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November 1997


No. 22


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A Diary Finds Its Way Home

The acquisitive inclination of librarians is well known, but sometimes we resist this impulse and direct potential donors of unique items to more appropriate library collections. It is always a pleasure to reunite a manuscript that is effectively "lost" or unknown with complementary collections in another library. Just such a case occurred last year when Catharine Cary, who has a long-standing association with the Library and the College, came to me with a diary signed by Malcolm Anderson and dated 1907 with the notation "volume 4." The diary had been owned by Catharine's mother, Anna Cox Brinton, a prominent classicist and writer on Quakerism, but nothing was known about Malcolm Anderson or how his diary came into her possession. The story of how the diary traveled from Haverford College to its new home at Stanford University is an interesting one.

Even before searching for information about Malcolm Anderson, I read the diary. It detailed Anderson's trip to China and his work collecting animal samples in remote villages and outposts. Anderson was a careful diarist and discussed in some detail his encounters with the villagers and other travelers whom he met along his journey. Despite the differences in place name spellings between then and now and Anderson's sometimes imprecise transliteration, it was possible to plot the progress of his journey on a present-day map of the area. The diary, however, had only two internal clues about Anderson's life: references to his brother, Robert, and mention of the San Francisco earthquake which had occurred only a year before.

A check of standard reference tools turned up a reference to Malcolm Playfair Anderson. In an early edition of American Men of Science, Anderson is described as a zoologist and zoological explorer. Further research showed that he was born in 1879 in Irvington, Indiana and died in 1919. He was a 1904 graduate of Stanford University and traveled on collecting expeditions in North America and Asia. Between 1904 and 1908, he was on a zoological expedition in East Asia for the London Zoological Society and was known to be an expert on mammals of eastern Asia. This information was a perfect fit with the diary.

However, there were still unanswered questions. How had Catharine Cary's mother acquired the diary? If this was volume 4 as the notation indicated, where were the first three volumes of Anderson's diaries? Were there collections of Anderson papers at other libraries, perhaps at his alma mater, Stanford University?

A quick check of the National Union Catalogue of Manuscripts revealed that Stanford does indeed own an Anderson family collection consisting of approximately 45,000 items relating to Malcolm Anderson, his father, uncle, and brother. Malcolm's father, Melville Best Anderson (1851-1933), was a literature professor at Stanford and a noted Dante scholar. His uncle was a translator, and his brother, Robert Anderson (1884-1949), was a prominent petroleum geologist. Most intriguing of all, I discovered that Stanford owned Malcolm Anderson's earlier diaries (volumes 1-3) which covered his travels in Japan and Korea.

How Anna Cox Brinton acquired the diary remains a mystery. She graduated from Stanford University in 1908 with a major in Latin and received her doctorate in archaeology there in 1917. It is possible, even likely, that she knew Melville Best Anderson, Malcolm's father, through her Latin studies at Stanford. It is also possible that she knew Malcolm Anderson himself or perhaps his younger brother, who also attended Stanford.

When I presented the above information to Catharine Cary, she decided to reunite the 1907 diary with Anderson's other diaries. Stanford University was pleased to accept this important addition to its collection. As Margaret J. Kimball, Head of Special Collections at Stanford, wrote to Catharine Cary, "One feels the notebook had been on its own journey all these years and has now finally found its way home."

Michael S. Freeman

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Conference Connections
  • Rachel Beckwith, Executive Library Assistant and a graduate student in Art History at Bryn Mawr, presented her paper, "Haverford College's Thirteenth-Century Hebrew Bible: A Case Study in Manuscript Attribution," at the Twenty-Fourth Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies on Friday, October 10. Rachel had written this paper for one of her courses at Bryn Mawr last year (see Newsletter, no. 20) and was invited to present it at this conference at St. Louis University. The paper was well-received, and Rachel was glad to have an opportunity to increase scholarly awareness and appreciation of one of Haverford's treasures.
  • In April, Margaret Schaus, Reference Librarian, presented an electronic workshop session on the Medieval Feminist Index at the Medieval Academy Annual Meeting in Toronto. Margaret is the founding editor and coordinator of the Index, a cooperative project by librarians and scholars to index journal articles, essays in books, and book reviews about women, sexuality, and gender during the Middle Ages (see Newsletter, no. 20). The Index is available on the Web at She followed her appearance in Toronto with an encore presentation at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, an event which attracts thousands of medievalists to Kalamazoo, Michigan, each May.

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Preservation: Alumni Give Themselves to the Cause

It was one of those serendipitous moments when a need, an idea, the right people and the right set of circumstances converged to instigate a happy solution to a problem. In 1994, the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (BYM) sent some of its records to Haverford's Special Collections. As the repository of the records of nearby Yearly Meetings, we were glad to receive this latest set of materials. When we opened the boxes, we were excited to discover a number of important documents including one signed by Abraham Lincoln.

