Salisbury House Library Collection

at Grinnell College Special Collections & Archives

Visit the SHLC at Grinnell College

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The Salisbury House Library Collection is open to research and visitors while it is being processed. See curated exhibits from the collection this fall in Burling Library Gallery and year round in the Magic Box in Burling Lobby anytime the library is open. Housed in Grinnell College Special Collections and Archives, visit us in the Reading Room (lower level Burling) for research anytime 1:30-5pm Monday – Friday or by appointment. To learn more about collection holdings and research inquiries, email the project archivist at archives@grinnell.edu. Research guides to support research during processing coming soon! 

Not sure what you’d like to see, but excited to see beyond the exhibit cases? Get in touch with us in advance and we can coordinate a visit for you or a small group to handle collection material in topics you are most interested in. Advance notice allows us to pull the material of most interest to you or some of the ‘greatest hits’.

Interested in bringing a class as an instructor? We are happy to plan a class visit to see SHLC material, learn about accessing and working with primary resources, and more. Sessions using Grinnell College Special Collections and Archives material and SHLC are welcome!

Get in touch! We look forward to introducing you to the Salisbury House Library Collection.

Event Announcement: Book panel at Salisbury House!

The Magic of the Book

2024 panel on the Salisbury House Library Collection

hosted at historic Salisbury House & Gardens, 4025 Tonawanda Drive, Des Moines, Iowa 

Sunday April 21, 2024 | 2pm doors open, 3pm panel and Q&A 

Join us for the second annual book talk in collaboration with the historic former home of this unique collection to learn more about the ongoing work with the Salisbury House Library Collection at Grinnell College Libraries. This event is FREE but RSVP’s are required as space is limited. Register at salisburyhouse.org.

The 2024 panel will be hosted by Project Archivist Laura Michelson and welcomes Lu Johnston ‘24, Professor Carolyn Jacobson, and Professor Erik Simpson to chat research in the collection on early printing, extra illustration, book history, and more, as well as interacting with the collection in the classroom, conservation updates, and beyond. Selections from the Library Collection will be on site for viewing.  

Note: This event will take place in the historic estate’s Common Room and is accessible by three steps. Accessible parking/drop off is located on the circle drive on the north side of the house. For questions on the facility, please email ContactUs@salisburyhouse.org and for event questions, email michelson@grinnell.edu.

New in the Magic Box: Presidential Papers

Visit the Magic Box in Burling Library Lobby and explore a new installation of four selections from presidential authors Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln from an original letter to a fine press bound book. On display the week of Presidents Day 2024, February 19-26.

See the digital exhibit live now!

SHLC in the Classroom: Lincoln letters

This semester Professor Carolyn Jacobson’s ENG 332 The Victorians visited the Reading Room twice to explore materials from the English Victorian era in our collections. From original serialized Dickens in their original blue paper wrappers to expansive extra-illustrated portfolios, students explored materials at their fingertips. The second class visit focused on the collecting phenomenon called extra-illustrated editions in which collectors take cues from references in a reading and “illustrate” their own copy with an illustration or piece of ephemera of the referenced person, place, or event. (For a crash course, see the Folger Library’s Folgerpedia entry and some examples from their holdings!) The Salisbury House Library Collection is home to an impressive array of examples of this practice from singular volumes to an expansive edition of John Forster’s biography Life of Dickens, in which the original 3 volume set grew to 9 portfolio cases and hundreds of extra illustration additions. Over decades of use at Salisbury House, some materials were removed for research from the original portfolio files and stored elsewhere–in flat files and other manuscript boxes. Little documentation of these items moving exists and so retroactively locating and reordering materials comes next. Most additions to this set were coded with a roman numeral and number system to designate where a reference was made in the original text, recording the original volume number, the case number, and page. As the first class to ever explore the 9 volumes of this set and materials removed from it and currently stored in flat files, students helped make notes of materials out of order and cases needing particular attention for further identification and order. More on this incredible set soon as a research project gears up and many thanks to these students for their help!

