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."

New Summer School for Women Worker’s Digital Exhibition Launches

by Beck Morawski ’21

Photograph of curator Beck Moraski '21 sitting at a table in Special Collections reading room.

Exhibit curator Beck Morawski ’21 sits at table in Special Collections reading room.

When I was brought on as a student curator to design an exhibit for the centennial of the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry last April, I could not have imagined the journey this project would take me on. In putting together a digital exhibit that centers the lived experiences of often-overlooked students, I was able to engage with the history of Bryn Mawr College in ways I never expected.

The Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry, often abbreviated as the BMSSWWI, was a program that ran on Bryn Mawr’s campus during the summer from 1921 through 1938. It was intended to use the empty campus buildings during the summer months to educate industrial workers—such as factory workers or manual laborers—who sought to continue their education, since often their life circumstances had prevented them from finishing it. The unique program allowed for a two month retreat to the secluded campus to study not only Economic Theory, but also topics meant to enrich life outside of the workplace including Literature, Astronomy, and Music Theory.

Photograph of students looking on, situated right near the ivy outside of the cloisters, as an instructor reads from an economics textbook.

Image courtesy Bryn Mawr Special Collections. An Economics Class in the Cloisters. BMC-Photo Archives, Series I, PAE: Events and Groups, SSWWI. SSWWI_00195. https://digitalcollections.tricolib.brynmawr.edu/object/bmc60985.

While classroom lessons and lectures were instrumental to the students in attendance, some of the most formative experiences they recounted in the Summer School literary magazine Shop and School were of exploring the campus and experiencing life away from the smog and cramped confines of cities and mills. It was exciting to get to read these students’ stories and experiences attending college for the first time, and then to find a way to share them with the Bryn Mawr community today. By putting our current campus culture and experiences in conversation with our history, we can gain new understandings of how unique Bryn Mawr can be.

Developing a digital exhibit of photographs and documents was an interesting challenge to take on while working remotely. Working in Special Collections during my time at Bryn Mawr, I learned the importance and value of physical records to the day-to-day ongoings of campus and how they enliven history to those that study it. However, what does that look like when one can’t work hands-on with the many photographs, letters, and books that we have saved from the Summer School? Luckily, the influence of the School was wide-reaching and impactful. Even without going into Canaday Library I could find material that explored the history of the School from unexpected angles. I was also able to participate in conversations around the digitization of parts of our collections, hoping to make our holdings more accessible to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access the materials we hold.

My exhibit—For Roses, Too—provides an overview of the Summer School program and its history, while asking readers what lessons they can take from its history to apply to Bryn Mawr College today. The BMSSWWI exemplifies both what progress Bryn Mawr has historically sought to accomplish and what that vision can achieve when embraced by the community. It is my hope that this exhibit can start new and exciting conversations about our institutional identity and its place in history at large.

Photograph of a group of women on the lawn in front of a campus building. One woman is looking through a telescope.

Image courtesy Bryn Mawr Special Collections. Students from the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry. BMC-Photo Archives, Series I, PAE: Events and Groups, SSWWI, SSWWI_00016. https://digitalcollections.tricolib.brynmawr.edu/object/bmc60806.

 

Remembering Jane Martin

Photograph of Jane Martin and workers at Nyema Smith's sugar cane production in Liberia (April 15, 1976); Catalog Card written by Jane Martin (c. 2000) from The Jane Martin Papers, Bryn Mawr College Archives

Photograph of Jane Martin and workers at Nyema Smith’s sugar cane production in Liberia (April 15, 1976); Catalog Card written by Jane Martin (c. 2000) from The Jane Martin Papers, Bryn Mawr College Archives

Special Collections remembers Dr. Jane Martin (Class of 1953, MA 1958), the generous donor of a significant collection of African Art and related papers from her professional work in Liberia, who died on April 14. After graduating from Bryn Mawr with two degrees, Martin went on to earn her PhD in African History from Boston University in 1968. Her research focused on the Glebo of Eastern Liberia, and many of her interests there are reflected in the archives she donated to the College, including material on specific individuals in the Kru tribe, African women and their roles in education and society, and governmental and non-profit organizations in Africa.

