Veritas Huloar
Red Spacer

Report of Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian

Significant Acquisitions

Significant Acquisitions


Despite changing economic conditions, diminishing budgets, and the challenge of collecting in a global market given the relative weakness of the dollar against other major currencies, HCL has continued to acquire unique, rare, and otherwise distinctive items through purchases or gifts. Especially noteworthy this year is the Rubén Blades Archive, as it represents an invaluable resource for students and scholars studying Latin American music. Musician, actor, social activist, and Harvard Law School graduate, Rubén Blades has agreed to give his personal papers, including rare recordings of rehearsals and concerts, interviews and films, books, and other material to the Loeb Music Library. The arrival of the archive, which provides a new opportunity for the study of Latin American popular culture, is largely the result of the work of José Massó, host of the popular radio program ¡Con Salsa!, and Alison Weinstock, who created, an online discography and song reference guide dedicated to Blades's career from 1966 through 2008. Among the items that will eventually be held at Loeb Music: a complete collection of all LPs, CDs and liner notes for Blades's recorded music, concert and rehearsal audio and video recordings, sheet music and arrangements, lyrics and translations, magazine and newspaper interviews and clippings, photos and mementos, and more. The archive will eventually include material devoted to Blades's political career, with posters from his presidential campaign in his native Panama, along with his collection of books on Afro-Cuban and salsa music, and material devoted to the business aspects of his decades-long recording career. Given Blades's wide-ranging impact on both popular culture and social issues, it is anticipated that the archive will become the focus of a great deal of scholarship in the coming years. In July 2009 Blades; his wife, jazz singer Luba Mason; Massó; and Weinstock toured the Loeb Music Library, examined some of the items that are already part of the collection—including photographs, magazines and LPs—and noted that the Library's dedication to preserving the material, and making it available to students and scholars, influenced his decision to place the archive at Harvard.

Other noteworthy acquisitions by Loeb Music Library include

  • dozens of new scores of music by late 20th- and early 21st-century composers that will be especially useful for Professor Anne Shreffler's course "Music of the Past Ten Years" and for the composition faculty and students;
  • significant quantities of new music by Finnish composers little known in North America but of considerable interest to our faculty and students;
  • the Eduard Alekseyev Collection of musics of the Sakha people of Siberia, possibly the only collection of its kind in the world; and
  • the Aziz El Shawwan Collection of Manuscript Musical Scores, consisting of over 150 works, most unpublished, of a Moscow-trained modernist composer working to integrate Western and Arab musical idioms. The latter was acquired with funding assistance from the associate librarian for collections, the Middle East Division, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

The Fine Arts Library's (FAL) most significant addition to its extensive photographic collections last year was the return and partial gift of historic photographs from the Harvard Art Museum. Originally part of the Wendell bequest of 1918 to the College Library, these holdings include 5,885 cabinet cards, 10,990 cartes-de-visite, and 300 imperial photographs by Mathew Brady. To complement these materials, the Museum also included in this transfer a collection of 16,000 tintypes. Not only does this material constitute an unparalleled group of historic images providing great research potential, but the Museum has meticulously cataloged and scanned each image, providing complete access in VIA to all but the tintypes. Also of particular note was the acquisition of a massive two-volume set of folios (with CD-ROM), including photographs documenting every surviving architectural monument of the medieval Seljuk dynasty in Anatoli, that was urgently requested by one of our PhD students who was unable to locate a copy in any library in Turkey. The documentation project and the publication were underwritten by the municipality of Konya, Turkey, which had to be approached directly to obtain a copy. The FAL's copy of this work is the only one held by a library in North America.

Facsimiles provide researchers with the ability to study high-quality replicas of books, art prints, maps, manuscripts, and other valuable materials, to which they would not otherwise have ready access. FAL acquired many significant facsimiles this past year. Among the new acquisitions was a full facsimile published in 2005 of an illuminated manuscript of the Divan (collected poems) of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, made in 1566. The facsimile was never commercially distributed. FAL's copy, the first in any American library, is already being used for the study of Islamic manuscript illumination and by students of Ottoman history and Turkish literature. The original manuscript is in the collection of the Istanbul University Library, MS. T. 5467. FAL also acquired several facsimile scrolls for use in Professor Wang's course HAA180x "Visible Sound: Chinese Art of Pathos," and 13 facsimiles of medieval manuscripts were purchased to assist Professor Jeffrey Hamburger's students in the study of historic Bibles, breviaries, and books of hours.

