead of five, the children are over-excited and loud, and no one can forget that Grandma died in June. I felt better about the Victorians after finding in the Ellery Yale Wood Collection the 1885 children’s gift book Aunt Louisa’s Holiday Guest, which embodies a far more nuanced depiction of homecomings than one might have predicted.

Large party in a domestic interior. Boys and girls dance together while adults look on. A woman plays the pianoforte in the background and a maid brings in refershmentsThe publisher’s introduction suggests that the book contains a random assortment of four interesting stories, finishing with one that is topical:
“Again the Publishers offer a new Picture Book to their little friends. The story
of Dame Trot.and her Cat is revived with entertaining Pictures; and, in Good Children,
kindness to the afflicted is the subject. Hector the Dog shows his brave adventures on the
mountains; and Home for the Holidays is what all good boys and girls hope for, in order
that they may enjoy in quiet “Aunt Louisa’s Holiday Guest.”

Dame Trot takes tea with her cat In fact, all four stories are about homecoming and, whether the editor thought about them in this way or not, they illuminate a variety of facets of that uncertain pursuit. Dame Trot and Her Cat was an anonymous work first printed between 1800 and 1805, perhaps as a knockoff of the new popular poem Old Mother Hubbard. The text of Dame Trot is always about the old lady’s cat, but the language and events vary wildly from edition to edition. The narrative, though, has a stable pattern: Dame Trot comes in and discovers the cat doing something unexpected. It has died, or revived, or is making tea, or cleaning the kitchen, or teaching the dog to dance, and so on. Sometimes she has been in the house all along, perhaps coming downstairs after waking up. Frequently she has gone out to shop or pay calls, and she returns home to novel feline behavior.

Dame Trot returns and find the cat teaching the dog to danceThis is a very light-hearted take on homecoming, focusing on mostly pleasant surprises. It accepts that things change, and that you may find your life altered when you return to your home, but most of the changes are neutral or beneficial.

The blind man and his dog approach the children playing on the pathThe Good Children is less cheery, focusing on hardships suffered by those who are poor and disabled, especially those whose burden is increased by the absence of family. A tired and hungry blind man, walking with his dog, is welcomed at the cottage where the good children of the title live, and they promptly enlist their mother’s and aunt’s aid to offer him food and drink. The man tells the children about his son, a soldier, whom he has not seen for years because he had been stationed in a foreign country, and who he fears is dead.

The blind man blesses the children and his sonMiraculously, as he finishes speaking and gets up to leave, his son appears on the road, looking for him. The soldier’s return guarantees the old man’s comfort and support, and sets this small part of the world to right. A homecoming after suffering, and with challenges to come, but an uplifting narrative of family love and filial piety.

The traveller struggles in the blizzardThe third story, Hector the Dog, recounts the outcome of an imprudent decision. On Christmas Eve a traveler is in Martigny, Switzerland, intending to go through the Great St. Bernard Pass to get to his family’s home by the next day. An innkeeper, who is familiar with the terrain and the weather predicts a storm and urges him to stay the night. He insists that he knows the pass and that he will go ahead. Of course, the weather is as bad as the innkeeper said it would be, and the traveler is overcome.

The monks and dogs return with the injured traveler, but without Hector. The monks look solemn and the dogs depressed.Fortunately for him, the monks of the Great St. Bernard Hospice make their routine rounds, searching with their dogs for those who need their aid. In recovering the traveler, one of the dogs – the heroic Hector – is buried in an avalanche, but the stubborn traveler survives. The original child readers may have focused sentimentally on the heroism and loss of the dog, but this is also an account of a homecoming gone wrong, where the man’s self-centered and rash insistence on returning on schedule when it was not safe to do so nearly led to his death – and did cost the life of a useful and noble animal who had saved others.

Schoolboys on a railway platform talk with guardsThe final story, Home for the Holidays, is a happy version of homecoming, exemplifying the ideal Victorian Christmas that shapes our own expectations. The narrator is a boy, returning to London from boarding school by train with his friends. No archaic nonsense poems or foreign customs here – the poem is entirely up to date with the boy addressing his requests for speed to the guard and the engineer on the train.

