Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal, and #ColorOurCollections: Day 2

fb-cover_828x315_nyam

Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal has quite a curious publication story.  We’ve transformed six images from this stunning eighteenth-century botanical first published in 1737 in London into coloring sheets.

blackwell_melon_colored

Blackwell’s melon, colored by library staff member, Emily Miranker.

Aberdeen-born Elizabeth Blackwell (1700-1758), the daughter of a successful merchant, married her cousin Alexander Blackwell at age 28.  Though trained in reading Greek and Latin, Alexander practiced as a physician in Aberdeen, without appropriate permissions. The couple relocated to London when his right to practice medicine in Aberdeen was challenged.  In London, Blackwell opened a printing shop—again without the proper credentials, and again with less than stellar results.  When he couldn’t pay his business debts, he was installed at the city’s Highgate Prison.

Elizabeth, by then a mother, needed to find a way to support her family.  The printer’s shop she operated with her husband had made her a savvy observer of the book marketplace.  She realized that a new high quality herbal including New World species didn’t yet exist.  She took a room next to the Chelsea Physic Gardens, which exhibited some of the new American plants.  Later, she ferried the finished drawings to the prison at Highgate, where her husband supplied the Latin and Greek names of the plants and their uses. Some American plants, like sassafras, native to Virginia, were given only the English and Latin names.

Alexander also offered counsel on the plants’ medicinal uses.  The text accompanying sweet gum, here, “sweet cistus of candy” attests that it “Stays Vomiting” and that “the Fume of it Comforts the Brain” (we’re hoping that these same effects can be said about the practice of coloring these images).

blackwell_watermarkblackwell3Elizabeth was not only responsible for the drawings themselves, but did the engravings of the drawings on copper plates for printing.  In many copies, she hand-colored every single plate.  The images were first published at a rate of four a week, beginning in 1737, but through her own connections and market-savvy, she soon secured a book deal.  With the profits, Elizabeth was able to secure Alexander’s release from Highgate Prison, though their reunion was temporary (later he was put to death in Sweden for treason, though that is another story).

This week, we’re grateful that our own copy of Blackwell’s Curious Herbal is gloriously pristine so that we could transform them into a bouquet of coloring sheets.

In need of color specifics?  Blackwell’s text gives vivid, precise descriptions of the hues of her selected plants.  Great Bindweed (v.1, plate 38), which blooms in the late summer, has leaves that are “a willow green” with “Flowers white,” while her Female Piony possesses “leaves a grass green and flowers a fire crimson.”

femalepiony_text_watermarkblackwell5

We leave it to you imaginative colorists to fill in these pages in any range of glorious hues you like!

While we’re on a plant theme, let’s take a look at some beautiful coloring pages from participating institutions.

nybg-coloring-book

New York Botanical Garden includes this lovely sunflower in their coloring book. Source: Basillius Besler, Hortus Eystettensis (1613).

williamscollege_dehistoriastirpiumleonhartfuchs1542

Williams College Libraries includes this ready-to-color image from Leonhart Fuchs’ De historia stirpium (1542).

Don’t forget to check out more coloring books at colorourcollections.org!

#ColorOurCollections 2017: Day 1

fb-cover_828x315_nyam

The second annual #ColorOurCollections week has officially begun! From February 6th through 10th, libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions are showcasing their collections in the form of free coloring sheets. Follow the hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms to be introduced to new library collections, find out more about your favorites, and have some fun. Throughout the week, we will be featuring new coloring books from other institutions on the blog, and be sure to visit the #ColorOurCollections website for the list of participants and a collection of coloring books created for the campaign.

We also plan to showcase the work of the talented colorists out there! Share your filled-in sheets on social media with the hashtag #ColorOurCollections for a chance to get featured on our blog.

