Secrets From The Vault

Welcome Home Brother

Without knowing its underlying historical context, a viewer is likely to find this print from the Morgan’s collection bafflingly obscure. Once you learn it was published in London during the dark days of the Great Plague of 1665–1666, however, the meaning and significance of “Welcome Home Brother” begins to come into focus and strike an uncomfortably contemporary note.

When Did Sir Philip Sidney Write this Letter?

Letter-writers are not always consistent about dating their correspondence, especially quick casual notes. In order to determine when something was written, we often have to consult postmarks or notes made by the recipient. But, much to the chagrin of researchers and librarians everywhere, sometimes the only clues lie in the actual contents of the letter.

Why nurses think the air of Kensington Gardens so wholesome

Imagine having a father who was friends with Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and other famous authors of the 19th century. Henry Bradbury, the son of William Bradbury (of the Victorian publisher Bradbury and Evans), used his father's connections to compile a scrapbook of letters, sketches, drawings, prints, photographs, and printed ephemera. Much of the material is related to Punch, the Victorian periodical printed and later purchased by Bradbury and Evans.

Women Book Owners in the Renaissance

Tracing a book’s ownership history—its provenance—is for me one of the most enjoyable, if sometimes frustrating, aspects of book history. This post will highlight the provenance of European books owned by women during the sixteenth century and focus on how ownership might be denoted on the binding of the book, particularly through the inclusion of a personal name.

“A Curious Associational Electricity”

Sixty years ago today, John Steinbeck wrote this letter to Frederick Adams, the Director of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Steinbeck was an old friend of Adams and his letter, followed by the author’s subsequent visit to the Library, brought about a rekindling of their personal relationship and the beginning of Steinbeck’s scholarly and philanthropic relationship with the Morgan. This letter (MA 6432.1) conveys Steinbeck’s intellectual excitement at the prospect of closely examining the Library’s medieval manuscripts and books from the incunable period.