Boys and girls, with two adults, watch a pantomime performance in a theaterHe is as pleased as any student by the prospect of a break from studies, and looks forward to family parties and merrymaking. He mentions Christmas, but he expects the fun to go on through Twelfth Night, and plans to go to the pantomime and an equestrian show, and to see Punch and Judy.

The boys rush from the train to embrace their familiesThe trip is over at last, and the boys rush out of the train to be embraced by their parents and siblings. Here is the homecoming everyone desires – your friends and family together, good food, your favorite entertainments, and nothing to worry about – and it is this homecoming the publisher ends with.

I know, as the publisher did, that this is a fantasy, and that for most of us “home for the holidays” is very different. But there is value in optimistic enthusiasm and being willing to be pleased, even this season. I wish you every happiness as you find ways to celebrate the return of light and warmth in the darkness. And we will look forward to a better year to come.
– Marianne Hansen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts

 Aunt Louisa’s Holiday Guest: Comprising Dame Trot and her Cat, Good Children, Hector the Dog, Home for the Holidays. Laura Valentine., Kronheim & Co., engraver. London: Frederick Warne and Co., c. 1884. Read our copy on the Internet Archive.

Footnote on Snapdragon
* Snapdragon, the game shown in the first illustration, was defined succinctly in Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1823: “A Christmas gambol: raisins and almonds being put into a bowl of brandy, and the candles extinguished, the spirit is set on fire, and the company scramble for the raisins.”  Read more about it on Wikipedia. Should you choose to play, here are a few useful tips:

Protect yourself – hair pulled back; no clothing hanging into the flames; natural fibers; a fire extinguisher next to the door
Protect your table – nothing flammable; protect finishes from damage by alcohol drips; a hot pad under the platter
Most ordinary ceramic dishes will work. The ideal platter is easy to reach into, with a low, slanting rim.
Warm the brandy gently (~100-110° F) before pouring in the dish, or you may have trouble lighting it. The flames of 40% alcohol are relatively cool. Do not use overproof, which burns hotter.
Enjoy!

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 Triarte.brynmawr.edu and let us know what features you would like to see expanded and what features you find most helpful.

Crafting and Visualizing Models: Photogrammetry at Bryn Mawr – by Danielle Smotherman Bennett

Cover of the Training Manual

On June 6th-9th, Mark Mudge (President), Carla Schroer (Founder and Director), and Marlin Lum, (Imaging Director) of Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) visited Bryn Mawr College and trained interested recent alumnae, students, faculty, and staff in Photogrammetry for Scientific Documentation of Cultural Heritage through a four-day workshop.  Mark, Carla, and Marlin were a wonderful and welcoming team that made photogrammetry very understandable and accessible to a group with a widely disparate set of skills. CHI is same group responsible for the creation of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a type of computational photography utilizing a movable light source on an unmoving surface with a static camera position that was introduced to the study of objects in Special Collections in 2014. RTI is used presently in Bryn Mawr College’s collections and in many other institutions world-wide. CHI’s training and standards for photogrammetry are another important effort of this group for creating practical methods for digital imaging and preservation that will now be available at Bryn Mawr College.

Model as a mesh showing the position and angles in which photographs used in the model were taken.

For those of you who have not previously encountered photogrammetry, it is a type of computational photography, or digitally captured and processed images, that combines a series of carefully captured images to produce precise 3D surface data. While the technology has been around for awhile, photogrammetry has improved over the years through refined camera technologies and techniques, as well as through improvements in the software. The process is relatively quick, once you know what you are doing, portable, and uses standard photography equipment. All of these factors make it a very accessible technique to an archaeologist such as myself, both for fieldwork as well as for travelling to specific museums and sites in the future. The resulting models can be measured with a high degree of accuracy, even when the subject is not present or even available in the future. Objects may not be accessible to scholars for a variety of reasons, varying from being in a closed museum, located across the country or even the world, as well as for more dire reasons such as if an object has been lost, damaged, or completely destroyed.