Our coloring book this year features hooved creatures from Ulisse Aldrovani’s Qvadrvpedvm omniv bisvlcorv historia, 1621; beautiful botanicals from Elizabeth Blackwell’s A curious herbal, 1739; and a dashing tattooed fellow from Ferdinand Hebra’s Atlas der Hautkrankheiten, 1856-1876. Download our full coloring book and check back throughout the week for background on our sources.

newyorkacademymedicine_coloringbook_2017-1

The coloring content shared by collections so far tell us we are in for an incredible week! We’re particularly taken with Europeana’s Art Nouveau coloring book. The style lends itself beautifully to coloring sheets and we cannot wait to get started on the nasturtium design.

europeana-art-nouveau-colouring-book-3

The Biodiversity Heritage Library’s new coloring book features the work of great naturalists such Pierre Belon, Mark Catesby, and John Gould.

2017bhlcoloringbookpt3-2

We’re excited to see some new participants this year! The Rosenbach created several coloring sheets based on bookplates from their exhibition The Art of Ownership.

rosenbach-bookplate2

Keep following #ColorOurCollections on your favorite social media outlets. Happy coloring!

#ColorOurCollections: February 6-10, 2017

Get your crayons and colored pencils ready, we’re gearing up to #ColorOurCollections again! This year’s library social media coloring extravaganza will happen February 6th-10th. During that week, libraries, archives, special collections, and other cultural institutions around the world will share coloring sheets based on materials in their collections.  You will find these posts on social media with the hashtag #ColorOurCollections, as well as on our new website, colorourcollections.org.

Last year, more than 210 libraries and cultural institutions participated, representing 7 countries (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand). Institutions, let’s make it even bigger this year. If you work in a library or special collection, join us in this fun initiative! Find out how to participate here.

If you can’t wait and want to sharpen those coloring skills, try your hand at one of our new coloring sheets. This illustration of 26 notable women comes from the pamphlet Famous women of the world published by the Pepsin Syrup Company, circa 1920.

capturecoc

 

Winter/Spring 2017 Catalog: Events with a Unique Perspective

library-programming-winter-spring-2017-thumbWelcome to The New York Academy of Medicine Library’s Winter/Spring 2017 cultural programming.  Today we launch a new season of events with a unique perspective on the history and culture of medicine and health, and what they mean for the future.

The upcoming season includes talks by prominent authors, historians and artists. Highlights include science writer Harriet Washington on the role of microbes in mental health (March 15), historian Lisa Rosner on the controversial history of vaccine advocacy starting in the 1700s (April 6), food journalist Sarah Lohman on garlic’s journey from a tuberculosis remedy to a food seasoning (June 5), and science writer Mary Roach on her new book GRUNT: The Curious Science of Humans at War (June 12).

Legacies of War: Medical Innovations and Impacts,” our special 2017 event series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American entry into WWI, will explore how the experience of war has prompted medical innovation, including surgical techniques, prosthetics, ambulances, and trauma care. Speakers will also address the impact of conflict on the minds and bodies of soldiers and civilian populations, past and present. This series commences On February 21, with Prof. Margaret Humphreys (Duke University) speaking on “The Marrow of Tragedy: Disease and Diversity in Civil War Medicine.”

ladieshomejournal_nov-1918_cover_watermark

To ensure the sustainability of our programs, we have added a nominal fee for our events. A number of events throughout the year remain free due to the generosity of our sponsors. Discounts continue to be available to our valued Friends of the Rare Book Room and Academy Fellows and Members, and we welcome students to attend for free.

Download the Winter/Spring 2017 programming catalog for more details. To register, click the names of events in the catalog, or visit www.NYAM.org/events.

We look forward to seeing you throughout the year.

