Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Signing Out

So, this blog never really became what I wanted it to be. I have never done something like this, and it clearly shows in how infrequent I post. By no means is this a reflection of my experience in the archives. In fact, it is the opposite of such. My experiences working with the Jesuit catalog were small and constant feelings of enjoyment as I continued to study the old book. This is not something that translates well into diary form. Nothing felt significant enough to share, though all of it was fantastic to experience. Much of my work was solitary, so my interactions were not note-worthy. Most of what I discovered were small simple things that I often used Google to realize if something seemed interesting to me. This is by no means an excuse of the blog's quality, for as it is, this isn't much of a blog. However, I think it does accurately reflect my experiences during my internship. There was a great deal of initial excitement and discovery when I first began to work with the catalog, but as time went on I settled into my own routine, which was consistently simple and not terribly exciting. I loved the work I did, and just because I did not have enough time to form a particularly emotional connection to it, at least not one strong enough that I would rant on about it for the next 3 hours if given the chance, doesn't mean I didn't love the work. For anyone and everyone who did read this, sorry it couldn't have been better, but I hope I peeked your curiosity a bit.

Che sarai, sarai.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting Ready for Upload

I haven't posted in some time. Sorry for that. The semester is winding down, which means that my professors are picking up their pace, keeping me very busy. I have all of the reshoots of the photos completed, including the loose sheets from before. I'm working with Dr. Roberts to get them set up online. Otherwise, still doing transcriptions, though nothing of real note is coming from them. Most of the titles that I find are very similar in scope and content it seems. I'll update when I get the pictures published online.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Photo Op.

So I finally managed to get into the archives in order to redo the pictures of the catalog that needed to be done. Most of it was relatively straight forward. There were some minor problems with the cameras not willing to cooperate all the time, but after several repeated attempts at getting them to respond properly, I was able to get my work on them done. All that's required for that part is for me to get the pictures properly formatted so that I can get them online.

Otherwise, just a bit more work on transcriptions without much new happening. I know I said my posts would be more frequent, but unfortunately, nothing of any severe interest has occurred beyond what I post. I'll find some way of getting something more intense to write about sooner or later, I'm sure. Unlikely, but I like the transcriptions that I'm doing and the work is fascinating to me, so, oh, well.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nothing to see here folks

Sorry I haven't posted in quite some time. I've found I really only manage to get work done on this blog in bursts and lulls. I've still continued my transcriptions and I have plans to begin to retake the pictures for the pages of the catalog. Unfortunately, nothing really interesting has jumped out except I have gotten better at understanding the French. I promise that there will be a burst of activity from me starting this next Thursday when my 3 exams and presentation are done with.

Monday, March 11, 2013

French Abbot

Not much new in the past few days. Still working on my transcriptions of the history pages. I'm still frustrated with the French texts in the catalog. More often than not whenever there is an unknown author the title seems to be something French, which makes it very difficult for me to get the exact lettering of the words correct. The French also seem to have the habit of giving ridiculously long titles to their works. For instance, compare Voyage du Jeune Anacharsis en Grece daus de milieu 4th diecle A.D. compared to Memoirs and Observations made in a Journey through China. To be fair, the English title would likely be just as confusing as if translated into French.

Only other discovery I've made is that many authors often have (l'abbe) placed beside their name. Normally the author's first name, if it's known, and their title are placed in parenthesis like this. After seeing this appear multiple times, I finally looked it up and discovered that this is the title that is applied to an abbot of a monastery. I found it so interesting that there are actually a fair number of abbots with published works, ignoring the fact this is a Jesuit catalog. Other than that, nothing spectacular has occurred recently.

I bid thee farewell. (This sign off thing is still killing me.)

Monday, March 4, 2013


Told you I would be posting more frequently.
Still working on the transcriptions. It's slow going, but once I get on a roll then it becomes fairly easy to get a lot of work done. Which reminds me; that letter I was having so much difficulty with. It was a capital A. The writer simply didn't allow for enough ink to complete the entire letter so it looked ridiculous. But enough whining about hundred-year-old Jesuit authors.
Anyway, a couple new interesting pieces. I found a few fascinating books on the current page I'm working on. The first is Pomponii Mela Situs Orbin descriptio (Gr.) written back in 1577. It's partially a reprint of the author's father's text with different translations thrown in. The text is designed as both an account of the works of and a description of said works that belonged to the poet Dionysius who lived in 2nd century Rome. What made me interested in this book particularly was a line of thought that developed while trying to research it. Was the original attempt at preserving the works of this poet due to his own greatness as a writer, or did the original authors of this book of Dionysius's works only preserve what he had created because he was from ancient Rome? In other words, was Dionysius's work considered something worthy of preservation on its own merits or merely because it was from the Roman Empire? I won't write an essay on the topic, but it was simply an idea that occurred to me.
In the catalog, the Jesuits commonly had books with unknown places and dates of publication. They would also occasionally have an unknown author to their book. This could be for a variety of reasons: damage to the first pages of the book that would have the name listed; revisions done later by a different author making it difficult to give credit to one particular source; etc. I discovered two such works today. Both were French in origin. The first was "Eglises de Paris," that, while listed as An. (anonymous), was written by Edouard Gourdon. The exact reasoning for it to be listed like this is unknown to me. My guess is that the author of the catalog was unable to locate it while doing the initial inventory. The second work I found was "Indisjunsable du nouveau Conducteur des estrangers dans Paris" (a more French title of a book does not exist), that I discovered was written by Auguste Péquégnot (an equally French author).

