The Fix: Conservation of Les Lépidoptères de la Belgique

This post was written by Ludivine Javelaud, intern in the Book Conservation Lab. I am currently a conservation graduate student at the Institut National du Patrimoine in Paris and I have been accepted to complete part of my 4th year internship requirement in the Book Conservation Lab in the Preservation Department at the Smithsonian Libraries.     One of the projects I am involved with is the conservation of a collection of more »

Women’s Work in the Early Book Trade

In 16th-century Spain, manuals detailing the finer points of sailing and navigation were printed. It was the Age of Discovery and the country was establishing lucrative trade routes across the seas while expanding their colonial empire. Other nations were keen to tap into the Spaniards’ great expertise found in this literature, as there was little maritime information published elsewhere. Books were a means of developing knowledge of geography and voyaging to be more »

Elizabeth Gould: An Accomplished Woman

Author’s note: Elizabeth Gould was a 19th century artist responsible for some of the most historically significant images of birds ever published. She was also a devoted wife and mother. It is sometimes difficult to reconcile both of these aspects of her life through our modern lens of 21st century social issues and feminism; it can be tempting to paint her story as that of a woman repressed by antiquated gender roles, more »

(Not so) Secret life of a woman naturalist: Mrs. Jane C. Loudon 1808-1878

In 1827, seventeen-year-old Jane Webb was adjusting to life after the death of her father.  She stated that, “on the winding up of his affairs that it would be necessary to do something for my support.”[i] She chose a rather creative solution to her financial challenges; she wrote a science fiction novel.  It did well, and Jane had a successful writing career, but never again wrote in the sci-fi genre.  If a more »

‘So you don’t have to go to the trouble of reading:’ Indexing, note-taking, and correction-making in Pliny’s 1491 Naturalis Historia

  “Do your reading!” and “Don’t write in your books!” are two oft-echoed directions from schoolteachers. A 1491 edition of Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia housed in our Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, however, challenges both of those commands: not only did Pliny write it in such a way that doesn’t necessitate reading it cover to cover, but readers in centuries past have added notes, reactions, and even corrections more »

The Last Jedi’s Monastic Retreat

The Skellig Islands. More stunning and other-worldly than any of the special effects of the past two Star Wars movies is the real-life towering rock outcroppings glimpsed in the closing moments of The Force Awakens (2015) and now playing a starring role in the blockbuster, The Last Jedi (2017). Although the Great Skellig, also known as Skellig Michael and Sceilig Mhichíl, and the Lesser (or Little) Skellig appear to be in a more »

The Fix: The Full Treatment

In conservation we use the term “full treatment” to describe when a book requires dis-binding the textblock, washing the pages, performing paper repair, re-sewing the sections, and replacing the boards and cover. In other words, it has received the maximum level of conservation care. As part of our Adopt-a-Book program, John Hill’s 1782 A History of Animals, from The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, arrived in the Book Conservation more »

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