At long last, the timeline has been posted on our project site! However, I’m not entirely happy with the way it displays on the page. The timeline itself seems so small and surrounded by massive amounts of white space, which cuts off or distorts some of the content inside the timeline. After a conversation with my incredibly patient brother-in-law (who writes and reads code on a daily basis like it actually makes sense), he told me that my problem with the way the timeline is displayed has nothing to do with the embed code from Timeline JS. Apparently the timeline is displaying in the space that the WordPress page has given it, which isn’t very much. I know roughly where to look to change that (probably), but I don’t think that we have the permissions to actually do it. That said, I’m just happy the timeline is completed and on the site!
Savannah is still taming Juxtapose, but throughout this week and weekend the two of us will be able to craft the pages we’ve planned for individual yearbooks. We’re rapidly approaching the end of this project!
The past week has been obnoxiously busy, so I haven’t gotten much more work done on the timeline. But on the bright side, I successfully presented my English capstone project, so now I don’t have to worry about that anymore! It’s only one thing that I can cross off of my intimidating to-do list, but I’ll take what I can get right now. This week I want to (fingers crossed) finish the timeline so that Savannah and I can start focusing on the pages for the yearbooks after we finish our individual aspects of the project. We have all of the information we want to share, and now we’re just working on putting it all together!
After creating a rough schedule to keep the project on track, Savannah and I have been working with the different digital tools we want to use on the project site. She’s been working with Juxtapose JS, and I’ve been tackling Timeline JS. Over the past week, I’ve been attempting to figure exactly what information I want to put in the timeline. I also spent more time than I thought I would getting images from the yearbooks to use both on the project site and in the timeline, although that could just be because I kept getting distracted by the content of the books and forgetting that I was on a mission. Basically, the timeline will place The Cohongoroota in a larger historical context, but this is also where we’ll explain the gaps in publication and set the stage to look at the yearbooks in more detail.
I also spent some time messing around with our project site in what was probably a futile attempt to avoid problems later on, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t spending all of my time looking at the information we have and forgetting about the project site.
Both Savannah and I graduate this semester, so life is a little stressful at the moment, but we’re moving forward and I’m looking forward to when we can share the more visually interesting parts of our project. We have a plan. We can do this.
After playing around with some of the information from Dissenting Academies, I decided that I would work with the borrowing records from Homerton in 1830. Scraping and cleaning up the data took longer than I anticipated it would, but following the tutorials proved to be relatively easy and I managed to complete that part of the assignment with minimal levels of frustration. The frustration actually only kicked in when I tried to embed my Kumu project into this post. I’m still not sure what was wrong or how I eventually fixed it, but the map is here and it’s working and I’m not going to think too much about how that happened.
Even after Kumu decided to start a fight with me, I really like the idea of being able to visualize connections among books and people. I think that tools like Kumu (when it decides to cooperate) make it much easier to see how specific books actually create these links across people and space. I could see myself using this tool again at some point, maybe without so much data scraping, but I think that Kumu and I need some time apart before we can work together amicably again.
For this assignment, I have to admit, I was more than a little daunted by the amount of technology I would be working with. I’ve used Zotero and the ESTC before, albeit to a lesser extent than what this assignment called for, but trying to figure out OpenRefine (really just installing it) was not a pleasant task. But after I started actually working with my data, I found that the tutorial worked wonders, and sifting through the information was easier than I thought it would be.
The book I chose to work with, “Aristotle’s Masterpiece,” is a lovable source I had worked with for my history capstone project. I’ve actually looked at it’s records in the ESTC before, so I knew that there would be several cities to map, so here they are!
My first concern with this assignment was whether or not I would be able to find a book with provenance to research. Luckily, all I needed was to send one text to my dad, because then I was introduced to “Lietuviu Kalbos Gramatika,” a Lithuanian grammar book that had belonged to his father. Starting my research on previous owners was relatively easy because I was able to get information about how my grandfather had gotten the book and how he felt about going to the school where he had used it. My great-grandfather immigrated to the US from Lithuania in 1907, so I think that this played a role in the attempt to keep the Lithuanian language alive to some extent, and has kept the book in the family.
At the bottom right-hand corner of almost all of the pages of the book, I could see the letters “EZB” punched through the pages. On the edges of the book, I could also see “EB” written there, which makes me think that at some point there was another owner with these initials, but I wasn’t able to find any information about it.