Martin lived and worked in West Africa for several years, teaching African History at the University of Calabar in Nigeria and the University of Liberia in the 1970s. Her papers demonstrate her careful thinking about how to teach history and what to teach, as well as research interviews she conducted during this time. From 1984 to 1989, she was Executive Director of the United States Educational and Cultural Foundation in Liberia, administering the Fulbright Program and other cultural exchange programs. She was a strong advocate for binationalism between the US and Liberia for all of her life, continuing this work at the African-American Institute in New York, when civil war forced Martin to leave Liberia in 1989.

Throughout her travels in Africa, Martin collected a wide variety of art and cultural objects, some 150 of which she donated to the Art & Artifacts Collection at Bryn Mawr. These include helmet masks danced by women of Liberia’s Sande society, Ashanti gold weights, baby carriers, toys made by the artist Saarenald T. S. Yaawaisan from recycled flip-flop sandals, and a Baule Chief’s chair. She documented her collecting with various field notes, photographs, and correspondences, all of which serve to enrich the gift of objects immeasurably.

Works from Martin’s Collection have been featured in exhibitions organized by students since their arrival at the College in 2016, including On Selecting: Profiles of Alumnae Donors to the African Art & Artifacts Collection (Spring 2017) and Mirrors & Masks: Reflections and Constructions of the Self (Spring 2017). These materials are regularly used in courses across a variety of fields at the College.

To learn more, visit:

The Jane Martin Papers Finding Aid in College Archives

The Jane Martin Collection in Art & Artifacts

Bauhaus at Bryn Mawr: Museum Studies Praxis Intern Organizes Fall Exhibition

by Rachel Grand (BMC ’21)

Rachel Grand (BMC '21) stands next to an Egyptian Byzantine textile on view in the exhibition ReconTEXTILEize (Spring 2019).

Student curator Rachel Grand ’21 at opening of ReconTEXTILEize, the 360 course cluster’s exhibition that helped prepare her to organize her own exhibition this fall.

I began my internship with Special Collections as part of the Museum Studies Praxis course, where students find placements in local museums for a practical learning experience. I was placed with a History of Art PhD candidate, Nina Blomfield, who is curating an exhibition in the fall on Lockwood de Forest’s decorative arts program for the College. My initial assignment was to help with her research, but it grew into an opportunity to curate my own smaller exhibition in conjunction with hers on Marcel Breuer, another artist commissioned to design furniture for the College. Compared to my past internships, I felt extremely fortunate for this opportunity with Special Collections because of the real responsibilities that were entrusted to me. In this internship, I felt that the research that I produced for Nina was valued and impactful, and the exhibition that I was able to curate myself, has taught me an invaluable amount about curatorial work.  Because of the research opportunities afforded to me in Special Collections, I learned more about the history of Bryn Mawr College than I ever expected to know about my temporary home. 

Lockwood de Forest was a designer and architect who first came to Bryn Mawr College in the 1890s. His boss, and friend, was none other than M. Carey Thomas, for whom he designed and decorated a significant portion of her residence and other parts of campus. De Forest is not a well-known name nowadays among students and facultycompared to M. Carey Thomas, so it was surprising to learn that his architectural touch is all over the College, from the campus center and health center, to the ceiling of the Great Hall! When I walk around on campus now, knowing the history of the buildings enforces a sense of home. While reading correspondence between de Forest and Thomas, I got a sense of Thomas’ strong will, in regard to both interior decoration as well as the future of the college, which provided me with an educated perspective, amidst the controversy surrounding the renaming of Old Library. 

The second artist that I studied, Marcel Breuer, was commissioned for a specific project on campus. When Rhoads was built in 1937, he was approached by the college to design a set of furniture for the new dorm rooms. Marcel Breuer was a famous designer and architect who was trained at the Bauhaus, a radically modern art school in Weimar Germany.  

In order to learn more about Breuer’s furniture, I looked through the college’s archives. As I searched, I could not help but notice how the College used to place an emphasis on Bryn Mawr being “male friendly. The yearbook from 1939 boasted that women who lived in Rhoads were more likely to be engaged (to men) than any other dorm. Photographs of students in Rhoads dining hall in the 1960s depicted at least one man in each group of smiling students.  

I am told that the student body here has changed in recent years and learning more about the college’s history has only confirmed that. Today, Bryn Mawr students would not tolerate M. Carey Thomas, her elaborate expenditures, nor yearbooks boasting their marriageability. It was very impactful to be able to situate myself, as a student, in the timeline of Bryn Mawr’s past through this research at Special Collections.  