Image sources:

Welcome to Year of the Rooster: 新年快乐

By Emily Miranker, Project Coordinator

Growing up in the very multicultural city of San Francisco, Chinese New Year has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s bright and noisy, with dancing, fantastic animals, cymbals, and vibrant costumes.

rooster-usp-stamp

The vivacity and strength that the rooster symbolizes, prevalent in many traditions beyond Chinese astrology and the Greco-Roman West, is evident in the cheerful design by the late Clarence Lee. Lee designed an entire series of twelve stamps for the Chinese zodiac cycle, starting with the Year of the Rooster in 1992.[i]

The Year of the Rooster starts on the 28th thanks to a (legendary) challenge set by an emperor of China (for a fuller and charming retelling of the story, click here). Briefly, the emperor told all the animals to race across a river. The first twelve to reach the far bank would have a year named after them – these twelve years make up the zodiac. Famously, the trickster rat caught a ride on the powerful ox, and leapt off his head at the last minute onto the far bank thus coming in first. This year’s star, the rooster, found a raft and came across the river on it along with a goat, who cleared weeds from their path, and monkey, who paddled the raft. The rooster was awarded the eighth year in the zodiac in honor of his resourcefulness and teamwork.

In addition to the above qualities, the Chinese believe roosters symbolize moral fortitude and protection. Their role as protectors may originate from the habit of watching for the day to return; heralded by their crowing at dawn. Scientists have actually discovered that, in fact, it’s not the first light of morning that triggers roosters crowing (they can crow at any time of the day; how much and when depends on breed and personality).  Rather, it’s a roosters internal body clock.[ii] This watchful quality spoke not only to the Chinese, but to the ancient Greeks for whom the rooster was a symbol of the god of healing, Aesclepius.

nyam_building_187a

The god of medicine and physician, Aesclepius is depicted along with his daughter, Hygeia, goddess of health, over the entrance to the New York Academy of Medicine.

Aesclepius sometimes took the form of a rooster when appearing to supplicants, and the bird was also sacrificed in his honor. As it’s a symbol of restoring health, watching to keep illness and evil at bay, the rooster is one of many health and medicine icons that decorate the interior of the Academy building.

lobby-ceiling-rooster

In this painted ceiling ornamentation from our lobby, a rooster dances with a dog, also sacred to Aesclepius. Like the rooster, the dog stands for watchfulness, driving away death.

Other roosters you’ll find in our library include this rooster, with his hen and chicks, from the 1536 Hortus Sanitatis, a natural history from Germany.

Jumping fifty years ahead, still from Germany, we have one rooster with fantastic plumage and an eerily long tongue for a bird, and his more sedate and regale fellow. They feature in a cook book by Marx Rumpolt, head cook to the Elector of Mainz, which includes nearly 2,000 recipes and instructions on how to make wine.

The above rooster (mid-squawk?) is from the third of a five volume set, the Historia Animalium, the most famous work of Conrad Gessner. Gessner was a 16th-century Swiss physician and naturalist. The woodcuts in our 1555 edition of the third volume were hand-colored and have many of the birds’ French names added by a reader of the past. Gessner did draw, but most of the woodcuts in his volumes were the work of others. Their identities are largely unknown, except for Lucas Schan, an expert fowler, who drew images of birds.[iii]

For the grande finale, my favorite rooster is this glorious French fellow, the Coq Gallante, who is just a decoration made of plaster and not an actual fowl, atop a sumptuous Victorian savory pie featured in The Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery by Theodore Garrett (1898). The meat pie is surrounded by real, edible game birds, mini pies, and cooked eggs on a bed of parsley. ­Monsieur Gallante’s sash says, “A Votre Sante;” French for, “To your good health!” I can think of no better wish for the New Year.

References:
[i] Gregg K. Kakesako. “Clarence Lee, designer of New Years stamps, diesHonolulu Star Advertiser, January 30, 2015. Accessed 1/4/17.

[ii] Lee, Jane J. “How a Rooster Knows to Crow at Dawn,” National Geographic. March 19, 2013.

[iii] S. Kusukawa. “The Sources for Gessner’s pictures for the Historia animaliumAnnals of Science, Vol. 67, No. 3, July 2010. 322-323.

