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.

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.


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 :  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.

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:

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.


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.


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 Also, Katy has made a short video that shows the actual RTI viewer, which can be seen at 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


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:

Bryn Mawr Special Collections on Wikipedia…



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:

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

New records created:      

Links to online finding aids added to records:

Spotlight: The Elizabeth Gray Vining Collection


Ivory Okimono, Birds and Iris Flowers on a Wooden Stand
ca. 1950
Ivory and wood, 5 in. x 3 in. x 3 in. (12.7 cm x 7.62 cm x 7.62 cm)
Bryn Mawr College Accession Number: 2005.6.36.a-f


Ivory Sculpture of Three Rabbits Taking Dumplings to the Rabbit in the Moon
ca. 1950
Ivory and wood, 7 1/2 in. x 2 1/4 in. x 3 in. (19.05 cm x 5.72 cm x 7.62 cm)
Bryn Mawr College Accession Number: 2005.6.23.a-d


Drum and Chickens Sculpture
Wood, lacquer and metal, 11 in. x 9 in. x 14 1/2 in. (27.94 cm x 22.86 cm x 36.83 cm)
Bryn Mawr College Accession Number: 2005.6.60.a-d


Ceramic, 5 in. x 3 1/2 in. x 1/4 in. (12.7 cm x 8.89 cm x 0.64 cm)
Bryn Mawr College Accession Number: 2005.6.41


The Elizabeth Gray Vining Collection comprises more than 60 high-quality works of decorative and fine Japanese art, which were bequeathed to Bryn Mawr College in 1999.  The gift was made by Elizabeth Vining, an alumna of the College, who graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in English and in Spanish in 1923.  In 1946, Mrs. Vining travelled to Japan, at the invitation of Emperor Showa, to serve as an English tutor for His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince.  During her four-year tenure as tutor, Mrs. Vining developed close ties with the Imperial family, a relationship which she maintained throughout her life.  Her collection reflects the nature of this long-lasting association and consists primarily of finely crafted works of art given to her as gifts by various members of the Imperial family.


Scroll Painting of Birds and Flowers
Kano Motonobu
15th century
Hanging scroll, 44 1/2 in. x 16 15/16 in. (113 cm x 43 cm)
Bryn Mawr College Accession Number: 2005.6.26.a-c

In addition to its historical importance, the Vining Collection preserves a number of outstanding examples of 20th century Japanese fine and decorative arts.  It includes lacquer bowls, boxes and writing sets, carvings of ivory and of wood, ceramic vessels, small-scale sculptures, and dolls in various materials, all of exquisite quality and craftsmanship.  Additionally, the collection contains cloisonné objects produced by the workshop of Namikawa Yasuyuki and by the Ando Cloisonné Company, Ltd.  The work of silversmith Miyamoto Shoko and of the painter Kawai Gyokudo is represented as well.  The Vining Collection thus brings together a wide array of objects and showcases multiple facets of artistic production in early and mid-20th century Japan.  A 15th century painting by the artist Kano Motonobu stands as a second focal point of the collection.

The Art and Artifact Collections at Bryn Mawr College play an important role in the education of both undergraduate and graduate students and in the dissemination of knowledge to the wider academic community as well as the general public.  Bryn Mawr students are encouraged to interact with the objects in classroom settings, through independent projects, and as part of paid or volunteer work supervised by members of the Collections staff.  Outside scholars are permitted access to the collections for research or publication purposes and various programs have been implemented in an effort to teach local elementary and middle school children about the ancient and modern cultures represented by the College Collections.

The Vining Collection is an integral part of the College’s Asian Art & Artifacts Collection and, as such, is in regular use.  For example, objects from the Vining Collection have been featured in three recent campus exhibitions including The Way of Tea, curated by an undergraduate student, Taking Her Place, created by members of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education and Home: Departure and Destination, curated by students in the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics and History of Art at Bryn Mawr College.


Ando Cloissone Co., Ltd.
Pair of Cloissone Vases
Cloissone Enamel, 13 in. x 25 in. (circumference) (33.02 cm x 63.5 cm)
Bryn Mawr College Accession Number: 2005.6.58.a-d



Tea Caddy
Bryn Mawr College Accession Number: 2005.6.2.a-c

Spending the Summer with Special Collections


With my final year of college rapidly approaching, I have been thinking immensely about how I would apply my History of Art degree after graduation. Because attending a liberal art college has equipped me with a wide variety of skills, narrowing the list of potential careers is rather arduous. Thank goodness for my position this summer in Bryn Mawr College’s Special Collections, as I have had the opportunity to explore a myriad of job types surrounding the visual arts.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, I devote my time to working in the Arts and Artifacts Collection. This summer, the department is gathering items around campus that once belonged to President M. Carey Thomas and her partner Mary Garrett in hopes of creating an exhibit about the Deanery, the women’s residence for many years. They collected an astounding number of precious items for their home—chairs, tables, dressers, prints, vases, lamps, and much more. Working alongside fellow students, both of the undergraduate and graduate levels, has provided me with a great amount of experience handling art and decorative objects. Additionally, we’re responsible for photographing, measuring, and inputting information to be viewed on TriArte, the TriCo’s art database. Our responsibilities, particularly photographing, are exciting and new, and I’m ever-so-grateful for the experience.

