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Archive for January, 2006

Finding Hyde Collection manuscripts

As amazing as the Hyde Collection’s books are, the manuscripts in the collection are just as spectacular. I asked my colleague, Rick Stattler, to contribute some information on searching the very detailed finding aids he’s created for the manuscript collections.

“Catablog readers may be interested to know that the manuscripts in the Hyde Collection are also being cataloged, in addition to the fine work being done on the books. To see catalog records for the Hyde manuscripts, go to the HOLLIS catalog. Browse for “MS Hyde” under “other call number,” and links to several dozen catalog records from the collection will be displayed.

Detailed finding aids for much of the collection can be viewed easily at OASIS (Online Archival Search Information System), which provides centralized access to thousands of Harvard’s finding aids for archival and manuscript collections. To look at the records for the Hyde Collection, you can enter “MS Hyde” in the Quick Search box at the top of the screen As of this writing, eighteen findings aids are on OASIS.¬† The finding aids on OASIS include most of the highlights of the manuscript collection, such as:

* The Samuel Johnson Letters ( MS Hyde 1), including 746 letters and fragments, comprising almost half of the known surviving letters in his hand.

* An extra-illustrated set of the 1887 edition of Boswell’s Life of Johnson (MS Hyde 76), expanded to thirty-one massive volumes by the insertion of more than five thousand prints and manuscripts.

* The Hester Lynch Piozzi Manuscripts (MS Hyde 35), containing thirty-two items by Johnson’s friend and confidant, many of them still unpublished.

Thirty additional finding aids are still awaiting evulgation (see “John’s Favorite Words” below), but everything should be accessible by the end of the year.

Rick Stattler
Project Manuscript Cataloger”

Published in:John Overholt |on January 10th, 2006 |Comments Off on Finding Hyde Collection manuscripts

What did you say your name was again?

This copy of Rasselas has what looks exactly like the signature of a previous owner, except that the name is ‘Steadfast Bunny’. Our index lists several people with the last name of Bunny, so I guess it’s not impossible, but still I feel strange putting “Bunny, Steadfast, former owner” in my record. That’s not a name, it’s the title of a children’s book!

“…and so, the Steadfast Bunny returned to his warren, having learned a very important lesson about the value of friendship.”

Published in:John Overholt |on January 10th, 2006 |Comments Off on What did you say your name was again?

Miss Wesley and Mrs. Hall

Often I catalog books which have a previous owner’s signature, and since these names represent an important part of the book’s history, they are always recorded in the record I make. Although I try to find a positive match for every name, if all I have is a very common name, it just isn’t possible to know which “J. Smith” owned the book. This case was a happy exception, however. The book has two inscriptions; one in Johnson’s hand, reading simply “Miss Wesley”, and another which says “These books were presented to Mrs. Hall by the author Dr. Johnson, a gift to her niece S. Wesley”. Armed with that information, I checked the index of The letters of Samuel Johnson, which is always a good source for names associated with Johnson.

I got even more than I expected when I found a letter¬†from Johnson to Sarah Wesley, dated October 28, 1783: “Madame: I will have the first day that you mention, come, my dear, on Saturday next, and, if you can, bring your aunt with you, too.” Footnotes to the letter helpfully supplied the birth and death dates for Sarah Wesley and Martha Hall, Sarah’s aunt. The note adds the fascinating tidbit “According to John Telford, SJ ‘greatly admired Mrs. Hall … and wished her to reside under his roof, but she feared that this step would arouse the jealousy of Johnson’s other lady friends.'”

Happily, this letter also resides in the Hyde Collection, so these two sources of information can be consulted simultaneously.

Published in:John Overholt |on January 6th, 2006 |Comments Off on Miss Wesley and Mrs. Hall