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Blog Category: Public collections

May 21, 2015

La Española: the earliest recorded Blacks in the Colonial Americas

Unknown (Dominican), Saint Nicholas of Bari's Hospital, Santo Domingo, Photographer: Anthony Stevens Acevedo, Image: 2009. Photograph copyright © CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, First Blacks in the Americas collection.

Unknown (Dominican), Saint Nicholas of Bari’s Hospital, Santo Domingo, Photographer: Anthony Stevens Acevedo, Image: 2009. Photograph copyright © CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, First Blacks in the Americas collection.

La Española, the island now divided into the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti, existed first as a Spanish colony during the entire sixteenth century, when its population became the first one in the Americas with a majority of people of African descent. The Black ancestors of today’s Dominicans were the first to experience the dreadful transatlantic slave trade, and the first to offer organized resistance as soon as they landed in La Española. They were also the first to endure and survive all the varieties of enslaved labor and enslaved life, and the first to thrive and produce new generations of Afro-descendants born in the “New World.”

Sixteenth-Century La Española: Glimpses of the First Blacks in the Early Colonial Americas,” a 2015 exhibition at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, presented images of manuscripts, transcriptions, translations, and photographs that tell the story of the earliest Black inhabitants of the Americas. The exhibit included photographs of sites of the Dominican Republic’s colonial past by Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, Assistant Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at The City College of New York, the co-curator of the exhibit and a colonial historian. Dr. Lissette Acosta Corniel, CUNY DSI Post-Doctoral Fellow, was also a co-curator of the exhibit.

The show was an offshoot of “First Blacks in the Americas,” a long term CUNY DSI online project focusing on photographs that were part of the living environment of Black people in that territory during colonial times. Part of the collection is available in Artstor’s public collections, an open-access library of digital media from JSTOR Forum subscribers.

“Sixteenth-Century La Española: Glimpses of the First Blacks in the Early Colonial Americas” ran from May 22 6:30–September 10, 2015 at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, NAC Building Room 2/202, The City College of New York, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031.

Editor’s note: this post was updated to reflect changes in Artstor’s platform for public collections.

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April 6, 2015

The flowers of Delmarva

This post has been updated to include new information about Artstor’s public collections, formerly made available on Shared Shelf Commons.
Franklin C. Daiber, Peony. UD Library: Franklin C. Daiber Botanical Collection

Franklin C. Daiber, Peony. UD Library: Franklin C. Daiber Botanical Collection

The Delmarva Peninsula gets its name from the three states it’s a part of: DELaware, MARyland, and VirginiA. You could say Delmarva is technically an island, since you have to cross one of five bridges (one of them being the 20-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel) to get across the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, but since the canal is man-made it’s still considered a peninsula.

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February 4, 2015

The infinite variety of artists’ books

Sandra Rowe, Snake, 1991. Bucknell University: Artists' Books Collection

Sandra Rowe, Snake, 1991. Bucknell University: Artists’ Books Collection

Whether you consider illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages the beginning, or you start with William Blake’s self-published books of poetry in the 18th century, artists have been making books for centuries. But as Toni Sant recounts in his book Franklin Furnace and the Spirit of the Avant-garde, the term “artists’ books” is fairly recent. It only appeared in 1973 as the title of an exhibition at Moore College, and it wasn’t until 1980 that the Library of Congress adopted the term in its list of established subjects.

This delay might stem from the infinite variety of forms that artists’ books take, sometimes pushing our understanding of what a book is to unexpected extremes.

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December 15, 2014

The endangered art of bookplates

This post has been updated to include new information about Artstor’s public collections, formerly made available on Shared Shelf Commons.
William P. Barrett, The Library of George Frederick Ernest Albert Prince of Wales, 1904. UD Library: William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection

William P. Barrett, The Library of George Frederick Ernest Albert Prince of Wales, 1904. UD Library: William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection

Despite entreaties to the contrary, the debate about e-books vs. printed books doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Traditionalists frequently tout the sensual pleasures of paper (smell, which doesn’t have much to do with reading, comes up often), while readers of electronic devices usually point to convenience. There have even been studies about which format is better for comprehension and retention.

One thing that never comes up? Bookplates! Laugh if you want, but those small decorative labels with the book-owner’s name can be quite beautiful, and we haven’t yet seen an e-reader with one. Take a look at these examples from the University of Delaware’s William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection to see what they’re missing.

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April 22, 2014

Patent medicines and advertising cards from the Oskar Diethelm Library

This post has been updated to include new information about Artstor’s public collections, formerly made available on Shared Shelf Commons.
Carter Medicine Company | Carter's Little Nerve Pills | 19th century | Cornell: Oskar Diethelm Library for the History of Psychiatry

Carter Medicine Company | Carter’s Little Nerve Pills | 19th century | Cornell: Oskar Diethelm Library for the History of Psychiatry

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the prevailing medical belief that “the more dangerous the disease, the more painful the remedy” meant that bloodletting, purging, and blistering were often prescribed. Not surprisingly, this led to the development of a market in patent medicines promising painless cure-alls. Manufacturers used advertising cards to promote a world of pleasant medical fixes with friendly graphics and reassuring claims and testimonials. The ingredients in these patent medicines might have been as harmful as the illness, but they were more tempting than the agonizing solutions offered by doctors.

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December 18, 2013

Colby College’s Winter Wonderland

This post has been updated to include new information about Artstor’s public collections, formerly made available in Shared Shelf Commons.
1952 Winter Carnival | Colbiana Photographs |  Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine

1952 Winter Carnival | Colbiana Photographs | Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine

Virginia Duggan, Winter Carnival Queen | Colbiana Photographs | Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine

Virginia Duggan, Winter Carnival Queen | Colbiana Photographs | Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine

Maine is famous for its winters, and understandably so – snow accumulation can reach up to 10 feet in parts of the state. This offers an irresistible opportunity for play, as you can see in these vintage photographs from the ’40s and ’50s.

The images come from the Colbiana Collection at Maine’s Colby College. The archive is composed of Colby’s historical records from 1813 to the present, and many of its photographs are openly available in Artstor’s public collections. Among the treasures to be found are the college’s first campus in downtown Waterville, the construction of the current campus on Mayflower Hill, as well as images of faculty and students making merry in the snow.

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January 23, 2013

President Barack Obama Visual Iconography

ObamaSiteScreenshotIn 2008, as part of its extensive collection of political Americana, the Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections began building a collection of publicity and memorabilia documenting Obama’s campaign and election. Fittingly released at the beginning of Barack Obama’s second term in office, the Library has begun making these historic materials from the president’s first inauguration available free to everyone on in Artstor’s public collections.

The materials provide a unique visual iconography of the election of America’s first black president, offering a teaching and research resource for understanding modern campaign strategies, political mobilization, and the representation of American politics through various media markets.

Artstor’s public collections are openly available and fully searchable to anyone–with or without an Artstor subscription. They are shared by institutions that subscribe to JSTOR Forum, Artstor’s web-based service for cataloging and managing digital collections.

This post has been updated to include new information about Artstor’s public collections, formerly made available on Shared Shelf Commons.

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