Friday, July 23, 2010

Update on the Brooker Collection Digitization Project

I last reported on our project to digitize the Robert E. Brooker Collection of Early American and Land Use Documents in May. We have just reached a new milestone: over 1,000 documents (1,122 as of this writing) are now available in Boston College's Digital Collections repository. We are over one-third of the way done! Thanks to colleagues in the O'Neill and Law Libraries for bringing this important project to fruition.

Here is one of my favorite little items from the Brooker Collection. It is a calling card which reads: "I am C.R. Powers. Who the [devil] are you?" Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Astronomical Occurrence, ca. 1834

While reviewing metadata for our ongoing project to digitize the law library's Brooker Collection of early American documents, my colleague Dorothea Rees came across an interesting find. Wrapped around a well-used 1834 Farmer's Almanack was a plain paper wrapper on which the Almanack's (anonymous) owner had listed the usual notes about births, deaths, crops, livestock and the weather. But on May 18, 1834, he made the following entry:

"May 18, 1834, a Sunday morning just as Day broke I see a great light as the brightness of the Sun."

One wonders if he had seen a comet or meteor.

These Almanacks are treasure troves of information. In this copy alone one can find the stagecoach schedule from Boston, poems and wise quips, and a long screed about the evils of intemperance. And the owner's marginalia gives us much information about the daily life of a hardworking farmer in New England - comet sightings and all.

Friday, July 2, 2010

An Illuminated Manuscript for the New Millenium

Recently, I viewed a facsimile copy of the Saint John's Bible, a magnificent illuminated manuscript Bible being produced under the auspices of St. John's University. Completely handwritten and hand-illuminated, the volume I saw was breathtaking. It combined ancient techniques, materials, and artistry with modern scripts, illustrations, and themes. How inspiring to see such a project coming to fruition in the digital age!