Transcription Challenge for Civil War Telegrams

In June 2016, The Huntington launched a crowdsourcing project called “Decoding the Civil War” to transcribe and decipher a collection of 15,922 U.S. Civil War telegrams between Abraham Lincoln, his Cabinet, and officers of the Union Army. This extraordinarily rare collection, acquired by The Huntington in 2012, is a near-complete … Continue reading

An Ingeniously Printed Book of Songs

Examining a real book up close can tell us things that a microfilmed or black-and-white online image of the object doesn’t show. Scholars often discover interesting information by inspecting a book’s watermarks, paper stocks, or bindings. A good example of this is a fascinating booklet dating from 1685 called A … Continue reading

Bill and Ned’s Excellent Adventures

I’ve been tracking two people in the archives of the Huntington Library whose careers reveal surprising parallels. One is William Wordsworth, the Romantic-era Lake District poet who made a career of dancing among daffodils and touring the rural reaches of late 18th-century England. The man became almost more important than … Continue reading

Religious Affections in Colonial North America

In 1746, Jonathan Edwards—the famous preacher, theologian, and philosopher of the Great Awakening—tried to sort through the wide variety of experiences that doubt and faith can generate. Some experiences should be trusted as signs of grace, he argued; others, less so. Either way, Edwards remained emphatic about the importance of … Continue reading

Robert Seymour, 19th-Century Political Cartoonist

The Huntington possesses a trove of images from the golden age of British caricature—most notably by artists Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Isaac Cruikshank (1764–1811). It also owns some gems by Robert Seymour (1798–1836), an illustrator whose fame grew around the time of Rowlandson’s death. Today, Seymour is probably best known … Continue reading

Ben Jonson’s Readers

The poet and playwright Ben Jonson (1572–1637) was exceptionally concerned with literary posterity. His most ambitious publication was the folio collection of his Works that appeared 400 years ago this year. Through this monumental book, Jonson attempted to ensure that future generations would read and appreciate his plays, poems, and … Continue reading

The Brave New (and Old) World of Data

Data, made up of units so uniform as to be, almost by necessity, boring, unite to form collectives of information in a data-driven world that is recognized now as exciting, sexy, and consummately modern. And not for the first time, we must add. At least since the rise of print … Continue reading