Fulbright, brighter, brightest

We were very lucky to get a visit last Friday from some exceptional students. They’re part of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program, so they were from countries around the world. One component of their visit to the US is a volunteer session, so 14 of them showed up at PPL, ready to do some volunteer transcription. (Thanks to Justin Dunnavant for the photos.)

Fulbright Students

Our Nicholson Whaling Collection is well known as one of the best collections of whaling logbooks in the country. But the collection also includes quite a few other resources, including nearly 60 boxes of manuscript materials. (They’re described in a collection guide on our website.) So after getting a brief introduction to Special Collections, they set to work transcribing one small portion, the letters of Daniel D. Mowry.

Transcription in processMowry went to sea as an 18-year-old, and it didn’t take long for him to regret the decision. We have letters from Mowry to his parents during the period from 1858 to 1861, at which point he abandoned ship in Auckland, New Zealand. He continued to write home from Auckland and Sydney, Australia for years.

Daniel Mowry letter

The Fulbright student volunteers set out to transcribe the manuscripts and help fill out the story, and in just a few short hours they made quite a bit of progress.

Students transcribing lettersHere’s a short sample (transcribed by Sylmina Alkaff), in which Mowry tells his parents that he’s abandoning the voyage:

Dear Father & Mother
You will no doubt be much surprised when you get this letter to hear that I am no longer in the Sea (Gull). I left the ship about four weeks previous to this date….
My dear Father and Mother I have done a thing which you will at first blame me for. But could you know all could you
but know what I have endured and what I have seen with my own eyes you would blame me not. Her thirty three months I staid in that ship and they were months of misery to me. I took no comfort of my life neither did any of the ships company.

It should be a great story when it’s all told. Within the next few months we’ll plan to have the images online with the transcriptions by the Fulbright students. Since they were working with limited time, many of the letters are not yet fully transcribed, so blog readers can have a chance to put some of the pieces of the story together as well by doing some voluntary, online transcription work of your own.

Thanks again, Fulbright students!

group photo




Medieval Ireland

Three groups of Providence College students on their way to Ireland later this week stopped by Special Collections this afternoon to look at medieval manuscripts and facsimiles of The Book of Kells, Book of Durrow and Lindisfarne Gospels in our Williams/Potter Memorial Collection on Irish Culture. Here’s one group on the balcony in the Updike Room:

Have a great trip!

Instructing and Delighting with the Wetmore Collection

Last Thursday evening Special Collections got a pleasant visit from Kim Nusco and some of the students in her Brown Continuing Studies Class, “To Instruct and Delight: A History of Illustrated Children’s Books.”

The extensive Wetmore Collection offered examples of children’s books through the centuries.

New Urban Arts Visit

On Monday PPL Special Collections got a visit from area high school students and artist mentors from New Uban Arts, a terrific group whose mission is to “build a vital community that empowers young people to develop a creative practice they can sustain throughout their lives”. They discovered some of the great books in the PPL collections that they can hopefully use as inspiration for their own bookmaking project this week. It was a fun time, and more information about the project is available at the NUA blog. I’m really looking forward to seeing the completed book, “Brilliant Minotaur”.