Carla lecturing the first day of training

Trainees attending a lecture

Camera set up and Mark showing Zach Silvia, Sarah Luckey, and Del Ramers how to adjust the settings through the laptop

The trainees at this four-day workshop included individuals from collections management, librarians, digital scholarship specialists, anthropologists, and archaeologists, as well as others who joined for specific lectures. In particular, many of us were interested in the use of photogrammetry for the study of artifacts, architecture, sondages, and even bones, to create models. These scaled models can be used to measure features of these objects, to accurately record condition, to allow for more direct comparisons between scaled models of objects, as well as to serve as a digital archive for the future. As an archaeologist who studies Greek vases, objects which are spread out in museums and private collections around the world, can be sold and moved, lost, or broken, and often have limited angles in published photographs, it was very important for me to learn to create accurate models and to understand how to identify the inaccuracies I encounter in models as part of this training.

Casey Barrier getting photographs of the bottom of a vessel

The training divided into lectures and practical lessons, which consisted of both camera shoots and computer processing of the images. The practical lessons featured us breaking up into groups, so that everyone could get hands-on experience. Most of the training took place in the Carpenter Library, with excursions around campus to shoot particular objects as the subjects of our practical lessons. These objects include the two casts of reliefs and books in Carpenter Library, a plaque and marble sarcophagus in Thomas Cloisters, two vases in Special Collections, and the marble bench outside of Dalton. The diversity of subject objects provided us with experience in capturing images for photogrammetry in a variety of settings and with objects of varied scale that each required their own problem-solving.

Carla showing trainees (Caroline Vansickle, Sarah Luckey, Marianne Weldon, Zach Silvia, and Danielle Smotherman Bennett) how to adjust camera settings before a large project

Those of us who own personal Digital SLR cameras learned how to capture images for photogrammetry on our own cameras, but others used the cameras owned by CHI or Bryn Mawr College. The other equipment we used included a remote switch, remote flash(es), a monopod, a tripod, color card, scale bars, and a turntable, although not all of that was required for every shoot. For instance, at times we could use the ambient lighting, especially outdoors, but other times we needed to use flash or two in order to create an even illumination over the object surface. Similarly, we could only use the turntables occasional since a turntable is only practical for small, movable, and light-weight objects. Occasionally we used other materials, such as when we had to find make-shift back drops to cover reflective backgrounds, or use white foam board to reflect light.

Mark observing the creation of a model by one team (pictured: Matthew Jameson, Camilla MacKay, Del Ramers and Alicia Peaker)

After pre-processing the images through Adobe Bridge, we produced models through the use of Agisoft Photoscan Professional and the very capable Visual Resources computers. The resulting models and data can be shared with scholars around the world through as the models themselves through photogrammetry software, but also as 3D PDFs, which can be viewed in many PDF viewers. Thus, along with being a method of digital archiving of these objects, photogrammetry models can also provide more accessibility to collections.

Along with learning about how to capture and create accurate photogrammetry models, Mark, Carla, and Marlin also taught us about creating and sending verifiable data with our models. One aspect of this is generating a report within the photogrammetry software itself that contains information as to the camera information, number of images, camera locations, camera calibration, scale, error, and processing procedure and time. Another aspect is the importance of recording the process in a Digital Lab Notebook, which can be sent along with the data itself and the report to scholars looking at or using the model. This recording process includes not only the camera specifications, which are already included in the report, or only the subject of the project, but also who was involved, what equipment was used along with the camera, where and when the images were captured, and other possibly significant information.

Through the very capable training we received, we can now share the methodology that we have learned with others in the community. We can also apply the methodology and use the resulting photogrammetry models to our own research. Photogrammetry for scientific documentation has many implications for the future study of objects and architecture, in which Bryn Mawr College can now take part.

 

Finding Henry Joel Cadbury (1883-1974)

While I was rummaging through boxes of negatives produced long ago by Bryn Mawr’s Slide Library/Visual Resources photographers, I made a surprising discovery. Amidst hundreds of copystand images of architectural plans, sculptures, and paintings (all in 4 x 5 inch glassine protective envelopes), there was a lone interloper.

It was small, folded and faded, an Alumnae Association letter envelope, with what looked like airplane flight times scribbled on its exterior. Within the envelope was a solitary Kodak Safety film negative(6 x 6 cm , a 120 Medium format negative) pale in the office light. By squinting, I could make out trees forming a background for an open space in which a primly dressed middle-aged gentleman sat on a stone wall.  But what were those figures beside him? I blinked and then gasped as I realized I was staring at the old Deanery garden’s well-head with bronze putti figures in situ. For years, I had been interested in the history of the Deanery, one of the college’s oldest buildings (now, no longer extant), its contents, and its garden. And here, before me, was an image of someone enjoying the peace and quiet of that green space so beloved by Bryn Mawr College’s second president, M. Carey Thomas.

