Jarl “Lale” Lindfors (Finnish, 1898–1975)
Bird nesting chart, 1960–73
Ballpoint pen
Courtesy Nina Katchadourian

“Steamers from Liverpool, April 9 to November 5”
Table in the 1853 pocket diary of J. Pierpont Morgan (American, 1837–1913)
Pierpont Morgan Papers; ARC 1196

Nina Katchadourian
Weekly calendar annotated with pens and stickers, 1982
Courtesy Nina Katchadourian

Nina Katchadourian
Beatle Log, 1981
Ballpoint pen in spiral bound notebook
Courtesy Nina Katchadourian

George Augustus Sala (English, 1828–1895)
Commonplace book, 1859–94
Acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1907; MA 390


Nina Katchadourian: Quite early in the process of working on this show, I asked to see objects that you could generally describe as being records of things. It's a category I've been very fond of for a long time because of my own propensity for keeping records and I think that habit has been something inherited from my maternal grandfather Lale, who kept all kinds of records, a record of his birdhouse, Inhabitants is one of the objects in this show.

I'm interested in the way people keep records for themselves, but also the way that, that institutions keep records about themselves. I wanted to include records that also had to do with how this institution, the Morgan, has been recording itself and its collection and, and the ways that things in this collection are maintained. Even the personal records in this case are very different kinds of personal: there's Beth Van Hoesen’s journal of her mental health, day by day of, of a yearlong hospitalization that she experienced. There's JP Morgan's teenage journal written in a very organized fountain pen, hand of ships that came in and out of port that he felt compelled to track. And then there are records of my own from around this time: a high school calendar where I was mostly interested in noting daily events at school and concerts that I attended. And a record I called the Beatle Log were for about two years in junior high school. I wrote down every time a Beatle song came on the radio, which station had played it, and what song it was, and also the log book from a whaling ship called the Emily, where every time a whale was caught, it seems a small whale stamp was applied to this page. So you can see the whales as they stack up. I included George Augustus Sala's Commonplace book, not because I necessarily have any idea what it is. He is recording, but the very way he makes the record is so full of care and so full of detail. It seems that obsessiveness in record keeping suggests that there is something worth recording.