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Book Traces

As a dyed-in-the-wool  Victorianist (and a material history and periodicals enthusiast at that), reading the materials for class today gave me a feeling akin to the heart crumpling sadness and then re-expansion with hope that I felt when I first saw that commercial for the ASPCA with the footage of sad little kitties behind bars followed by the footage of happy little kitties going home with good families. I am only exaggerating a little bit. I was at first very, very  concerned about the books, and then very relieved that there is something we can all do to help.

In all seriousness, however, I think the Book Traces project is nothing short of an ingenious idea both in its conception–the idea that there are things we really don’t know about what people did with books in the nineteenth century, and we need to begin trying in earnest to figure these things out (and preserve the ability for others to try to figure them out in the future) before it is too late–and its method of execution –harnessing the public energy of crowd-sourcing to accomplish these goals.

I also love this project because it clearly illustrates not just the scholarly, but also the human relevance of historical study generally and Victorian studies particularly, a truth that at times even those of us who study such topics are capable of doubting. The long and short of it is, I really enjoyed these readings, and hope to discuss more about them in class!

Book Objects and Book Traces

I am a scourge and tyrant to my books. I immediately break their spines, annotate and underline the hell out of them, and even freely write notes in them about unrelated things, hoping they will help me recall more of my thought processes later. If my house caught on fire, I would try to rescue my copy of Moby Dick, which I’ve had since high school and have read four times. The book is a palimpsest of my intellectual development, with four sets of notes reflecting my priorities, literary and otherwise, at each given moment; it even has bizarre notes from friends, rather like Ruthie Whitehead’s ugly hand. I doubt it will ever wind up in a library, digitalization or none, but I treasure it, along with the thought that someone might excavate it from my tomb in 1,000 years and wonder what I meant by “whiteness=vacancy of form–>all soul!**”

To see my printed books sitting on their shelf, snug among each other’s battered spines and dated color schemes, is somehow to dwell in their company. I prefer the word “packrat” to “hoarder.” The books say what they say, day after day, night after night; the face of each page protrudes into space independently, requiring no mouse-clicking or wand-waving to reveal its contents. Of course, you still have to pull the book off the shelf and open it to read it, and most of mine have sat unopened for years. But their physical presence helps preserve their contents in my mind, especially given all the thought I’ve given to their organization. I often wonder if Henry Miller is happy wedged between Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac, and if Nabakov, Kafka and Camus are squabbling with each other on their common shelf. I love my Kindle, but I don’t worry about these things with my Kindle elibrary.

Some of the benefits of reading traditional print books are probably nothing more than pure association. The look and feel of a traditional printed book reminds me of a fruitful process I’ve enjoyed since early childhood (as Andrew Stauffer discusses in his WTJU interview), and which I associate with distinct moments when my own cognitive capacity has seemed to leap forwards. Interacting with physical ink on paper activates my synapses in ways that reading on a screen doesn’t. Whatever the reason, I worry that special ink-and-paper phenomenon will just disappear in a post-book world. I also associate reading on a screen with skimming and trying to collect a maximum volume of ideas and information without ever lingering over any given text. When we read something online, the next text, the next tangential rabbit hole, or or whatever, is only a click away. The problem isn’t that we’re tempted by distraction, but that we feel obligated to vacuum up all of the information in the entire world all of the time. There is so much content literally right in front of us, it feels indulgent and inefficient to spend too much time digesting any single text’s meaning on the screen; at the very least, it causes a serious case of FOMO.

In my own experience, my longest intellectual strides—the moments when I’ve suddenly managed to comprehend or express something significantly more complex than I could before—have arisen while looking at ink on paper, without links or tabs poking out at me. But I also appreciate having immediate access to so many more sources via digital research than we had ten years ago, and my research is much richer for it. Book Traces’ best-of-both-worlds approach of preserving the physical texts without opposing their digital availability seems incredibly reasonable to me. I hope to stumble across some treasures in the NYPL to contribute.

The BookTraces Project

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the BookTraces project and its founder, Andrew Stauffer. Stauffer articulates many of my own beliefs about books as embodied objects that bear social and historical traces. His description of books as “haunt[ed]” (337) seems especially apt: the term discourages us from regarding books as static objects and instead compels us to conceive of them as multi-layered artifacts that are inhabited by the impressions and experiences of previous users and the socio-historical circumstances in which they lived. Present-day readers of these texts are therefore engaged in a lively exchange with the past.

