Preview: Albion and Marina

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Today in Special Collections we’ve been preparing for our upcoming exhibit From Source to Print: Published Research from Special Collections, which will include rare primary source materials housed here as well as examples of scholarly and academic work published about them. … Continue reading

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Stories from the Archives: Wellesley College in the 1910s

About the Author: Shelby Daniels-Young is a senior at Dana Hall School. These short articles are a product of her Senior Project, which was a two-and-a-half-week-long internship at the Wellesley College Archives, researching students and aspects of student life in the 1910s while learning about the job of an archivist.


Scrapbook of Jane Cary, Class of 1914, from the Wellesley College Archives.

Below are four articles: two reflecting on the lives of Wellesley students who graduated in the 1910s, and two describing obstacles faced by Wellesley students during that time. Research for these articles was completed in the Wellesley College Archives. The first sources used were the letters and scrapbook of Jane Cary, Class of 1914. Later sources included letters from Angeline Loveland, Class of 1916, as well as biographical files and newspapers in order to cover several topics. These articles were written with a special focus on student life and perspectives, and are supplemented on this site with photographs from the Archives.

Spotlight on Jane W. Cary, Class of 1914
Spotlight on Angeline H. Loveland, Class of 1916
A Student’s Perspective on the College Hall Fire
Money and Finance at Wellesley in the 1910s

Spotlight on Jane W. Cary, Class of 1914

Fiske Cottage. Jane Cary lived in this cooperative dorm her junior and senior years.

Fiske Cottage. Jane Cary lived in this cooperative dorm her junior and senior years.

Jane Cary, Wellesley alumna of the Class of 1914, was born on July 21, 1891 in North Stonington, CT, but lived in Windsor, CT for over ninety years of her life. She was the youngest child of Reverend William B. and Harriet Cary. A member of a large family, Jane was the only girl to go to college. Though she doubted her ability to pay for such an education, she was encouraged to try by the principal of her high school.

Jane “waited on table,” washing dishes and arranging table settings, during her freshman and sophomore years in order to pay for her Wellesley education. For her junior and senior years, she lived in Fiske Cottage, a cooperative dorm, while also doing occasional odd jobs. In junior year, she joined the Deutscher Verein, or German Club. She finally graduated in 1914 with a B.A. in German. She then became a high school teacher. In 1916, at the age of 25, she married a Harold T. Nearing, and later had a son and a daughter, Cary and Jean. Jean went on to graduate from Wellesley as a member of the Class of 1944, and two of her daughters, Karen and Miriam, graduated from Wellesley in the classes of 1968 and 1978, respectively.

Jane Cary in her senior yearbook.

Jane Cary in her senior yearbook.

From 1942-1945, Jane Cary was a part of the war effort as a clerk in the Service Sales Record Office of the Pratt and Whitney Division of United Aircraft. Her shift was from 3:30 PM to midnight. She later became a clerk for the First Church in Windsor, Congregational, for 17 years. She was the chairwoman of her church flower committee and a member of the Windsor Garden Club. Jane was the only member of the Wellesley Class of 1914 to attend their 80th reunion.

The entire town of Windsor celebrated Jane’s 100th birthday. She was known as the “First Lady of Windsor” by her neighbors for her kindness and involvement in the community. Jane Cary died on June 27, 1995, at the age of 103.

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Spotlight on Angeline H. Loveland, Class of 1916

Angeline Loveland, Wellesley alumna of the Class of 1916, was born on October 16, 1895 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her parents were a Mr. and Mrs. Frank O. Loveland, with an impressive college background—her mother had an M.A. from the University of Cincinnati, and her father had a B.A. from Dartmouth College. Her younger sister, Clara, went on to graduate from Wellesley in 1921.

Tower Court

Tower Court. Angeline Loveland lived here her senior year.