The Homegrown Table: American Cookbook Highlights in the Academy Library

By Anne Garner, Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting renowned chef James Kent in the Rare Book Room.  Chef Kent is interested in the history of American cooking, and as I was selecting highlights for his visit, I was reminded–again!—of the depth and variety our American food holdings.  Here are a few of our favorite early American cookbooks from our stacks (a later post will look at late 19th and early 20th-century highlights.)

American Cookery

simmons_americancookery_1804_watermark

Title page of American Cookery by Amelia Simmons.

The Academy library has one of only four copies in the United States of the slim third edition of Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery, long considered the first homegrown American cookbook. The book’s intriguing title page, modified only slightly from the 1796 first edition, credits the book’s authorship to one “Amelia Simmons, an American orphan.”  The author’s nod to her Americanness is one of the earliest to occur in print—and possibly the earliest in culinary sources.

American Cookery likely drew from manuscript cookbooks with recipes known for some time, and now appearing in print. The recipes in these pages were known throughout the colonies and appealed to Americans living both north and south; they made use of thriving American crops, including corn, peas and beans. Recipes for pumpkin pie, American citron, and an adventurous chowder, composed of fried pork, fish and crackers, were recorded here in print for the first time.

 

The Virginia Housewife

Another early and influential American cookbook was authored by Mary Randolph, a Virginia housewife turned entrepreneur whose culinary creations drew generously on local crops. Before the publication of Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife in 1824, many home cooks in Virginia relied on English cookbooks, but found these sources lacking in recipes drawing on local plant sources.  Randolph earned her culinary chops—and her nickname, “the Queen” —while supervising the cooking in the kitchen of her boarding house in Richmond.  When she retired, she collected her recipes and published them. Randolph had a soft spot for bread; recipes for cakes and biscuits occupy a lengthy section of the book, and include instructions for making batter cakes (using hominy and cornmeal), “Apoquiniminc Cakes” (beaten biscuits), and corn bread.  Other favorites include classic southern dishes like sweet potatoes, peach pie, boiled turnip tops, ham, and apple fritters.

randolph_virginiahousewife_1824_watermark

Pages from The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph.

Praktisches Kochbuch

A number of cookbooks published during the 19th-century in America targeted immigrant audiences, hoping to minimize their anxiety about maintaining their own food traditions while embracing their new country’s agricultural resources and culinary influences. A favorite of these is Henrietta Davidis’ Praktisches Kochbuch. First published in 1844, Praktisches Kochbuch, or Practical Cookbook, was easily the most popular cookbook of the nineteenth century in Germany.  It was republished in innumerable editions well into the twentieth century, including a number of American editions, which were brought out by a Milwaukee publishing house seeking to tap the large German-American community in Wisconsin. In our 1897 edition, Davidis clarifies her intention to write a cookbook that combines German and American elements in her preface:

Ein deutsches Kochbuch in Amerika soll nicht dutsch oder amerikanisch, sondern deutsch-amerikanisch sein.  [A German cookbook in America should not be German or American, but German-American.]

For easy reading, the introduction and recipes were published in German, with English translations next to the name of the dish. Indexes in both German and English made it easy for new students of English to use the book.

Left, title page of Henrietta Davidis’ Praktisches Kochbuch. Right, Portrait of Henrietta Davidis.

Hoffman Family Cookbook

A number of manuscript cookbooks in our collection add dimension to the many American stories of cooking in the immigrant kitchen. A handwritten collection of recipes kept by the Hoffman family, papermakers by trade who opened their first mill in 1766 in what is now Hoffmanville, Maryland, dates between 1835-1850.

