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Posts Tagged ‘Inside BPL Collections’

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Posted on March 1st, 2014 by Gina Perille in General

silhouetteIn celebration of Women’s History Month, Boston Public Library has a variety of events and exhibitions on the schedule:

  • West African Women’s Empowerment: A Story in Photographs, an exhibition at the Faneuil Branch in Brighton.
  • Public Women, Private Lives, an exhibition opening March 7 in the Rare Books Lobby at the Central Library in Copley Square.
  • Women of History Film Series at the South Boston Branch at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays.
    • March 4: Queen Christina, starring Greta Garbo (1933)
    • March 11: Calamity Jane, starring Doris Day (1953)
    • March 18: Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep (2009)
    • March 25: The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt (2009)
  • Monday Night Film Series at the Central Library in Copley Square. The films begin at 6 p.m. and feature famous leading ladies from Massachusetts.
    • March 3: Dangerous (1935)
    • March 10: Harvey (1950)
    • March 17: Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
    • March 24: Moonstruck (1987)
    • March 31: The Accidental Tourist (1988)

Of course, notable women in history can be discovered throughout the library’s collections each day. Several appear within Boston Public Library’s collections of distinction, such as Francis Clalin, book designer Sarah Wyman Whitman, and the abolitionist Weston sisters. Others are highlighted via our digitized collections such as Amelia Earhart and Emily Dickinson.

Incunabula: Books from the Cradle of Printing

Posted on November 18th, 2013 by admin in General

gutenburgBoston Public Library’s Collections of Distinction feature historical marvels from around the world, including thousands of items that date back to as early as the 10th century. Among the collections are incuanbula, or “incunables,” which are books printed from the time that Johann Gutenberg perfected moveable types, sometime between 1440–1445 until January 1, 1501. The term comes from the Latin for “things from the cradle,” i.e., the cradle of printing. The incunables have stood the test of time – books of this age were printed on 100% rag paper and look as crisp and white today as the day they were printed, even though they are more than 500 years old.

The two earliest titles in the library’s collection of incunabula are attributed to Johann Gutenberg – a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, printed between 1454-1455, and Catholicon, printed in 1460. The latter is one of only 12 copies located in the United States and the only one printed on vellum (calfskin).

Additional treasures in the collection:

  • Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), the first encyclopedic history of the world
  • Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499) printed by Aldus Manutius
  • Divina Commedia (1481) by Dante Alighieri with etchings by Sandro Botticelli
  • early editions of The Golden Legend and Canterbury Tales
  • the famous Columbus letter (1493) written to Isabella and Ferdinand documenting Columbus’ discoveries of the New World
  • a unique copy of an early Spanish Passion printed in Burgos in 1493
  • writings of Eusebius, Boccaccio, Martialis, and Thomas Aquinas

Visit the Collections of Distinction page to learn more.

Women in the Collections of Distinction

Posted on October 17th, 2013 by admin in General

blogcollageBoston Public Library’s Collections of Distinction highlight many people who made significant contributions to American society, including some revolutionary women:

  • Francis Clalin is featured in the American Civil War 20th Massachusetts Regiment Collection, a woman who disguised herself as a man named Jack Williams and fought in the Civil War. Boston Public Library holds two photographs of Francis Clalin, including one in which she is dressed as a male soldier, and one in which she wears female attire. These are by far the most requested items in the Rare Books department.
  • Former Beacon Hill resident Sarah Wyman Whitman, a talented artist and book designer, was the first woman to become the chief designer for a major American publisher – Boston’s own Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In addition to her groundbreaking book design work, she was an accomplished stained glass artist and painter, with examples of her stained glass work displayed at Harvard University and Trinity Church in Boston. Visit Boston Public Library’s Flickr photostream, which contains more than 350 examples of Whitman’s exquisite bookbindings.  Learn more by visiting the Fine and Historic Book Bindings Collection.
  • The Anti-slavery Collection contains 40,000 pieces of correspondence, newspapers, pamphlets, and books spanning a 35-year period, and features letters and correspondence from the abolitionist Weston sisters: Anne, Caroline, Deborah, Lucia, Mary, and Maria Weston Chapman.  The Weston sisters and eight other women from the Boston Female Anti-slavery Society organized the first anti-slavery fair in 1834 and were a significant force in the fight against slavery.

Findings in the Maritime Charts Collection of Distinction

Posted on October 10th, 2013 by admin in General

mapThere are many treasures to be found in the Maritime Charts and Atlases Collection of Distinction, as the thousands of nautical charts and atlases each tell their own unique story. Staff of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library recently discovered a surprising addition to one of the atlases during their research for an upcoming exhibition. Sketched on the reverse of a chart of the Atlantic Ocean in Thomas Jefferys’ West Indian Atlas from 1798, is a small, detailed drawing of a ship. Drawings such as this ship offer viewers a glimpse into the hobbies and interests of those who used these charts before us, adding a personal touch to these artifacts.

Several items from the Maritime Charts and Atlases Collection of Distinction are currently on display in the exhibition Charting an Empire: The Atlantic Neptune, which runs at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center through November 3. The Map Center is holding an Open House on Saturday, October 19, from 1 -3 p.m., which will include guided tours of the current exhibition and hands-on activities and games for children. For more information, visit the Map Center website or call 617.859.2386.


Meet the Collections of Distinction Curators

Posted on October 2nd, 2013 by admin in General

CDscreenshot1aBoston Public Library’s Collections of Distinction feature eighteen of the most outstanding, expansive, and renowned of the library’s holdings. Behind the collections are the curators who can expertly describe the significance of all the treasures found within. The curators recently answered questions about each of the collections, including their favorite sections, surprising finds, and which audiences they may appeal to. The first four collections highlighted include Shakespeare, Maritime Charts and Atlases, the John Adams Library, and our Local & Family History collection. Throughout October, more curators will be featured. Visit the Collections of Distinction page to meet them and learn more about the library’s collections.