Museum and Society Students visit Sheridan Libraries’ Conservation Labs

Recently Conservation & Preservation hosted two classes in the Sheridan Libraries’ Conservation Labs for the undergraduate Museums and Society course, Conservation of Material Culture: Art, Artifacts and Heritage Sites. Taught by Professor, and Objects Conservator, Lori Trusheim, the class introduces students to the fundamental aspects of conservation with a goal of understanding how conservation contributes to the technical study of artworks and the role practical science plays in the field. Readings such as "Can a Paper Maker Help Save Civilization"; "A Comparison of light-induced damage under common museum illuminants" (Triennial Conference; 15th, International Council of Museums; 2008; New Delhi); and “The scientific detection of fakes and forgeries” are combined with class meetings held at local museums and conservation studios.

Paper Conservator Jennifer Jarvis led a workshop on "Book & Paper Conservation." Jennifer provided an overview of work done in the Conservation Lab while students were able to handle examples of before-and-after treatments performed by Hopkins conservators. Following the discussion, the group observed Jennifer in working conditions mending tears in paper and demonstrating how paper can be washed. In addition to touring the lab space and equipment, students were granted an up-close viewing of some highlights of the Sheridan Libraries’ wonderful collections.

The following week, Andrea Hall, Sr. Research Specialist, and Patricia McGuiggan, Associate Research Professor and Heritage Science for Conservation Principal Investigator, hosted a class on paper science in their area of the conservation labs. Intermixed with an overview of science’s application in paper research and conservation, students were able to cast their own sheets of paper from pulp and develop Cyanotype print exposures using sunlight. The hands-on application facilitated discussions on the properties of paper and paper-based media and how they can be studied and analyzed by scientists and conservators alike. While Patty and Andrea shared some of the current research they are working on, they also demonstrated some of the instruments and equipment they use in their processes and research, and provided a look into the Heritage Science for Conservation’s TAPPI room.

Jennifer, Andrea, and Patty provided some eye-opening experiences. As Professor Trusheim explains: “Students in this class have diverse interests and I always enjoy finding out what grabs their attention the most. For example, students with science backgrounds are usually blown away to see familiar techniques or materials applied to a different subject area. And students with history or art history backgrounds are amazed to see artifacts close up and to learn how things are made…the class introduces them to concepts that they otherwise would not be exposed to.”

The class will be visiting other museums in the future: the Walters Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Homewood and Archeological Museums here at Hopkins.

Hopkins’ Spring Fair, A History

click any image to enlarge

As Spring Fair gets under way, here’s a look back at the origins of the annual event. The first Spring Fair took place April 21-23, 1972, an entirely student-run festival. From the earliest days, it has been organized and run by the undergraduate student body, with cooperation from campus offices providing electricity, water, and security. It still serves as a means for inviting the community to the campus for food, crafts, and children’s activities.

For the first few years, the formal title of the event was 3400 On Stage, signifying that the university was holding an open house for all to enjoy. The 1972 publicity poster includes this invitation: “The Student Council invites the Baltimore community to join us for a parade, concerts, plays, arts and crafts exhibitions and sales, sports events, science exhibitions, and a wealth of entertainment opportunities.”

In its early years, Spring Fair took its place beside the many community/ethnic festivals that were held around Baltimore every year. While most of those festivals have since disbanded or moved away (for a variety of reasons), Spring Fair has taken place each year without fail and, weather permitting, always draws a crowd. On some occasions, the weather has not cooperated – one year it snowed on the opening Friday, but in some years it seems as if the weather picked up on the theme and carried it forward; in 1985, the theme was “A Touch of the Tropics,” and the weather for all three days was sunny and very warm.

While the size of the fair has waxed and waned over the years, the purpose has remained the same. In the earliest years, the fair took place on the upper and lower quads, with children’s rides on the freshman quad. Beer vendors were distributed throughout the venue, rather than being confined to the “Beer Garden.” The need to ensure that only those of legal age could get to the beer led the organizers to create a single, gated area for beer sales.

When the brick sidewalks (and underground irrigation pipes) were laid in 2000, tents could no longer be pitched or vehicles driven on the quads due to the danger of hitting or crushing pipes, so the Fair moved to an area known as Garland Field. Garland Field was where the Decker Quad is now located (when that area contained a surface parking lot). In recent years, the food vendors have been placed on the Freshman Quad, with crafts on the upper quad.

So, enjoy the food, crafts, entertainment, and these retro photographs, taken at the first event in 1972.

