This month we welcome AgitArte, an organization of working class artists and cultural organizers, who added the scroll, one of their community art projects, at left. Almost unbelievably, the Medford Historical Society & Museum has added several hundred more Civil War photos and the Chicopee Public Library has allowed the harvest of two more collections.
As last month, I want to highlight one of Digital Commonwealth’s mainstays, the Boston Public Library. The Press Photography from the Brearley Collection has grown exponentially. The 1,222 items added this month nearly double the size of the collection. The BPL also added a new collection of 394 items, the Edmund Blampied (1886-1966) Prints and Drawings collection, which includes the exquisite crayon drawing, Beach Scene (10) below.
Agitating for the community or a virtual beach visit may warm you up this December. Happy holidays to all!
Sometimes when I write these blog entries, I mention in passing that, ho-hum, the Boston Public Library or UMass/Amherst have added – again – to their extensive holdings. I like to shine the spotlight on the little guy, like Northfield Mount Hermon or the Sandwich Town Archives.
Then I see this month’s addition by UMass/Amherst of two – count ‘em, two – collections totaling 9,135 items. Wow. Words fail me.
In the meantime, even if you didn’t attend Sandwich High School, you should enjoy a look at the class photos from the 1940s-1970s. (See left.) It is interesting to note the growing population and, always, the change in hairstyles and fashion. If you follow this blog, you know that I love a good map and the Massachusetts Archives has added more town plans. The plan of Monson by Aaron Bliss is jarringly colorful. (See below.) Once you zoom in, it looks like a town plan. In the thumbnail, I keep thinking abstract expressionism. Very Picasso.
This month’s total items added is 6,077. That includes a couple of substantial collections: The Boston Public Library’s Press Photography from the Brearley Collection at 1,138 items and the Historical Society of Old Newbury’s Snow Historical Photograph Collection at 1,279 items.
Dennis Brearley collected the works of Boston photojournalists from the 1920s-1970s. A representative photo is the Cocoanut Grove entrance photo. (Left) What’s been added from the Snow Historical Photograph Collection is only a fraction of what the Historical Society holds. The Moulton Castle photo (Below right) is one to whet our appetite for more.
Digital Commonwealth also has re-harvested over 1,700 items from the City of Boston Archives, but sometimes the smaller collections contain gems, too. The Thayer Memorial Library added a history of Lancaster and the Milford Town Library added 200 photos from the Paul E. Curran Historical Collection, including one of the largest piece of granite ever quarried in Milford. (Below center)) That’s a big rock.
It’s the quirky collections that will delight you if you give them a chance. Not that there isn’t incredible value in six collections added by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Canton Public Library’s Canton Historical Commission Photos or the Boston Public Library’s Thaxter/Fields correspondence. Some people will be so pleased yet more nautical charts have been added by the Atwood House Museum of the Chatham Historical Society or yet more Sacco-Vanzetti materials – this time from the Harvard Law School Library.
For my money, though, there’s a certain fascination with the Lawrence Public Library’s 724 items from that city’s Engineering Department on city sewers. It sounds ridiculous and then you look at them. They’re maps of the sewer system. (See left.) You get to see the city’s streets at a micro level. They even show where the manholes [sic] are! They’re hand drawn with lovely, legible script. There are notes on why the sewer was laid on this street, at this elevation. What a wealth of detail. File it under things you never knew you wanted to know.
Now, I don’t want to leave you down in the dumps, so let’s welcome the South Hadley Public Library to the Digital Commonwealth by highlighting their two new collections: Canal Park Committee Collection and Scott Family Photographs. While the latter is a pretty traditional, but still wonderful collection of 19th century photos, the former is a collection of slides the Canal Park Committee used for talks on the history of the Canal and related sites and institutions. The images cover a range of historical eras and subjects. In addition to locks and gates, power plants and buildings, there are some lovely landscapes. Let us leave the industrial behind and spend a few moments with nature. Ah, the flowering crab – much more attractive than its name suggests. (See below.)
Although summer slips away too quickly for some of us, those of us who wilt in the heat and humidity are happy to see the end of July. If you’re not, don’t fret. August is promising more of the same.
The Boston Public Library was busy this month, adding to the Leslie Jones Collection as well as adding over 100 items of Thomas Wentworth Higginson Correspondence. Fans of the 2013 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Anders Zorn exhibit will be happy to see the BPL’s Zorn etchings. Allow me to draw your attention to the Stow Wengenroth Prints and Drawings, though. The exquisite Two Small Birds on a Bough (left) is from this collection, which includes other bird drawings and some lovely Maine scenes.
