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Harvard College Library

Significant Acquisitions

Significant Acquisitions


Houghton Library acquired the John Updike Archive, an extraordinary collection of manuscripts, correspondence, books, photographs, artwork, and other papers. Although portions of the archive were given to the library during Updike's lifetime and have been available for research at Houghton since 1970, they represented only a small fraction of the full collection. For decades Updike also deposited papers, including manuscripts, correspondence, research files, and even golf score cards in the library. Because the material was only on deposit at Houghton, it was available only with the author's permission and was not integrated with the material the library owned. Now complete, the archive forms the definitive collection of Updike material and will make Houghton the center for study on the author's life and work. Totaling some 380 linear feet, and including manuscripts, letters received, drawings, photographs, a virtually complete collection of Updike's publications in all languages, and annotated books from his library, it is one of the largest single-author collections in the library. Cataloging the newly acquired material is one of the library's highest priorities, and the archive will soon be fully accessible.

In addition to the Updike Archive, Houghton Library had several other significant acquisitions, including the following major gifts: the Maxim Golovkin photographic negatives documenting the demonstrations at the Soviet Academy of Sciences on February 2, 1989, in which Andrei Sakharov participated; a group of Octavio Paz letters; and the C. J. Fox collection of Anthony Bailey letters and ephemera. Purchases included a complete collection of the publications of noted Argentine writer Juan Filloy, French writer and literary theorist Maurice Blanchot's correspondence with writer François Dominique, and the Samuel Morse Collection of papers by and about Wallace Stevens.

Houghton's Department of Printing and Graphic Arts purchased a large multi-sheet woodcut printed in Augsburg in 1585, entitled Aigentliche abbildung dess gantzen gewerbs der Kauffmanschafft..., offering an elaborate visual allegory depicting the conduct of commerce in 16th-century Europe, and incorporating an extensive letterpress text explaining the principles of double-entry bookkeeping. Such prints are relatively rare, and this one came with the six original woodblocks by the noted German illustrator Jost Amman. The department also acquired a Vandercook SP15 printing press and two fonts of foundry type, all of which will be used for teaching purposes in the reorganized and revitalized Houghton Printing Room.

The Harvard Theatre Collection purchased the archive of author and playwright Louis Evan Shipman and received notable gifts, including artifacts relating to the career of Leonard Bernstein (from members of the Bernstein family) and the papers of ballerina Vera Zorina from her son, the composer Peter Lieberson.

Among the Fine Arts Library's (FAL) notable acquisitions were:

  • Jakovsky, Anatole. Hans Erni, Hans Schiess, Kurt Seligmann, S.H. Taeuber-Arp, Gerard Vulliamy. (Paris: Edition abstraction creation, 1934), a significant exhibition catalog promoting the work of the Paris artists' group Abstraction Création.

  • 450 años de lucha: homenaje al pueblo mexicano: (146 estampas de la lucha del pueblo de Mexico. México: Taller de Gráfica Popular, 1960); a late portfolio of woodcuts that was produced at the artists' collaborative Taller de Gráfica Popular, and includes work by many of the important Mexican artists of the period.

  • Exposition d'art musulman: les Amis de l'art, Alexandrie, mars 1925. Paris: Éditions Albert Morancé, 1925. A rare catalog tracing the development of art and art collecting in the Middle East.

  • Reizei-ke shigure tei sosho (Tokyo: Asahi shinbunsha, 1992–2009), an 86-volume reprint set of the complete Reizei Family library that includes the Meigetsuki diary of Fujiwara Teika (1162–1241) and authoritative manuscripts of most Japanese classic literature. Five documents in this original collection are designated as national treasures of Japan. This is an invaluable primary source for studies of Japanese literature and history.

  • FAL was also able to acquire several facsimiles of medieval manuscripts, including the Kitab al-Diryaq—Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France ms. Arabe 2964. This work is an important 12th-century Arab medical treatise illustrated with miniatures depicting the nine great physicians of classical antiquity and the medicinal plants they prescribed as ingredients for panaceas to cure the bites of poisonous snakes and wild animals. This facsimile is on reserve in the Fine Arts Library for students in Prof. David Roxburgh's Fall 2010 seminar Topics in Arabic Art and Culture: The Arabic Book (HAA 128). It will also be used by students of the history of medicine and Islamic science.