As a background note — During one of her European travels, Miss Thomas commissioned the Chiarazzi Foundry in Naples to produce 12 decorative bronze “cupids” for her newly established garden planned by John Olmsted and Lockwood de Forest, following the Deanery’s recent architectural expansion.  The Chiarazzi’s specialized in replicating ancient Greek and Roman art works. These bronze putti , some holding birds, others with dolphins, replicated figures from Herculaneum’s Villa dei Papiri. From perhaps 1910 until the mid 1960’s, these four (24 inch high) figures decorated the garden’s  well-head  not too far from eight other smaller (18 inch high) fountain figures surrounding the garden’s pool.

The Deanery, formerly the residence of Dean, then President, M. Carey Thomas, was later used by the Bryn Mawr College Alumnae Association from 1933 until 1968 when the structure, deemed unsafe, was demolished to make way for the construction of Canaday Library. The Deanery garden area which remains, was renamed the Blanca Noel Taft Memorial Garden in 1974.

But back to the image in my hand.  I wondered who was that solitary man sitting in the garden? And why was the photograph taken? The first question was easily answered since the envelope’s front had the penciled notation “Dr. Cadbury.”   The English Quaker Cadbury’s were the ones who made  chocolate, I remembered, while the American branch was a well known Quaker family in the Philadelphia area. Dr. Cadbury ‘s grandfather, Joel Cadbury, had  immigrated from England to Philadelphia back in 1815.

PA_Cadbury_Henry_005_f

Henry Joel Cadbury (1883-1974), a graduate of Haverford College (1903) and Harvard (Ph.D. 1913 or 1914), taught the classics and Biblical studies at Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Harvard’s Divinity School for many years before becoming a member of Bryn Mawr College’s Board of Directors in 1948 and its Chairman in March 1956. Perhaps this photograph was taken that year to commemorate that event.

Dr. Cadbury, a modest man, slight in build, was passionately committed to teaching and scholarship along with Quaker pacifism and service.  In addition to his academic duties, he was a well-travelled lecturer and author of over 29 books & pamphlets, with more than 100 periodical contributions.  His final 3 books were published all in the same year, 1972, when he was 88 years old. He was one of the founders, in 1917, of the new emergency Quaker organization, the American Friends Service Committee, and in 1947 Dr. Cadbury went to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace prize on behalf of Quakers worldwide.

I find it amazing that the photographer, whoever it was, caught Henry Cadbury in a quietly composed moment, now frozen in time. The man looks bemused. Perhaps there is a twinkle in his eye, as he enjoys the juxtaposition of staid College trustee, Quaker historian, and Biblical scholar with cavorting naked cupids.  I later found that there is a small photograph printed from this negative in the Bryn Mawr College Archives, but it is not dated. There is writing on the photograph’s back that indicates that it was to be cropped – but in what publication was it printed?  Perhaps we will never know.

As for the Transamerican Airline flight times scribbled on the envelope – they do not help date the image. That airline operated only after Henry J. Cadbury’s death, in 1974.

Most of the biographical material above was culled from Margaret Hope Bacon’s 1987 biography of Dr. Cadbury, “Let this Life Speak.”  But if you want to hear Henry Joel Cadbury speak for himself and in his own voice, his digitized lectures on Quaker thought, on Haverford and Bryn Mawr College are available through :

http://triceratops.brynmawr.edu/dspace/search  then search for “Cadbury”

This includes his last lecture, words spoken at the rededication of the 12th Street Meetinghouse, September 29, 1974, only 8 days before his death on October 7th.

http://triceratops.brynmawr.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/10066/4562/Track02.mp3?sequence=3

He was truly a gentleman and a scholar.

This image was scanned from the negative for College Archives photograph PA_Cadbury_Henry_005.

