The Brownings In Our World: Exhibit Introduction

by Joy Siler, Armstrong Browning Library Graduate Research Assistant

A sculpture of a man and woman's hands clasped together.

Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, Clasped Hands of Elizabeth and Robert Browning, 1853; Plaster, 3 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 4 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Molly F. Sheppard

Our newest exhibit at the Armstrong Browning Library, The Brownings In Our World, began as a digital exhibition curated by Baylor students. During the Fall 2020 semester, an English senior seminar of the same name—ENG 4364: The Brownings In Our World—was taught by Dr. Joshua King and hosted at the ABL. This particular course was in perfect harmony with its surroundings as it explored how the lives and writings of the Browning poets might have important connections to major challenges in our modern world. Both Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning often reflected on complex subjects of life throughout their poetry, including injustice, relations to nature, and debated faith. The class studied the poets with these ideas in mind and published their findings in a digital exhibit created over the course of the semester. Each student chose artifacts or pieces of poetry found in the ABL’s collections that they analyzed and presented with various digital media.

As they held class here and utilized rare items from our collections, it seemed fitting to create a physical showcase to bring their research to a broader audience on campus, in our local community, and to all visitors of the library. A single item from each student’s presentation was selected to represent their thematic research and has been arranged for viewing in the Hankamer Treasure Room. The collective work of the class and the exhibit show the Brownings’ poetry as valid contemporary commentary for societal issues of today and promotes the research that can be found at our library. This kind of dialogue lines up directly with our mission of providing these materials expressly for the appreciation and understanding of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning in a grander context.

We invite you to visit The Brownings in Our World exhibit that is now available to view digitally at https://blogs.baylor.edu/thebrowningsinourworld/ and in person at the Armstrong Browning Library in the Hankamer Treasure Room from April 1st through June 20th.

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Themes as Explored in the Exhibits:

Power and (In)Justice:

The Brownings’ often wrestled with their own ties to the systematic racial, gender, and class injustices that shaped their lives and Victorian society. Despite these personal connections and even benefitting from some of them, Robert and Elizabeth advocated for those experiencing these inequalities and protested the perpetuation of these conditions through their poetry.

Relating to Nature:

Influenced by natural beauty and the romanticism of the previous generation, the Brownings’ utilized nature to express complex feelings of love and appreciation. They included flowers and natural scenes in much of their poetry, often appreciative of its effects on their quality of life. They also recognized that deplorable, unhealthy living environments could be detrimental and worked to bring attention to those experiencing poverty and terrible working conditions.

Debated Faith:

Robert and Elizabeth featured many religious ideas and diverse interpretations of sacred text in their works. Spiritualism and increasing debates about religion at the time created new definitions of faith that had profound influence on both of the Brownings. Their followers have even taken to devoting themselves almost religiously to their body of works.

 

‘The Brownings in Our World’ exhibit will be on display in the Hankamer Treasure Room from April 1st through June 20th.

“Not Death But Love”: A Poetry Video Homage to Elizabeth Barrett Browning

By Gerard Wozek

In anticipation of the Armstrong Browning Library & Museum’s Browning Day Celebration on April 16, we are excited to present a recently completed video poem titled, “Not Death But Love,” produced by myself, Gerard Wozek as writer, and directed by artist Mary Russell in collaboration with Rob Kurland. In this brief film collage, it is our intention to honor the buried personal history of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. By reimagining her meditative garden strolls, our poetry video seeks to reveal her abiding love with her husband Robert Browning, her deep affinity for nature, her later experiments with the occult, and her ability to transcend the boundaries of time.

My creative partner Mary Russell and I have had the idea for years to develop a tribute video that honors Elizabeth Barrett Browning, her life as a writer and what informed her creative process.  Our keen interest in the life of the poet really hit a peak when we were teaching in a study abroad program offered through our university that took us to Florence, Italy. There we discovered Barrett Browning’s attraction for long strolls in the Florentine Boboli Gardens and her life at Casa Guidi. We were so enchanted with what we discovered about the life of the poet in Italy, that we at once began to put together the idea of “restaging” and reimagining her walks alongside a narrative that would serve as an homage to the poet’s craft and genius.