While at Wellesley, Angeline was a member of the Zeta Alpha society for her junior and senior years. She lived in Crofton House her freshman year, Shafer Hall her sophomore and junior years, and the newly built Tower Court her senior year. She graduated with a B.A. in English. She then taught at the College Prep School in Cincinnati from 1916 to 1920, and married a James J. Faran, Jr. in June of 1920. They had two children, John IV and Jane, in 1921 and 1922.

Angeline lived in Glendale, Ohio, for most of her life. She taught at the Glendale Public Schools from 1930 to 1947. She wrote weekly newspaper columns for the Cincinnati Enquirer from 1930 to 1961 and for the Millcreek Valley News from 1935 to the 1970s.

Zeta Alpha Society in 1916. Seniors in academic robes.

Zeta Alpha Society in 1916. Seniors such as Angeline Loveland and other members of her class in academic robes.

During her lifetime, Angeline committed herself to learning. She took several graduate courses in English, education, and Bible studies for pleasure. She was a member of the Monday Club in her town, a study group that required a yearly paper from each of its members, as well as the Glendale Literary Club, which required a paper every other year from members. She wrote one of her papers on the poet Katharine Lee Bates, Class of 1884, one of Angeline’s teachers at Wellesley.

Along with her weekly columns, Angeline also wrote plays for local productions, as well as songs for school and PTA performances. She helped write a history of the town of Glendale for its 100th anniversary. She held various offices in the Women’s Auxiliary of Christ Church between 1925 and 1965, and she enjoyed gardening and traveling.

Angeline Loveland died on October 11, 1983, five days short of her 88th birthday.

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A Student’s Perspective on the College Hall Fire

College Hall Chapel, site of "the last event" in College Hall.

College Hall Chapel, site of “the last event” in College Hall.

On March 16, 1914, Wellesley College senior Jane Cary sat down to write a letter to her mother. “I am writing this after coming back from a recital at College Hall,” she began. A young Bulgarian girl had performed on the violin to raise money for Bulgarian orphans. What Jane did not know was that this recital would be, as she later labeled the program in her scrapbook, “the last event in our old College Hall.”

Early Tuesday morning, on March 17, 1914, Wellesley College’s beloved College Hall caught on fire. The definite cause was unknown, but was generally suspected to be either faulty wires or a spontaneous combustion in one of the laboratories on the upper levels. College Hall was the central building on campus. It housed administrative offices, dormitories for teachers and students, a large number of science laboratories, and served as a general meeting place for students. No one died or was injured in the fire, but the college lost, among other things, valuable artwork, large numbers of a variety of records, and the personal belongings of students and faculty. In order to give the college time to recover, President Ellen Pendleton closed the school until April 7.

Last hours of the fire.

Last hours of the fire.

The newspapers wrote about lasting images from the scene of the fire. Once everyone was out of the building, students stood in a line from the burning College Hall to the library a little ways away. People rushed to save items from inside College Hall, passing the objects outside so that they could be handed down the line to safety. Mrs. Pauline Durant, the ninety-year-old widow of Henry Durant, founder of Wellesley College, requested to be brought to College Hall in her wheelchair and watched as the building burned to the ground. A sentiment that was echoed over and over again was the impressiveness of the students’ conduct. There was little hysteria, much to many people’s surprise. Many girls initially thought the evacuation was just another one of the school’s heavily implemented fire drills. Roll call was made in a calm manner, with everyone quiet and attentive, which allowed members of the college fire brigade to identify and retrieve those who were missing.

Jane Cary did not live in College Hall, but the fire affected her just as it did all members of the Wellesley College community. To her sister Helen, a few days after returning to campus in April, she wrote, “You can’t imagine how hard it is not to talk fire in mother’s letters; why it is all we talk and think about up here, everything is so different.” In her scrapbook, page after page is dedicated to the fire, filled with newspaper clippings and pictures of the ruins.

