From the Collections of Harvard College Library, Events and Exhibitions 2014
February 18 – December 31, 2015
Occupied Cuba, 1898-1902:
Photographs from the Theodore Roosevelt Collection
The years between the end of the Cuban War of Independence in 1898, facilitated by United States involvement as part of the Spanish-American War, and the proclamation of the Cuban Republic in 1902, were a time of much change and transition in Cuba. After the last of the Spanish troops left Cuba in 1898, the United States took over the governance of Cuba. Occupied Cuba brings together some documentary photographs of this time gathered from Harvard’s Theodore Roosevelt Collection.
The exhibition is free and open to the public. Please contact the curator with any questions.
February 25 – June 10, 2015
Beacons of the Water World:
The Evolution of the Sea Chart
For much of human history the most efficient and least cumbersome way to cover long distances and transport goods was on water. Yet navigation—whether by canoe, galley, caravel, ketch, or schooner—was never without its hazards. Survival often depended upon detailed information gathered orally from seasoned mariners or from written instructions compiled from numerous logs of voyages into unfamiliar seas. By the late 16th century, the expansion of trade within Europe and the increasing pace of exploration abroad created an urgent need for reliable accounts and accurate surveys of new navigational routes. This exhibit investigates the evolution of sea charts—from pilot books with a focus on European waters to multi-volume atlases ranging the great seas of the world. It surveys the major chartmakers of northern Europe, with attention to the development of a common symbolic language for depicting navigational hazards and aids.
For more information please call 617-495-2417.
February 23 – March 31, 2015
The Treasure Room
One hundred years ago visitors to the newly dedicated Memorial Rooms in Widener Library would have first passed by the Treasure Room in the marble entrance lobby. The Treasure Room housed Harvard’s most valued collections, mounted frequent exhibitions, and supported the research of faculty and scholars. This exhibition provides a brief history of a long forgotten library space, the nucleus of what would later become Houghton Library. Photographs, documents, letters, and other objects, such as the only book believed to have survived from John Harvard’s library, are on view, drawn from the collections of the Harvard University Archives and Houghton Library.
January 26 – May 8, 2015
Unmasking Jim Crow: Blackface Minstrelsy in American Popular Culture
Blackface minstrelsy was wildly popular in 19th-century America. In minstrel performances, entertainers darkened their skin with burnt cork to enact gross caricatures of people of African descent. American slavery, segregation, and racial violence have depended upon the notions of black inferiority that minstrelsy embodied. This exhibit, curated by students in a Harvard seminar, contemplates the history of minstrelsy. It explores a tradition that has receded from public memory, even though traces remain deeply entrenched in American culture. Minstrelsy brims with paradoxes, and it has thrived on the normalization of shocking racist images.
Initially popularized in the 1830s with a character named Jim Crow, blackface minstrelsy was heralded as the young nation’s first original contribution to the performing arts, and it initially appealed to audiences of working-class white men. The image of Jim Crow, disseminated through countless illustrations and performances, ultimately became one of the most damaging in U.S. history. By the middle of the 19th century, minstrelsy had expanded beyond racial themes. Performers mocked immigrants, impersonated women in so-called “wench shows,” and parodied European operas. Audiences grew to include members of the middle class, as well as women and children. Publishers eager to capitalize on minstrelsy’s extreme popularity sold sheet music for home performance. After Emancipation, minstrelsy provided a primary means for black performers to find work, adding a new layer of complexity to its racial meaning. In the 20th and 21st centuries, minstrelsy’s influence lingers on in film, television, jazz, rock, and hip-hop.
This exhibit represents a collaboration with the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library and the Harvard Theatre Collection, which houses one of the world’s most important archives of minstrel materials. It is supported by grants from the Elson Family Arts Initiative Fund and the Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities.
As a seminar, we have been deeply disturbed by studying the materials on display here, all of us sobered by the troubling history they reveal. Yet we believe that historical traumas should not be buried from view, especially when they continue to resonate in today’s world.
January 12 – May 2, 2015
Signs and Science from the Skies
Throughout the ages, we have looked to the night sky in a search for meaning. Comets, meteors, eclipses, and other celestial events have been used by scientists to better understand the physical universe, by sages to predict the future, and by writers seeking inspiration. Starry Messengers brings together books and manuscripts from Houghton's collections that demonstrate how these events were understood in the early modern world.
March 10, 2015 – May 7, 2016
Annual International Photo Contest
Photos taken by Harvard students who have studied, worked, interned, or done research abroad during the past year are on exhibit. For more information on the contest, see the photo contest page.
Level B, first and third floor display cases,
Lamont Library (Hours)
For details contact Lynn Sayers at 617-495-2455
May 27, 2014 – May 9, 2015
2014 Philip Hofer Prize for Collecting Books or Art
The Philip Hofer prize is awarded each year to a student at Harvard whose collection of books or works of art best exemplifies the traditions of breadth, coherence, and imagination represented by Philip Hofer, A.B. '21, L.H.D. '67, founder and first Curator of the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts in the Houghton Library and Secretary of the Fogg Art Museum. The prize, which is to encourage student interest in collecting, was established in 1987 by Melvin R. Seiden, A.B. '52, L.L.B. '55. Students competing for the prize submit an annotated list or bibliography and an essay describing the scope, contents, and goal of the collection. On exhibition are samples of this year's first prize winning collection, , A History of the 1933 Goudey Baseball Card Set: From Artwork to Copyright Registration, submitted by Benjamin Lee, Class of 2017.