Still frame from “Not Death But Love”

I developed a tribute poem that would take the reader and listener on a journey through various elements and time periods inhabited by Barrett Browning. I wanted the viewer to feel as though they were walking alongside the poet, in order to not only see what she might be encountering in the Boboli Gardens of Florence, but also to feel and connect with her internal creative vision:

We listen for Pan’s pipes. A leopard’s growl as it grazes the bark of an overgrown cypress. Your hushed voice moving through the lines of a sonnet.

Elizabeth! Your handwriting is the black-ink edge of a storm cloud curling into infinity.

Puffs of red dust that once clung to your petticoat, now stain our sandal straps as we make our way to the Egyptian obelisk.

Poetry video is a unique way of expressing this particular kind of tribute to a poet. Also known as videopoems, cine-poetry, or poetry films, poetry video unites spoken text (or sometimes text that is written on the screen or text that is simply interpreted by the visual artist) with imagery and music. Situated somewhere between installation art and music video, poetry video is an evolving genre. When a resonant image couples with the poet’s text, alchemy can occur between the two disciplines of poetry and film. The visual images often deepen the author’s meaning, provide startling contrast, or locate new alliances within the inherent metaphors of the poet’s text. Stills, animation, computer graphics, and filmed imagery, complimented often by a soundtrack and/or the poet’s voice, can broaden and enhance the experience of the listener/viewer.

Jamie Stoik as Elizabeth Barrett Browning in “Not Death But Love”

“Not Death But Love,” which was completed earlier last year, will screen this summer at the 2021 International Poetry Video Festival in Athens, Greece. We were so thrilled that Jennifer Borderud, Director of the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University, offered us an opportunity to share our newly completed work with the community at Baylor, and most especially with those individuals who will celebrate the University’s annual Browning Day held virtually on April 16, 2021.

The video is available below. You can also contact me at Gerard.Wozek@gmail.com for more information about the video.

The Armstrong Browning Library & Museum’s annual Browning Day Celebration will be held virtually this year on April 16. For more information, visit baylor.edu/library/browningday.

Introducing Spring 2021 Student Assistants.

This spring the Armstrong Browning Library has added a few new Library Hosts and Library Services Assistants. Student Hosts are the first point of contact for visitors to the library, and one of their chief responsibilities is to be friendly and welcoming to guests. The Library Services Student Assistants help researchers access Armstrong Browning Library materials and support the library’s efforts to increase the visibility of its collections. Please stop and say, “hello” to our new colleagues when you next at the Armstrong Browning Library.

Jordan Vanderpool, Student Host

Male young adult standing in front of a stained glass window.

Student Host, Jordan Vanderpool

Hometown: China Spring, Texas

Major: Double major in University Scholar and Spanish

What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? The Armstrong Browning library is incredibly beautiful and peaceful. I love just being in the building, and furthermore, I love Robert Browning’s poetry, so it’s just great to work in a place so rich in literary history.

What food do you miss most when away from home? I miss most vegetables grown at my house, like swiss chard and turnips.

Hannah Barker, Library Services Assistant

Female young adult standing in front of a stained glass window.

Library Services Assistant, Hannah Barker

Hometown: Lewisville, Texas

Major: Accounting

What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I’m excited to be surrounded by so much history and part of a community that values literature and its preservation.

What food do you miss most when away from home? I miss my Dad’s fish fry and my Mom’s spaghetti – really just homemade food in general.

Madeleine Svehla, Library Services Assistant

Female young adult standing in front of a mural.

Library Services Assistant Madeleine Svehla

Hometown: Morrison, CO
Major: Master of Divinity
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry (my favorite poem by her is entitled “The Best Thing in the World”). I have always had a deep passion for the power of the written word, and I am honored to be a part of the process of preserving ABL’s incredible collection! I admire the way the ABL combines beauty and research in ways that inspire creativity and contemplation.
What food do you miss most when away from home? The food I miss the most when I am away from home is my father’s Big Breakfasts. These meals usually consist of scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, English Muffins, orange juice, and occasionally, (just to mix it up) can also include either French Toast or waffles. My whole family gathers every Sunday to share this meal after church and I look forward to laughing and spending time together each week- these brunches are something I miss a great deal when I am away from home!

