Monday, June 24, 2013

My First Weeks as the LCP Print Department Intern

Intern Kat Poje, Haverford '16

Returning my tomes on medieval medicine to the library, clearing my computer of the multiple drafts of papers and paragraphs cluttering Word document folders, and having taken my last trip to the Quaker and Special Collections at Haverford College, I felt a deep sense of relief. My spring semester’s final research papers were done, and my bookshelves could once again house novels, not just dense historical studies.
There is a poetic quality to the fact that now finished with my scholarly research as a freshman, I begin working on the other side — with those who make such research possible. With the support of Haverford College’s John B. Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities, I am interning throughout the summer with the Print Department  at the Library Company of Philadelphia. My work involves making primary source materials available to visiting scholars and interested members of the public, a facet of research I had not previously spent much time considering.
Interior of Christ Church.

LCP recently acquired the Raymond Holstein Stereograph Collection of 2,000 “stereos.” (In case, like me, you were previously unaware that a stereo was something other than a music amplification system, a stereograph is a double-sided photograph. A photographer creates two images of the same object/scene, taking each one at a slightly different angle, and then mounts them next to one another on a mat. When viewed in a stereoscope, a binocular-like contraption, the photographs “meld” together as one three-dimensional image). 

Chamounix, Fairmount Park.
The Holstein Collection predominantly contains 19th- and early 20th-century images of Philadelphia, including views of churches, hospitals, Fairmount Park, the Schuylkill River, and the Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Through my work with the collection, I am gaining new insight into the history of the City of Brotherly Love, my home-metropolis for the next three years of college. On the day-to-day level, I am helping to make the photographs accessible to visitors and, eventually, online researchers.

Mrs. Maxwell taxidermy display at the Centennial Exhibition, 1876.

 As it stands now, the collection is not fully processed and I am at the stage of arranging and describing it. Under the supervision of the Print Department, particularly Associate Curator Erika Piola (a Haverford alumna), I am alphabetizing the stereographs by title, providing call numbers, and housing them (an archival mat inscribed with ID information and an acid-free sleeve to protect it from the hands that will handle it). This occasionally involves a bit of sleuthing, especially when the image has no title, is missing a date, or seems to have a twin image under another title. I am also digitizing some of the collection, so it can be viewed online. To take a look at some of my work, you can check out the Library Company’s Flickr page: More will be coming soon, so check back! You might just discover Philly, wandering through time and space from your desk, as did stereograph viewers more than one hundred years ago.

Kat Poje, Haverford ‘16
Print Department intern, Summer 2013

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