My focus shifts on Wednesdays and Thursdays towards digitization, the process of converting information and works into digital formats. Another position of mine is within the Digital Archives to reorganize its expansive collection of alumnae photo albums and scrapbooks. This mostly involves cataloguing, crafting custom boxes, and rehousing. My favorite benefit of this position is the ability to explore each of the scrapbooks and discover how Bryn Mawr College has—or hasn’t—changed over the years. Gazing at the personal words, photographs, and Bryn Mawr memorabilia conjures a connection within me to the school that completely lacked at the start of the summer. It’s refreshing to reflect upon how I contribute to the college’s legacy.

I utilize Fridays to complete what is both the most challenging and exciting task entrusted upon me this summer: completing a digital exhibit for the Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education. I spent the earlier half of the summer acquainting myself with the website and easing accessibility for visitors. Currently, I am researching and organizing information regarding lesser-known aspects about the college. An incredible amount of work goes into planning an exhibit, but I find the process enthralling. It implements many of the practical and critical skills I’ve honed at Bryn Mawr and newly acquired this summer. Creating this exhibit, in addition to working within the Digital Collections and Arts and Artifacts, has provided me with amazing insight towards potential library- and archive-related careers following graduation. While I’m sad that this experience is coming to an end, I’m eager to apply what I’ve learned towards my future art historical endeavors.

Written by Samone Rowe, Class of 2014

Theory and Practice: Students in Spring course produce exhibition and education program Part 4

making our worldThe Spring 2013 course “The Curator in the Museum” at Bryn Mawr College mixes theory into practice in the new exhibition “Making our World” located on the second floor of Canaday Library. Through readings and guest lectures related to the broader course theme of analyzing the “institution” of the museum and all its related parts, we integrated these models into our own project exhibition and corresponding education program for local high school students.

The following updates — written and edited by students as part of the team-based approach to the entire project — are reports on our progress along the way. Please let us know your thoughts.

Oral Histories: Gathering Information and Making Connections

Student bloggers: Xingzhe He, Jennifer Rabowsky, Alison Whitney


Courtney Pinkerton oral history interview with (clockwise from lower left) Jennifer Rabowsky, Xingzhe He, Pinkerton, Brian Wallace, and Alison Whitney.

Courtney Pinkerton oral history interview with (clockwise from lower left) Jennifer Rabowsky, Xingzhe He, Pinkerton, Brian Wallace, and Alison Whitney.

Back in late February, while sitting across from our first interviewee, Courtney Pinkerton, our nerves threatened to botch our first oral history.  Just a week before, we had sat down with Professor Brian Wallace and Educator Shari Osborn, where quite simply put, we were told that we were going to be conducting oral history interviews of Bryn Mawr alumna for the “Making Our World” exhibition.  The process seemed intimidating—there is a widely known, appropriate way to go about conducting these interviews—and all three of us had never done one before.  Luckily for us, Courtney was excited to participate, had a wonderful sense of humor, and was incredibly patient.  When we had to spend five minutes to figure out why our recorders weren’t working, this last quality turned out to be a godsend.  And, by the time we started the interview the ice had been broken and it was smooth sailing.

Courtney’s answers to our questions were engaging and, most importantly, were full of emotion.  She told us a humorous anecdote of a prank she performed sophomore year—she and two friends replace the flags from the Thomas Hall turrets with Texas flags—followed by more serious anecdotes about how Bryn Mawr helped her view her fiscal independence as a positive.  Courtney allowed us to see the influence that Bryn Mawr College had on her, and by the end of the interview we had captured a snapshot of Courtney’s life.   When we walked away, we were all excited that we had conducted a successful oral history interview.  But more so than this, we were excited that we had created something that would be accessioned into Bryn Mawr’s permanent collection, and that would be used as an integral part of “Making Our World”.


Xingzhe He interviewing Kimberly Blessing '97.

Xingzhe He interviewing Kimberly Blessing ’97.

I interviewed two alumnae, Margery Lee, who graduated in 1951 with a BA in History, and Kimberly Blessing, who graduated in 1997 with a degree in Computer Science. Kimberly was my first interviewee, and the interview was conducted over the phone. While I was a little nervous for my first oral history project, I became more relaxed as the conversation unfolded. Kimberly was an engaging and inspiring character, and it was truly a pleasure to share with her some of the best memories she has had at Bryn Mawr, the moments of accomplishment, difficulties and confusion she had encountered as a young college student.

