Brian Sullivan, Reference Archivist in the University Archives, is the recipient of the 1999-2000 Douglas W. Bryant Fellowship. Brian will use the fellowship to complete a project to transcribe the personal journal of former Librarian of Harvard College, John Langdon Sibley (1804-1885).

Since 1999, Mr. Sullivan has been preparing a transcription of the Sibley journal for electronic publication. An 1825 graduate of Harvard, John Langdon Sibley worked in the Harvard College Library while he was a student. After various careers as a minister and publisher, he returned to Harvard as Assistant Librarian in 1841, the same year that the Library moved into Gore Hall. He was appointed Librarian in 1856, and served in this capacity for 36 years. “Aside from building and defending the collections of the Library, Sibley was also an avid biographer and antiquarian,” notes Mr. Sullivan. “His exertions to save historical as well as contemporary documents did not end when he left the Library each night. He also strove, in his journal, to create a continuous record of his observations, insights, and opinions on events at Harvard, Cambridge, and beyond. Curiosity led me to the journal, and as I read the varied and interesting entries, I began to visualize it reformatted as a Web-based resource.”

Although Sibley’s journal has been available to scholars, the fragility of the original made it necessary for the University Archives to provide them with an aging facsimile that is nearly impossible to read.

“The Bryant Fellowship Committee was unanimous in its high judgment of the merits of Brian’s project. We were very happy to support such a project as this, bringing to light a document so rich in general historical and specific institutional interest,” said Hugh Olmsted, Slavic Specialist in Research and Bibliographic Services in Widener Library and Chair of this year’s committee.

Mr. Sullivan, who has worked at the University Archives since 1995, plans to use the fellowship to complete the transcription and to prepare it for delivery via the Archives’ Web site. Although the transcription project is a personal endeavor, it complements the University Archives’ efforts to make Harvard history more broadly accessible online. In 1999, the Archives, in collaboration with the Radcliffe Archives, launched an LDI grant project to digitize the Annual Reports of both institutions.

Established with a gift from Charles and Mary Tanenbaum, the Douglas W. Bryant Fellowship supports research in bibliography and historical aspects of librarianship, the production of reference and bibliographic tools, and scholarly investigations outside the field of librarianship. Available each year since 1974 to promote scholarly research, the fellowship is intended to provide incentive and assistance to those seeking to develop or complete projects of academic importance. The jury for this year’s award consisted of Hugh Olmsted; Kevin Lau, Systems Administrator, Countway Library of Medicine; and Karen Nipps, Senior Rare Book Cataloger, Houghton Library.

October 31, 1846 “Last evening some one, probably an undergraduate, set fire to a bunch of crackers which exploded in the entry to the President’s study. This morning the students were desired to remain in the Chapel after prayers, and the President, after requesting the Professors Francis and Noyes to withdraw, addressed the students very successfully upon the subject.”

April 19, 1865 “There is a general inclination to drape public buildings as well as private residences. All the black cambric is bought up for the purpose… the four pilasters on the west side of University Hall are entirely covered from bottom to top with black.”

January 12, 1846 “My salary, which has been five hundred dollars and room rent, and pay at 40c per hour between four o’ clock and prayer bell… and for the half day on Saturday, has been increased by one hundred dollars. I generally commence my duties, the year round, between half past seven and eight o’ clock in the morning.”


Copyright © 2000 The President and Fellows of Harvard College