BUT...we also discovered some mold. A common occurrence on old paper which has been stored in humid conditions (and anyone who has weathered a Baltimore summer knows that "Baltimore summer" and "humid" are synonymous!), mold strikes terror in the hearts of archivists. Infectious and pernicious, mold can reek epidemic havoc in collections if left unchecked. So the Baltimore Yearly Meeting boxes were quarantined, and the slow, careful process of cleaning them was begun. Protected by dust masks, library workers began dusting and vacuuming each piece of paper. The project was in its third year and progressing slowly, when a conversation between Arnold Ricks, '45, Jay Worrall, '37, and several friends at the annual meeting of the Friends General Conference (the umbrella organization that links Friends yearly meetings) led to a great idea: why not have teams of Baltimore Yearly Meeting members come to the College for a week at a time and assist with this project? Baltimore Yearly Meeting would send representatives familiar with the affairs of the yearly meeting so that while they did the necessary brushing and vacuuming, they could also make decisions about the relative importance of each piece and help prioritize the order of preservation.

In August, the first team arrived on campus. The College Alumni Office assisted in locating housing, and Arnold Ricks, Jay Worrall (author of The Friendly Virginians, a history of Quakers in Virginia), and Jay's grandsons, Daniel and Michael Worrall, spent a week dusting and vacuuming and rediscovering BYM history by day and playing ferocious games of gin rummy by night. By the end of the week, a significant dent had been made in the daunting task of the BYM records preservation -- the convergence of a need, an idea and the right set of people.

Emma Lapsansky

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Evans Finding Aid Project: The Next Step

This past July I attended the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia where seminars on such topics as "How to Research a Rare Book," "Book Illustration to 1890," and "Lithography in the Age of the Hand Press" are offered each summer. The seminar that I attended, however, was of a different nature altogether. Entitled, "Implementing Encoded Archival Description," it presented a focused introduction to the application of a new standard for encoding electronic versions of archive and manuscript finding aids. I attended this seminar in order to learn about Encoded Archival Description as a potential tool for Magill Library's Evans Finding Aid Project.

You may remember reading about the Evans Finding Aid Project in past newsletters (see Newsletter, nos. 20 and 21). This project was started in the fall of 1996 with the goal of making the finding aids to the large collections of family, personal, and institutional papers that are housed in the Special Collections Department more accessible to the public. There are now forty-six finding aids on the web, and we have had a wonderful response to the website ( In the month of June alone, the site was accessed 289 times by people outside of the three college campuses. As existing technologies change and new ones emerge, we are eager to explore ways in which we can make this site even more useful to scholars.

Encoded Archival Description (EAD) is a new development which offers exciting possibilities for the future of our finding aids website. Developed by archivists specifically for electronic finding aids, EAD is similar to but much more complex than HTML, the encoding standard currently used to make our finding aids available for viewing on the World Wide Web. HTML consists of codes which indicate how the text of a web page should appear on the computer screen. With EAD, each part of a finding aid is precisely defined and tagged to denote its place within the structure of the finding aid. This more specialized encoding enables users to do sophisticated searching within a finding aid or across a group of finding aids -- something which is not possible with the current HTML-encoded finding aids. Consistent application of EAD by archivists across the country will allow scholars to search the finding aids of different archives in much the same way they now search the online catalogs of different libraries.

In the past, the Rare Book School has provided Haverford Library staff with invaluable training in the cataloging, handling, and preservation of rare and important historical materials. As my experience this summer illustrates, it continues to be a valuable source of training and information as we seek new ways to apply the technology of the present to the task of preserving and accessing the materials of the past.

Rachel Beckwith

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Library Associates Programs

The last Library Associates Program of 1997 will take place on Sunday, November 23. Our guest speaker will be Colin Harrison, '82, who will give a talk entitled "Notes From the Writer's Trade." Harrison, an associate editor for HARPER'S Magazine, is the author of three well-received novels. The program begins at 2pm in Chase Auditorium and is followed by a reception in the Philips Wing of Magill Library. After the reception, you are also invited to attend the opening of the Library's Maxfield Parrish exhibition at 3:30 pm in Special Collections. Speakers at this event include John Chesick, Professor of Chemistry, who will talk about Parrish's undergraduate chemistry laboratory notebook (see Newsletter, no. 19) from the point of view of a teaching faculty member.

The schedule of events for the 1998 Library Associates Program is now complete. All events (except the visit to Van Pelt Library on June 6) are at 2pm in Chase Auditorium. Look for more detailed program information in the January Library Associates mailing.

March 1

  • Emma Lapsansky, Professor of History at Haverford College and Curator of the Quaker Collection.

April 19

  • Laurence Eisenlohr, '79, Associate Professor of Immunology at Thomas Jefferson University and a researcher at the Kimmel Cancer Institute.

June 6

  • Visit to the Special Collections Department at Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania (limited to 25 Library Associates Members).

September 20

  • Steven Lubar, Curator, Smithsonsian Institution, Washington, D.C.

November 1

  • Peter Conn, Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania.

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Questions or Comments?