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.

“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!

Armstrong Browning Library Looks Forward to Welcoming Visiting Scholars

Pandemic-permitting, the Armstrong Browning Library (ABL) looks forward to welcoming the following visiting scholars to the Library during the 2020-2021 academic year:

  • Joshua Brorby, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Lindsey Chappell, Georgia Southern University
  • Michael Meredith, Eton College, United Kingdom
  • Fabienne Moine, University of Paris Nanterre, France
  • Kevin Morrison, University of Connecticut and Henan University, China
  • Jordan Welsh, University of Essex, United Kingdom

These scholars will spend one month at the ABL conducting research in the Library’s collections to advance their current book or dissertation projects and will provide a summary of their findings on the Armstrong Browning Library & Museum blog. Visiting scholars also often have opportunities to attend on-campus events and interact with Baylor faculty and graduate students who share their research interests.

To learn more about the Visiting Scholars Program, visit our website. You can also read blog posts by recent visiting scholars on the Library’s blog.

For questions, please contact Jennifer Borderud, Director of the Armstrong Browning Library, via email at Jennifer_Borderud@baylor.edu.

Introducing the Armstrong Browning Library’s Library Services Assistants, 2020-2021

At the Armstrong Browning Library, 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. The Library Services Assistants greet and register researchers. They provide directional information for the 3rd floor and the Austin-Moore Elizabeth Barrett Browning Salon to building visitors. Additionally, Library Services Assistants inventory archival collections and transcribe archival materials. Please stop and say, “hello” to them when you are on the third floor of the Armstrong Browning Library.

Hudson Baker

Hudson Baker

Hudson Baker

Hometown: Houston, Texas
Major: University Scholars (Linguistics, Biochemistry, Philosophy, Medical Humanities)
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I’m looking forward to the beautiful artwork, reflective atmosphere, and rich history.
What food do you miss most when away from home? I miss my sister’s desserts: Butterfinger pudding, pizookie, and dessert lasagna, to name a few.

Azaria Finley

Azaria Finley

Azaria Finley

Hometown: I come from a military family, so I call home California since I lived there the longest.
Major: Social Work
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I am looking toward to interacting with different people and groups, and being able to form a community surrounded by literature. Being able to listen to the angelic voices of the Baylor Choir when they practice at the library is the highlight of my day.
What food do you miss most when away from home? I miss my mother’s beef stew with mac and cheese. She normally cooks it around Fall/Winter, and I associate this with Christmas being around the corner.

 

 

Melvin Schuetz Retires After 26 Years of Service to Baylor University

Melvin Schuetz

Melvin Schuetz, Assistant to the Curators at the Armstrong Browning Library, retired May 1 after 26 years of service to Baylor

On May 1, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Melvin Schuetz, assistant to the curators at the Armstrong Browning Library (ABL), retired after 26 years of service to Baylor University.

As a skilled internet sleuth, Melvin was instrumental in contributing to the growth of the Library’s collections by discovering Browning letters, manuscripts, library books, presentation and association volumes, photographs and other likenesses, artwork, artifacts, and miscellaneous Browingiana in library catalogs and on auction and bookseller websites. His expertise and assistance were also respected and appreciated by Browning scholars and scholars of the nineteenth century from around the world.

Melvin's Retirement Celebration

Colleagues celebrated with Melvin during a retirement reception online

A collector in his own right Melvin amassed a personal library of first editions of the Brownings’ works. He installed an exhibition featuring a chronological display of his British first editions of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning works in the ABL’s Hankamer Treasure Room in February of this year.

Melvin is also passionate about the space program and the work of space artist Chesley Bonestell. He authored A Chesley Bonestell Space Art Chronology, published in 1999; collaborated on an illustrated book The Art of Chesley Bonestell in 2001 for which he received a Hugo Award; and co-produced a multi-award winning documentary on Bonestell, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future, in 2018.

Collecting the BrowningsThe Armstrong Browning Library wishes Melvin a happy retirement, but his collegiality, curiosity, and dedication will be missed!

Collecting the Brownings, an exhibition curated by Melvin H. Schuetz, originally scheduled to close at the end of July, will remain on display through December 2020 in the Hankamer Treasure Room of the Armstrong Browning Library.