After many years of searching, FAL successfully bid at auction for three sets of insurance plans of the cities of Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, and of Smyrna (Izmir), Turkey, made by the British surveyor Charles E. Goad (1848–1910). These sets of large-scale maps, produced for the use of fire insurance companies, show every building and street and document these cities as they were at the end of the 19th century. Work is under way with the Harvard Map Collection to digitize these extremely rare maps, which are an invaluable resource for researchers studying architecture, urbanism, and the process of modernization in the Middle East.

The B. F. Skinner Collection was donated to the Harvard Film Archive (HFA) by the B. F. Skinner Foundation. Skinner (1904–1990) was a revolutionary and highly influential behavioral psychologist who graduated from and later taught at Harvard University. His main philosophical innovation is Radical Behaviorism, the backbone of his experimental analysis of behavioral approaches to psychology as a whole. During World War II, Skinner worked for the military on an experimental project using pigeons to guide missiles. Although his experiments were successful, another secret experiment, radar, eventually put his work to rest. Films were made of the pigeon experiments, and these Project Pigeon films are now part of the HFA collection.

Harvard-Yenching Library (HYL) added a number of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean e-resources to its collections, including

  • the full-text Century Journals Project;
  • the Duxiu database; the Apabi Chinese Reference Book Database;
  • E-KoreanStudies, a major electronic portal for Korean studies that includes access to several databases; and
  • the database Kikuzo Visual II, a significant resource for conducting newspaper searches in postwar Japan (1945–present) that complements another online newspaper database that the Library already subscribes to: Yomiuri shinbun (1872–1970).

Houghton Library's significant purchases included

  • a two-membrane fragment of a chronicle of world history genealogical roll that dates from the 15th century (MS Fr 495);
  • the papers of Russian poet Elizaveta Mnatsakonova;
  • a collection of Emerson family papers that includes the only known photograph of Mary Moody Emerson (taken posthumously);
  • the corrected proofs of French theorist Maurice Blanchot's seminal work L'Entretien Infini;
  • manuscripts of Nicaraguan national poet Rubén Dario; and
  • the James Stevens-Cox Collection of William Barnes of Dorset, a significant addition to Houghton's strong collection of English dialect poetry.

In addition, several rare items were acquired for the Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson, including the purchase of books, pamphlets, and manuscripts from the holdings of two leading Johnson collectors, Gerald Goldberg and Paula Peyraud, and more than 30 letters, several manuscripts, and books owned and annotated by Hester Thrale Piozzi (including a book given to her by Johnson). Among the major gifts to Houghton were the library of Philippine poet José García Villa, given by his literary estate to accompany the poet's papers and the papers of Welsh nationalist and medium Winifred Coombe Tennant.

Among the numerous acquisitions of the Harvard Theatre Collection, the most notable were works of art:

  • an original oil painting of a scene from the popular early-19th-century comedy Paul Pry, as performed in Boston's first theatre, the Federal Street (or Boston) Theatre;
  • five original scene and costume designs by the New York designer Boris Aronson;
  • an extensive archive of scene designs by a famous modern Japanese designer, Oda Otoya; and
  • several designs by the Russian designer Natalia Goncharova, for Ida Rubinstein's most famous theatrical production, The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.

Through its primary Israeli vendor, the Judaica Division was able to secure a wide range of materials. Highlights included

  • the Yad Tabenkin Archive of the United Kibbutz movement and the Givat Haviva Archive of the Ha-Shomer Ha-Tsa'ir movement, both of which provide research materials on the kibbutz movement;
  • the Jewish Education Archive at Tel Aviv University, which provides materials on Israeli education;
  • the Library of the Ministry of Justice, which provides legal materials, often from collections of retired jurists; and
  • Tel Aviv Municipal Archives.

A major effort for the Judaica Division this past year was collecting ephemera from the municipal elections in Israel in November 2008 and from the national elections in February 2009. This was, as always, a daunting task—especially in the case of the municipal elections scattered through Israel's cities and towns, with each producing materials unique to that city or town—and required setting up a collection network throughout the country. The national elections, where materials did not vary by locale, but included 33 different party lists running in the election, was only slightly less challenging, given the lack of any centralized distribution points even within a party.

Widener Library's Latin America, Spain, and Portugal Section continued to purchase 19th-century pamphlets from Latin America to be added to the successful virtual catalog Latin American Pamphlet Digital Collection. This year several pamphlets published in Uruguay and in Cuba were added. The unit also purchased several items for Houghton Library this year, among them Esclavitud en América Latina, a collection of four manuscripts relating to slavery in Latin America.