Matilda Weeden, Library Services Assistant

Female young adult standing next to a stained glass window.

Library Services Assistant, Matilda Weeden

Hometown: Monroe, Wisconsin (the Swiss Cheese capital of the US)

Major: International Studies

What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I am most looking forward to helping show people around and being surrounded by the beauty of the library on a regular basis.

What food do you miss most when away from home? When I am away from home I miss my mom’s homemade bread rolls or Culver’s crinkle cut fries dipped in chocolate frozen custard. Fries in ice cream just aren’t as good anywhere else!

2020’s Browning Collections Acquisitions

As the “library of record” of research materials relating to Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the Armstrong Browning Library is constantly seeking to acquire original letters, manuscripts, books from the poets’ library, personal affects, portraits, all of the first and many successive editions of their poetry, secondary works and criticisms, their poetry set to music, and memorabilia. Every piece of Browningiana we add to our collections has the potential to provide researchers greater understanding of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Over the course of 2020, we added the items listed below to our Browning Collections.

THE BROWNINGS’ LIBRARY
The Art Review. Volume I (1890). London: Walter Scott, 1890.
Browning Guide #A0111.

Hausted, Peter. Ten Sermons, Preached Upon Several Sundayes and Saints Days …. London: Printed by Miles Flesher, Bernard Alsop, and Thomas Fawcet for John Clark, 1636.
Browning Guide # A1145.5.

Heine, Heinrich. Buch der Lieder. Stuttgardt: Verlag von Karl Crabbe, 1889.
Browning Guide #A1163.5.

BROWNING LIBRARY COPIES
Cruden, Alexander. A Complete Concordance to the Holy Scriptures. 4th Edition. London, 1785.

ASSOCIATION VOLUMES
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Aurora Leigh. London: Chapman and Hall, 1957.
Browning Guide # M0020.5.

Browning, Robert. Dramatis Personæ. London: Chapman and Hall, 1864.
Browning Guide # M0127.3.

BROWNING LETTERS (ALS, autographed letter signed)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Louis Cappel, 29 July 1843. ALS
Gift of the Baylor University English Department in Honor of Dr. Dianna Vitanza.

Robert Browning to Charles Hamilton Aidé, 14 May [18]86. Signed note on photograph print, framed.

Robert Browning to D.[aniel] S.[argent] Curtis, 21 October 1882. Envelope also, framed. ALS

Robert Browning to Emilie Schlesinger, [undated]. “Pray forgive the delay in answering your note….” ALS

Robert Browning to Julia Sturgis, 3 March [18]63. ALS

Robert Browning to Lady Goldsmid, [undated]. “How very happy I shall be to go to you….” ALS

Robert Browning to Lady Goldsmid, [undated]. “Pray forgive my stupidity….” ALS

Robert Browning to Lady Goldsmid, 20 February 1869. ALS

Alexander Gilchrist to Robert Browning, 19 January 1855.

MANUSCRIPTS OF ROBERT BROWNING
Browning, Robert. Vetturino Endorsements.
Browning Guide #E0578.5.

LIKENESSES OF ROBERT BROWNING
Frederick Jones’ photograph of Robert Browning. London, c. 1868.
Browning Guide #G0048.

WORKS OF ART, HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL EFFECTS
Hat Pins. Pair of silver pins with decorative filigree ball head, c. 1750. Accompanied with visiting card inscribed by Fannie Browning.
Browning Guide #H0578.5.

WORKS OF ROBERT BROWNING, SR.
Browning, Robert, Sr. Drawings of heads. Five heads, pencil, N.D.
Browning Guide #J0024.5.

Browning, Robert, Sr. Oddments. Collection of 30 sketches, N.D.
Browning Guide #J0028.8.

EPHEMERA
Staffordshire Elizabeth Barrett Browning Powder Bowl, circa 1850.

RARE BOOKS
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Sonnets from the Portuguese. London: George Bell & Sons, 1902.
Provided by the Jack and Daphne Herring Memorial Endowment Fund

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Sonnets from the Portuguese. Portland, Maine: Thomas B.Mosher, 1898. Second edition.