On the Modest Genius of Laurence Hall Fowler: A Conversation with Amy Kimball

You may not recognize the name Laurence Hall Fowler, but you certainly know his work. As one of the preeminent architects at work in Baltimore during the first half of the 20th century, Fowler’s elegant eclecticism helped define many of the city’s most fashionable neighborhoods and important buildings. Although his work lives on, his name has faded from public consciousness. That’s where Amy Kimball comes in. As Materials Manager for Special Collections at the Sheridan Libraries, Kimball was introduced to Fowler through the Laurence Hall Fowler Collection, which the architect donated to the university (also his alma mater, class of 1898), upon his retirement in 1945. After more than 20 years of working with the collection, Kimball has emerged as a leading Fowler scholar, asking us to reconsider the contributions of this overlooked local master. On Wednesday, April 11, Kimball will present a talk titled “Light, Line, Iron, and Wood: Detail and Derivation in the Designs of Laurence Fowler.” The talk kicks off Evergreen Museum & Library’s annual House Beautiful lecture series, a trio of talks by experts in the fields of architecture and design. Each lecture is at 6:30 p.m. in the museum’s historic Bakst Theatre and followed by a reception with the speaker. Appropriately, this week’s lecture falls in the middle of National Architecture Week, and qualifies for AIA continuing education credit. In the following Q&A, Kimball offers a preview of tomorrow's talk, explaining just how pervasive Fowler still is, why he might have chosen Baltimore over New York or Europe, and how his signature style remains elusive.

Baltimore's War Memorial was Fowler's first major public commission.

Baltimore's War Memorial was Fowler's first major public commission. MS 413 – Laurence Hall Fowler Papers, Special Collections, the Sheridan Libraries. 


How did you first become interested in Laurence Hall Fowler? When I came to Hopkins, and came to Special Collections in 1996, Evergreen Museum & Library was part of my responsibility, and the collection lives here.

For those not familiar, what do you mean when you say “the collection?” The Laurence Hall Fowler Collection has complete sets of drawings for his commissions and the corresponding correspondence, documentation, specifications, and sometimes photographs.  Besides that, we have two of his book collections: one is his rare books or treatises that he, as a book collector, accumulated. Then, we also have what you might call his reference library or his working library, the things he was using on the job that were more contemporary to his lifetime, as opposed to being rare treatises.

So, the collection was under your purview. That put it under your nose, but there are a lot of collections under your purview. What was it about this one that grabbed you? I was hired as the rare book assistant, so most of my job for most of my career here has been dealing with print material. So, it was kind of nice to have a chance to get into non-print material, and they’re beautiful drawings. Plus, I grew up in Towson in a historic house.  I like old houses, but Fowler was never a name that had crossed my consciousness until I got to Hopkins.

A spiral staircase at Greenwood, which Fowler built for the Deford family in 1911. The building is now the main administration building for Baltimore County Public Schools.

A spiral staircase at Greenwood, which Fowler built for the Deford family. The building is now the administrative headquarters of Baltimore County Public Schools. MS 413 – Laurence Hall Fowler Papers, Special Collections, the Sheridan Libraries. 

That’s probably true of most people, even though as Baltimoreans and Marylanders we interact with his buildings all the time. Can you enumerate some of the buildings he designed that we take for granted?  Well, Evergreen was not his original design, but he certainly changed the look of it, so this room, the New Library, and the house’s John Work Garrett Libraries would not look the way they do without him. Same with the Bakst Theatre, which was a gymnasium before he renovated it in the early 1920s. Then there’s the War Memorial, across from City Hall in downtown Baltimore, and what was called the Annapolis Hall of Records (now part of St. John’s College). There’s also the Abel Wolman House across from the Homewood campus. It belongs to Johns Hopkins University. It’s currently used as a conference facility by the Department of Housing and Dining Services. Greenwood: that’s another house that people probably drive by. It’s on Charles Street in Towson. It’s now the Baltimore County Board of Education building. That was designed by Fowler for the Deford family and then it was part of Greenwood School.

What’s really interesting is that there are a lot of houses in Roland Park, Guilford and Homeland that were Fowler designs. And there are a number of historical houses that he had something to do with even though they weren’t his design. There’s Dumbarton—in present day Rodgers Forge—where he did alterations and additions. He also did some alterations to The Cloisters. They may not have been very major, but he had his hand in a lot of things and a lot of places.

His work is fairly ubiquitous, then. Why don’t we know him?  I think one of the reasons he’s not as well known is because he was a very, very local architect, and though he did do a few things outside of Baltimore and outside of Maryland, it wasn’t a lot and they weren’t huge. He really was a homegrown boy who didn’t go too far.

An ornate window at the Abel Wolman House.

An ornate window at the Abel Wolman House. Photo by Amy Kimball

Do you know why he decided to stay in Baltimore rather than go somewhere else and make more of a name for himself? After graduating from Hopkins with a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a focus on mathematics, he went on to attend Columbia University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in the Course of Architecture in 1902. While he was at Columbia, he’d done a year or so with Boring and Tilton in their office, and he had worked with Bruce Price while he was getting his degree.  During that time, his father had written to him and said, ‘This is wonderful, but you might consider being your own boss,’ and I think Baltimore probably just offered him that. He wanted to be in charge of what he was doing, though he was not a one-man show. He had a typical architectural office with draftsmen and chief designers and a secretary, especially after the War Memorial, when things kind of picked up. Also, he was an only child, so I think just the fact that his parents were here influenced his decision. His father died in 1911, so I think he had family obligations, and he knew the area. He was born in Catonsville and he loved Baltimore. He was really interested in Baltimore history and the conservation of that.