I had forgotten that Lithuanian is a strange language, so finding information about where “Lietuviu Kalbos Gramatika” was printed was harder than I had anticipated it would be. Most of the sources I found on Marijampole, Lithuania and its printing house weren’t able to be translated into English. The introduction to the book, however, gave me a lot of information about the specific purpose of the book, which made it easier to see how the intent differed from how this little grammar book was actually used. Admittedly, there wasn’t much of a difference between the intended use and actual use of the book. The author, Rev. Dr. Jonas Starkus, was perhaps a bit more enthusiastic about students learning Lithuanian than the students themselves. I was also glad to see that the school had institutional stamps on the title page so I didn’t have to rely solely on family history to find Marianapolis Preparatory School, and background information about the school and its mission.
I’m not sure that I feel any differently about marginalia and annotation in books as a result of this assignment, but I do like the idea that books can have histories that are just as involved as the history of people themselves. I’ve always liked seeing notes from previous owners written in my books, but taking note of marginalia usually happens as a passing, “what were they thinking?” instead of thinking about where that book had been and what purpose it served. So I think that it isn’t that I feel or think differently about marginalia and annotation, I’m just thinking about them in a different context; the context of the book itself and not whether or not that note makes me laugh as I read. Now that I’ve glanced at the syllabus again (after writing the rest of this paragraph), I realize that this is, almost verbatim, the goal of this class, so I would call this assignment a success!
For this assignment I decided return to the book from the first assignment, “Memoirs of the Life of the Late Charles Lee, Esq.,” which was published in 1792.
I started by opening the book to it’s middle page, thinking I would have the best chance of finding evidence of how it was bound there. But first I noticed that the book was in really good condition and that the pages were trimmed. It seems that this book was stitched together at one point, before being rebound with the sturdier binding it has now.
Looking at the pages, I could see chainlines running vertically, so I knew that the paper was laid and not wove. I also happened to find a watermark on the first page I looked at. The watermarks in Lee’s memoirs show up at the gutter of the upper edge of the leaves, so with one of many references to the Gaskell reading, I figured that I had a decent chance of the book being octavo.
When I started to look at the signatures, I began making notes of everything hoping that what I was looking at would eventually make sense. I also noticed that this book has catchwords. The preface, which was only two pages long, had the signatures b and b2, and the first page of text was marked with a B. The following pages had signatures up to B4, four pages without a signature, and then a page with C for the signature, and this pattern continued throughout the book. This told me that there were 8 leaves per gathering, which made me feel pretty good about having an octavo book in my hands.
This book has 452 pages, or 226 leaves, which leads me to believe that it took about 28 sheets of paper to make!
During my meeting with Shepherd University’s archivist Christy Toms I learned a lot about the archives and special collections housed at the Scarborough Library. The oldest book that they have cataloged was published in 1792 (“Memoirs of the Life of the Late Charles Lee Esquire”), but Christy also told me that the library hasn’t always documented the provenance of the items they collect, so it’s quite possible that there are older books somewhere in the special collections.
To see an example of reader use in a book, Christy showed me a copy of the book “A History of Shepherd College,” which was published in 1967. Shepherd student Martha Campbell signed and embossed her name on the first page of the book, and had Shepherd professor Dr. Slonaker to sign the title page. Other than this display of ownership, there was no marginalia left in the book. The lack of visible use of this book tells me that, for Martha, owning the book was more important than engaging with it and its contents. So far Christy has found little evidence of reader use in materials other than yearbooks, but she hopes to find more marginalia and marks of ownership as she combs through the rare book collection.
Most of the archival items that the Scarborough Library houses were donated to the them by people in the area with the hope that the archives would preserve the materials better than they could manage themselves. One such collection is the Folk Collection (as in George B. Folk, not folk culture or heritage), which Shepherd acquired in the 1970s. The collection consists of the contents of Folk’s personal library. In order to keep to collection, Shepherd had to promise to keep all of Folk’s books together and not break up any parts of the collection. While Christy took me to see the collection on the shelves, she mentioned that the books are sorted by their Library of Congress call number and that she wishes that they knew specifically how Folk kept the books on his own shelves in order to show them in that order instead. Topically, Folk’s collection of books seem to be about West Virginia’s regional history and genealogy, but I think that not knowing how Folk actually stored his collection leaves a bit of mystery as to how he thought about his collection as items that he owned instead of how the words on the pages interested him.