Browning, Robert. Italy My Italy: IV Lyrics. Portland, Maine: Thomas B. Mosher, 1910.

Browning, Robert. Selections from Robert Browning’s Poetical Works. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1892.
Provided by the Jack and Daphne Herring Memorial Endowment Fund

Browning, Robert. Selections from the Poetical Works of Robert Browning. First and second series. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1900.

Mitford, Mary R. Narrative Poems on the Female Character in various relations of human life, Including Blanch and the Rival Sisters. NewYork: Eastburn, Kirk & Co, 1813.

Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, firm. The Browning Collections. Catalogue of Oil Paintings, Drawings & Prints; Autograph Letters and Manuscripts; Books; Statuary, Furniture, Tapestries, and Works of Art; the Property of R. W. Barrett Browning, Esq….London: Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, [1913].

[Ruskin, John]. Stray Letters from Professor Ruskin to a London Bibliopole. London: Privately printed (T.J. Wise), 1892.

RARE PERIODICALS
The Browning Society’s Papers. London: The Browning Society, 1889-1891.

RARE PERIODICAL ARTICLES
Robert Browning: Some Personal Gossip about the Great Poet,” in Saint John Globe, 29 May 1880, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE COLLECTION
Barrett Browning, Elizabeth. Poemes et Poesies. Traduitde l’anglaiset etude par Albert Savine.Paris: Biblioteque Cosmopolite, 1905.

Dimensione “D”: Atti del seminario Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Centro Studi Cultura e Progresso, Gabinetto G.P. Vieusseux, The British Institute. Firenze, Italia, Marzo 1992.

Fano, Centinarola, Rosciano, Cuccarano, Carrara, Bellocchi, zona artigianale, Madonna Ponte, Metaurilia, Torrette, Marotta, pianta della città. Map of the City. Bologna: Studio F.M.B., 1975[?].

MUSICAL SCORES COLLECTION
Heggie, Jake, music; Robert Browning, poetry. “Grow Old Along with Me.” For Baritone and Piano. Bill Holab Music, publisher, unknown date.

ABL LPs
Browning, Robert. “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix: Robert Browning Reciting the First Four Lines of His Poem.” BBC, [1960].

Also known as “The Voice of the Master” or “The Master’s Voice” this is a recording of Robert Browning reciting the first four lines of “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix” on a phonogram (old wax cylinder) in April, 1889.

NON-RARE
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Casa Guidi Windows. London: Collins’ Clear-Type Press, [between 1900 and 1910?].

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Casa Guidi Windows. With a prefatory note by William A. Sim. Drawings by Giulio Giannini, Jr. Florence: Giulio Giannini & Figlio, [192-?].

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Rhyme of the Duchess May. Illustrated by Katharine Cameron. London and Edinburgh: T. N. Foulis, [1907].

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Through the Year with Mrs. Browning. Boston: DeWolfe, Fiske & Co., [1912?].

Browning, Robert. Pippa Passes, & Men & Women. Illustrated by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1909.

Browning, Robert. Rabbi Ben Ezra and Saul. London: Siegle, Hill & Co., [1911].

Browning, Robert. Robert Browning. London: Robert Rivière & Son, 1916.

Browning, Robert. The Browning Birthday Book. Arranged by James Weston. London and New York: Frederick Warne & Co., [19–?].

Browning, Robert. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Illustrated by Kate Greenaway. London: Bracken Books, 1986.

Carleton, Marjorie. The Barretts. A Comedy in Three Acts. Boston and Los Angeles: Baker’s Plays, 1940.

DeVane, William C. Browning’s Parleyings; the Autobiography of a Mind. Yale University Press, 1927.

Hutton, John A. Guidance from Robert Browning in Matters of Faith. Edinburgh and London: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1905. Second edition.

Ingram, John H. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Famous Women Series. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1888.

Meynell, Alice. The Colour of Life and Other Essays on Things Seen and Heard. London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1904.

Orr, Mrs. Sutherland. Life and Letters of Robert Browning. In two volumes. Boston and New York, 1896.

The Voice of Robert Browning and “The Voices of Browning”. Waco, TX; Baylor University, [1960].

