Daily curated Tumblr of the Harvard Houghton Library
June 16, 2013 1:04 PM   Subscribe

The Houghton Library is Harvard's largest for rare books and manuscripts, and the tumbler currently showcases an image a day, with a link to the record in the online catalog for anyone who wants to know more about the source or come in to see it in person.

Teddy and Alice
Abraham's homework
Ingenious Headpieces
(street scene)
What's a holometer?

posted by the Real Dan (19 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
What's a holometer?

Twenty bucks, same as in town.

According to the OED it's "an instrument for taking angles and elevations, and measuring distances."
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:16 PM on June 16, 2013

Woohoo! I've been FPPed!

This is my first time doing anything with Tumblr, so feedback is much appreciated. This came about because I've been planning on mining our digitization orders database for a post on our main Wordpress blog (link in profile) of complete books and manuscripts we've digitized. But there were also lots of great single-image orders that I wanted to find an outlet for, and Tumblr seemed like a logical choice.

It's true what the post says about coming in to see the originals, by the way. Houghton is open to any adult researcher who wants to use the collections. Also, if you're in the Boston area, keep an eye out for an IRL post this fall--I'm planning to give a tour when our New Acquisitions exhbition goes up.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:41 PM on June 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

Wow, cool, I get it!
posted by bleep at 1:56 PM on June 16, 2013

I was just looking around, since I saw Rumpole's fingerprints all over it. Hurrah!

Now, may I please have the keys to the Destruction Room?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:06 PM on June 16, 2013

There's a poster on there for the "Hasty Pudding Club", with a very striking image. I was surprised to see that it was 1906!
posted by Jehan at 2:07 PM on June 16, 2013

"Printed luckily, and may be read unhappily, betwixt hawke and buzzard, 1641."

Is that just a joke/satire, or an actual location between inns? I guess the former, but?
posted by Jehan at 2:14 PM on June 16, 2013

Houghton is open to any adult researcher who wants to use the collections.

It's been awhile since I've looked at Harvard's library system and you're obviously more knowledgeable than me, but I was just talking about this with friends at a cookout last weekend. I'd encountered a book that wasn't listed anywhere on the interlibrary network (despite being popular on Amazon), and a law professor offered to let me use his borrowing privileges—"except if it's at Harvard, because they're the one library that charges outside institutions a hundred-something dollars to loan books." I laughed, because I remember as a student taking classes at Harvard Extension, my tuition didn't entitle me to access the Harvard library.
posted by cribcage at 2:17 PM on June 16, 2013

Yes, we're a lot different from some of the other Harvard Libraries in that regard--a big percentage of our usage is from external researchers, and all you have to do is sign up for a card and come in. That's true of most of the special collections libraries on campus, as distinct from the big main libraries like Widener.

I can't vouch for the accuracy of that ILL figure, but I do know that because Harvard libraries hold so many hard to find books, we lend out many more books than we borrow from other libraries, and it wouldn't surprise me if they have to impose some charges to keep the system managable.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:28 PM on June 16, 2013

I used to run the ILL department at a different Harvard library and yeah, there's a fee for other institutions to borrow. The way it was explained to me was normal, somewhat justified, Harvard paranoia - if we let other schools borrow our books for free, then they won't build their own collection and will rely on us instead. This means the books we buy for our community might not be there when they need them. So charge a fee to discourage other libraries from just being all "Harvard will have it!" and not ordering copies for themselves.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:39 PM on June 16, 2013

It is the most expensive library that we borrow from, but it's only $5 more than what we charge (when we charge.) It is not anywhere close to a hundred dollars.

The tumblr is great, and thank you for making these items more available to the public!
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:44 PM on June 16, 2013

What's a holometer?

Some meters try to get away with 99, 98, or even just 97 cm. Not the holometer!

By the way, I'm really enjoying the Tumblr, Horace. There was something about A Swarme of Sectaries and Schismaticks that made me want to find out more about it. Turns out there was a pamphlet in reply: An Answer to a Foolish Pamphlet Entituled, A Swarme of Sectaries and Schismaticks, which lead to a counter reply, A reply as true as steele, to a rusty, rayling, ridiculous, lying libell; which was lately written by an impudent unfoder'd ironmonger and called by the name of An answer to a foolish pamphlet entituled, A swarme of sectaries and schismatiques.

I kinda want to see what's in that pamphlet.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:57 PM on June 16, 2013

Oh, man, I love the titles you get in pamphlet wars. One of my favorites is from the 1730s:
Are These Things So?
Yes They Are
No They Are Not
What Of That?
Pro and Con
Have At You All

posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:08 PM on June 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

There's a French one from about the time of the revolution with a title something like:


posted by Jehan at 3:16 PM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am wowed by Abraham Lincoln's copperplate handwriting for arithmetic homework.
posted by bearwife at 3:34 PM on June 16, 2013

Wow. You'd think with as much as they charge for admission that Harvard could afford to buy some new books.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:08 PM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got a tour from Horace Rumpole. Highly recommended! Nice post, thanks.
posted by chinston at 7:18 PM on June 16, 2013

This is good. Nicely done, Mr. Rumpole. Have another claret.
posted by homunculus at 7:18 PM on June 16, 2013

Big day for the Houghton Tumblr, with the post on Mozart's ear getting posted by Kottke (without a link to the blog, sadly) and the front page of Digg.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:04 PM on July 8, 2013

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