I apologize for how absurdly last minute this is. Just realized I never published my final blog. I couldn’t attend NYPL, so I wrote about my experience researching in the reading room at the Morgan one day… Happy summer!
I examined a journal written by William Ellery Channing on Emerson and Thoreau. I can’t include any images, unfortunately. The journal itself was very hard to read most everywhere because Channing’s handwriting is very poor. The book itself is 248 pages and in a very attractive brown leather bound and cover. An interesting quirk is that Channing chose to write some pages upside down of others, so the reading room attendant was worried how I’d flip the book on the stand the Morgan provided when I would have to change directions. She was concerned the stand would collapse and something “catastrophic” would happen to the artifact, so I had to be careful to turn the stand in a certain way that she showed me.
He took notes of people that were curious. Of “young lawyers” and “Edward of the city.” I’m not sure who these people are exactly, whether they are people he met or people he read of. The journal doesn’t seem to be organized in any way, a true stream of consciousness. It’d be frustrating if I was using this artifact for my final project, but since I am exploring it, I’m enjoying myself. He speaks of farms a great deal; one entry is devoted largely to cows and what they do for farms. He also traveled to a town Marlboro (I think he wrote) and talks of the scenery in a very Thoreauian way. Some of the entries have curious lines going through them that don’t have much rhyme or reason to my ignorant eye, but I’m sure he had his reasons. He also did a good job numbering his entries to keep track of his writing. There was also a few little notes and the odd number here and there that were written off to the side to remember something for later, presumably.
In one of Emerson’s letters, there were interesting spots that presumably came from taps of the pen all dotted around what was written. It could just be the paper, but then that would bear the question where one finds spotted paper and why someone would choose to buy it? There was some residual wax left from a seal that was very fascinating to find. It is these little things that give me interesting ideas for aspects of my final project. Emerson’s handwriting is also hard to read, but perhaps that says more about me never reading just about anything handwritten anymore.
Working in the reading room at the Morgan was a meaningful experience. There were other readers here, and just a quick scan shows them over some very intriguing materials. Certainly not the place to ask questions about what they’re researching, but this a place for true scholarship, that is clear. It is incredible to be staring directly at Emerson’s own handwritten pages. Like looking back in time almost.