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!
Written by Anne Berard, Reference& Outreach Librarian, Milford Town Library
While the earliest advertising cards first circulated in London, Lyon and Paris in the late 17th century, advances in color lithography and printing in the 19th century made them easier to produce and more ubiquitous. Everything from soap, thread, perfume, hats, shoes, coffee, candy and more were marketed in these stylized cards. Digital Commonwealth has more than 3700 unique images in its collection. Some of the most entertaining and possibly alarming, cards were for tonics and health remedies that might belong in the annals of medical quackery. Blood-purifying agents were all the rage.
Hunt’s Remedy (above, left) claimed that it was“never known to fail” and cured dropsy (edema), liver, bladder, kidney and urinary problems. It was produced by William E. Clarke of Providence, Rhode Island. The graphics show a shirtless man fighting off the Grim Reaper.
Boasting of health and sunny hours, an Ayers Sarsaparilla (above, center) card from 1902 featured a lovely woman in Victorian dress holding a tot on her shoulder. Dr. J.C. Ayers operated in Lowell, MA. Sarsaparilla root is still used today in some herbal medicines to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Touting itself as the “purest and best medicine in the world” for overcoming dyspepsia, debility, and wasting diseases was Malt Bitters of Boston, MA. (above, right) Their detailed card also promised “stimulation without intoxication.” Playing off the theme of the House that Jack Built, the card has charming artwork, attractive lettering and tells a complete story.
In time, radio ads were a more modern means to reach a larger audience and trade cards fell out of fashion. Larger companies still produced catalogs and smaller enterprises converted to smaller business cards and matchbooks.
To see the complete collection of 19th Century American Trade Cards, begin here.
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.)
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.
Have you kept your New Year’s resolution to digitize your historical treasures? These institutions did. Anna Maria College’s The Travel Postcards of Charles Bumsack Collection includes this view of Smith College’s Observatory (left). If you explore more, you’ll also find views of the Crab, Dumbbell and Horsehead Nebulae. I kid you not.
If whimsy is not your cup of tea, the BPL has added some significant correspondence collections and Barre Historical Society has added maps. (See example below.) Wilbraham Public Library chips in some photographs of the Glendale section of town while the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) has added prints, sculptures, photos and more in its six collections.
Earlier this month Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so we have six more weeks of winter. Plenty of time to visit all these great collections.
Admit it. You took it easy last month. After exams or while planning office parties, you let some things slide. The digitization team working on the Lawrence Public Library collections added twenty three collections in December: 23. No slackers there. Take the Stereo Slide Collection for example. It contains 108 items, including the Frozen Fountain on the Common slide (Left). Is it too soon after our own deep freeze to appreciate this icy monument?
Maybe you would find the variety of the Hamilton Historical Society’s collection of photos of parades, historic houses, town celebrations and prominent citizens cozier. For Civil War students, we have letters from the Jubb brothers courtesy of the J. V. Fletcher Library in Westford. As always, we have maps. December saw the Leventhal Map Center add yet more to their collection while the Wilbraham Library’s Maps Collection included the Hampden and Hampshire highway map below.
If you were a little sad to see your feathered friends head south last month, take a gander (pun intended) at the John James Audubon The Birds of America drawings digitized by the Boston Public Library in November. You won’t want to miss the weirdly wonderful Roseate Spoonbill below:
There is, once again, something for everyone in this past month’s additions: large collections and small; photos, letters, music; artwork, nature, history. You want it? Digital Commonwealth’s got it! Special mention has to go to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library’s Edward Hale Lincoln Collection of flora in nature photographs. The photos are in black and white, but are so sharp and clear that winter weary Bay Staters may find inspiration for their spring gardens in these photos. Never ask me to choose a favorite orchid, but the nearby Cattleya Snow Queen seems an appropriate choice for a December post. And if you need some color, try Mass Hort’s previously digitized Botanical Prints collection. Gorgeous, even to us non-gardeners.