The manuscript contains a fascinating mix of ethnically German recipes, many suggestive of the regional culinary style now called “Pennsylvania Dutch,” and then-standard American recipes, some of which show the writer, apparently a German immigrant, struggling to master an unfamiliar cuisine.  Recipes for “sowar crout” and “soft rivals” (small dumplings) in milk soup suggest that the Hoffman household continued to eat German dishes, while recipes for pound cake, pumpkin pie and ketchup attest to a desire to incorporate the influences of their new country at the table.

hoffman_manuscriptcookbook_c1835-70_pumpkinpie_watermark

Pumpkin pie recipe from the Hoffman family cookbooks.

matt-jozwiak_chef

Matt Jozwiak, our indispensable Chef Curator

In 2017, we are working with our volunteer Chef Curator, Matt Jozwiak, on a variety of projects to increase awareness and use of our culinary collections. Matt is exploring historical recipes, helping us develop food-related events, and coordinating outreach to the culinary community to help them access the resources we hold. Two of his adapted recipes featured at the Academy’s 2016 Gala.

Matt also works with the Academy’s food policy group, which focuses on better food procurement for East Harlem community based organizations.  He is also currently developing his own nonprofit, which is focused on the better use of food waste.

We’re looking forward to serving up a number of collaborations with Matt this year, continuing a long tradition of great American food.

Event Announcement: The Roles of Physicians in 19th Century Polar Exploration

Our Friends of the Rare Book Room have traveled from Louis XIV’s Paris to early twentieth century Ellis Island.  On Wednesday, February 1, we invite you to join us for the Arctic.  In this special Friends event, Dr. Douglas Kondziolka will discuss his collection of Arctic and Antarctic polar exploration books, maps, and letters from the era of the late eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. Dr. Kondziolka is a member of the neurosurgery faculty at New York University as Professor and Vice-Chair for Clinical Research.

Dr. Kondziolka’s focus on the Arctic was stimulated first by his Canadian father’s tenure with the US Air Force at their Canadian base in the Arctic in the 1950s, and later by the popular historian Pierre Berton and his book “The Arctic Grail.” Dr. Kondziolka’s collection, which began in 1994, was fostered by several trips to the arctic to visit important exploration sites. The collection documents the important steps in Arctic discovery, both for a Northwest Passage to Asia, and to the North Pole itself.

Dr. Kondziolka’s collection tells the story of a cast of unique characters, and among them many physicians, who dared to venture into lands unknown.  A few of these individuals are highlighted below:

Alexander Mackenzie
Alexander Mackenzie was the first European to travel overland to the Pacific Ocean, proving that there was no way to get there entirely by water.  His publication was received by Thomas Jefferson, who spurred him to send Lewis and Clark to “solve the American West.”

kondziolka

Elisha Kent Kane
A few decades later, the Americans joined in the search for the North Pole. A bored physician, Elisha Kent Kane, was the first successful American polar explorer. His book became the #2 best seller during the Civil War, just behind The Bible.

Charles Francis Hall
Spurred by Kane’s adventures, a Cincinnati newspaperman, Charles Francis Hall, ventured up to the Arctic.  He was the first to go native, and brought Inuit back to New York to rave reviews. On his last voyage, despite being able to reach far up the coast of Greenland, his men mutinied and poisoned him, preferring to make their way back home.

4

We hope you will join us on February 1 for this special event. Click here to register.

Friends of the Rare Book Room are invited to come at 6:00pm to look at selected books with the speaker in the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room prior to the talk. This event is part of our series for Friends. To join the Friends please click here.

Become a Friend of the Rare Book Room

Auld Lang Syne, traditionally played at the start of a new year, begins with a question: “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?”  The song that follows is generally thought to be a call to remember long-standing friendships.

As we begin 2017, please consider joining the Friends of the Rare Book Room. Whether you have come to the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room to use some of our 550,000 books and manuscripts, have stopped by for a tour or speaker event, or enjoy our digital offerings, we consider you part of the New York Academy of Medicine Library community.

Friends’ support ensures the ongoing vitality of the Library and its collections. Friends help underwrite the Library’s public programs and outreach activities; the acquisition, conservation, and cataloging of remarkable historical materials; and digitization of our key Library treasures.