Accompanying the lore of this set was a mini-feature on it during a 2010 Antiques Roadshow episode. Among items featured in this clip is a document signed by Abraham Lincoln, who has a brief mention in Forster’s biography as a contemporary of Charles Dickens. A mystery we were able to unravel, however, is that the Lincoln letter shown in this clip was not an original extra-illustrated addition to this set–that would be its sibling located in a flat file and bearing the order code from the extra-illustrated set. Further determining the provenance of the Lincoln letter shown in the Antiques Roadshow video is that it is in a bound volume with the spine title ‘AUTOGRAPH LETTER ETC. ON THE MARRIAGE OF H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES – ABRAHAM LINCOLN – 1863’, the signed document accompanied with images of Lincoln, the Prince and Princess of Wales, Albert and Victoria, and curiously, a letter tracing two previous owners surrounding a sale in 1905 of the document along with a laid in image of Lincoln’s funeral and a stamp of the bookseller Harry Marks. A provenance letter connects that Harry Marks was the bookseller from whom Carl Weeks of Salisbury House purchased this, although that date has yet to be determined. The Lincoln letter originally acquired for the extra-illustrated set is from then presidential nominee Lincoln responding to an autograph request in June 1860. Research into the recipient is yet to be completed, but it appears they may have been in Europe as Lincoln adds in his address that he is located in the United States and a note following in another hand–yet to be transcribed and translated–appears to be in German.

Research into these items and this extensive extra-illustrated example continue and we’ll be featuring more from this set in 2024. Many thanks to Prof. Jacobson and students of ENG 332 for their assistance beginning to explore this research trove!

Event Announcement: Book Talk at Salisbury House

For the Love of Books: the Salisbury House Library Collection’s New Chapter
Book Talk Series with Grinnell College Libraries

THURSDAY, April 27, 2023 at historic Salisbury House |4025 Tonawanda Drive, Des Moines, Iowa

Doors open at 5:00pm, Talk 5:30-6:30pm

Join us for the first in a series of book talks with Grinnell College Libraries on the next chapter of the Salisbury House Library Collection. Hear more about the state of the collection, its life at Grinnell so far, current projects, collection mysteries, favorite finds, and more. For this extra-illustrated talk, select materials from the collection will be onsite for viewing and handling. Presented by Grinnell College Special Collections: Laura Michelson, Project Archivist; Christopher Jones, Special Collections Librarian and Archivist of the College; and Allison Haack, Library Assistant. Light refreshments will be served.

Buy an advanced ticket and learn more at SalisburyHouse.org.

poster image of historic library with event description and details (see post)

Event Announcement: Iowa Bibliophiles

Salisbury House Library at Grinnell College: Collection History, Present, and Next Chapter

An Iowa Bibliophiles Talk
When: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 7-8 p.m. CST
Where: Hosted live on Zoom

Learn more about the ongoing work with the Salisbury House Library Collection through a virtual talk with Iowa Bibliophiles hosted by the University of Iowa and by Grinnell librarians Chris Jones and Laura Michelson. Find out about this unique Iowa collection, its original home in a 1920s Des Moines estate, its 2019 move to Grinnell, ongoing projects, and the next chapter. Meet some of the ‘greatest hits’ and favorites from the stacks and find out more about collection holdings, projects ahead, and visiting Grinnell to see more.

See more about this and the Iowa Bibliophiles series from the University of Iowa Special Collections. A recording of the event will be made available on University of Iowa Special Collections YouTube (uispeccoll).

Questions?

Please contact Laura Michelson (michelson@grinnell.edu), Project Archivist, Grinnell College Libraries, or Elizabeth Riordan (elizabeth-riordan@uiowa.edu), Lead Outreach and Instruction Librarian at UI Special Collections.

New in the Magic Box: Leaves of Grass

Check out a new feature in the Burling Lounge Magic Box! On display now are three special editions of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Learn more about the infamously evolving collection of poetry and more Whitman in the Salisbury House Library Collection. See the installation through October 2022.

Interested in scheduling a class or group visit or researching with the collection in Fall 2022?
Email us at archives@grinnell.edu.

Event Announcement: Spring Open House

Grinnell College Special Collections is hosting a Salisbury House Library Collection open house on Thursday May 12 from 4-7pm, with opening remarks at 4:15 in Burling Gallery. Drop in and experience selections from the Salisbury House Library Collection to learn more about some our favorite discoveries from the stacks this year, SHLC in the classroom, current projects, and the next chapter for the collection.