An essay on the recording of Robert Browning reciting the first four lines of “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix” on a phonogram (old wax cylinder) in April, 1889 and descriptions of recent Browning acquisitions by the ABL.

Ward, T.H. The English Poets. 5 volumes. London: Macmillian, 1891.

Wedgwood, Barbara and Hensleigh. The Wedgwood Circle 1730-1897. Westfield, New Jersey: Eastview Editions, Inc., 1980.

NON-RARE PERIODICAL ARTICLES
Byatt, A.S. “A. S. Byatt on Robert Browning” in The Independent Magazine. Issue 12, 26 November 1988, p. 78.

Smith, Cornelia Marschall. “Proverb Lore in The Ring and the Book” in PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. Vol. LVI, Num.1, March 1941. Pp. 219-227.

Researching at the Armstrong Browning Library, Spring 2021

The Armstrong Browning Library’s collection materials continue to be available to readers in the third-floor Belew Scholars’ Room. Baylor University’s procedures and practices for the COVID-19 pandemic apply to all individuals in the Armstrong Browning Library. At this time the capacity of the Belew Scholars’ Room is 5 researchers.

Individuals needing to access collection materials in the Belew Scholars’ Room are encouraged to schedule an appointment at least 48 hours before their visit. To schedule an appointment and request materials email, abl_office@baylor.edu.

We are currently asking first-time readers to complete the “Application for Use of Research Materials” prior to arriving at the Armstrong Browning Library and encouraging applications along with a copy of a photo ID to be submitted electronically (.jpg and .pdf files recommended) to: abl_office@baylor.edu.

Adaptations to the Armstrong Browning Library’s “Regulations for Use of Research Materials

  1. Researchers should not enter the Library Services Center. They should show photo ID and tell the Library Services Assistant their name, so that the Library Services Assistant can sign-in the reader.
  2. Readers should email, abl_office@baylor.edu, at least 48 hours before their visit to request the collection materials they expect to use.
  3. When leaving the Belew Scholars’ Room, researchers must notify the Library Services Assistant who will sign-out the reader, unlock the researcher’s locker, and either remove materials to quarantine area or unlock the holds cabinet so that readers can place the materials they wish to place on hold inside the cabinet.

* Researchers must leave their masks on while in the Belew Scholars’ Room (even if they are the only person present).

Armstrong Browning Library’s Adaptations to Collections Access

  • Hand sanitizer is available in the Belew Scholars’ Room near the public computers and the reference collection.
  • Researchers should request materials via email: abl_office@baylor.edu rather than filling out call slips.
  • Materials will be pulled twice daily, at approximately 10am and 2pm (depending on staff availability).
  • Materials are pulled and delivered using gloves.
  • After use by reader, materials will be quarantined for 3 days before they will be re-shelved or available for use by another reader.
  • Only the Library Services Assistant will unlock and lock (touch the keys and handles of) lockers and the holds cabinet.

Virtual research assistance is available via email for individuals unable to visit the Belew Scholars’ Room.

To You and Yours

The Armstrong Browning Library wishes a

“Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Years!”

Robert Browning in a santa hat.Knowing we could all use something to smile about this year, Maggie Liu, a senior graphic design intern with the Baylor University Libraries added a festive touch (the Santa hat) to the portrait of Robert Browning on the front of the Armstrong Browning Library’s Christmas card.

Miniaturist Ella Bush Shepherd (1862-1948) painted the original portrait. She was an American artist and member of both the Los Angeles Browning Society and the Pasadena Browning Society.

Included in our Christmas card is a request for current contact information. If you would like to update your contact information or be added to our mailing list, please email abl_office@baylor.edu with your current details.

Thank you for reading and subscribing to our blog. We look forward to continuing to share the Armstrong Browning Library’s 2021 happenings with you in this space.