Rachel’s exhibition, Bauhaus at Bryn Mawr: Marcel Breuer’s Furniture for Rhoads, opens October 24 in the Coombe Suite Display Case on the second floor of Canaday Library.

 

On Gardens Speak by Tania El Khoury

Student Intern Tanjuma Haque

Tanjuma Haque (BMC 2021)

REFLECTION by Tanjuma Haque (BMC 2021)

Even though I had already seen the set-up of Gardens Speak before and knew what was going to happen, the moment I stepped in through the doors, everything felt completely alien. The lights were dim on the two pews where the ten of us went and sat as the guide handed us one card each person.

As I entered the space where the garden with the graves was made, honestly, I was scared for a moment or two. Since we all had to take off our shoes before we entered the space, the soil was cold under my bare feet as I searched for the person’s grave whose headstone’s picture was on my card.

The humming noise clarified into words as I dug the soil near the headstone with my hands. I put my head next to the pillow with their name, in front of the headstone, and lied and listened quietly. I heard Mustafa’s narrative of how everything was before and after he died, spoken by a man in the first person.

I had taken a Middle Eastern Politics class last semester and I had seen movies from the Middle East that showcased the different uprisings and killings and I knew about the conflicts, but those were nothing compared to when I heard, what seemed to me, Mustafa’s voice, speaking about how he died with many others when a missile struck a peaceful rally and that his girlfriend came and saw him in pieces and that he wanted to say that he loves her, but he no longer could.

I am not a very emotional person and I did not cry then, but when I was writing the letter to Mustafa, I thought that he probably could see me write the letter or something. Later, I went to Tell Me What I Can Do and that is when I almost cried when I saw so many letters full of hope and prayers and support for all the martyrs.

Gardens Speak, possibly the best live artwork I have seen, was a phenomenal experience. From my perspective, it is an extraordinary piece of art, it has the ability to bring people from different parts of the world, with different beliefs, religions, and races, together because nothing motivates love more than the sense of unfair loss. When we, the audience, write letters to the martyr, we all get bound by the same affection.

 

On Assisting with Gardens Speak & Camp Pause during ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury

Photo of Intern Author, Rachel Adler

Rachel Adler (BMC 2021)

REFLECTION by Rachel Adler (Class of 2021), Sept 24, 2018

This past week of training and working on Camp Pause and Gardens Speak has been both exciting and slightly overwhelming in the best way. I started off training for Gardens Speak, but had not realized how jarring it would be to see a piece- especially one I’ve been so thrilled to experience in real life- behind the scenes. Seeing how many people and elements go into the piece makes it more authentic and meaningful in a unique way. I have yet to experience Gardens Speak as an actual showing, but I am eager to see how it differentiates from merely training around it- the different lighting, smells, and feelings that I know I will experience because I was told just how it all happens.

The Camp Pause Training was significantly shorter and more tech-based, but it was also nice because it was the training where I got to see Tania El-Khoury again. It’s interesting to hear how objects in the piece, such as the colorful little chairs, are put there with a specific purpose, for more than just for sitting. The chairs and their coordinating cords were specifically made those colors, and invoke feelings of childhood. The type of chairs are children’s chairs in Palestine and Lebanon. All of which I wouldn’t have known and didn’t know until Tania explained it in training, which I thought was a lovely bonus. Art is always purposeful in what it does, says, and expresses. I felt similarly with the Gardens Speak training and learning that the dirt is sprayed with an earthy essential oil, and flowers are thrown onto the audience while they rest on the graves. These little aspects of the overall piece shape it and make it special.

I have worked both the Camp Pause and Gardens Speak pieces at this point and feel a sort of peculiar feeling watching audiences going into an exhibit and walking out. I feel that particularly with the Gardens Speak piece, there is an intimate, unspoken element of trust required from the artist and the audience. Trust that the audience will respect the piece, trust that they will not make it about themselves, and I feel that this trust is not necessarily always kept up on the audience’s part. Hearing audience members leave the Camp Pause piece, saying things like, “That made me so sad,” and “What a depressing video,” feels selfish and lacks the maturity to realize that as a viewer, you only experience something that is someone else’s entire life for 10 minutes, something which you don’t have to live with once you leave the exhibit space. I suppose that is the side effect of interactive pieces, because self-centered people will turn an interactive piece and make into how they feel about their own lives, their own political climates, when that’s not what these pieces are about. But the beauty of the pieces are their interactivity and the ability to turn an issue that feels remote- like the Syrian war or the Israel-Palestine conflict- and make it feel next door to a viewer, and personal. Humans empathize with other people when they feel like individuals rather than masses, and that’s why pieces like Camp Pause and Gardens are so important.