Stay tuned for more entertaining entries from the Catalog of the Immense Number of Entries which are Titles of Books held in the Jesuit Library roughly 100 Years Ago, and Often Written in 3 Languages: French, English and Latin. (Still working on a clever sign off)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

New Process and Frustrating Letters

My apologies for not having made a new post in quite some time. Medical issues have made it difficult the past couple of weeks. Anyway, I'm back, and I'll be setting up a new format. Instead of trying to squeeze out a gigantic post once a week, trying to recall everything interesting I may have found; I am instead going to make a new, smaller post every couple of days or when I just find something particularly interesting, or if I just need to gripe about a difficulty in my current work. These new posts will be only a couple paragraphs long if that, and they will hopefully include more pictures once I'm back in the archives (home on spring break now).

Since my previous post, not much has happened. Still working on the transcriptions of different pages, and I have discovered that it is either easy or maddeningly impossible. I discussed my previous problem with the capital "I"s before. This time, I have started to run into a symbol that I cannot seem to decipher. It appears like a "t", but it doesn't match any other form of that letter I've seen. The letter is made by making a straight vertical line down, whose tail then loops around to the left and through the line, forming the next letter. I have only encountered this symbol in French titles, which makes it very difficult to decipher since I can't even figure out what the word is. This is compounded by the fact that this particular page that it occurs on has very sloppy handwriting, with the lower case cursive m, n, u, v, s, and i, all being pretty indistinguishable. I'm slowly working my way through it, though, and with any luck I'll figure this out soon enough.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lacking Historical Context

After several hours I finally completed my first transcription, finding it easier than I had supposed it would be.  The only real difficulty came from the Latin in the titles, as well as the names of authors who were often French, German, Dutch, American and English, making spelling difficult at times. However, I was able to overcome it.
I'll be starting on the transcriptions of the history section of the catalog very soon. The reason for this is because while I was making my catalog of the catalog, I discovered that most of the History section is missing any kind of title to describe the exact section and what it contains. For instance, most areas would have a numbered section, then a chapter, and sometimes an article, in order to organize which books were listed where. The history portion of the catalog stops doing this a short way through for some strange reason, meaning that I will have to read over the pages and try to extrapolate what all of the books have in common that would cause them to be grouped together. Hopefully this'll be easier said than done.
Unfortunately, I have no pictures this time to give examples of what I'm saying. They'll be up on my next post.

Monday, February 4, 2013

G & I

This week I spent most of my time attempting to both read and catalog the content of each page of the Catalog(insert Inception joke), which would swing back in forth from easy to quite difficult. The actual writing within the catalog is usually pretty legible. However, my first roadblock appeared in the form of the capital letter "I", which in the Catalog takes two different forms.

The word on the right side "Infidelity" uses a very different style than the word "Idem" which appears on the left side in the word that appears to be Golem at first glance. This exemplifies an issue that I didn't consider when I began to read the pages, namely, that the writing is going to be from multiple people with different styles of writing. This is true in the way that a capital "A" is written in the catalog because in most of the script it looks perfectly fine, however, in the headings, it's closer in appearance to "oc" than it is to an "a". But with this knowledge, hopefully the reading won't be as hard as hard as it was previously. Idem also made this more difficult because it was a word I had never heard of before this. It apparently means to signify the same author or title as previously before it. Vocab lesson for anyone who didn't know that.

Slowly I have my own catalog of the catalog gaining meat, and it is almost completed. Thankfully, going through and doing this process has allowed me to get all of the pages into their proper place without the pictures, because until recently I had a group of 10 pages that had been stuck between sections, but it was only during my research that they were the entire section on Meditations and Morals. Soon, I will begin rephotographing and then the actual process of building a digital archive can begin.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Beginning work

I decided to merge my first two weeks together since there wasn't much to be done my first week. I began the semester by looking through the pictures of the archives catalog that had already been taken. I made my first attempt at actually reading the text through the pictures, but I found it surprisingly difficult due to the handwriting being in cursive and the pictures being seen off a bright computer screen. In person, the writing was much easier to decipher. I ended up discovering only three of the pictures that were in any real need of being redone. Two of these pictures were a bit blurry, which can be easily fixed, but one had very faint ink on the bottom half, which may be significantly more difficult to deal with, though I wouldn't know the exact process. What I did start to notice was that there seemed to be too few pictures for how large the catalog itself was. When I pointed this out, I was sent to search through the catalog itself for what pages were missing.

This big guy is the catalog for the archives. It did not take me long to realize that the only way to figure out which pages had their pictures finished and which didn't would mean going through this giant page by page and seeing which pictures were in the gallery I had and which weren't.

The pages of the catalog were thick but pretty delicate. The cover itself was covered in red rot and falling apart, so I had to be careful to not damage it. The book itself is roughly 600 pages long, though much of it is empty; left so intentionally so that more could be added to it later. I put the gallery of pictures I already had on my computer into order and went page by page in order to see what was missing. The first couple of missing pictures I found were separated from by a few blank pages, which helped to explain why they had been missed. However, I found that many pages that were missing pictures were on the same opening as ones that had been photographed. I'm hoping this means that there are pictures that have somehow escaped, otherwise I'll have about 20 or so pages to photograph and rephotograph.

Also, I found these papers that were tucked away in the folds of the book. They're the pages from the old Jesuit catalog from way back. They hadn't been photographed like the others, but I think they should be added in. No one likes to feel left out.