As thanks for being a Friend, you will be entitled to discounted prices to special lectures, programs, excursions, and receptions, including private viewings of the collections. Below are a few of the many exciting events we have planned in 2017.

1/11:      Private tour of the Morgan Library Literary Collections

Open to all Friends of the Rare Book Room members; advance registration required.  Just a few spaces left so act quickly!

A special behind-the-scenes exclusive visit to Morgan Library & Museum for a guided tour of the museum’s literary collection and meeting with John Bidwell, Curator of Printed Books and Bindings.

fluddr_integrum_winds_1631winthrop_watermark

1/28:      “How a Colonial Family Read: The Winthrops and Their Books”

Speaker: Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of European History, Princeton University

When John Winthrop and his family left England for Massachusetts, they brought books, in quantity, and they went on buying more. This lecture will use evidence in the Winthrops’ copies of their books to show how four generations of male and female Winthrops read, and track the story of an early American family over time.

2/1:        “The Role of Physicians in 19th Century Polar Exploration”

Speaker: Douglas Kondziolka, NYU Vice-Chair for Clinical Research

Douglas Kondziolka collects arctic and antarctic polar exploration materials; this talk will focus on the story of the many physicians, who dared to venture into lands unknown.

3/30:      “Anomaly and Imagination”

Speaker: Rosamond Purcell, artist and photographer

Acclaimed photographer Purcell has been interested in fantastical imagery from early modern books for much of her career. Descriptions and images of conjoined twins, one-eyed giant cyclops, and dog-headed cannibals appear in manuscripts and books. In medical collections, their biological counterparts are preserved as effigies in wax and as skeletons of conjoined twins, giants and dwarfs. This talk will cover ideas about hybrid beings, the illusion of the monstrous and the fluidity of natural forms.

dickinson_birthatlas-page-001forfriendslecture_watermark

4/13:      The Annual Friends of the Rare Book Room Lecture: “Art in the Service of Medical Education”

Speaker: Rose Holz, historian of medicine and sexuality at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she serves as the Associate Director of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program and Director of Humanities in Medicine.

Professor Rose Holz examines the life of Dr. Robert L. Dickinson, gynecologist, investigating the hugely influential Birth Series sculptures he created in 1939 with fellow artist Abram Belskie. The Birth Series both shaped modern gynecological education for aspiring practitioners and educated lay individuals in matters of pregnancy and reproduction and gave rise to new understandings of pregnancy radically different from those that held sway in the 1800s.

friends

For more details about Friends programs throughout the year contact frbr@nyam.org.

Happy New Year from the New York Academy of Medicine Library!

Images:

Getting to Know GreyLit: National Network of Libraries of Medicine Grant Recipients

T229_logo_gl18he New York Academy of Medicine hosted the 18th International Conference on Grey Literature: Leveraging Diversity in Grey Literature (GL18) on November 28 – 29, 2016.  The Academy received a professional development grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) to help support attendance at the conference.  Five grant awardees, students and information professionals, were chosen to attend the conference for one or both days.  Post-event, the awardees stated that the conference had a remarkable impact on their understanding of grey literature.

In their own words, awardees describe their experience at the GL18 conference:

Jennifer Kaari
Library Manager | Mount Sinai

I was interested in attending the 18th International Conference on Grey Literature because like so many librarians, I often find that grey literature is a missing piece of the research process. I was struck during the conference by how apt diversity was a theme for a grey literature conference. Grey literature is a wildly diverse arena, from the many formats and publication types that fall under the umbrella to the wide range of fields that generate and use grey literature. Many of these were represented in the conference, from the law to nuclear science to community initiatives.

As highlighted by the presentations on the Indigenous Law Portal and LGBT communities, grey literature can also give a voice to communities that may be left out of traditional scholarly publishing. I came away with the understanding that leveraging grey literature is essential to ensuring that these voices are included in research and the policy decisions that result.