The following passage in Stauffer’s article, “The Nineteenth-Century Archive in the Digital Age” resonates with me in particular:

“The nineteenth-century book called forth many, many kinds of interaction, between texts and their readers, between books and other objects, between human bodies and other human bodies. We tend to think of the history of reading as centered in the consumption of verbal texts; but I want to encourage us to go beyond ‘texts’ as linguistic forms and to think about texts as something closer to textiles, woven creations of material and semantic content: that is, as an historical record that is already incarnated, each body bearing traces of its many social interactions and its long journey into our hands” (336).

Stauffer’s suggestion that we look “beyond ‘texts’ as linguistic forms” is especially appealing. As a panel discussant at McGill University’s Art History/Communication Studies Conference in April of 2013, I broached this notion by considering derelict items I scavenged from a former landfill site in Brooklyn as objects of neglect that capture the wordless experience of people and life unfolding outside of conventional discourses and written histories. I “read” these objects not merely as a tangible means of resuscitating memory but also as texts in their own right that possess the ability to communicate some of their meaning or to generate new kinds of meaning through the very process of material decay (though I am not advocating decay in the instance of the BookTraces project!). Thus, by expanding our definition of “textuality” to include nonverbal objects (such as the book-as-object/book-as-artifact) we can potentially veer our scholarship away from dominant discourses and explore new modes of meaning. The material aspect of books—including “marginalia, inscriptions, photos…and many other pieces of unique historical data”—captures an unmediated look at everyday, lived experience at specific points in history.

my visit to the Kroch archives at Cornell University

By: LeiLani Dowell

Hi all,

So, as I mentioned in class today, I visited the archives at the Kroch Library at Cornell University on Nov. 26. After sending an email informing the library that I would be in town and interested in making a visit there (I’m looking back at the email now; I had told them I was interested in looking at specific papers, rather than our generic assignment, and that I was a Ph.D. student at the GC), I received an enthusiastic response with links to the collection guide and the online registration system.

Getting to the actual archives involved interacting with three different staff people, all of whom were very friendly (the woman at the registration desk perhaps a little more friendly than I would have liked; she held me hostage in a lengthy and perhaps inappropriate discussion about the PBS show “Finding Your Roots” after inquiring about my name and my heritage). At the front desk, a young man instructed me and my partner to leave all our belongings, except for a laptop or tablet and our IDs, in a locker, then directed me to the registration desk. There I had the long-winded conversation with the staffer while she took my photo and looked up my reservation of the materials I wanted to look at. My partner, who is at Cornell, was also either required or encouraged to register, I can’t remember which. Finally, we were sent to the reading room, where another staffer had already secured the box I had requested and handed it over to me.

The reading room was a comfortable, well-lit place, stocked with green paper (I found it funny that they kept telling me I could take notes on the “green paper,” as if other colors of paper were forbidden) and pencils.

I had decided to look at the papers of Brian McNaught, who did work around combatting homophobia in the 1990s. Among other things, McNaught produced training materials on homosexuality. Along with a lots of videotapes, a flyer announcing a lecture, a reference guide to the video and film reels, and a letter from an official at the USDA asking for some of McNaught’s materials, there were also random bits of nostalgia, such as the pinup I mentioned in class from Honcho magazine, an album cover for “Jungle Drums – Wild Dreams” (not sure which is the band name and which is the album title) featuring a white man and a Black man embracing over a bongo drum, etc.

I mentioned in class that I found McNaught’s usage of the “gay liberation” trope in his otherwise mainstream work to be interesting. Something else I’d like to mention is that the lecture flyer is for an event entitled “Homophobia: What’s Its Cause? Can It Be Cured?” I’m currently working on a project that looks at the ways that the terminology of “homophobia” and “transphobia” pathologizes and individualizes attacks on LGBTQ peoples, avoiding discursive treatments and understandings of the systematic and deeply structural nature of heteronormativity and heterosexism. So I found it immensely intriguing that here was an event to discuss whether homophobia could be “cured.” I might make another trip to the archives to see if I can find any footage of this event in the future.

So, all in all, this was a (mostly) pleasant experience and I’m really glad I got the opportunity to get my feet wet in the archives.