Can’t join us? Open house items will be featured over summer 2022 online (here!) or contact us to schedule a visit to see material in person. 

 

 

 

100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses

February 2, 2022 marks 100 years of Ulysses, James Joyce’s masterpiece. The avant-garde novel was published for the first time in its entirety on February 2, 1922 on the author’s 40th birthday by the Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris. It originally began publication in The Little Review, a Chicago based modernist literary magazine in the spring of 1918, but was halted in 1920 after the ruling of an obscenity trial in the US. 100 years later, some unique copies call Grinnell Special Collections home. Stop by the Magic Box on the first floor to see a few of these editions or find out more from our digital exhibit.    

SHLC in the Classroom: Enlightenment Libraries

In November the reading room hosted Professor Guenther’s history course Britain in the Age of Enlightenment, a look at the “long eighteenth century” which brought drastic changes in industrial and social revolutions, scientific advancement, and a new culture of book culture. For an afternoon the Reading Room and Print Drawing Study Room transformed into 8 miniature libraries, each station inspired by the types of reading spaces where Enlightenment readers could be found. 

Students explored the ‘Royal Society Library’, books of science and world exploration like would be found at this British society collection and dug into botanical books at the ‘Oxford Physic Garden’. The imagined country estate library featured beautiful books from a medieval illuminated manuscript to fore-edge paintings, books about genealogy, society life in London, and beautiful bindings. The ‘Burling Book Society’, a reading society library found moralized books and novels deemed ‘suitable’ for all readers, counter the risqué reputation of salacious novels and literature that could be found at lending libraries like ‘Lane’s Circulating Library’. Our lending library included contemporary works by Byron and Henry Fielding alongside a treatise on the art of dancing and guide for house keeping. A book shop challenged students to locate original prices marked on books and use a historical currency converter to learn more about the investment purchasing books was for Enlightenment readers. (Check it out at nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter! An 1822 edition of Confessions of an English Opium Eater in the collection cost 5 shillings.) A corner of the PDSR transported to ‘Lloyd’s Coffee House’, an integral location for intellectual discussion and trade along with the circulation of political pamphlets and periodicals alongside art from William Hogarth, an English printmaker and satirist who immortalized London culture, including coffeehouses in scenes and satire. Hogarth’s father for a short time ran an unsuccessful London coffeehouse.  The final imagined library was the ‘Royal Academy of Arts’ library, where books about art, collections, and instruction were complimented by a gallery wall of Enlightenment era artists like JMW Turner in the Museum collection.

 

Take a closer look: furniture, fashion, and fabric samples, oh my!

At the gallery and arts library station were three volumes of the Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, or Ackermann’s Repository. This periodical was published between 1809 and 1829 and distributed as single pamphlets. Many surviving today were bound into compendium volumes, such as these in the Salisbury House Library Collection. SHLC is home to 5 volumes with issues from 1810-1813. Among the pages of the magazines are reports of the newest fashions, advancements in architecture, and samples of literature. They include many detailed images that were hand tinted and samples of fabrics that have survived in excellent condition. See more from the Internet Archive.

We look forward to recreating these Enlightenment libraries - and more imagined libraries - to share in open houses and events coming soon!

New Magic Box feature: Order of the Garter

A new feature from the shelves of the Salisbury House Library Collection is on display in the Magic Box. Stop by to see The institution, laws and ceremonies of the most noble Order of the Garter. Collected by Elias Ashmole with illustrations by Wenceslaus Hollar. London: 1672.

This 1672 folio details the history of the Order of the Garter, the oldest and highest chivalric order in Britain. It features detailed illustrations of architecture of St. George’s Chapel, a location at Windsor Castle associated with the group, garb and processions of ceremonies, and more. We don’t know much about its provenance before Salisbury House–the only section with traces of a reader marking the book are in the protocol if a knight of the order loses their membership in the case of treason. Today the order includes both men and women knights appointed in recognition of national service. We pulled it for a class visiting Special Collections this semester on the legacy of Saint George and were wowed by the detail of Hollar’s illustrations.

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