We named this blog “The Consecrated Eminence” partly as a self-conscious salute to the high-flown rhetoric of the 19th century, the kind of flowery language that many of us here in the Archives & Special Collections have a fondness for. Of course it sounds bombastic and stuffy to modern ears – but, as I hope our posts over the past two years have shown, we’re not! In any case, when we started the blog, we said that the earliest appearance we could find of the phrase “the consecrated eminence” was in the first issue of the College’s earliest student publication, The Sprite, dated May 1831. In this inaugural issue, the editors appeal to its readers (the Amherst student body) to support this new venture:
Our habitations, moreover, are small and we are but a weak people; we therefore apply for aid to you, inhabitants of the “consecrated eminence”; on you rest all our hopes and expectations…. (p. 2)
But those quotation marks clearly suggest that it is a reference to an even earlier source. As it happens, I believe I’ve found that source. I know our readers have been waiting breathlessly for any news on this issue, so without further ado, here it is.
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Those who work in digital collections often talk about supporting scholarship and new research. While that’s certainly an important endeavor, occasionally it can be fun to explore the wacky and weird in the archives without necessarily having higher academic pursuit in mind.
Since December 2013, I have been working closely with the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock collection held by Amherst College. As the Metadata Resident, I look at individual objects in depth to attach titles, dates, subject headings, and abstracts (among other things) to these items to make them discoverable in our online collections in Amherst College Digital Collections (ACDC). I have read nearly all of the letters that passed between Edward Hitchcock and Benjamin Silliman, have read pages upon pages of sermons written by Hitchcock during his early career as a Congregationalist minister, and have become quite the expert at reading Hitchcock’s notoriously bad handwriting. In all, I’ve read over 200 letters, 144 sermons, 28 sermon outlines, packets of lecture notes on botany, chemistry, and natural history, and much, much more. Often, I come across passages, phrases, or situations that strike me as funny and I thought I’d share some of them.
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The Archives & Special Collections is delighted to announce that we are one of just 22 institutions to receive a “Hidden Collections” grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources. CLIR launched the “Hidden Collections” program in 2008, supported by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with this purpose in mind:
This program seeks to address this problem by awarding grants for supporting innovative, efficient description of large volumes of material of high value to scholars.
Amherst was awarded funding to hire a full-time archivist for two years to process the massive collection of manuscripts and published materials that document the business activities of Samuel French, Inc. The job description and application details will be announced in February; the start date for the project is June 2014.
Examples of theatrical typescripts in the collection.
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