Open Admission and the CCNY Archives

By: Lindsey Albracht

As hundreds of students waited for the Basic Writing sections to open so they could register for courses they had been told they must take, a fist fight broke out between two students, knocking a Basic Writing table over and pinning me under the table with their weight as they fought their way across the overturned table toward the blackboards. Prof. Norment grabbed one of the students, Prof. Keating the other. Prof. Norment has a split lip from a punch in the mouth. I have badly bruised thighs and am recuperating from symptoms of internal bleeding. Computer cards were strewn everywhere; it took an hour to put them back in order (“An Open Letter to Alice Chandler, Provost” City College of New York, 1977).

This is a passage from a letter that I found in the Mina P. Shaughnessy box at the City College library archive. It was an open letter, but it was addressed to Provost Alice Chandler from Kathy O. Roe, an Administrative Assistant, and it describes a remarkably tense scene from registration day in the fall of 1977 at City College. Although, Roe claims, the Dean of the college of Humanities had “informed [her] in writing of the projected shortage of sections in Basic Writing — twenty-six, to be exact,” Provost Chandler had neglected to open enough sections to accommodate all of the students who needed to take a Basic Writing course in order to advance. For these students, this would have meant that they would have needed to wait an entire year to enroll in any classes at City College.

For the seminar paper that I’m currently writing about classroom space, I’ve been doing a bit of research about the 1968 and 1969 protests by the Black and Puerto Rican student organizations that built on the national, city-wide, and campus activism throughout the 1960s and that led, ultimately, to the enactment of Open Admissions. For those of you who don’t already know, Open Admissions was a CUNY-wide policy that began in 1970 and ended in 1999, and it guaranteed all New York City high school graduates a place at one of the CUNY campuses (which was a tuition-free system until 1976). In this era at CUNY, remedial student services expanded dramatically. And Mina Shaughnessy, who is credited with significantly advancing the sub-field of basic (or remedial) writing, was the director of the pre-baccalaureate English program, SEEK, at this time. She also wrote an influential book called Errors and Expectations, which, while other scholars have since quite rightly critiqued it for its singular focus on surface-level error and for its lack of focus on the political nature of language, was still perhaps the first resource of its kind to “legitimize” basic writing as a serious subject that was “worthy” of academic inquiry. It was her personal letters, correspondence between various people involved with basic writing and the remedial program, and other random ephemera that I went to the City College archive to investigate.

I saw a lot of compelling artifacts — both in this box and in the box concerning the ESL program which I also explored. But the letter that I mentioned was particularly impactful. It made the struggle of Open Admissions completely vivid to me: much more so than reading about the protests, which I’ve mostly encountered through sanitized New York Times news coverage, Wikipedia entries, and brief paragraphs or footnotes in books about protests in New York City. I’m perhaps particularly attuned to the way that a mundane administrative choice to not open enough classes (despite knowledge of the necessity to do so) sends a clear, silent, political message to students about the priorities of a department, of a school, and of a system of education because I spent some time as a school administrator, and the trickiness of how and when to allocate our institutional resources were sometimes mine to make. But even from an administrator’s side of the desk, I’ve come to realize that these banal little details constitute an unbelievably resolute institutional epistemology that is so hard to dismantle. We can’t fix your problem because we don’t have the resources, and we don’t have the resources because we (probably) decided that your problem wasn’t really that important to us.

This letter also resonated because it was about violence, and because we’re engaged in national conversations about this topic in the wake of the Ferguson decision. So, I read this letter and thought about how some faculty, administrators, city officials, and students openly and vocally resented Open Admissions because of the worry that increasing educational access would “devalue” the worth of their own education (a theme that was continually revisited as justification to end Open Admissions in 1999). I read it and considered that, just the year before, for the first time in CUNY’s history, students had been asked to shoulder the burden of tuition. I read it with the knowledge from previous research that the strain on facilities and resources within the total CUNY system as a result of a lack of appropriate allocation of funding during Open Admissions was causing overcrowded classes to be held in hallways and cafeterias. I read it and thought about the students who were offered admission to CCNY through Open Admissions and who had fought their way through a public education system that had been ravaged by segregation, a lack of monetary support, and overcrowding. Those students graduated from high school anyway, and then they wanted to pursue an education badly enough to accept all of these unfavorable conditions, and then they showed up, and then they were told that they had to wait for another year. I’m not saying that any of this was solely CUNY’s fault, and I understand that the city was experiencing a financial crisis that had greatly impacted funding, and I’ve been that administrator who had to make a tough choice to cut a class. I’m also not saying that punching a professor in the mouth — a person who probably had nothing to do with the decision to close the class — was the right call. But we always find the funding for other things that we deem necessary, right? So, I read this letter, and I felt empathy for Kathy O. Roe and Alice Chandler, and I felt empathy for the students, and I felt utter and total and consuming frustration.