In the days and weeks after the fire, help and condolences began pouring in. Telegrams from colleges throughout the country, especially women’s colleges, asked if they could be of assistance in any way. A parent of a Wellesley College student sent a $100 check to help any needy girl in honor of the Wellesley spirit his daughter was so fond of. A widow who was not an alumna of Wellesley and who had her own financial troubles sent one dollar, with a note saying that she knew it wasn’t much, but she wanted to show “her gratitude for what certain daughters of Wellesley had meant to her.” The alumnae tried their best to help, but as one of them stated, “few are married to millionaires,” and “the majority of [Wellesley’s] single women are teachers, missionaries, [and] social workers.” It would be difficult to raise the three million dollars Wellesley so desperately needed to replace what was lost and rebuild.

Sophomore class forms seniors' class year in front of College Hall ruins.

Sophomore class forms seniors’ class year in front of College Hall ruins.

Current students were not to be left out. One of Jane Cary’s classmates, Edith Ryder, sent out a notification to the Class of 1914, calling for them to contribute to the Class Fund and help the college. As seniors, the event had changed their last few months at  Wellesley in many ways. Girls from College Hall were put into other dormitories, and end-of-the-year traditions had to be altered. There is another notification from Edith Ryder in Jane Cary’s scrapbook, this one suggesting that the seniors try to cut costs during Commencement week in order to be courteous to the College Hall seniors. “I propose that we dispense with Garden Party hats and with special dresses for Commencement Day and Baccalaureate Sunday,” she declares.

Jane Cary even had a little fundraiser of her own. She talked with other Wellesley students from Connecticut, her home state, and they came up with an idea. To her sister Helen, she wrote, “We are all enthusiastic about getting up a play and giving it around in Connecticut next summer…we decided to practice it up here and then give it soon after Commencement as possible.” They ended up putting on A Rose O’ Plymouth Town, in which Jane was Barbara Standish.

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Money and Finance at Wellesley in the 1910s

“Thank you for the money you sent in the letter before last. It will come in handy, as it is all I have up here,” Jane Cary, Class of 1914, wrote to her mother during her sophomore year. She was a minister’s daughter, not rich by any means. She spent a year after high school working to pay for her Wellesley education. Though she managed to meet the tuition and board requirements, between school supplies, new clothes, and other expenses, her money often disappeared quickly.

What about financial aid?

According to Mary Ellen Martin 1973’s Honors Thesis, for the years 1878 to 1916, Wellesley College primarily gave help in the form of scholarships as a result of the Trustees’ morals and faith. The college predominately tried to help daughters of missionaries and ministers, like Jane Cary. They did not, however, offer aid to freshmen, which would give those with financial difficulties pause when thinking about entering the institution. Often, a student lacking the necessary finances had to take a year off to earn the money she would use to pay for her first year.

Students were not entirely on their own. There was the General Aid Committee, an organization whose purpose was to “furnish means of earning money for girls who are working their way through college.” The committee was one of the many subsets within the Christian Association. Members of the General Aid Committee helped secure secondhand books and furniture that were sold by students looking to make some money. They also notified students of odd jobs on campus and in the village. Another resource was the Students’ Aid Society, which both loaned and gave financial assistance to students who applied for it. Some of the help received was expected to be paid back at a later date.

Wellesley students shopping in the village in 1928.

Wellesley students shopping in the village in 1928.

The plight of Wellesley College students was that they were often trapped in a town that knew it had guaranteed customers. This was covered in the December 18, 1913 edition of 
The Wellesley College News
. A student wrote in about a faculty member’s comment regarding “the unquestioning way in which [students] accept the prices which the village storekeepers impose on [them].” Students were either desperate or did not know the proper price of the item, and stores seized on this. “[I]f we do ask the price of a jar of dried beef, for instance,” the opinion piece went on, “we do it only as matter of form, for both the grocer and we know that we will buy the beef no matter what its price.”

The college itself added to financial woes. In one of her letters, Jane Cary sadly wrote to her mother, “Don’t think I’ve been extravagant, for the precious five dollars you gave me had to go for a Botany fee.” Anyone taking a science course had to pay a fee for laboratory instruments and specimen collection. There were books to buy and class dues to pay. Every November there was a Pay Day, where all students had to pay their organization dues.

