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Harvard College Library-Report of Nancy M. Cline

Significant Acquisitions

Significant Acquisitions


Below is a sampling of the notable additions made to the collection across the Harvard College Library in FY 2008:

  • The Harvard Map Collection acquired several 19th-century town plans for New England that are being digitally imaged.
  • The Documentation Center on Contemporary Japan in Fung Library acquired grey literature, including 190 titles of books and documents on Japanese public health policy, pollution, and environmental issues in the 1960s, the majority of which are unique primary sources that cannot be found elsewhere in the country.
  • Houghton Library’s acquisitions program remained active with several notable additions: a rare French translation of Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas, as well as four Johnson letters and three letters written by Johnson’s close friend and confidante, Hester Thrale, becoming part of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson; a 1672 Italian edition of Marco Polo’s travels; a long-lost Emily Dickinson manuscript of “The wind begun to rock the grass”; several Tennyson manuscripts; and a collection of 12 medieval charters, some with wax seals still attached, related to Sawley Abbey in Craven, one of eight Cistercian monasteries settled in Yorkshire, England. The charters date from ca. 1235 to 1344, and one-third are unrecorded in the cartulary for the abbey.
  • Loeb Music Library acquired a group of early Beethoven editions, some of which will be used for graduate and freshman seminars on Beethoven quartets, and made additions to both its Mozart and Bach collections.
  • The Slavic Division in Widener acquired the Josef Florian Collection (305 titles), a collection of rare monographs published by Josef Florian in Stará Řiše (Moravia) between 1903 and 1941. Most titles in the collection are not held outside of the Czech Republic.
  • Widener Library, the Fine Arts Library, and the Harvard Film Archive jointly purchased the Lothar Just Film Stills Collection; the collection contains approximately 800,000–1,000,000 film stills from around the world, including many rare and potentially unique images, as well as extensive archival documents and holdings of early German-language film periodicals.
  • Acquisitions in the Fine Arts Library were significant in terms of quantity as well as in expanding the range of subjects it can support for teaching and research. Among them were: the Gordon Gahan Archive (1950–1984) comprised of photographs and papers documenting Gahan’s career as a photographer for the National Geographic Society; Dr. Daniel Tassel’s collection of more than 2,000 rare 19th century photographs of the Middle East; and several facsimiles.
  • Widener’s Modern Greek section obtained at auction for Houghton Library’s collections a very rare 1848 Venetian imprint of Iakobos Triboles’ “Historia tou Vasileos tes Skotzias me ten Rigessa ten Inkleteras” (“History of the Scotch King and of the Queen of England”).

In general, film and DVD acquisitions have increased this past year within HCL. The introduction of a PhD program in Film Studies prompted aggressive collecting in preparation and support of the first class. Widener, Fine Arts, and Harvard Film Archive (HFA) staff collaborated on the purchasing and housing of items for this program. Acquisition of Latin American and Spanish DVD and video collections has increased, due in large part to requests from patrons for items such as documentary films about social movements and historical themes, and in even greater numbers for feature films made by well-known national directors. Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Colombia, and Mexico are the countries whose national cinema is most often studied at Harvard. This year a historic partnership was launched between the HFA and the Korea Institute to increase resources for the study of Korean cinema at Harvard. The institute has generously agreed to annually fund one visit from a major filmmaker, a complete retrospective of their work, and the acquisition of newly struck, English-subtitled 35 mm prints of their work for the HFA collection. In addition, Widener has increased its DVD holdings for films created in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain.

The College Library was also fortunate to receive gifts that aligned closely with our collections needs and many times represent items that we would not have been able to acquire by other means. Acquisitions activities in the Judaica Division were supplemented by receipt of three large gifts: Jewish theatre materials; Lionel Reiss artworks; and print and audiovisual materials on Israel from the Israeli Consulates in Boston and New York. Houghton Library received several gifts during the past year, such as albums and daguerreotypes of the Lowell family, which include childhood photographs of Lawrence, Percival, and Amy Lowell, and a major bequest of Daniel Pinkham’s manuscript scores. Widener Library received the first installment of a large gift of papers from Gustav Papenek, a former economic advisor to Benazir Bhutto during her terms as prime minister of Pakistan and a specialist in the national economies of Pakistan and Indonesia; the papers represent an important resource for modern South Asian studies at Harvard. Widener’s Middle Eastern Division received two important gift collections during the year: a donation of 22 boxes of books and documents belonging mainly to Nasib Arida and in fewer numbers to Abd al-Masih Haddad and Nadra Haddad, three important literary figures of the Mahjar School—Mahjar writers were persons of literary talent who emigrated to the New World from the Arab world, seeking a combination of economic opportunity and sectarian, political, and intellectual freedom; and an initial gift of eight manuscripts in Arabic and Persian for the collection of al-Sayyid Muhammad ‘Ali Da‘i al-Islam, a famous Muslim scholar and author of the Persian dictionary Farhang-i Niẓām; one of the manuscript titles is an autograph, part of the work Sharḥ Kitāb Sibawayh by the famous 10th-century grammarian al-Sirafi. Harvard–Yenching Library was the beneficiary of 25 boxes of books given by Harvard Professor Philip Kuhn relating to the courses he taught on Chinese history and on the Overseas Chinese; it also received a gift of approximately 30 sheets of Yokohama-e (wood-block prints) and 70 volumes of books relating to Japan’s opening of its ports to the world in the 1860s.