Reflections from a Graduate Assistant: On Fall 2020 & Browning Societies

By Rachel Jacob, Armstrong Browning Library Graduate Research Assistant

Beginning graduate school is an intimidating endeavor. There are questions swirling in your mind such as whether or not you can make it through, if this graduate school was the right choice, and if you will enjoy the work when it actually becomes your job. I was fairly confident that I would be able to handle the academic requirements of graduate school. It was my graduate assistantships that concerned me the most. I could not be sure that I would be good at my job. Of course, it was not expected for me to already be experienced and know what I was doing. The point of a graduate assistantship is to give you that experience and that practical knowledge. But still, I had questions which needed answering.

One of the first substantial jobs I did at the Armstrong Browning Library was to organize materials from Browning societies or clubs across the world. Before my graduate assistantship at the ABL, I had no idea that the Brownings were such monumental figures in literature. I had read some of Robert and Elizabeth’s poetry, but was completely unaware of the devoted fans who follow them and their works to this day. The task of organizing and cataloguing the materials from different Browning societies opened my eyes to this fascination that still surrounds them. Each Browning society met consistently to discuss literary topics, mainly focused around the Brownings. With each society came things such as a yearbook for each year the club was in existence, meeting notices for each meeting, programs for every special event, and newspaper clippings with mentions of the club or the Brownings. The clubs spanned from Waco, to Seattle, to New York, to Manchester England. Certain clubs had materials which spread decades and generations. Some of these club are still in existence today.

At the start of this project, I was processing the yearbooks or meeting notices from different societies. Once I finished organizing and cataloging those, I began work on the New York Browning Society’s materials. This was separate from the yearbooks. In this material there were financial records, meeting minutes, bulletins, and event programs, and other miscellaneous society materials. This portion of the collection was mainly from the 1970’s through the 1990s. Unlike the yearbooks, which needed to be re-homed and catalogued, this material was partially unorganized. This presented new obstacles for archival work. There were certain areas of the materials which were organized with a clear original order. Those materials were not to be rearranged because the original order is kept as intact as possible. However, this whole collection did not have an original order. For the sections which no original order could be determined, it was my responsibly to decide what the best order was for these materials. This required intellectually and physically rearranging these materials to help them to make sense with the original order, while also being usable for research.

Two boxes sitting on a table.

NYC Browning Society Boxes

This whole project not only taught me about the enthusiasm that encompasses the Brownings, but also vital archival skills. Every object had to be arranged chronologically, catalogued, and described before being re-homed in a document box. This is basic archival work which I knew in theory, but was able to receive practical experience in.

The most important thing which this project, and everything I have done at the Armstrong Browning Library this semester, taught me was the answer “it depends”. There were countless times I would ask questions about organizing, archival processes, or the way things were done at the ABL to receive the answer “it depends”. In archival work, there is not always a right answer or an obvious choice. There are many variables that lead to the solution, and often times it is up to the archivist to make the decisions which will lead to the best solution.

Once I began receiving the answer of “it depends” at the ABL, I noticed that questions in my classes were answered with an it depends as well. In the museum field, there may be no right answer, no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, the classes and the experiences of our graduate assistantships are giving us the information necessary to create our own framework to know how to proceed when the answer is “it depends”. I may still have the questions which I had at the beginning of the year, and this semester may have raised other questions in my mind, but I am in a program and working graduate assistantships which are teaching me how to answer my questions. And I look forward to continuing to learn through my experiences, particularly with archival and conservation work at the ABL in order to continue in their mission to preserve the Brownings in order to encourage the continued study of their works.

Reflections from a Graduate Assistant: On Fall 2020

By Joy Siler, Armstrong Browning Library Graduate Research Assistant

Graduate Assistant Desk and laptop. Stained glass window depicting Robert Browning's Ferishtah's Fancies above desk.

Graduate Assistant Work Space

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the collections processing work that I have done for the ABL’s Browning Society Ephemera Collection! Many of these items were inaccessible and disorganized before and now they are reaching a point where they can be easily located. Its important to make sure that all our materials are stored properly and readily available to the next person who needs to use them. Files of correspondence, meeting minutes, announcements, and many other documents will now be preserved and accessible!

What helped you learn the most?

I was very happy to be able to assist Dr. King’s course about the Brownings’ poetry at the library this fall semester! It was a great opportunity to familiarize myself with what the library has to offer, how its resources are organized, and the processes of making those resources available to those who request them. I also learned about handling and preparing some of the rarer materials in the collection to be digitized as the students prepared a virtual exhibit. It was very exciting, and I enjoyed working with the artifacts, books, and manuscripts!