Perhaps most importantly for my personal development, I left the conference with a bright new idea about a topic in grey literature to research in the upcoming year. I’m looking forward to attending future conferences- hopefully as a speaker! Thanks to the NN/LM for this wonderful opportunity.

Sharon Whitfield
Emerging Technologies Librarian | Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

The 2016 Grey Literature conference, titled Leveraging Diversity, had at least one presentation of interest to everyone.  The presentation topics ranged from open access to LGBT+.

As this was my first GreyLit conference, I was surprised to find a very welcoming community of researchers, librarians and professionals who all were invested in researching, reporting and making grey literature accessible.  During the first day, I found the presentations inspiring. The presentation showed how grey literature impacted the various constituencies at each institution and the importance of making the literature available to the populations.

On the second day, the conference had more of a practical application by addressing open access and researchers’ needs. An example was the Data Science Panel. The Data Science panel, which included two librarians and a researcher, addressed research needs that are occurring at my own institution.  The panel provided new technologies that I am currently exploring for institutional adoption.  Yet, it was hearing the importance of access to grey literature and datasets by the researcher, which really help me to understand the role the library should be playing to support researchers at my own institution.

poster-session-21

Poster session at GL18. Photo by Danielle Aloia.

Cheryl Branche, MD, MLS
P/T Adjunct Reference Librarian | Health Professions Library Hunter College, CUNY Brookdale Campus

On Tuesday, November 29, I viewed the engaging poster presentations and discussed the posters with the presenters, who hailed from France, Italy, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, and the United States. Three posters interested me:

  • Policy Development for Grey Literature Resources: An Assessment of the Pisa Declaration
  • Grey Literature in Transfer Pricing: Japan and Korea
  • WorldWideScience.org: An International Partnership to Improve Access to Scientific and Technical Information and Research Data.

During the Tuesday afternoon session, Debbie Rabina presented an ongoing long-term study, which identified the information needs of incarcerated people and demonstrated their willingness to write to agencies for information. The late afternoon session included a presentation entitled: The GreyLit Report: Understanding the Challenges of Finding Grey Literature.

On Wednesday, November 30, I joined the GreyLit: Intro and Search Strategies session. It was a hands-on learning session focused on finding grey literature. It was very interesting.

The conference was quite stimulating, informative and useful and I look forward to adding the new techniques to my armamentarium to seek, find…and explore more grey literature.

Alyssa Grimshaw | Drexel University
Library Services Assistant IV / MSLIS Student | Cushing/Whitney Medical Library / Drexel University

The 18th International Conference on Grey Literature was an exceptionally eye-opening experience. In regards to grey literature I consider myself a novice, but found this conference enlightening, as it clearly illustrated the benefits of promoting and utilizing grey literature within the library system.

The conference started out strong with the Keynote Address by Taryn Rucinski. Rucinski was very energetic and informative, discussing all of the literature found within the law grey literature. I was truly flabbergasted to discover that one can find expert testimony on a large wide array of different subjects in the legislative proceedings on government websites. This is just one example of the many exceptional ways to utilize grey literature.

The conference also helped me uncover a great resource – The Grey Literature Report! The New York Academy of Medicine publishes this report bi-monthly and takes all of the obscure grey literature and makes it easily searchable!  I particularly enjoyed the international aspect of the conference because it allowed me to learn a little more about how other countries use and preserve grey literature. I believe this to be incredibly important because in order for libraries to grow and develop they should be able to learn from, and interconnect with, one another. Each day of the conference was filled with valuable information and great tips that I intend to bring back to my library and apply in order to help our patrons!

altmetrics

Joachim Schöpfel at GL18. Photo by Danielle Aloia.