Written by Nancy J. Halli 4/2015

BMC Visual Resources, Image Cataloger

Introducing RTI Photography to the Collections

The Special Collections of Bryn Mawr College holds an extensive collection of Greek pottery, both decorated and undecorated. This summer I, a PhD student at Bryn Mawr College, was granted one of the NEH internships to study vases with painted and incised inscriptions. As some of them are difficult to identify even when working closely with the objects, I , with the assistance of the Special Collections Intern, Katy Holladay, who is interested in archaeology and has a strong interest in technology, sought a way to properly document inscriptions that can be difficult to see in photographs, or even when handling/studying artifacts. Alex Brey, another graduate student at Bryn Mawr College, suggested the use of Reflectance Transformation Imaging, or RTI, which he had previously utilized on some of the coins and graciously agreed to show us the process. RTI is a technique that uses sequential photography of an object with variant locations for the light source, which are then combined using a program to produce a manipulative image. The manipulative image allows for the exploration of the surface of the image with gradient lighting, unlike traditional museum-quality images such as seen below.

P.961, Traditional photograph that does not show the partial inscription in the image (KA)

P.961, Traditional photograph that does not show the partial inscription in the image (KA)

P.961, RTI Viewer with Normal Unsharp Masking Rendering Mode

P.961, RTI Viewer with Normal Unsharp Masking Rendering Mode

The equipment was easy to access, since only a few other objects are needed to capture the images for RTI:

  1. a camera and tripod
  2. an external flash (with a very long cord)
  3. a remote for the camera
  4. a pair of black spheres; they need to be included in the image in order to show the position of the light source to the program in each photograph
  5. a color card needs to be included in the first image.

The software to find and view the RTI images is provided by Cultural Heritage Imaging, free of charge: http://culturalheritageimaging.org/Technologies/RTI/

We began with flatter objects, small sherds that were more similar to the coins Alex had previously done and that did not have curved surfaces, which required more practice with the lighting. It turns out that the process was relatively easy: the camera and objects remain stationary with a sphere on either side. For standing objects, the spheres are raised up, such as on pencils in the photograph below; for flat objects laying down, the spheres can be resting. The spheres should be around 250 pixels in the final photos, so the sphere size will vary with the object and zoom. The flash is moved into different positions over and around the object in a dome while the object and the camera remain unmoved; others doing RTI have created actual dome structures as guides, but that was not necessary for our initial goals.

One person can do the process alone, but a second person is very helpful. We took between 50 and 120 pictures per object, depending on the size. Katy and I did run into some problems as we began the process, including the spheres originally being too small to accurately show the location of the light source in each image for the program. After becoming more familiar with the process, we captured images of complete vases; their size and the curving surfaces presented challenges as these objects reflect he light differently. At this point, we needed to be creative for mounting the spheres – eventually using the ball bearings, magnets, and foam to create mounts for the spheres with the assistance of Marianne Weldon, the Collections Manager of the Art and Artifact Collections, but originally using pencils as stands.

Danielle Smotherman and Katy Holladay taking RTI photography of L.P.8

Danielle Smotherman and Katy Holladay taking RTI photography of L.P.8

A composite image of all of the angles of light source locations on a sphere for L.P.8

A composite image of the light source for L.P.8

The RTI Builder program cannot handle spaces in any file names. It requires specific formats for the files, which initially caused us a few problems as well. We imported the raw files as .jpg and .dng into specifically-named folders from Adobe Bridge, although another similar type of program can be used, and then followed the process in the RTI software; this was rather user-friendly. The RTI Viewer has nine different rendering modes to examine the object, once the file is compiled. The viewer also allows the user to zoom in on the images, which is why we took the images at higher resolutions, and to take snapshots of the image on the screen, such as the examples seen below.

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P.95, Bryn Mawr Painter, RTI Viewer with Default Rendering showing the full inscription

Using the RTI Viewer, various rendering modes can be used to explore the surface of the object, including raking light at various angles. Details can be highlighted, for instance the full inscription on P.95 can be read in the snapshot from the RTI Viewer seen above. The same snapshot also shows the contour lines evident around the reclining figure, his cup, and the hanging pipes case. The RTI provided much more than just a clearer look at the inscriptions on these vases: it indicated better evidence of the preparation work of the paintings, including highlighting sketch marks and contour lines, as well as demonstrating the presence of other techniques, such as added clay along the head. Katy noted the presence of finger prints on the name-piece of the Bryn Mawr painter, seen in the still photograph captured from the RTI viewer, seen below. In the right image below, the faded details of a wreath that had been painted on top of the hair of the youth are clearly shown with the RTI, although they can be difficult to see in traditional photos. RTI also allowed us to capture the sketching of a kylix on P.985, which is very difficult to make out in traditional photographs.