I’m glad to have had the opportunity to visit the archive since, before this project, I wasn’t sure how archival work might be a part of my own research and, now, I anticipate that it will. Finding these little fragments made a big difference in the way I understood this bit of institutional history.

What’s in a Name?

Last week’s discussion got me thinking about how we us words, and what we expect out of them when we use them to label things. For instance, the name digital humanities. Seems benign enough, right?

But the term seems ready to join the pile of other labels that, although at some point distinct, have become hopelessly ambiguous ( I am thinking of words like ‘jazz’ when attempting to define a style of music, ‘English’ when attempting to outline a discipline of study, ‘beauty’ as an ideal aesthetic category).

As far as I can survey the field, I am a digital humanist, if

I) I use text mining to figure out the frequency of a given word in 18th century British periodicals.

II) I map visually the location of tweets that pertain to a certain topic.

III) I study how video game platforms limit the type of games that are designed for them.

Some might indeed argue that the umbrella term of digital humanities, which is capable of encompassing the above examples, is needed for a nascent field; that a protean and mutable category allows for new scholarship to develop outside of calcified distinctions. To this point, I readily agree. On the other hand, I still assert that finer brush is needed when painting the purpose of digital humanities inclusion within literary studies. It might be cumbersome to say, “I’m an 18th century British literature scholar using text mining to discover the prevalence of a given word between 1756-59,” or “I use certain forms of social media to locate how a given event has affected different communities throughout the nation,” or “I examine how new forms of technology shape the experiences that we have through them,” and indeed it lacks some of the cachet that the designation of the digital humanities confers. But the descriptions are precise; they allow us to communicate quickly and clearly what our work is to our colleagues and to the public; and they cordon off the digital humanities (ah! I used it myself!) from being lumped in with MOOCS, and other plans that seek turn higher education into a digital, impersonal experience.

Columbia Rare Books and Manuscripts

By: Lucas Corcoran

I spent each Friday last semester commuting to D.C. and back. I was fortunate enough to have taken part in the Folger Institute’s Introduction to Bibliography course, in which we covered everything from chain lines to the division of labor within early modern print shops. Perhaps, at the time, the fatigue from the bus ride tinged my view of bibliography, for the course began to feel at times more like library science than literary criticism or intellectual history. Indeed, many times during the discussion sessions for the Folger course, I wondered out loud what work analytical bibliography could do for literary study. Who cares where the watermark is in the 1623 folio? Why do I need to schlep to a rare books room when I can get a good facsimile on EEBO?

Now freed from the cramped seats of Megabus and the traffic on I95, I cleary see the importance of analytical bibliography for my research. I account for this shift by positing two main causes for it: i) My research interests have tacked away from early modern books written in English, and ii) I have come to appreciate the fact that a large number of early modern books are moldering in libraries, with no scholarly editions ever produced for them. Scholars such as Jonathan Hope have brought point (ii) to the fore. With continued use of text mining directing many new advances in literary study, we are beginning to reckon with data sets that include editions of texts far outside the cannon. Who were the people who wrote these books? Who printed them? One of the advantages of the macro-analysis that Hope advocates is that it directs our attention to hitherto uncharted territory of rare book collections.

All this was in my mind as I made my way up to the Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library. I had already visited Columbia’s library, when I took Professor Carroll’s Introduction to Renaissance Studies course, last spring. Then, we had the pleasure of looking of editions of Erasmus, Jonson and, much to my delight, a 1623 folio. So, by now, I am well versed in the procedures of entering and exiting a rare books room. When I got to the desk, I dutifully divested myself of pens, removed my laptop from its sleeve, waited patiently for the librarian, and spoke with a hushed politeness.

I requested my book; I have learned from experience to moderate my appetite in the rare book room. In the past, it feels as if my eyes were bigger than my stomach: peeling off paper request slips in furies of excitement. The book that I asked for was 16th century Greek grammar textbook. I find the volume keenly interesting, for few Greek grammars were printed in London in the 16th century, and scholars have renewed their attention to the status of Greek reception in the English Renaissance. I, too, was excited to see how students tackled the often-befuddling intricacies of Greek, having just spent my summer suffering through an intensive course.