 

Introducing the Armstrong Browning Library’s Graduate Assistants, 2020-2021

The Armstrong Browning Library has two new Graduate Assistants this fall. They are both from Baylor University’s Masters of Arts in Museum Studies program. Through their graduate assistantships, they will gain insight into the day-to-day operations of a special collections library and the uses and importance of primary source materials. Graduate Assistants receive practical experience handling, processing, and preserving rare books and manuscripts. Additionally, they have the opportunity to digitize materials, develop and install exhibits, and prepare and participate in delivering instruction sessions for classes utilizing Armstrong Browning Library materials.

Rachel Jacob

Rachel Jacob

Rachel Jacob

Hometown: Coming from a military family, I have lived in a lot of places but do not have a proper hometown. During the four years of my undergraduate studies, I lived in Northwest Arkansas and grew to consider that home.
Why are you completing an MA in Museum Studies? I am passionate about history and hope to use my MA in Museum Studies to further preserve history and allow objects to continue telling historical truths for the coming generations.
What do you hope to learn while working at the ABL? I hope to learn about the conservation and care of rare or historical objects, so that I can use that knowledge to preserve history as the Armstrong Browning Library has preserved Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s history.
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I am excited to be working in a world-class library with such amazing facilities as the Armstrong Browning Library. I look forward to learning the inner workings of a library and museum doing so much historical preservation and providing so many research opportunities.
What food do you miss most when away from home and why? My mother makes absolutely delicious homemade chicken nuggets and I always miss them when I am away from home.

 

Joy Siler

Joy Siler

Joy Siler

Hometown: Arlington, Texas
Why are you completing an MA in Museum Studies? I have a strong passion for the field of public history. I believe in its mission and what it does for academia, preservation, and public education alike. I am pursuing this degree so that I may have the various knowledge, training, and qualifications necessary to work in multiple museum contexts and positions.
What do you hope to learn while working at the ABL? By working at the ABL, I hope to gain critical professional experience and expand my skill set for working with collections of various rarities. This position will also help me to understand the day-to-day tasks needed to run a full-functioning museum and library–a unique combination that I believe would interest me as a career choice.
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? My personal interest in the type of collections that the ABL holds, and the era that their mission focuses on interpreting, makes me very excited to have this opportunity! The building itself is a gorgeous example of the dedication that its patrons have had for celebrating the Brownings and their contextual influences in literature, on 19th-century society, and beyond. Learning about that context while working with the collections is an adventure that I am definitely looking forward to!
What food do you miss most when away from home and why? I miss my mom’s homemade lasagna the most! It was a childhood favorite and I always asked for her to make it on my birthday every year. It is still one of my favorite foods and I can always eat a ton of it!

 

 

Introducing the Armstrong Browning Library’s Student Hosts, 2020-2021

At the Armstrong Browning Library, Student Hosts, play an important role in the day to day operations of the library. They 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. Additionally our Student Hosts are expected to acquire a working knowledge of the building, the ABL’s history, the collections, and Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning so they can answer guests questions and give tours. This year’s Student Hosts are listed below. Please greet them as you enter the Armstrong Browning Library and feel free to (gently) quiz them.

Bailey Havis

Bailey Havis

Bailey Havis

Hometown: Ingram, Texas
Major: Psychology
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I am looking forward to being back at ABL because of the community I have built with my coworkers and the beautiful architecture!
What food do you miss most when away from home? When I am away from home, I miss my mom’s Mexican casserole and my dad’s steak!

Andrew Lindbloom

Andrew Lindbloom

Andrew Lindbloom

Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona
Major: Anthropology
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I am looking forward to learning about Robert Browning, as well as sharing some of that acquired knowledge with visitors, scholars, and fellow students.
What food do you miss most when away from home? I will miss my family’s cooking which varies from traditional Mexican, Italian, and recently Middle Eastern cuisine.

Karina Macias

Karina Macias

Karina Macias

Hometown: Waco, Texas
Major: Entrepreneurship
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? I am thrilled to be working in a space that shares the beauty of literature and poetry, and I am excited to give tours in such a beautiful and historically fascinating place as this!
What food do you miss most when away from home? Since I am originally from Mexico, I can truly say that nothing beats good enchiladas and homemade churros!