Societies, an important yet controversial part of Wellesley in the 1910s, stretched pocketbooks even more. Angeline Loveland, Class of 1916, was a member of the Zeta Alpha society. She wrote her mother in her junior year that she was “terribly worried about money. Bills amounting to nearly $6.00, society bills, tickets for Ruth + Bertha to Z.A. play…other necessaries have come in.” As the list went on, Angeline grew a little desperate. “[I]f I can possibly sell my big chair…I can make money that way,” she speculated. She had to give up going on a society trip because she didn’t have enough money. Toward the end of her senior year, she wrote to her mother again. “Be sure you send me some money,” she reminded her. “I have several bills and fees to pay, so that it is absolutely necessary.”

Many students had to write home, asking for more funds. There was more to the cost of a Wellesley College experience than tuition and board, and it was not just the treats and trinkets in the village. “I suppose you think I’m terribly mercenary + extravagant, but truly I’m not,” Angeline wrote home. She and many other students knew how their parents would feel about these repeated requests for money.

There was a silver lining to these financial difficulties, even if Wellesley students may not have realized it until years afterward. They learned how to manage their money. Angeline Loveland wrote financial accounts to her father, purposefully sending them to his work office. Jane Cary did odd jobs around the holidays so she could buy Christmas presents for family and friends. Even in a place where it was hard to keep money in one’s account, where they were mainly on their own and had to face the costly temptations of college life, these young women managed to become resourceful and responsible when it came to every dollar.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from Special Collections!

One of my favorite collections that we have is the Browning Collection, composed of the published works, manuscripts, love letters, and other items belonging to Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning. If you’ve ever visited Special Collections, you may have noticed the stately brown door to the left of the main entrance. This is the actual front door to the Barrett House at 50 Wimpole Street in London, and the golden mail slot is where the love letters between Elizabeth and Robert passed through. It is a lovely reminder every time you come to Special Collections of the richness and history of its holdings.

Mail slot of Barrett House door from 50 Wimpole Street, London
Gift of Mrs. Charles F. Griffith

A year ago today the digitized manuscripts of the 573 courtship letters exchanged between Elizabeth and Robert were made available to the public for free as part of a collaborative project between Wellesley College and Baylor University.

Today we wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day by sharing with you one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s most famous sonnets about love–“How do I love thee?” We have many editions of her sonnets, but we’ve chosen one that is especially beautiful to share with you.

From Sonnets from the Portuguese (Boston: Ticknor & Company, 1886)
Gift of Fannie Browning (originally given to her by Robert Browning)

We hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and we encourage you to visit the online collection and read some of the beautiful courtship letters in the handwriting of their authors!

Erin Corcoran
Wellesley ‘13
Student Assistant, Special Collections

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Lorraine O’Grady: A Conversation and Celebratory Event

Lorraine O’Grady: a Conversation and Celebratory Event
Collins Cinema, Wellesley College
November 15, 2012, 5pm

O’Grady at the offices of Artforum International Magazine, New York, 2009. Photo: David Velasco.

The Wellesley College Archives is pleased to announce an event to celebrate internationally acclaimed artist and writer Lorraine O’Grady ’55, who will return to the College for the public opening of her personal and professional papers on Thursday, November 12, 2012.

The celebration will include a talk by O’Grady at 5pm in Collins Cinema; a reception will follow in the Davis Museum, where O’Grady’s work will be on view in the exhibition A Generous Medium: Photography at Wellesley 1972‐2012. The event is free and open to the public. The media alert can be found here.

About Lorraine O’Grady

A Boston native and internationally recognized artist and writer, O’Grady is best known for conceptual installation and performance art. Her 1980s performance as the persona “Mlle Bourgeoise Noire” won new acclaim in the landmark 2007 exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution. Her work has also been in such exhibits as the Whitney Biennial and the Triennale de Paris. This November, O’Grady’s work will be featured in the 1980s show at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.  She currently lives and works in New York City.