Every time that I am lucky enough to handle an early modern book, the book as artifact still astounds. It still astounds me that I am allowed to thumb through pages that are nearly half a millennia old. The shock of the historical object forces me to consider the reality of history: the Renaissance is not an abstract category, but existed in the same way that we exist—full of bodies, objects, relationships, failures and aspirations. The book itself, it seems, is due for a renaissance. In the era of big data, and with renewed emphasis on the materiality of history, the return to the archive appears to be the logical next step; simply getting the extant historical recorded digitized feels like the work of a generation.



Visit to Berg to See Twain Collections

By: Michael Druffel

The Chase–First Day

My first grad school trip to the archives ended in defeat. I had made an appointment to visit the Berg Collection at NYPL to investigate material on Mark Twain. Because I hope to produce a paper on how the material of publishing influenced Twain’s literary content in Huck Finn I had hoped to see Twain’s letters to his publishers, as well as letters to the illustrator, EW Kemble, and any relevant material the archivists could suggest. While corresponding with one of the helpful, friendly, and knowledgable archivists I had been warned that some of the Twain material was out for digitization (a process I heartily support). Optimistically I reasoned that it would still be a good experience to learn about a) the Berg Collection in general, b) whatever material was in house, and c) new search terms to use in my further research that might come from working with the archivists or the Berg’s indexes. Besides, a visit to NYPL would barely be out of my way.

Points a and c were fulfilled wonderfully, and I’d like to touch on them in a minute. However, when I arrived at the Berg I learned that I had been way too optimistic about the material that remained. The Berg had sent pretty much all the Clemens manuscripts, letters, and notes to be digitized. If it was produced during Twain’s life time, it wasn’t at the Collection. The material was due back, according to one archivist, in September (2014), but likely wouldn’t be expected until February (2015) at the earliest. This certainly got me thinking that if I were writing a book, a serious, for-tenure book, then it would probably be a good idea to call around to different archives while I’m still coming up with the topic for the book to learn what is or isn’t available. Deciding on a topic and finding that material is out for at least 1/2 year (and that’s only how long the material was overdue for) could damn a project. I’d be curious to hear if anyone has stories of this happening before, or if I’m playing Chicken Little w/r/t the deleterious impact of lacking archival access. Either way, it’s a lesson at least for seminar papers, which obviously can’t afford 1/2 year of archival absence (if that was conceived of as being important to the project).

However, the trip was not wholly unprofitable. I have my NYPL Berg Collection reader’s card. I know how to submit call slips to call up books in the Berg. And I introduced myself to the Berg’s friendly and helpful staff. But I also did gain some more search terms and knowledge for my paper on Twain. While the material produced during Twain’s life was almost wholly absent from the Berg, the collection had some rare books on Twain that helped me. Two in particular were Arthur Vogelback’s 1939 PhD thesis The Reception of Huckleberry Finn in America and a collection of Century magazines from the 19th century reprinted in a bound volume. While Vogelback’s thesis was old, it was thoroughly researched. He had combed newspapers from the 19th century to offer a wide variety of perspectives on Huck. He made the interesting point that journals, magazines, and papers from Concord were the most critical of HF and were some of the first to call for its ban. Vogelback argued this was because Mark Twain had said some less than flattering words about the Sage of Concord. (Apparently, in a speech Twain called Emerson “bogus.”)  Vogelback’s book also alerted me to a truly strange incident involving Huck in which an artist had drawn an erection or penis (the image is really so crude that it’s hard to tell what the thing is, or even if is an innocent mistake and the imaginative viewer projects the phallic meaning onto it) on Uncle Silas in one of HF‘s many pictures. When the offending image was detected the books hither to sold were recalled and reprinting was further delayed.

Overall, Vogelback’s thesis pointed to a struggle between Twain and the papers who were quick to mock the illustration boner, call for censorship of Huck , and deride the subscription model Twain used. The rift between Twain and some papers has many causes (the aforementioned Emerson slight), but one of them seems to be advertising money. Some newspapers seemed to think Twain didn’t pay enough for ads and were ready to take his work to task as a result. Even though I didn’t see any primary documents, it was helpful to learn how the relationship between press and author shapes the perception of the book.

The other interesting book I found was the Century volume. One of issues inclosed had the famous feud chapter from HF printed as a kind of teaser for the rest of the book. While it didn’t shine anything new on the process, it gave me a good idea of how Twain did use magazines for advertisement. The excerpt included five of EW Kemble’s illustrations as well, which shows, I think, that a big reason for buying books in the 19th century was the art that came with them. (Twain’s letters to his publishers, which I found in an edited volume by Hamlin Hill confirm this.)

