On the Stereo[graph]: Internship at the Library Company of Philadelphia

This is a mural called Women of Progress by Cesar Viveros and Larissa Preston. I pass it every day on my way to the Library Company (it is located on the side of a building at 1317 Locust Street). It's my favorite site on my walking tours of Philly.

This is a mural called Women of Progress by Cesar Viveros and Larissa Preston. I pass it every day on my way to the Library Company (it is located on the side of a building at 1317 Locust Street). It’s my favorite site on my daily walking tours of Philly.

Returning my Tri-Pod ordered tomes on medieval medicine to Magill, clearing my computer of the multiple drafts of papers and paragraphs cluttering Word doc folders, and having taken my last trip to Haverford’s Special Collections, I felt a deep sense of relief. My spring semester’s research paper finals were finally done, and my bookshelves could once again house novels, not just dense historical studies.

There is a poetic quality to the fact that now finished with freshman year research

scholarship, I begin working on the other side- with those who make such research possible.

My name is Kat Poje (’16) and with the support of the John B. Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities, I am interning at the Print Department at the Library Company of Philadelphia (LCP). Founded in the early eighteenth century by Benjamin Franklin and other literary-minded Philadelphians and functioning as the first Library of Congress, the Company now serves as an archive and research center. Anyone can visit its exhibits and view its extensive collections of rare books, manuscripts, images and print ephemera at no cost. Each day, researchers both local and international visit LCP for access to this wealth of primary source materials.

My work involves making these primary source materials available, a facet of research I had not previously spent much time considering. LCP recently acquired about 2,000 stereographs, known as the Raymond Holstein Stereograph Collection. (In case, like me, you were previously unaware that a stereo was something other than a music amplification system, I note that a stereograph is a photographic compilation. A photographer creates two images of the same object/scene, taking each one at a slightly different angle, and then mounts them next to one another on a mat. When viewed in a stereoscope, a binocular-like contraption, the photographs seem to meld together as one, three-dimensional image). The Holstein Collection contains nineteenth and early twentieth century images of Philadelphia: its cathedrals and hospitals, Fairmount Park, the Schuylkill River, the Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Through my work with the Collection, I am gaining new insight into the history of the City of Brotherly Love, my home-metropolis for the next three years.

On the day-to-day level, I am helping to make the Collection accessible to researchers. As it stands now, the Collection cannot be fully utilized, as it is still not completely alphabetized or named (given a call number), and still needs housing (a standardized mat, with ID information, and an acid-free sleeve to protect it from the hands that will handle it). Under the supervision of the Print Department, particularly Associate Curator Erika Piola (a Haverford alumna), I organize and house the stereographs. This occasionally involves a bit of sleuthing, especially when the image has no title, is missing a date or seems to have a twin image under another title. I also digitize some of them, so that they can be viewed online. To take a look at some of these stereographs, you can check out the Library Company’s Flickr page:  www.flickr.com/photos/library-company-of-philadelphia/. More will be coming soon, so check back! You might just discover Philly, wandering through time and space from your desk, as did stereograph viewers more than one hundred years before.

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