O’Grady performing as Mlle Bourgeoise Noire.

The Collection

The O’Grady collection is the first major acquisition of alumnae papers at the Wellesley College Archives. The Archives recently expanded its collecting policy to include the personal and professional papers of notable alumnae when those papers support the academic mission of the college.

Initially acquired in 2010, the collection is comprised of over 50 linear feet of records.  Four terabytes of digital files will also be transferred to the Archives. Materials include correspondence, exhibition records, drafts of writing, notes, journals, interviews, and audiovisual materials. The collection covers O’Grady’s life, work, and art, dating from 1952 to 2012.

The Papers of Lorraine O’Grady will be open and available for research at the Archives beginning November 15, 2012.


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A Broadside Project Inspired by the Letters of Anne Whitney

Excerpt from MSS.4.270, Wellesley College Archives.
Letter from Anne Whitney to her sister Sarah Whitney, March 3, 1869.

This semester, Library and Technology Services (LTS) and Professor Jacqueline Musacchio of the Art Department are collaborating on a project involving the letters of nineteenth-century American poet and sculptor Anne Whitney, which are held by the Wellesley College Archives. Students in Professor Musacchio’s first-year seminar — Art, Tourism, and Gender in Late Nineteenth-Century Italy — and four independent study students are using Whitney’s letters as original source material in their coursework. They have been working closely with the originals and the newly created digital surrogates of the letters by transcribing and annotating them.  The independent study students also had the opportunity to work with the text of the letters in another way:  they spent some time in the Book Arts Lab (BAL) making handmade paper and then printing a broadside with a transcription from one of Whitney’s letters detailing her travels to Rome.

Professor Musacchio chose a passage from a letter dated March 3, 1869, in which Whitney describes to her sister a popular tourist activity of the day.  Visitors to Rome would illustrate a copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1860 novel The Marble Faun with photographs and then have the book specially bound to bring home as a souvenir.

Making the paper for the broadside project.

The broadside project began a few weeks ago when BAL staff and Professor Musacchio’s independent study students pulled sheets of handmade paper for use in printing the broadside. The paper was made with premium Ecuadorian abaca, which provided thin, crisp sheets, mimicking the paper Whitney actually wrote on. This process involved beating the fibers into a fine pulp that was placed in a vat. The students then used a mold and deckle to pull the fibers into flat sheets, which were then transferred to felts so they could be pressed and dried.

After the paper dried, Professor Musacchio’s independent study students printed the broadside on their handmade sheets using the Vandercook printing press, an automated press that allows one to quickly print many copies of the same image. The press does this by evenly distributing ink through a series of rollers powered by a motor, and then re-inking what is in the press bed on the return trip.

The type for the printed broadside was set using the Arrighi typeface.

The BAL staff chose to set Whitney’s quotation in Arrighi, an italic typeface with Italian origins that imitates the handwritten script of her letters. An illustration from an early edition of Hawthorne’s novel that depicts a statue of the marble faun was reproduced as a carved block for printing on the broadside.

The original illustration of The Marble Faun and a specially carved block of the illustration.

To create this print, the title and the quotation were set into the press bed first and printed in a sepia tone. Then, the image of the marble faun was printed in gold ink above the title and quotation. These broadsides were printed in an edition large enough for each of the independent study students and the first-year seminar students to receive a copy.

Book Arts Program Director Katherine McCanless Ruffin holds the finished broadside.

Dani Ezor ’13 is majoring in Art History and Studio Arts, and is a student employee in the Book Arts Lab.

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Zine Workshop on October 12, 2012

Join us for a zine workshop in the Book Arts Lab. Open to experienced and novice zine-makers alike.

In this workshop, we’ll look at zines, discuss zine format, design, and construction tips, and collaboratively make a zine.

When: Friday, October 12, 1-4 pm
Where: Book Arts Lab, Clapp Library
RSVP/Questions: Alana Kumbier/akumbier/x3372
See also: Alana’s Zine Research Guide

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Old Clocks and Watches & Their Makers

What is a “Jack,” and what was he doing on the top of Southwold Church?