The Middle Eastern Division in Widener Library enjoyed a bountiful year of acquisitions in over 60 languages. The Persian collection benefitted greatly from the acquisition of the Iranian Oral History DVD Collection, a set of more than 200 videodiscs containing some 475 hours of interviews with Iranian political activists, particularly from the left, in an effort to document the people and organizations behind the resistance to the Pahlavi dynasty brought down by the revolution of 1979. The collection was produced largely through the efforts of Hamid Ahmadi, founder of the Research Association for Iranian Oral History (RAIOH) in Berlin, and provides an excellent complement to Harvard's own Iranian Oral History Project. Among the notable acquisitions were:

  • Turkish Film Guide, 1917–2008, by Agah Ozguc, a comprehensive directory of Turkish films, published in English by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism;
  • a monumental new romanized version of the Ottoman Turkish translation of Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah;
  • Lrut'iwn: Hraman Konstandnupolsen ("Silence: Order from Constantinople"), the library's first graphic novel in Armenian, based on the real-life experiences of a survivor of the Armenian genocide; and
  • a striking assemblage of children's books, chiefly folk and fairly tales from Georgia of the early 1970s, acquired at auction.

The number and variety of research consultations, special order requests, ILL requests for assistance, and "ordered-received" requests to the Middle Eastern Division continued to increase, running the gamut of:

  • a student seeking the manifesto published by ASALA (Armenian terrorist group) in Beirut in 1985 and research request for related materials;
  • a request by an anthropology professor for resources on Saudi Nabati (oral) poetry;
  • microfilm copies of two rare Iranian Judeo-Persian newspapers for a professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations;
  • a request by a student for material on the Aqaba Free Trade Zone collected on an acquisitions trip to Aqaba, Jordan; and,
  • the 1955 issues of Akhbar al-yawm ("The Daily News"), the Egyptian government-affiliated newspaper, for an undergraduate writing his senior thesis

This year, with the use of Presidential Funds, the Modern Greek Section in Widener Library was able to participate in the Frattis Auction in Athens, Greece. Of the 115 items bid upon, the Modern Greek Section succeeded in acquiring 75 items, ranging from first-edition modern Greek literary works and classical literature to historical source material on the KKE (Greek Communist Party), World War II occupation, and Greek Civil War. Items of note included

  • a signed edition of C.P. Cavafy's Poiemata (1916–1918) for Houghton Library;
  • a rare edition of Homer's Iliad, Book 1, translated into the Pontic language; and
  • the three-volume work The Geography of Strabo (ed. H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, MA), 1854, which represents the first English translation of Strabo, the great Geographer of Antiquity—Widener Library's volumes were lost years ago causing a notable gap in the collection.

Since the Modern Greek Section's budget has been strained over the past several years, it would never have had the opportunity to bid on and acquire such rare and important work if it were not for the additional funding for collecting.

As a joint effort, the Slavic Division of Widener Library and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Collection in Fung Library have begun negotiations to acquire a digital copy of an archive of materials on survivors of the Soviet Gulag system. Via the Slavic Division, the Davis Center was also able to add a substantial number of major English-language titles that had been submitted to the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies for consideration for book prizes.

Widener Library's Sub-Saharan African Section acquired two major primary sources, valuable resources for historical or socio-cultural research work on colonialism, politics, government, and democracy in Africa. The first was the digitization of Kenyan polling data initiated and supervised by a Harvard graduate student conducting field work in Kenya. The graduate student, the Library's sole contact person and project initiator, was able to hire a Kenyan firm to digitize a set of polling records collected by the Kenya Elections Domestic Observation Forum (KEDOF) documenting the voting process and activities of over 20,000 polling stations across Kenya during the 2002 and 2007 elections. The second collection is composed of 21 sets of photos and documents depicting numerous aspects of colonial experience in many African countries between 1905 and 1940. These will greatly expand an earlier collection of photos, 300 of which had been digitized and cataloged in VIA.

Widener Library's Germanic Division was able to acquire a number of important titles, in both print and electronic format. Electronic resources included

  • Supplementum epigraphicum graecum (SEG);
  • Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Online;
  • Brockelmann (Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur) Online;
  • Corpus de la premiére littérature francophone de l'Océan Indien, écrite et orale, des origines aux indépendances (18e siècle–1960) and the "French Studies" electronic journals collection of (both resources acquired through a consortial CIFNAL license); and
  • 18th-Century German Literature Online and German Literary Expressionism Online (both acquired through a consortial GNARP license).

New primary resources included additions to the James Howard Fraser Poster Collection, including ephemera from the GDR and page proofs of Maurice Blanchot's L'Entretien Infini (1969), acquired in conjunction with Houghton Library's Modern Books and Manuscripts Division.

The Western European audio-visual collection continued to expand in support of the new PhD program in film studies with increased acquisitions of German-language feature films and documentaries and numerous orders placed for French and Italian film classics on DVD, as well as important contemporary productions.