Allison Pettit

Allison Pettit

Allison Pettit

Hometown: Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Major: Public Health
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? Being able to share the splendor of Armstrong-Browning that I first experienced when I was a freshman
What food do you miss most when away from home? Fried shrimp, because there’s nothing like freshly caught Gulf Coast shrimp!

Allie Pfleghaar

Allie Pfleghaar

Allie Pfleghaar

Hometown: Murphy, Texas
Major: Anthropology
What are you looking forward to about working in the ABL? Just being in such a serene, beautiful building each week!
What food do you miss most when away from home? Any of my mom’s cooking–she is the best cook!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trinity College Joins The Browning Letters Project

By Eric Stoykovich, PhD, of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut)

The Armstrong Browning Library (ABL) at Baylor University is responsible for curating The Browning Letters project, a collaboration to make the correspondence written by and to the Victorian poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning digitally viewable in high-resolution. Recently, the Watkinson Library at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, contributed to this effort by digitizing several unique items in its manuscript holdings with the main purpose of making them widely available for the first time through The Browning Letters project. Within its large holdings of rare books, manuscripts, and archives, the Watkinson Library, a public research library, preserves a number of collections which touch upon the lives and works of the Brownings. The two now-digitized autograph letters penned by the poets – Elizabeth’s November 1836 letter, written in London before her marriage, is addressed to publisher Samuel Carter Hall, and Robert’s July 1862 letter to Frances Davenport Perkins, written after his wife’s death – reside in separate but related collections at the Watkinson.

Elizabeth B. Browning to Samuel Carter Hall, November 22, 1836

Elizabeth’s letter to Hall, who was then in London working as editor of The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, deals partly with two poems – “The Romaunt of Margret” and “The Poet’s Vow” – which Hall had just published. Elizabeth apologized for the appearance of her unresponsiveness to Hall’s previous letters, as well as her inability to enclose forthwith “the poem I am at present engaged upon,” namely “The Seraphim.” Instead she substituted “one of a simpler character,” probably “The Island,” published in January 1837 in the same periodical. Elizabeth’s letter is part of the William R. Lawrence Papers, an autograph collection assembled by Lawrence (1812-1855), son of industrialist Amos Lawrence. It is unknown how they arrived at the Watkinson.

Even if comprised of just 1 cubic feet of material, the Lawrence Papers bring together quite a few notable British literary figures, including Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Her November 1836 letter appears to have entered the Lawrence collection in March 1852 directly from Samuel Carter Hall. Someone, perhaps Lawrence himself, then took time to write brief descriptions of the individuals whose autographed letters are represented in the collection. Portraying Elizabeth as a highly unusual poet (even in an era of published females), that commentator praised the poet’s work:

“The Poetess, resides in London. Her productions are unique in this age of lady authors. Her excellence is her own; her mind is colored by what it feeds on; the fine tissue of her flowing style comes to us from the loom of Grecian thought. She is the learned poetess of the day, familiar with Homer, and Aeschylus and Sophocles.”

*****

Robert Browning to Frances Davenport Perkins, 11 July 1862

Robert Browning’s July 11, 1862, letter is part of the Watkinson’s British Notables Collection, which also includes letters and manuscripts penned by clergy, soldiers, and authors such as William Makepeace Thackeray, George Bernard Shaw, Charlotte M. Yonge, and William Cobbett. It seems to have been partly the creation of the aforementioned Samuel Carter Hall (1800–1889) and his wife, Anna Maria Hall (née Fielding, 1800–1881), both noted authors in their day.

Browning’s letter was written to Frances Davenport Perkins (née Bruen, 1825–1909), then residing at Rome with her husband, Charles Callahan Perkins, her unmarried sister, Mary Lundie Bruen, and mother, Mary Ann Bruen. As the black border of Browning’s letter indicates, he was still in mourning for the loss of his wife some twelve months earlier: “With this you will get the Hair you ask for, & which I give with all my heart. Also, three photographs for your sister & mother as well as yourself.”

A lock of Elizabeth B. Browning’s hair (in locket) with Satin Box (Browning Guide #H0481)

The “hair” is Elizabeth’s—one of eleven known locks that have surfaced. With the letter is a slip of paper, originally enwrapping EBB’s hair, on which Browning wrote: “For Mrs Bruen—from RB.” The lock is now encased in a garnet-bordered locket, housed in a blue satin box, from the house of Shreve Crump & Low, Boston. One may confidently surmise that the locket was acquired after the family returned to Boston following the American Civil War. The Perkinses and Bruens disembarked from the “S.S. Russia” in New York City on June 29, 1869, the eighth anniversary of Mrs. Browning’s death (Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, NY, 1820-1897, June 29, 1869).