Who owned Death’s-head watches inscribed with scenes from Judgment Day (surely one of the creepiest 16th Century Memento Mori around)?

Are you curious about the life and times of famous 17th and 18th Century horologists?  Wondering if there is there any evidence that women were employed as horologists during this era?

F.J. Britten’s Old Clocks and Watches & Their Makers is an exhaustive 750+ page tome with answers to these questions and many, many others. It lists 10,000 clock and watch makers and includes 700 illustrations of spectacular timepieces.


This 1904 book, originally part of the Wellesley College Astronomy Library and now in the Science Library collection, was digitized by the Open Content Alliance in their Boston Public Library facility. Wellesley College, as part of its membership in the Boston Library Consortium, has contributed more than 4500 items to the Internet Archive. Old Clocks and Watches & Their Makers has been downloaded from the Internet Archive more than 6300 times, making it one of our top downloaded titles.

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Teaching with Books and Other Text-Technologies

Faculty Seminar

This image is from a faculty seminar that took place on campus over June 4-6, 2012, entitled “Teaching with Books and Other Text-Technologies: Book History, the Book Arts, and Book Studies in the Wellesley Curriculum.” It shows Wellesley professors learning to make woodcut blocks for printmaking in the Book Arts Lab in Clapp Library.

The seminar was led by Curator of Special Collections Ruth Rogers, Book Arts Program Director Katherine Ruffin, and English Department Assistant Professor Sarah Wall-Randell. Part of the new Book Studies Initiative, it was made possible by a generous grant from the Friends of the Wellesley College Library’s “Innovations in Reading and Scholarship” fund.

Here’s a description of the seminar:
At our current moment in history, when texts everywhere are going digital, studying the history and future of the texts we read, and the varied media that have transmitted and will transmit them, has never been more important. The materiality of textual media, whether scroll or codex, page or pixel, can never be separated wholly from texts’ content: meaning is produced in their interaction. This seminar gathered faculty from all disciplines and ranks, both those who already had research and teaching interests in book studies, from ancient to postmodern, and/or in the “digital humanities,” and those who wanted to learn more about using Wellesley’s superb collections of rare books and artists’ books and its outstanding Book Arts Lab, to share research presentations on the role of books in their scholarship and to discuss the present and future of book studies at Wellesley.

Pictured in the image are (left to right): Raymond Starr (Theodora Stone Sutton Professor of Classical Studies), Katherine Ruffin (standing, Book Arts Program Director), James Kodera (Professor of Religion), Alison McIntyre (Virginia Onderdonk Professor of Philosophy), Jacqueline Musacchio (Professor of Art History), Helene Bilis (Assistant Professor of French), Ian Graham (College Archivist), Katherine Grandjean (Assistant Professor of History), and David Teng Olsen (standing, Assistant Professor of Studio Art), who taught the printmaking lesson. Other participants in the seminar who are not pictured are: Alison Hickey (Associate Professor of English), Andrea Levitt (Clapp Professor of French), Eugene Marshall (Assistant Professor of Philosophy), and Ruth Rogers (Curator of Special Collections).

Sarah Wall-Randell, Assistant Professor, English Department
Photo credit: Ruth Rogers, Curator of Special Collections

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Southern Graphics Council International Conference 2012

This year’s ARTS 322 Advanced Print Concepts class kicked off spring break with a trip to New Orleans.  We were there as participants in the Southern Graphics Council International Conference, a yearly gathering of printmakers, professionals, and students alike. As a student employee of the Book Arts Lab who is only just beginning to explore print outside of letterpress, Advanced Print Concepts in itself is a challenge for me. Going from a class of twelve print students to a conference of thousands was certainly going to be an experience.

