Was ever life history written in more dainty hieroglyphics!

(WA Bentley, in Appleton’s Popular Science Monthly, 1898)


Wilson Alwyn Bentley (February 7, 1865 – December 23, 1931) was a pioneering photographer of snowflakes (and other weather phenomena) and an innovative researcher into many branches of meteorology. Over the course of his lifetime, he successfully photographed more than 5000 individual snowflakes.


Although Bentley worked alone, and was home-schooled and then self-taught, his photographs and research were recognized in his lifetime by fellow scientists. His first article was published in 1898 in Appleton’s Popular Scientific Monthly. He published frequently in Monthly Weather Review and his articles also appeared in Scientific American, National Geographic, Popular Mechanics ( see http://www.snowflakebentley.com/WBpopmech.htm for his article from 1922 on his photographic methods), and many general interest magazines.

122His magnum opus, Bentley, W. A., and W. J. Humphreys. Snow Crystals, New York, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1931, was published shortly before his death. It includes more than 2000 photomicrographs, mostly snow crystals but also hail, frost, and dew.


The library has a remarkable pair of albums of original photomicrographs, containing 400 of Bentley’s images of snow. These may be the photos used in Snow Crystals; UCLA has a similar album, with 200 photos, which they say are illustrations for the book. The albums were the gift of Helen F. Corson.


We will be sharing individual photos on a nearly-daily schedule throughout the winter on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Bryn-Mawr-College-Special-Collections-205274397222/). You can read more about Bentley and his work and publications at http://www.snowflakebentley.com/WBsfman.htm.


De-Installation of Presidential Portraits in Thomas Great Hall

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

More information about the portraits can be found here: http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/PRT537IMG_8578

IMG_8574    IMG_8583

Bryn Mawr College Lends Artwork to Mary Cassatt Retrospective in Japan

marycassattTwo of Bryn Mawr College’s prized Mary Cassatt prints are now on view in Yokohama, Japan. The artist’s retrospective at the Yokohama Museum of Art includes 80 works, many of which are on loan from museums all over the world. The exhibition travels to a second venue, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, in September.

Bryn Mawr has loaned Afternoon Tea Party and Woman Bathing (see below). Both are part of a series of ten color prints exploring the domestic activities and roles of women in the nineteenth century. Cassatt translated her admiration of Japanese ukiyo-e prints into this series, all ten of which are included in the current retrospective.










Bryn Mawr’s Collections Manager, Marianne Weldon, couriered the prints to Japan, ensuring their safe arrival. The crate had to be inspected in Philadelphia by TSA, after which point it was never left alone.  Either Marianne, or a US Customs-assigned security agent, was with the works of art as they traveled first from Philadelphia to JFK airport, where they were placed on a pallet with works from other institutions, and then onto Tokyo, Japan.

















Once in Tokyo the works were transported by truck to the Yokohama Museum of Art (along with couriers from the represented institutions) to await Japanese Customs Agents, who authorized opening the crate for installation.











As you can see, the prints have arrived safely and are a wonderful addition to the exhibition.

For more information about the exhibition, visit:

The Girl’s Realm Annual – The Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature at Bryn Mawr College

Ellery Yale Wood was especially interested in collecting books meant specifically for girls and young women.  This week we have unpacked numerous magazines and annuals. One of these is the Girl’s Realm Annual, a yearly compilation of the monthly Girl’s Realm, over a thousand pages long and bound beautifully to make it suitable as a Christmas present. FN-000000 (2)This Edwardian era publication (it was printed from 1898 until 1915) was lively and well-illustrated. It carried stories about successful women, sports, nature, career options, and handicrafts, as well as puzzles, poetry, and fiction, much of it by well-known authors.FN-000013 Some of the literature was short stories, but there was also usually a serial story, which would have appeared in each month’s issue, but which in the annual appears every 80 pages or so.FN-000005

Advertising for the Girl’s Realm described it as “an up-to-date, high-class magazine, made bright, amusing, interesting, and instructive.” It was self-consciously modern, and addressed girls within the framework of the New Woman: educated, independent, career- as well as family-oriented, interested in sports and the out of doors, socially informed and involved. Some of the stories are romance, but many of them are adventure; the girls in the stories tended to be courageous -sometimes to the point of foolhardiness, patriotic, and strong; there are frequent articles on “girl heroines”. FN-000000At the same time, the magazine expected its readers to be ladylike and eager to take their places within marriages and society. The editorial attitude toward women’s suffrage is telling: the magazine was generally in favor or women’s rights, but it could not countenance the unfeminine behavior of the more militant activists.FN-000010

Here are some additional pages from the 1902, 1906, and 1911 editions, to give a flavor of the whole.


Bryn Mawr College to Host Protecting Collections: Disaster Prevention, Planning, & Response


PCRN_Banner - Copy
Only a few more days to register for Protecting Collections in Bryn Mawr, PA
Register by June 11th!
Protecting Collections: Disaster Prevention, Planning, & Response One of the most important steps any cultural institution can take to safeguard its collections is to be prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster.  This two-part program will guide participants in risk mitigation, emergency planning and preparedness, response, and recovery.  By the end of the second session, participants will develop and complete an emergency preparedness and response plan; learn how to train staff to implement the plan effectively; set pre-and post-disaster action priorities for collections; learn how to use practical decision-making skills during an emergency or disaster; and have information on salvaging a variety of materials, including books, documents, photos and objects.By registering for this program, attendees agree to participate in both the first and second sessions; the two sessions are scheduled several weeks apart in order to give attendees time to undertake several planning assignments.SPEAKERS

Laura Hortz Stanton, Director of Preservation Services, CCAHA
Dyani Feige, Preservation Specialist, CCAHA
Jessica Keister, Paper & Photograph Conservator, CCAHA


June 24 & August 5, 2014 – Registration Deadline is June 11th!
Bryn Mawr College Special Collections
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Times: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Fee: $50
Registration Deadline: Register at least two weeks prior to the program date.