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P.95, Bryn Mawr Painter, RTI Viewer with Specular Enhancement Rendering Mode

P.212, Ancona Painter, RTI Viewer with Diffuse Gain Rendering Mode

P.212, Ancona Painter, RTI Viewer with Diffuse Gain Rendering Mode

P.985, unattributed, RTI Viewer with Diffuse Gain Rendering Vie w

P.985, unattributed, RTI Viewer with Diffuse Gain Rendering View

The files we created can provide better access to the objects for scholars unable to physically visit the collections and can be used as educational materials. Katy will be working with Rachel Appel, the Digital Collections Librarian, in hopes of finding a way of making the RTI images available via our online database, Triarte at http://triarte.brynmawr.edu. Also, Katy has made a short video that shows the actual RTI viewer, which can be seen at http://www.viddler.com/v/8aa9f1ac. In addition to web access, finding other platforms to present the RTI images with could be a fantastic addition to future exhibitions, inviting guests to interact with the objects as if moving them around in different lighting. Katy has produced a guide of our process for future use that goes into much more detail in the hopes that RTI will continue to be used in collections and possibly expanded to other forms of lighting, such as IR and UV, which only require the different light sources.  Overall, our experiences suggest that this is a viable and valuable process for other objects and classes of materials in the collections. I would very much like to encourage others working with objects in the collections at Bryn Mawr to make use of RTI and perhaps other collections as well. RTI is relatively easy and inexpensive process that does not require highly specialized equipment and that can greatly enhance access to the objects.

Danielle Smotherman, Doctoral Candidate in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology

WIKIPEDIA: FILLING OUT THE HISTORICAL RECORD

Hilda Worthington Smith

Hilda Worthington Smith

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting our first public Wikipedia edit-a-thon for WikiWomen’s History Month on Tuesday, March 25th, at Bryn Mawr College. Rather than having a narrowly defined theme like the Art + Feminism edit-a-thon that took place last month, this event will be geared towards the user who is interested in learning the basics of editing on any topic and using the holdings of Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections to do so. Our iteration on the 25th will be one of several such events organized between the Seven Sisters Colleges:

How to host an edit-a-thon: always provide snacks!

How to host an edit-a-thon: always provide snacks!

  •  Barnard, Mount Holyoke, and Smith kick it off on Tuesday, March 4th (that’s today!). Join them in New York, South Hadley, or Northampton.
  • Radcliffe follows on March 12th in Cambridge.
  • Bryn Mawr wraps it up on the 25th: Our event page is a work-in-progress, but check it out now if you’re interesting in seeing a list of some of the articles that we will be working on improving.

Use hashtags #7sisterswiki and #WikiWomen to discuss the events and support those who are participating!

– See more at: http://greenfield.blogs.brynmawr.edu/2014/03/04/womens-history-month-2014-shaping-our-own-historical-narratives-and-an-edit-a-thon/#sthash.zb0QlkVx.dpuf

Bryn Mawr Special Collections on Wikipedia…

 

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Staff members participating in the edit-a-thon, January 10th 2013

On Friday, January 10th 2014, Special Collections staff at Bryn Mawr College held an in-house Wikipedia edit-a-thon.  Our goal for this event was to prepare for future edit-a-thons that will be open to other members of the Bryn Mawr Community and to increase the visibility of Special Collections holdings on Wikipedia.  Evan McGonagill has written about this in the Blog of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education at Bryn Mawr College which can be found at: http://greenfield.blogs.brynmawr.edu/2014/01/15/writing-the-collective-record-on-delving-into-wikipedia/

To view a few of the types of some of the outcomes of this event see the links below:

New records created:                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryn_Mawr_Painter

Links to online finding aids added to records:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Burr_Thompson

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Shoe_Meritt