  • An album of 112 photographs taken by a French colonial officer in Morocco during the First World War and privately published after the war, Le Maroc pittoresque: Fès-Meknès-et-région: album de photographies du Commandant Laribe (Marseille: Les Imprimeurs d'art, 1922) were added to the collection. The contents of the album are being digitized in collaboration with ArchNet, which will add metadata to the images and add them to their web site.

The Harvard-Yenching Library was selected as one of the Korean Film Council's Hub-Libraries in 2008 to receive free Korean films. As a result, the library received 214 DVDs of Korean feature films and eleven volumes of Korean cinema-focused publications in FY 2010.

This year, Loeb Music Library received the John M. Ward Collection of English Song Sheets, 1675–1820, a gift of over 2,000 well-organized and -documented items representing a popular medium of music distribution in 18th-century England. The collection complements previous gifts to the Harvard Theatre Collection and augments the Music Library's resources for 18th-century Europe, a strength of the library. The Music Library also received the first substantial installment of the archive of 20th-century composer and conductor Stephen "Lucky" Mosko. A Harvard alumnus and sometime faculty member, Mosko spent most of his career in California, where he conducted premieres of some of the most important American "new music" of the late 20th century. This collection serves the Department of Music's burgeoning program in late-20th- and early-21st-century music. Several items that are not exported from Europe to the US were purchased for the Recordings Collections. These recordings are essential for all aspects of the Music Department's programs in historical musicology, as our widely travelled and international faculty want these particular performances by well-known performing groups for teaching. Among this year's notable acquisitions are two recent anthologies of live performances of works by John Cage and Luciano Berio currently being used by Professor Anne Shreffler.

Widener's Latin America, Spanish, and Portuguese section purchased the following 19th-century South American imprints:

  • Reglamento para la elección y reunión de diputados que han de componer el cuerpo conservador de los derechos del Sr. D. Fernando VII en las provincias de Venezuela (Caracas. 1810). An American incunabula, by the first Venezuelan printer and signed by the primary editor of the Act of Independence.

  • Deseando el Rey nuestro Señor dar a todos los individuos del Ejército y Armada que a las órdenes del Teniente general D. Pablo Morillo Capitán general de las Provincias de Venezuela... (Madrid, 1816/17). A notable imprint denouncing the independence of Colombia; with Con motivo de la reconquista de la plaza de Cartagena de Indias, el 7 de Febrero de 1816 (Madrid, 28 de Julio, 1817).

Collaboration of bibliographers and collections funds across HCL resulted in the following notable acquisitions this year:

  • Widener's Middle East Division and the FAL contributed funds to the purchase of the Hazarian Library, a large and important private collection of books assembled by Mr. Haroutune Hazarian, a prominent Armenian dealer in Oriental carpets and art collector in New York. The collection is comprised of well over 1,800 books, periodicals, and phonograph recordings, in Armenian and other languages on Armenian-related subjects, and included a number of very desirable late-18th- and early-19th-century books in Armenian and Armeno-Turkish. The part of the collection relevant to art historical research will reside in the FAL, while other material is being added to Widener's collection.

  • In consultation with staff at Houghton Library, Widener's Modern Greek Section purchased three items at the Vergos Auction in Athens. These included a signed Cavafy manuscript, an extremely rare Orthodox liturgical book published in Constantinople, and Domenico Biorci's La Pace di Adrianopoli ossia la Grecia Liberata, published in Milano, 1835. The Houghton Library has an endowed fund for the purchase of rare Modern Greek materials and presented yet another opportunity for the sharing of collecting expertise among HCL libraries.

  • FAL and Widener Collection Development funds were combined to purchase several prayer books to support Jeffrey Hamburger's recurring freshman seminar The Book of Hours. These are actively used in the classroom, and individual manuscripts are the focus of student papers.

  • With assistance from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Widener's Collection Development and Middle East Division, Loeb Music Library was able to purchase the music manuscripts of Egyptian modernist composer Aziz El Shawan. Likely unique in the world, this acquisition represents the entire corpus of a non-Western modernist attempting to integrate local musical materials into European musical idioms.