Tag Archives: Huntington Library

New Collection: Libraries and Archives

 

New York Public Library

This post announces a new Collection of posts that we are building on the NGSC Blog on working in archives and libraries. The Collection strives to create a place where we continue to share our experiences and questions about applying for fellowships and conducting research in libraries or archives that have holdings of interest to Romanticists.

We are working on a way to redesign our front page to feature a few Collections of posts, but for now it’s best to use the Categories drop-down on the right side menu. Look for Libraries & Archives.

 

Here is what is in our blog’s Libraries and Archives Collection so far:

  1. Kelli Jasper has a great introductory post on the early Spring Semester (January through March) as the season for applying for research fellowships to libraries, including the Newberry, the Huntington, and the Beinecke.
  2. Michele Speitz wrote a post about her adviser’s recommendations and her time researching at The Huntington Library. The part about this post that sticks with me the most is how to get your writing done while on fellowship reading in an archive. What a great reminder that time does not stop while we’re basking in the aura of primary source material.
  3. I’ve written a couple of posts about working in CU Libraries Archives and Special Collections on the Women Poets of the Romantic Period Collection and a little introduction to the Stainforth manuscript. I’m intimately familiar with our collection here at CU, so please send any questions you have my way.
  4. Jacob Leveton–our resident Romanticist art historian–posted on how to use the Yale Center for British Art while working with a William Blake manuscript–the sole complete copy of Jerusalem, no less!
  5. Jacob also posted on how to use the Art Institute of Chicago Prints and Drawings Department. While it looks like he used his research trip to study George Stubbs’ piece “Horse Frightened by a Lion” (1777) and other works featuring horses, there’s a lot more there.
  6. Kelli wrote another post that I will be using to help me navigate researching at the British Library. I am planning to research and “dissertate” there this summer from late May through mid-June.

Forthcoming for this Collection: I am drafting one post on working in the Musées d’Art et D’Histoire and another one on the BGE (Bibliothèque de Génève) in Geneva, Switzerland. Each of those institutions/libraries had their own conveniences and challenges related to research.

Do you have plans to work in a library or archive soon? Maybe a summer research fellowship or a research trip abroad scheduled? Or have you worked in a library or archive that has particularly wonderful materials for Romanticism research that you would like to report on? I’m thinking that perhaps we should write about home institutions as well — they all have a lot to offer that tends to be less visible because right under our noses.

The Itinerant Scholar and a Bit of Sage Advice

Prologue: Advisor to Student

Advisor:

“You should apply to do research at the Huntington next summer, or at the NY Public Library.

Don’t you have family in LA, and New Rochelle? Or was it Manhattan? Both?

The Huntington is an amazing place to get work done—not just research but also writing. Everyone goes to the BL [British Library] but the Huntington also has outstanding holdings for scholars working on Romanticism.”

Student:

“Yes, I do have family near LA, but they live in Orange County. And you’re right about my relations on the east coast, too. My great aunt has a place on the island and her son, Michael, lives in New Rock City with his wife.”

Advisor:

“Ok, great. Draft your fellowship application materials and send them to me this weekend. Let’s start with the Huntington. If you get money, perfect, you’ll go there; if not, let’s shoot for NY since residing in OC would mean a commute. That’d be a waste of your time.”

Actual Log: Goodwill Huntington

The advisor was right. The rare books I consulted during my time as a fellow and reader at the Huntington Library’s Munger Research Center have proved invaluable to my dissertation project. However, from my first day on the Huntington’s sweeping and gorgeously curated grounds, the congenial spirit cultivated by the reader services staff impressed me most. After hearing a handful of stories about graduate students enduring long waits or general disregard at renowned research institutions, the Huntington handedly dispelled this academic urban legend.

Given my enduring interest in both Romanticism and science and the history of science and technology, I punctuated my visits to the Ahmanson Rare Books Reading Room with trips to the Burndy collection. The Burndy Library and Dibner History of Science Program house fascinating historical documents and artifacts that allowed me to supplement my archival research with necessary secondary readings.

When I needed to take a break from the reading room, I walked through my favorite of the Huntington’s botanical gardens. Otherwise, I strolled through the many beautifully curated exhibits on display. True to form, I was captivated by the permanent exhibit “Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World” now showcased in the newly renovated Dibner Hall of the History of Science. Additionally, during the month and a half that I was in residence at the Huntington, I was also lucky enough to explore various rotating exhibitions, many of which catered to my broader interests in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. First, I visited “Born to Endless Night: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by William Blake Selected by John Frame” and “Revisiting the Regency: England, 1811–1820.” Just before my time there ended, I took special pleasure in frequenting the exhibit “Pre-Raphaelites and Their Followers: British and American Drawings from The Huntington’s Collections,” which was curated by my friend and colleague Matthew H Fisk.

All such glorious distractions aside, I’ll leave my reader with one very sage piece of advice. Returning again to borrowed words, I would like to share with you the most valuable and counterintuitive information my advisor imparted to me before I made my first foray into the Munger Research Center.

Epilogue: “Try not to spend everyday at The Huntington performing research”

Advisor:

“It will be tempting to spend your allotted time (in the Ahmanson Rare Books Reading Room, from 8:30 to noon, and more, from 1-5) on nothing but transcription, research, reading. I battle the same impulse myself. But I would never write a page if I left this impulse unchecked.

Break up each day. You have a dissertation to finish. Research is of course an integral component and necessary to the completion of your project, but keep in mind that mining the archive is only part of what you do, and thus should only be part of your daily routine during your 6 weeks on fellowship. This time will give you the opportunity to forge habits that will help you to remain productive and to lead a balanced life after graduate school.

If you still work well in the morning, settle into a schedule where you write in the productive atmosphere of the Huntington during the am, and then, in the afternoons, gather your documents as ye may.”