While the trip wasn’t a rousing success, I think there were points I could take away. However, since I didn’t get to handle any primary documents, I made a second trip to another archive: NYU’s.

The Chase–Second Day

Feeling like it would be good to handle primary documents, instead of the still helpful books I found in NYPL, I used ArchiveGrid to find another archive nearby. This time I located one that held two letters from William James. Since I am in a class on Pragmatism, I thought it could be useful to check it out. This archive was at NYU, and having applied for a MaRLi, but yet to redeem it at NYU it was a good experience to get there, get the card, and visit the archive.

The WJ material was scant. There were two letters written in sloppy handwriting asking for copies of his book to sent to people. They were in the Helena Born collection, a single box for material created (donated?) by Helena Born, who is, as far as I can tell, an American socialist. I must admit that the visit did nothing to further my project, but it was not w/o merit.

Perhaps the most useful thing I learned was that NYU seems to have great socialist, Marxist, and labor material. These are all topics that interest me, so I’m sure I’ll be back to the archives sooner than later. I’d also recommend to anyone else dealing with labor to check them out: NYU’s Tamimant Library in particular, which is in the Bobst main library building (10th floor) by Washington Park.

But the most fun I had in the library was finding a watermark. I attended after hearing Steve Jones talk so I was feeling for lines and watermarks in the paper. One of the WJ letters had a mark visible when held to the light that read: “Royal Scot Linen / WB Clark & Co / Boston.” It was a lot of fun to see it there and know how it got there.

While neither archival visit furnished me with a perfect document, I think that it was good to get more info for my Twain paper, and fun to see Steve Jones’s facts in action. However, I decided against visiting a third archive to find a really great primary document. Two was enough for this project I thought.

Martineau and Gaskell at the Morgan Library

By: Elissa Myers

This semester I have been helping Caroline Reitz with a project on female contributors to a periodical Dickens edited called Household Words. Caroline has encouraged me to follow my own interests in the work I do for her, so I have focused to a large extent on Harriet Martineau, whom I am interested in partially from a disability studies standpoint, and partially because she was just a tremendously sassy, eccentric woman who even had the guts to get into quite a public argument with Dickens in the periodical press. In looking at the letters at the Morgan Library, I was pursuing a path already taken by Iain Crawford, one of the foremost scholars on Dickens, who recently wrote an article on the two previously unpublished letters I looked at, in which he argues that the way in which many scholars focus on the argument between Dickens and Martineau obscures the fact that up until that time, they had had a very productive working relationship and a sincere friendship. As Crawford doesn’t publish these letters in full in his article, I wanted to see them for myself, to ascertain whether or not I agree with him. Both letters did seem to me to be open and friendly, exactly as Crawford represented them.

                I had also ordered a few letters written by Elizabeth Gaskell, another contributor to the magazine whose relationship with Dickens was complicated, to Martineau. Because the file on Elizabeth Gaskell was not terribly well-organized, they brought me the whole thing and let me look through it to find what I wanted. The letters extended my sense of the relative amity between Dickens and Martineau, as Gaskell’s mention of receiving “a very liberal proposal” from Dickens to write for All the Year Round suggests that there were no hard feelings between Martineau and Dickens at that time. In a private letter, Gaskell would have had no reason to sugarcoat the feeling of dislike toward Dickens that she and Martineau allegedly shared. However, her mention of him is perfectly cordial, asserting his liberality, and citing the only reason she did not want to work for him to be her dislike of writing in weekly installments.

On my way to finding the two letters, however, I stumbled across something even more interesting—a picture of Elizabeth Gaskell with a “ghost,” an apparition that was created by a photographic overlay, then a new procedure. My first guess is that this picture could have something to do with Gaskell’s renown as a writer of ghost stories. I have not been able to find it in a google image search, or any other information about it, though, so I suspect that the picture might not be generally known in the world of Victorian studies.. I am thinking of sending around a query on Victoria-list, a listserv of which I am a part to inquire. They told me I am not supposed to publish the pictures I took in any way, but I have it for show and tell in class if you guys are interested. At any rate, my trip to the archive yielded both sound progress on my task for Caroline, and exciting, unexpected surprises. Archives make me feel like Indiana Jones!