Medford Historical Society & Museum has added significantly to its already impressive Civil War Photograph Collection. The Lawrence Public Library has also added more photographs plus a new collection of World War I-related items. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library began the harvesting season early with 64 new items to their collections.
The heavy hitters this month are the Massachusetts Historical Society (4,161) and Springfield College Archives and Special Collections (5,181), who re-harvested 4 new collections. I’m not sure that the Arthur and Madeline Slicer Turnvereine Stein Collection is one of the newly-harvested collections, but I offer the jovial barrel-shaped character stein image below because we all need a cool drink of something during the dog days of August.
The Boston Public Library continues to add to existing collections, although a brand new collection – 32 items from John Sullivan Dwight’s correspondence regarding Brook Farm – snuck in while no one was looking. Needham Free Public Library added more than 3,500 items to its historical house collection as well.
The largest addition was from Historic New England (HNE) – 139 new collections, over 54,000 items. Here be treasures: clothing, photos, architectural drawings (left), samplers (below right), quilts, furniture; everyday objects and priceless art. Browsing these collections is almost as good as touring the HNE collections storage facility in Haverhill – or one of the many HNE house museums. I highly recommend doing both. Until you can, though, browse these great collections.
All of May’s contributors are return customers. The Boston Public Library has added significant holdings of prints and drawings. The Atwood House Museum of the Chatham Historical Society has contributed more nautical charts while the Wilbraham Public Library has digitized more photographs. Special mention has to be made of the Lawrence Public Library, which has added fourteen collections ranging from 1 to 68 items.
Most striking are the photographs of the aftermath of the “Great Cyclone” of 1890. Eight people died and 65 were injured. The tornado did $60,000 worth of damage. ($1.5 million in today’s money) The house on the left is just one of many that did not survive the storm.
On a happier note, Lawrence Public Library also digitized a collection of sheet music. It almost doesn’t matter how tuneful the songs are when the covers are this colorful. (See below.)
All those April showers (rain and snow alike) brought over 3,300 new items to the Digital Commonwealth. The largest donation came from the National Archives at Boston with its Watertown Arsenal Photographs collection. The photos of bright shining new armaments contrast sharply with the Franklin Historical Museum’s riveting Images of World War I Battlefields collection. (See Avant l’assaut to left.)
On balance, the Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation and Jacob Edwards Library (Southbridge) have added images of everyday life in small town Massachusetts. The Boston Public Library enhances the everyday with the artistic and, happily, the humorous. In this case, most of us might associate running and bulls with Ernest Hemingway and Pamplona. For Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, the association becomes running from bulls – and there is nothing macho about it. (See La vache enragée below.)
March came in like a lion and then refused to leave like a lamb. Can we get a refund from Mother Nature? Perhaps a few extra days of fall? Digital Commonwealth never sleeps, though; witness the many additions to the collections last month.
My personal favorite proves that bad hair days are not a 21st century phenomenon. This unidentified gentleman (left) comes from the Granville Public Library’s Unidentified People and Places collection. I am sure he is happy to be unidentified. Wouldn’t you be, with this look?
The remaining collections are from some old reliable contributors and some new ones. Kudos to the newbies who added large collections and the vets who added to existing collections. I personally know some folks who will be delighted that the Medford Historical Society is adding to its Civil War photo collection.
I admit my taste runs more to the Art Nouveau cover for Beverly’s Balance (see below), a play given by the Waban Women’s Club on May 4th 1917. Which only goes to show that Digital Commonwealth always strives to provide something for everyone.
I hope to see you at the Annual Conference tomorrow in Worcester – another instance of Digital Commonwealth providing something for everyone!
This month, the Boston Public Library (BPL) added 36 items from its M.C. Escher prints and drawings collection. It also happens that this month the Museum of Fine Arts opened an exhibit of M.C. Escher prints. Great minds really do think alike.
In addition, the BPL added items to six existing collections as well as lithographs, etchings and drawings of James McNeill Whistler, a Commonwealth-born artist most famous for his mother’s portrait.
The Leicester Public Library has uploaded a collection of architectural drawings while the Atwood House Museum of the Chatham Historical Society and the Jamaica Plain Historical Society have added new items to existing collection.
It appears winter is not done with us yet, so let the wonders on Digital Commonwealth warm your day and inspire your spirit.