Later I interviewed Ms. Lee in person. Almost 60 years have passed since she left Bryn Mawr, yet she is still deeply attached to the college and the place. She recalled the classes she loved while being an undergraduate, her role as the coordinator of her Garden Party, and her involvement with the alumnae association after graduation.


I was the second person in our group to interview an alumna on our own, and I have to say, it was nerve-wracking. But I could not have interviewed a more charming, interesting woman than Jackie Koldin Levine, graduate of Bryn Mawr’s class of 1946. Jackie received her BA from Bryn Mawr in psychology, with a minor in political science, and has led a fulfilled life as a self-described “full time volunteer”.  Jackie has been very involved in national organizations for the National Jewish Community, and also with the Civil Rights Movement.

Jennifer Rabowsky and Alison Whitney during the Jackie Levine interview.

Jennifer Rabowsky and Alison Whitney during the Jackie Levine interview.

In our interview Jackie spoke proudly of her experiences marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, and attending the march on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. She shared that she gained her strength at Bryn Mawr, a place where she learned to not be afraid and to express herself and her beliefs — even when others disagree. My favorite moment during our interview had to have been the discovery that Jackie lived in Rockefeller dorm, where I have lived for three years. I realized that the dorm room I am living in now has been occupied by incredible women like Jackie Levine (or even Jackie herself!) who have gone on to graduate from Bryn Mawr, achieve great things, and live fulfilled lives. I am proud to know that I am a part of that legacy.

Theory and Practice: Students in Spring course produce exhibition and education program Part 3

making our worldThe Spring 2013 course “The Curator in the Museum” at Bryn Mawr College mixes theory into practice in the new exhibition “Making our World” located on the second floor of Canaday Library. Through readings and guest lectures related to the broader course theme of analyzing the “institution” of the museum and all its related parts, we integrated these models into our own project exhibition and corresponding education program for local high school students.

The following updates — written and edited by students as part of the team-based approach to the entire project — are reports on our progress along the way. Please let us know your thoughts.

Communicating Personality and Displaying a Life

Student blogger: Claudia Keep

Pinkerton (left) and Levine sections of Making Our World. Photograph by Alison Whitney

Pinkerton (left) and Levine sections of Making Our World. Photograph by Alison Whitney

One of the challenges of creating an exhibit around living individuals is how to portray their personality and the intangible qualities and values that they hold. How do you show something that is not an object? We were working with various objects that hopefully, when displayed together, would tell /create an accurate description of the individual. But how does one pick and choose the object or series of objects that would best represent the various qualities that made up these individuals?

One of the subjects of our “Making Our World” show, recent Bryn Mawr graduate Courtney Pinkerton had many interests and fascinating stories, but they did not all lend themselves to a visual display. Other subjects of our show were easier to portray visually, particularly as interviewees Jackie Levine and Margery Lee are both art collectors, and had donated numerous books and works of art to Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections.

Only having graduated last year, most of Courtney’s life experiences and interests have been defined by her time in high school, and most especially by her time at Bryn Mawr. Courtney’s time at Bryn Mawr was shaped greatly by her independence, and her work ethic. But how do you show independence, hard work, and commitment inside of a glass case?

To design and fill the portion of the display case reserved for Courtney, we had several objects to work with.  We had a portrait of Courtney Pinkerton and her mother taken last year at commencement, by artist Gilbert Plantinga; the pair of pink sequined cow girl boots that Courtney is wearing in the photograph; the flag of Courtney’s native state, Texas; a copy of the 3.5 resolution Courtney drafted and proposed at plenary; a copy of Courtney’s senior thesis on the intersection of popular culture and race relations; and finally, the crime blotter entry that describes the prank Courtney and her friends played where they switched the flags on Thomas Great Hall with Texas state flags.

Gilbert Plantinga Mary & Courtney Pinkerton, 2012 Digital print Seymour Adelman Fund Purchase Bryn Mawr College 2013.6.32

Gilbert Plantinga
Mary & Courtney Pinkerton, 2012
Digital print
Seymour Adelman Fund Purchase
Bryn Mawr College

For the final display, we decided to include the portrait of Courtney, her pink boots, the Texas flag, the crime blotter, and the plenary resolution.  These objects seemed to both create an image of Courtney’s personality as well reflect on her time at Bryn Mawr, combining her personal experiences, like her flag prank, and experiences that all Bryn Mawr students could relate to, like a plenary resolution and the Bi-Co news crime blotter. The flag of Texas and her pink cowgirl boots were visual nods to her home state as well as too her strong sense of individuality (not many Bryn Mawr students regularly wear such striking boots). We decided not to include her thesis for, as stimulating as it might be to read, it would not look very compelling sitting in a glass case where no one could read it. We also felt that as almost all students will write a thesis during their time at Bryn Mawr, it did not communicate anything specific enough about Courtney or her time at Bryn Mawr.

We hoped to achieve a balance between objects and text to create a display that was both informative and visually arresting.