Robert Browning’s owner’s inscription, dated April 27, 1889, less than eight months before Robert Browning’s death on December 12, 1889.

The locket and box with Elizabeth’s hair, the letter from Robert, and one of the three photographs of Robert which he sent to Mrs. Perkins, all came to the Watkinson Library in a single donation in early 1973, along with a number of other important literary works from the Victorian era and the twentieth century. The donor, Arthur Milliken, former headmaster of a private school in Simsbury, Connecticut, also gave 27 first editions of Robert Browning’s works, including the eight-volume “Bells and Pomegranates,” as well as Browning’s own inscribed copy of a set of “Life and Works” by Robert Burns. A Yale graduate, Milliken nevertheless thought that his collection would be treasured more by a smaller college like Trinity (Hartford Times, March 1973).

Robert Browning’s “Balaustion’s Adventure” (1871), in The Statue and the Bust (copy printed after 1880).

While the manuscripts that Milliken donated to the Watkinson Library were apparently added to the mixed-provenance British Notables Collection, the over 100 books he donated were catalogued separately. One of Milliken’s books is especially intriguing: a copy of “The Statue and the Bust” contains eight lines of Robert Browning’s “Balaustion’s Adventure,” dated November 22, 1871, authentically handwritten by Browning himself, while in London, and tipped into the front matter. However, the printed and bound parts of the book actually consist of a skillful forgery of The Statue and the Bust by famous Victorian hoaxer Thomas J. Wise. The authentic manuscript may have been placed strategically to distract attention from the post-1880 print forgery, later detected by its type and its esparto with chemical wood paper.

Robert Browning, The Statue and the Bust (forged copy by Thomas J. Wise, after 1880)

Robert Browning, The Statue and the Bust (forged copy by Thomas J. Wise, after 1880)

*****

The Watkinson Library in Hartford, Connecticut, serves as a public research library, as well as the rare book library, special collections, and archives of Trinity College. Started in 1858 as a non-circulating reference library for all citizens of Hartford and other visitors to Connecticut, the Watkinson Library has been transformed by its 70-year partnership with Trinity College into a place for many types of instruction, research, and collaboration with local community members and global scholars. It has a number of collecting strengths, particularly in books of hours, incunables, Americana, ornithology, American Indian languages, Hartford socialites and authors, early 20th-century posters, artists’ books, and college records which date prior to 1823, the founding of Trinity College.  The vision of the Watkinson Library is to create a welcoming space for all to encounter and interact with the cultural materials held by it, and to facilitate creative and intellectual production based on or inspired by its collections.

The first four images above are courtesy of Amanda Matava, Digital Media Librarian, Trinity College Library, who deserves thanks for the high-quality photography of multi-dimensional artifacts. The author scanned the final three images. The author would also like to thank Philip Kelley for his editorial and research assistance.

*****

The Armstrong Browning Library is grateful to Trinity College for its participation in The Browning Letters project. Institutions and individuals interested in making their Browning letters accessible by joining this project can contact ABL Director Jennifer Borderud.

The Armstrong Browning Library Expands Study Spaces

For Fall 2020, the Armstrong Browning Library (ABL) has temporarily added additional tables and seating to the Hankamer Treasure Room and the Cox Reception Hall.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In order to return (and hopefully keep) students, staff, and faculty on campus this fall, Baylor University has implemented a number of health and safety measures. Part of these efforts include reducing building and room capacity. At the Armstrong Browning Library this means we have fewer seats available for students studying in the John Leddy-Jones Research Hall.

To help alleviate the loss of dedicated study space in the Research Hall, the ABL has added 5 tables with 9 chairs to the Hankamer Treasure Room on our main floor. In the Cox Reception Hall, on the ground floor, we have brought in 3 tables with 9 seats as well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As the semester gets underway we hope students will take advantage of these additional study spaces to help practice social distancing. And do not forget that while we might not have electrical outlets in our walls and floors, we do have portable chargers which you can borrow from the main floor office.