On Meeting Tania El Khoury…

Image

REFLECTION by Maya Stucky (Class of 2020)

I applied to intern with artist Tania El Khoury for both personal and academic reasons. As the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant, I feel deep-rooted connections to the country and what occurs within its borders. I make a conscious effort to be aware of its triumphs and of its downfalls, and the presence of refugees in Lebanon has, in my experience, caused controversy. Thus, my involvement in El Khoury’s work is my own personal way of combatting that controversy and being part of the exploration of Middle Eastern politics.

The first thing I noticed about El Khoury is that everyone in a room with her seems to be drawn to her – not only as an artist but also as a person. She has this fascinating energy to her that makes you want to learn more about her or just listen to her speak. She exudes authenticity and warmth. Originally, I could not tell if I felt this energy simply because I feel an innate connection to all Lebanese women because of my own Lebanese heritage, but as I observed the rest of the room and spoke to other interns, it seemed to me that everyone else was just as intrigued. Her presence is not stately and intense, as she truly is very humble and kind, but she radiates strength and knowledge in a way that has you hanging on to every word she says. Conversely, just as El Khoury’s interns attempt to get to know her better, she is doing the same with us. She cares deeply for her work, her subjects, and her audience and wants to ensure those who are representing her and guiding her audience can do so in the appropriate way.

In terms of discussing her work, El Khoury is incredibly particular and precise about every detail about her pieces and the acquisition of her material. Where she falls short, especially in terms of accessibility, she recognizes and seems to be making a conscious effort to create a sensorium that attempts to include all audiences. Accessibility at Bryn Mawr is something that is constantly being brought up, and I think El Khoury was impressed by the students’ advocacy for the utmost amount of inclusion possible. Although she is incredibly particular in her work, I believe she appreciates that her works lose effect the less accessible they become.

I truly am so excited to work with El Khoury in the fall. I know that she has much to teach us about her work, her inspiration, and all the various factors that go into the production of live art. Through her work I hope to grow and witness the growth of her audience through such cathartic and important stories.

A Tale as Old as Time – from The Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature

The fairy tale Beauty and the Beast has received attention recently with Disney’s release of a live action version of the film. Like any adaptation, the film is not exactly the same as its predecessors. However, the differences between Disney’s animated and live action films are not as noticeable when compared to older versions of the story like the circa 1875 version pictured below. As further indication of Beauty and the Beast’s long history, even this version describes itself as “An Old Tale New-Told.”

Eleanor Vere Boyle’s illustrated book Beauty and the Beast not only recounts the well-known plot, but also includes elements that are reminiscent of other fairy tales. One of the most obvious is that in this version, Beauty has two sisters, and her attractiveness and sweet disposition are catalysts for their envy. The girls’ mother died, and though Beauty’s father loves her very much, for most of the story he is oblivious to the sisters’ animosity toward Beauty. Although there are an additional two brothers added to the mix, the general family dynamic resembles Cinderella’s experience.

Check out the illustrations below for more comparisons to other fairy tales and a unique depiction of the Beast!

This image shows Beauty as a young girl with “her new scarlet cloak, to wrap her friend the old watch dog in!” This action is included to demonstrate her good character. Her cloak reminded me of Little Red Riding Hood.

In this scene, Beauty’s father enters the Beast’s garden intending to take a white rose back for Beauty. Stealing a plant for a loved one (and facing consequences for doing so) calls to mind the story of Rapunzel. This image is the first glimpse the reader gets of the Beast.

Each night when they dine, the Beast asks Beauty to marry him. Though she resists, she is slowly falling in love with him.

When Beauty returns home to visit her family, we encounter this scene in which Beauty’s sisters weep because even in her exile, their sister has returned dressed more finely then they, courtesy of the Beast. The ravens later overhear the sisters plotting Beauty’s death. Although the birds are portrayed neither as good nor evil, I thought of a few Snow White movies that feature ravens alongside the villain like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) and the more recent “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

After Beauty professes her love for him, the Beast is transformed back into his princely self. Like Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet, the rest of the castle “wakes up” as well, including the Beast’s mother, the Queen.

Isabel Gellert, Class of 2019