It is Most Beauteous: Observations on the Medieval Fragments Collection

Ethan Avery, a senior undergraduate student in history and political science, is a Student Library Assistant for Archives & Special Collections. Because of his academic concentration in (and general penchant for) the Early and High Middle Ages, Ethan took interest in the Medieval Fragments Collections. Below are his observations:

The earliest piece in the Medieval Fragments Collection (shown above) dates to the 13th century.

The earliest piece in the Medieval Fragments Collection (shown above)dates to the 13th century.

Stealing pages from medieval manuscripts has historically been a common practice due to value of even the individual pages. Most of these missing pages will fall into private collections or become lost after a short time. Fortunately, some of these pages return to archives, such as the pages that can be found in the Medieval Fragments Collection within Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

This collection was purchased in the early 1970s by the Special Collections division of the UConn library. It contains several pages from medieval manuscripts, showing beautiful calligraphy and artwork. These pages are primarily from the 15th century, but the earliest page was taken from a 13th century manuscript.

The purpose of the collection is to provide examples from the history of printing. These pages show the development of printing in France over the medieval period and are invaluable to the study of printing through the ages. But besides the aesthetic quality of the fragments, these pieces highlight the importance of collecting, preserving, and studying medieval manuscripts in the modern age. To view this fascinating collection, one simply has to visit Archives & Special Collections and request to use the Medieval Fragments Collection in the John P. McDonald Reading Room.

Nellie and Pinocchio go a-roaming

The Wenham Museum in Wenham, Massachusetts is borrowing artifacts, sketches, and illustrations from the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection for their upcoming exhibit Picture This: 90 Years of Storybook Art (February 3- May 6, 2012).  Classic toy stories will come to life through more than 50 original illustrations, vintage toys, and antique books in a colorful display that is engaging for all ages. In the gallery visitors will be able to make their own picture book to take away after their visit, dress in costume to become part of the story, and use story cubes to create their own picture stories all while enjoying the illustrations and reading classics of children’s literature.

The NCLC is lending two artifacts from Nellie, a cat on her own, written and illustrated by Natalie Babbitt and published in 1989 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.   Ms. Babbitt was born in 1932 in Dayton, OH, the daughter of Ralph Zane and Genevieve (Converse) Moore. She received her B.A. from Smith College in 1954. That same year she married Samuel Fisher Babbitt, who also collaborated with her on her first book, The 49th Magician.

The Babbitt Papers hold the manuscripts, preliminary sketches, finished artwork and models for this and many other Babbitt titles, including her most famous work, the multiple award-winning Tuck Everlasting.   Seven paintings and two sketches by Ms. Babbitt will accompany Nellie and her hat to Wenham. Nellie a cat on her own written and illustrated by Natalie BabbittTo keep Nellie company, eight collages by Ed Young will be featured in the Wenham show as well.  These collages are the finished works of art for his Pinocchio, published in 1996 by Philomel.  Mr. Young, a children’s book author/illustrator and winner of many awards was born in Tientsin, China and raised in Shanghai and Hong Kong, where he was interested in drawing and storytelling from an early age.  He moved to the U.S. in 1951 to study architecture but quickly changed his focus to art.  Mr. Young has illustrated over eighty books, many of which he also wrote.

Pinocchio by Ed Young

The mission of the Wenham Museum is to protect, preserve, and interpret the history and culture of  Boston’s North Shore, domestic life, and the artifacts of childhood.  The Museum was established in 1922, making 2012 its 90th anniversary. It began as an historic house museum, but the first donor, Elizabeth Richards Horton – who also happened to be the last child to grow up in the house – donated nearly 1000 dolls to the museum that had been her childhood home, thus establishing the Wenham Museum as one of the premier museums of dolls, toys, and the artifacts of childhood from the 17th century to the present. Since then the museum has maintained a tradition of celebrating childhood and domestic life through its exhibitions of artifacts that have been a part of childhood for the past 400 years, including children’s books, toys and dolls of all kinds, electric trains, and textiles and objects of domestic life.

New James Marshall book dummy donated

The family of the late Coleen Salley have donated James Marshall’s book dummy for his “The Cut-ups cut loose” to the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection. The charming, 32-page dummy is accompanied by a letter from Mr. Marshall to Ms. Salley with a note about “our little book.” The dummy is black and white with some color on the title page. The book was published in 1987 by Viking Kestrel and is dedicated to Ms. Salley. This piece is the only item in the Marshall Papers for this title. Thank you, Salley Family, for this important addition to the NCLC.

–Terri J. Goldich, Curator