What would you like to do more of?

I would love to continue working with the collections directly and preparing them for researchers! I really enjoy being in touch with developments in the academic community and then providing the resources that they need to learn about their subject. The physical collections we have are fascinating and I enjoy discovering new things every day!

Fall 2020 Instruction Sessions

With many more Baylor University courses being offered online or as hybrid versions this semester, the Armstrong Browning Library has provided study spaces for more students than in the past few semesters. The temporary increase in online courses has, understandably, meant fewer requests from faculty to bring their classes to the Armstrong Browning Library or to develop instruction sessions utilizing Armstrong Browning Library collections. We still have had faculty members request instruction sessions for their online or in-person classes.

Virtual Instruction Sessions:

Since so many of the classes coming to the Armstrong Browning Library request a tour, either as part of their instruction session or for their entire instruction session, we created a virtual version of the tour this summer. For the virtual tour we created a series of short videos. Each video highlights one of the spaces covered by our in-person tour. This was so instructors could choose either all the videos or just the spaces which they normally request for their class session.  As faculty began preparing to teach online during the fall semester, the Armstrong Browning Library shared the tour with faculty when we received requests for virtual tours.

A few of the classes which have previously come to the Armstrong Browning Library to utilize our resources for instruction sessions asked to collaborate on a virtual version of their standard sessions. One of the English 2301, British Literature courses has come in to analyze the presentation and transmission of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” from its first publication to the present. For this course, we selected fewer examples of the text from our collection than we did for previous in-person sessions. Then we photographed the volumes together and individually focusing on the same parts of the books and the same selections within the poem. The images were added to a slide presentation along with bibliographic information about each volume and guiding questions to help students analyze the volumes.

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In-Person Instruction Sessions:

Though many of the faculty who routinely bring their students to the Armstrong Browning Library are teaching online this fall, a few still had in-person classes and several of those instructors reached out to collaborate on socially distanced lessons using books, manuscripts, art, and artifacts from our collections. All of our instruction sessions were set up in the Hankamer Treasure Room this fall.

Baylor’s photography classes came to study the Julia Margaret Cameron photograph collection and examples of Victorian photography. We spread out resources so that there were only 1-3 items per table (depending on the table and the item’s size). This allowed 1 student to be at each table at a time. We stationed ABL staff members with the bound volumes of photographs so that we could turn the pages for students.

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We look forward to more in-person instruction sessions in the spring and we are prepared to help faculty teaching online find ways to integrate the Armstrong Browning Library’s collections into their courses, as well.

“Wilder Ever Still & Wilder!”: A Successful Benefactor’s Day 2020

By Joy Siler, Armstrong Browning Library Graduate Research Assistant

On November 5th, the Armstrong Browning Library & Museum upheld its annual tradition of hosting a Benefactor’s Day program to thank all those that support the functions of our institution. The celebration looked a bit different this year—being presented virtually on Zoom to all the ABL’s benefactors and supporters—but was held in the same joy as all previous programs.

Wilder Ever Still & Wilder Image

Benefactors’ Day graphic designed by Baylor Libraries Marketing and Communications Department

Dr. Beverly Taylor and Dr. Marjorie Stone provided the afternoon’s presentation about their collaborative research into Victorian wedding journeys and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s own enlightening experience as expressed in her unpublished honeymoon poem. Dr. Beverly Taylor is a Professor of English at the University of North Carolina and Dr. Marjorie Stone is the McCulloch Professor Emeritus of English at Dalhousie University. They discussed the historical and biographical context of EBB’s composition in the light of the Victorian era’s development of the honeymoon ritual and the transition of the Brownings’ courtship into intimate married life. Following the lecture, a Q&A session was held for viewers to ask questions over the presentation. A full recording of the celebration program may be viewed at https://www.baylor.edu/library/index.php?id=973376

Thank you to all who choose to support the Armstrong Browning Library and continue to contribute to our efforts towards providing collections, research, fellowships, and programming to our communities. We hope that you can join us again next year!