Kate Nyhan, MLS
Research and education librarian for public health | Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University

Attending one day of #GL18 at #GreyLitWeek at the New York Academy of Medicine – thanks to generous professional development funding from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine – I learned a great deal about what I don’t know. Of course, when it comes to grey literature, ignorance is a common state indeed.

  • Students and even a few eminent researchers I’ve spoken with aren’t quite sure what “grey literature” is.
  • Information professionals don’t always know the information ecosystem of grey literature’s producers and aggregators.
  • Medical librarians might not even be aware of the diverse types of grey literature that could be relevant to biomedical and public health questions – such as the governmental administrative materials that are generated by legislative, litigation, and regulatory processes. (Read “The Elephant in the Room” by excellent speaker Taryn Rucinski of Pace University Law School for more details)
  • Finally, organizations that generate grey literature sometimes seem not to know the first thing about the preservation and discovery of information – even when they are desperately trying to disseminate their high-quality, free, information products.

Thanks to the excellent talks, posters, and discussions at GL18, the unknown unknowns of grey literature are starting to become known unknowns for me. I choose that phrase to acknowledge that I’m still a novice at, say, retrieving government administrative materials, or even hard-to-find theses and dissertations – but now I’m a novice with better tools!

Cakes and Ale at Woodbine: From Twelfth Night to New Year’s Day

By Paul Theerman, Associate Director

Part of the Margaret Barclay Wilson collection of cookbooks and cookery, Cakes and Ale at Woodbine: From Twelfth Night to New Year’s Day is a pseudonymously published light novel of mid-century Fordham, New York. Ostensibly the work of “Barry Gray,” the book was written by Robert Barry Coffin (1826–1886), one of the “Bohemians” of antebellum New York.[i]  He was a critic for, and eventually editor of, the Home Journal, later renamed Town and Country, which continues in publication to this day.  This book was first published in 1868; the Library’s edition is from 1883.

The “cakes and ale” of the title is not culinary, but purely literary. On the title page is this quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” (Act 2, Scene 3).

sir-toby-belch

Sir Toby Belch uttered the line “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” the epigram for the novel. This is an image of Lionel Brough in a 1901 production.

“Cakes and ale” are not only mentioned in Twelfth Night, they are parts of Twelfth-Night celebrations: the merriment on the day of (or day before, depending on how one count) the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, the twelfth day after Christmas. Coffin is therefore having fun with the title, “From Twelfth Night to New Year’s Day,” as it means from January 6 all around to January 1: a romp through the year, touching on all the major holidays in turn. Each day is an occasion for indulging in cakes and ale, “the good things of this life” (p. 13): Epiphany, the first day of spring, a birthday, Easter, the fourth of July, “summer,” Christmas and a Christmas wedding, and then New Year’s.

Set at the author’s purported cottage, Woodbine, in Fordham, New York, domestic scenes alternate with long fanciful stories, much of which contrast city and country life, to the decided benefit of the latter! Toward the end of the book, the narrator has an imagined (perhaps alcohol-induced) encounter with Santa Claus, who says he prefers the large expansive chimneys of the country to the narrow ones of the city, and thought that the new city fashion of Christmas trees might put him out of a job:

“When the city folks first began to talk about Christmas trees, and introduced them into their nurseries, it nearly broke my heart; for I feared that my occupation . . . was gone” [p. 225.]

The virtues of the country always win out, in grand matters of love, and more prosaic ones of cakes and ale.

May you have a great holiday season, and may you get all the cakes and ale you want!


Another literary retreat, left, the Edgar Allan Poe house in Fordham, New York, where the author lived from 1846 to 1849, some 20 years before the recounted events in Cakes and Ale, also set in Fordham, a village only recently connected to the city by rail.  Right, a view of the Poe cottage in its rural setting.

References

[i] “Gray, Barry (1826–1886) [Robert Barry Coffin],” in “The Vault at Pfaff’s: An Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York,” https://pfaffs.web.lehigh.edu/node/54192, accessed December 22, 2016.

Image Sources