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Archive for August, 2009

A Monument-al grand opening

Two very big pieces of news today: both the physical and virtual versions of my exhibition A Monument More Durable Than Brass are open to visitors today. If you can, come by our Edison & Newman room anytime Houghton Library is open to see some of the collection’s greatest treasures in person. If you’re interested in Samuel Johnson, it’s an experience not to be missed.

If you can’t make it, however, be sure to check out the online version of the exhibition for a close-up look at all the books, manuscripts, letters, and artifacts on display.

This is my first, and just Houghton’s second, online exhibition, so please send your feedback to me at I’m very proud that we’ve managed to have the online exhibition open simultaneously with the physical one, and I want to thank Enrique Diaz of the Harvard College Library Office of Communication for all his hard work, and for his beautiful and elegantly functional design.

Published in:John Overholt |on August 26th, 2009 |Comments Off on A Monument-al grand opening

The new catalog is here!

I just had the great pleasure of opening the first carton of the published catalog for my exhibition, and it’s a pretty sharp-looking publication if I do say so myself. It won’t officially go on sale from Harvard University Press until February, but if you happen to be coming to the symposium, there will be copies for sale at the opening reception for the very reasonable price of $35. It’s 124 pages, lavishly illustrated in color, and features, in addition to the exhibition items, an essay on Johnson by Harvard Professor James Engell and on the Hydes by William Zachs.

Catalog dust jacket

Catalog Cover

Catalog title page

You’d probably have to be a cataloger to understand my excitement, but this means I’m going to get my own Library of Congress authority record!

Published in:John Overholt |on August 21st, 2009 |Comments Off on The new catalog is here!

One longs to say something

I’ve mentioned before our substantial collection of books annotated by Johnson’s friend and biographer Hester Thrale Piozzi. I’m tremendously pleased that Harvard’s Open Collections Program will be digitizing a number of volumes from that collection as part of a project on readers and evidence of their reading. The collection is still in development, but the first of Mrs. Piozzi’s books to be digitized (and also one of the most interesting) is now available.

Hester Piozzi and James Boswell were rivals for Johnson’s attention during his life, and for his legacy after his death, so it’s particularly interesting to read her often combative annotations to Boswell’s Life of Johnson. All four volumes have been digitized in high resolution from cover to cover, and I hope they’ll be of great use to scholars and students around the world.

Vol. 1
Vol. 2
Vol. 3
Vol. 4

Of course, if you’d like to visit this set in person, don’t forget that you can do so in my exhibition A Monument More Durable Than Brass: The Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson, opening August 26th.

Published in:John Overholt |on August 19th, 2009 |Comments Off on One longs to say something

In a fortnight’s time…

Just a reminder that we’re just two weeks away from the opening of our exhibition A Monument More Durable Than Brass: The Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson (make sure you click on the arrows on the right) and our symposium Johnson at 300. You can read more about the latter in this just-published story from HCL News.

Published in:John Overholt |on August 13th, 2009 |Comments Off on In a fortnight’s time…