We each prepared for the conference by printing an edition to be exchanged randomly with other conference attendees. The tradition of print exchange was something new to me as I began this course, but, as I learned at the conference, it is a vital part of contemporary printmaking. A number of portfolios were on display each day at the conference, displaying a surprising diversity of responses, both technical and conceptual, to a particular topic.

The first day of the conference was filled with panels, with topics ranging from the history of comic books’ influence on print culture to new Canadian print to the role of the artist as curator.   I sought out something book-arts related and found a film called Revival, made by a class at the University of North Texas. This group of print students had restored a number of old letterpresses and developed a method of cutting large letter forms with a computer-controlled router to avoid printing with a chase. Coming from tiny Wellesley College, the range of engineering resources of the university impressed me, but at the event the professor emphasized how the liberal arts model of interdisciplinarity was what drove them to try to work with other departments.

The second morning of the conference found us wandering through product fairs ogling ink and paper, but in the afternoon we took buses out to Tulane University to finally see some printing in progress. I drifted between workshops, first watching a massive tabletop screen printing demonstration by Josh and Emily Minnie, wallpaper printers from New York. They maintained perfect registration on huge sheets of paper – no small feat with a baby on your arm!

We also spent time at a lithography show-and-tell session, held in Tulane University’s beautiful studios. Here the artist shows how a cracked stone can produce a beautiful print:

While Friday evening was filled by an inspiring keynote lecture by Nicola Lopez and a gallery crawl through New Orleans, we were all really waiting on the events of the next day. Saturday began with open portfolio sessions, where professionals and students alike opened up their portfolios to share their work with whoever stopped by to see it. The enormous hotel ballroom was filled with tables piled with prints; some artist even laid their work out on the floor. More than the diversity of panel topics, the workshops, or the galleries, the sheer size of this event was a testament to the breadth and vitality of contemporary printmaking.

I also got a chance to scope out book artists, and while I came across some great letterpress work (this project in particular stands out), I was surprised to see how artists specializing in traditional print incorporated books into their portfolios. Many showed handmade sketchbooks, collaborative book projects, their own handmade paper, and even pop-up printed books and postcards. We all came home with suitcases full of prints, ready to dig in to the rest of the semester with newfound inspiration and techniques. The most important thing I brought back, though, was the realization that the worlds of printmaking and book arts are not so different. Rather than being overwhelmed by unfamiliar techniques and histories, again and again I encountered attitudes towards craftsmanship and a respect for history and materials that could have some right out of Wellesley’s Book Arts Lab.

Beatrice Denham ’14 is an Architecture major, a student in ARTS 322 Advanced Print Concepts, and a student employee in the Book Arts Lab.

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Friends of the Library Bookbinding Workshop

This year’s Friends of the Library’s annual workshop in the Book Arts Lab, led by program director Katherine Ruffin, focused on exposed spine hardcover journals, a form of bookbinding in which the sewing that connects the groupings of pages is never covered.

Each participant sewed a blank journal, composed of nine groupings, called signatures or sections, of four pieces of paper folded in half. Each book had seventy-two pages in all.

Folding signatures

Folding signatures.

Folding signatures


Herringbone stitch

Using a herringbone stitch over linen tapes provided stability to the binding: the herringbone pattern linked each signature to the stitching below, and tapes underneath the stitching help connect all the signatures to each other and ultimately to the cover of the journal as well.

Gluing the signatures

Once all the signatures were sewn together, we covered bookboard with deaccessioned United States Geological Survey maps; the minutiae of their topography and highways looked almost abstract, out of geographical context.  All of the paper and boards used in each journal, including the maps, were cut with the same grain alignment: the fibers are lined up in the same direction, which allows each component of the book to move and settle over time in harmony. Finally, in a high-stakes moment, the covered boards were glued directly onto the first and last pages in each journal.

Finished book

The text of this entry was written by Genevieve Goldleaf ’12, a double major in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Environmental Studies and a student employee in the Book Arts Lab.

The photos were taken by Hannah Stevens, MLIS Student at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, intern in the Archives, Wellesley College, Spring 2012.

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