Registration, secure credit card payment, and additional program information are available at www.ccaha.org/education/program-calendar.


  • Lunch will not be provided.
  • Refunds will be given until two weeks prior to the program date, minus a $10 cancellation fee.
  • If you have special needs, please contact CCAHA at least three weeks prior to the program date so that accommodations can be made.

Questions?  Call CCAHA’s Preservation Services department at 215.545.0613 or email us at pso@ccaha.org.

Protecting Collections: Disaster Prevention, Planning, & Response is a part of the Pennsylvania Cultural Resilience Network (PaCRN).  Funded through an Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant, the goal of PaCRN is to create a strong network and provide resources for effective emergency response and recovery for cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.  Training, relationship-building, and Commonwealth-wide policy development will be the primary focus of this two-year initiative.


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…



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:



Collections Management & Practices; an AASLH Workshop Comes to Bryn Mawr College

Collections Management & Practices

July 11-12, 2013
Bryn Mawr, PA

Host: Bryn Mawr College

Cost: $270 members/$345 nonmembers; $40 discount if fee is received by June 5.

Participants will learn about their institution’s responsibility toward its collection, the necessary policies and procedures, and the best practices of collection management. During lively group discussions and hands-on activities, participants will become familiar with current issues and trends to better understand how collections fit within the context of history organizations. Participants will explore other topics including the role of collections in exhibition and interpretation, the basic steps of collections management from acquisition to disposal, professional standards and ethics, conservation on a shoe-string budget, as well as learning about the multitude of resources available for collections preservation.

Who Should Attend:
This workshop is targeted to new professionals and dedicated volunteers with responsibility for collections.

What Participants Said: “Structured well–time to get to know each other, time to interact about specific problems.” “Particularly enjoyed the participation exercise, followed by practical ideas.” “The thinking through of problems with mission statements, pest problems, and interpretation was helpful.” “I was able to see the ‘big picture’ instead of focusing on my own small concerns.”

StEps Connections:
This workshop may help institutions achieve the standards in the Mission, Vision, and Governance, Management, and Stewardship of Collections sections of AASLH’s StEPs program.

Travel Information:
Bryn Mawr College is just outside of Philadelphia. More information will be coming soon.


Dr. Vicki L. Berger has been a faculty member of the American Association for State and Local History for the long-running Collection Care Workshop for several years. Berger retired from North Carolina state government service in 2003. She served as Curator of Costume and Textiles and Collections Management Section Chief at the North Carolina Museum of History. During that time, she developed and taught Introduction to Museology, the beginning graduate level public history course, at North Carolina State University. Since moving to Phoenix, AZ in 2003, she has worked at the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park and the Phoenix Museum of History. In addition to her AASLH service, Berger is active in several professional organizations. She is Secretary of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) Costume Committee and travels internationally to participate in the annual meetings. A long-time board member of the Costume Society of America, Berger co-chaired the 2009 national symposium which was held in Phoenix, AZ. She also serves on the boards of the Central Arizona Museum Association, Museum Association of Arizona, and the Costume Society of America Southwest Region. She and costume colleague Sally Queen published Clothing and Textile Collections in the United States: A CSA Guide in 2006. Berger earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Arizona and her Ph.D. at Florida State University.

Helen Alten, is the Director of Northern States Conservation Center and its chief Objects Conservator. For nearly 30 years she has been involved in objects conservation. She completed a degree in Archaeological Conservation and Materials Science from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London in England. She has built and run conservation laboratories in Bulgaria, Montana, Greece, Alaska and Minnesota. She has a broad understanding of three-dimensional materials and their deterioration, wrote and edited the quarterly Collections Caretaker, maintains the popular www.collectioncare.org website, was instrumental in developing a state-wide protocol for disaster response in small Minnesota museums, and is always in search of the perfect museum mannequin. She has published chapters on conservation and deterioration of archeological glass with the Materials Research Society and the York Archaeological Trust, four chapters on different mannequin construction techniques in Museum Mannequins: A Guide for Creating the Perfect Fit (2002), preservation planning, policies, forms and procedures needed for a small museum in The Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums’ Collection Initiative Manual, and is co-editor of the penultimate book on numbering museum collections (still in process) by the Gilcrease Museum in Oklahoma. Helen Alten has been a Field Education Director, Conservator, and staff trainer. She began working with people from small, rural, and tribal museums while as the state conservator for Montana and Alaska. Helen currently conducts conservation treatments and operates a conservation center in Charleston, WV and St. Paul, MN.

Tentative Agenda:

The workshop will begin with registration at 8 a.m. on Thursday and conclude at 5 p.m. on Friday. Click here for a copy of the 2011 workshop agenda. Please note that this agenda is subject to change. A final workshop agenda and participant materials will be distributed at registration.

To register: http://www.aaslh.org/collwork.htm

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.