May 27, 2014 – May 9, 2015
2014 Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize
Established in 1977, the Visiting Committee Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting recognizes and encourages book collecting by undergraduates at Harvard. Students competing for the annual prize submit an annotated bibliography and an essay on their collecting efforts, the influence of mentors, the experience of searching for, organizing and caring for items, and the future direction of the collection. On display are samplings of the collections of this year's prize-winning entries, along with personal commentary.
April 6 – June 27, 2015
T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock at 100
The publication in June 1915 of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was a pivotal event in modern poetry. While many critics dismissed it at the time as unskilled and obscure, Prufrock is now acknowledged as the first masterpiece of Modernism in English, as well as Eliot’s first important publication. In both its themes and technique, Prufrock broke sharply with the conventions of Romantic and Georgian poetry.
The exhibition, curated by Carey Adina Karmel, PhD candidate at the University of London, explores the genesis of the poem by way of various manuscript and typescript reproductions, as well as “exploding” the poem by providing materials illustrating Eliot’s evocative imagery, such as an authentic magic lantern. The exhibition includes multiple printings of Prufrock, from its debut in 1915 in Poetry magazine to its first independent appearance in book form in 1917, along with books from Eliot’s library that provided source material.
The exhibition’s title is a phrase from the poem: “I should have been a pair of ragged claws /
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” It is also a metaphor for the composition of Prufrock, explains Karmel: “Eliot’s meter is ragged in the period use of the term, in the way that jazz music was originally described. Line lengths throughout Prufrock are also ragged vers libre; ‘come and go’ rhymes with ‘Michelangelo’ in a bump of three single syllable words end-rhymed with a serpentine, proper noun of five syllables. Eliot's technique is such that the auditory pop is subterranean.”
All events are free and open to the public:
April 8, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.: Exhibition curator Carey Karmel will lead a walking tour, “Let us go and make our visit,” exploring Boston elements incorporated into “Prufrock” such as the Ether Monument in the Boston Public Garden.
Email Carey for rendezvous instructions and reserve.
April 8, 2015 at 5.30 p.m.: Sir Christopher Ricks, William M. and Sara B. Warren Professor of the Humanities, and Co-Director, Editorial Institute, Boston University. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: ‘the Muse in a psychopathic ward.’ ” The 102nd George Parker Winship Lecture.
Edison and Newman Room, Houghton Library. Sponsored by Houghton Library, the English Department, and the Woodberry Poetry Room, Harvard University
April 23, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.: Robert Crawford, poet, and Professor of English and Director of Research for Planning, Publications, and Grants, University of St. Andrews. “Was T.S. Eliot Ever Young?” The 103rd George Parker Winship Lecture.
Edison and Newman Room, Houghton Library. Sponsored by Houghton Library and the English Department, Harvard University.
For additional information, contact Leslie Morris at Houghton Library, 617-495-2449.
May 18 – September 5, 2015
Such a curious dream!
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at 150
This exhibition will feature unique, colorful and curious Carrolliana from the early 1860s to the present. Drawn largely from the fabulous collection compiled by Harvard alumnus Harcourt Amory, the exhibition will include original drawings by illustrator John Tenniel, foreign editions of the book, parodies, theatrical works and ephemera. Not to be missed: Alice Liddell’s own copy of the suppressed first edition.
April 28, 2015
Please join us for a Philip and Frances Hofer Lecture:
Beauty, Truth, and the Book
By Claudia Funke
Tuesday, April 28, 5:30 p.m.
Lamont Library Forum Room, Lamont Library
No R.S.V.P. necessary
Beautiful and “important” books were the traditional foundations of aspiring rare book libraries, influenced as those repositories often were by the taste of beneficent collectors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. With recourse to particular examples, this lecture will survey the concepts of beauty and truth as they have intersected with rare books and their cultural realm in the modern era. The evening’s speaker will conclude with a discussion of the value of beauty and truth in private and institutional collecting today.
Claudia Funke is Curator of Rare Books at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the recent past president of the Bibliographical Society of America. She has worked in rare book collections for over twenty-five years.
Exhibition includes Gerard Mercator's terrestrial (1541) and celestial (1551) globes that reflect new discoveries in world geography and cosmography as well as new techniques in charting, printing, and globe making. Only 22 matched pairs survive, Harvard's being the only matched pair in America.
- In Africa it is another story: Looking back on Italian Colonialism
- "Music, First and Last": Scores from the Sir Georg Solti Archive
- Boston's Crusade Against Slavery
- A History of Medieval Christian Preaching as Seen in the Manuscripts of Houghton Library
- Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, 1909-1929: Twenty Years That Changed the World of Art
- "I Shall Ever Be Your Dearest Love": John Keats and Fanny Brawne
- "Let Satire Be My Song": Byron's English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers
- The Adventures of Thackeray In His Way Through the World: His Fortunes and Misfortunes, His Friends and His Family
- Going for Baroque: The Iconography of the Ornamental Map
- Life is in the Transitions: William James, 1842-1910
- Books in Books: Reflections on Reading and Writing in the Middle Ages
- Harvard's Lincoln
- A Monument More Durable Than Brass: The Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson
- History of the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Collection
- Public Poet, Private Man: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at 200