My two-week stint doing research at the NYPL Berg Collection is over, and letters and rare books took up the last two days of my Short-Term Research Fellowship on the topic of the Bloomsbury pacifists.
The letters were written by Vanessa Bell and Lytton Strachey to a variety of correspondents, including Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Duncan Grant and Nick Bagenal. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read them in their original form, taking time to decipher the usually elegant handwriting of the letter writers and savoring the idea of a world where friends and colleagues posted missives to each other on a regular, if not daily, basis.
It was special to be able to touch and handle papers nearly 100 years old that belonged to writers and artists I have read so much about and admire so greatly.
It was also invaluable to have access to such rare books as Clive Bell’s Civilization (1928), Julian Bell: Essays, Poems and Letters (1938) and David Garnett’s A Rabbit in the Air: Notes from a Diary Kept While Learning to Handle an Aeroplane (1932).
So while I knew that my research would come to an end, I felt sad when it did. I even felt a little lost when I turned the last page of Garnett’s book, realized I had no more documents or books in my queue and knew that I would soon be on my way back to my regular everyday life in Ohio.
I will miss the grandeur of the NYPL’s Schwartzman building, the luxurious silence of the Berg reading room, the helpful friendliness of librarians Anne Garner and Rebecca Filner, the expertise of Curator Isaac Gewirtz and the technical expertise of a regular volunteer and Yeats scholar named Neal who eagerly came to my aid when my laptop refused to reboot after loading some troublesome and unwanted Microsoft updates.
I hope all of those mentioned above will consider this an official public thank you for helping me have such a valuable experience.
Here are links to past posts about my research at the Berg and the Morgan Library & Museum:
- Day 1 at the Berg: Reunion with the lions, February 7, 2012
- Day 2 at the Berg: Tips from a librarian, February 8, 2012
- Day 3 at the Berg: Leads from the curator, February 9, 2012
- Day 4 at the Berg: Maternal concerns of Vanessa, February 10, 2012
- Day 5 at the Berg: Visit to an exhibition, February 12, 2012
- Day 6 at the Berg: Move to the Morgan, February 14, 2012
- Day 7 at the Berg: Rare books at the Morgan, February 15, 2012
- Day 8 at the Berg: Weather and war at the Morgan, February 17, 2012