What are the hallmarks of a Fowler design? The thing that’s tricky about Fowler is he’s not Frank Lloyd Wright. You can’t just look at the house and say, ‘Oh, that’s Prairie Style. That must be Frank Lloyd Wright.’ Fowler’s design is very subtle and he’s using motifs and language that his peers are using. So, it’s difficult to stand in front of one of these homes in Guilford or Roland Park and say, automatically, ‘That’s a Fowler house!’ I find some commonalities. The barrel-vault ceiling he uses a lot—but he doesn’t have the trademark on that design, obviously—and a lot of curved lines that are not structurally necessary. It’s more about how he takes these elements that everyone is using and how he combines them.

Is it more about the feeling his spaces inspire than any particular design element? The homeowners that I’ve visited and talked with, that’s what they’ve conveyed to me. One of them had said, ‘We looked at a lot of houses. None of them felt quite right. We walked into this one and we felt like we were at home.’ Now you can’t really describe what makes it feel that way. So I think he was very sensitive to site—as much as the plot would allow him to be—and I think that has a lot to do with it. Like, how light is manipulated. It’s intangibles like that. I think it’s a byproduct of his decisions about where he places things.

When people come to the lecture, what do you hope they take away? I’m hoping to present some of those characteristics that folks can be on the lookout for, and just to place him in that world, in Baltimore in the early 20th century. I think he’s an important local architect. As we get further away from his lifetime we’re less likely to [remember him]. I think he deserves to have his name shouted a little bit.

A Tour of Edgar Allan Poe’s Baltimore: April 14

This guest post is from senior Samantha Smart, who received an Arts Innovation Grant to bring more Hopkins students into contact with one of Baltimore's most intriguing historical figures, Edgar Allan Poe.

Every September, football fans put on their purple jerseys and migrate to M&T Bank Stadium for the National Football League’s Opening Day. Every October, a mysterious figure dressed in black pays a visit to Westminster Burying Ground for an annual midnight toast. Every year, over a thousand people from all over the world make their way to a small house at 203 North Amity Street.

Poe's house at 203 N. Amity Street, Baltimore, MD

The Home of Poe and Mrs. Clemm. Courtesy of the Enoch Pratt Library. Via the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore.

Nearly 170 years after his death, the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe still dwells in Baltimore. His famous poem, “The Raven,” lives on in the name of our football team, his grave is the site of the Poe Toaster’s homage on the anniversary of his death, and the house where he spent some of the few peaceful years of his turbulent life attracts his many fans.

What is it about Poe that makes him so popular today? And why is Baltimore so integral to his legacy? These are the questions we will explore in this special tour of Edgar Allan Poe’s Baltimore, a one-time, free event this coming Saturday, April 14, from 1 pm to 6:30 pm.

During the tour, limited to just twenty Hopkins students, you will have the opportunity to visit and learn about a variety of Poe-related sites—and contribute to our local Poe lore through your own photographic documentation of these sites, which will become part of a digital exhibition.

We will begin by visiting the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum—where Poe lived as a young poet just starting out. From there, we will stop by Westminster Burying Ground—Poe’s final Baltimore residence. We will peek inside the stadium that is home to the only major league team in America named after a work of literature. And we’ll end the afternoon at the beloved Annabel Lee—not the poem, but the classic Baltimore tavern, where we’ll share a meal. Along the way, you’ll learn about Poe’s life and work, and commemorate your experience of Poe’s Baltimore through photographs.

Modified photograph of Edgar Allan Poe's grave by Ray Pennisi (CC BY-NC 2.0)

And just to reiterate, all tour attendees will receive FREE transportation, admission, tour guides, and dinner, thanks to the support of an Arts Innovation Grant!

No prior knowledge of Poe is required! The tour is meant to be a fun learning experience and a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore Baltimore. To register, follow this link.

We only have room for twenty students, so reserve your spot soon!

Cosplay, Games, Fire — It’s JohnCon 2018

Tournaments, a cosplay photo shoot, laser tag, comedy, games -- yes, it's JohnCon 2018 (April 6-8)!

JohnCon is the annual convention of JHU's Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (HopSFA). It's held from Friday evening to Sunday evening (5:00PM to 5:00PM), with NO stops. (Here are some photos from last year.)

 On the schedule (watch for updates):

  • All six locations are listed at the top of the schedule, throughout Levering and outdoors
  • Events with "melee," "escape," "magic," "rave," "murder mystery," and more are just what you'll need to get away from problem sets for a while
  • More games than you can count, including role-playing games and board games
  • Don't miss the anime in the Arellano Theater downstairs
  • The encouraged entrance fee is $10, but you can pay as much or as little as you wish.

Your library has books, e-books, and of course movies of or about anime (perhaps you need an introduction to start off?).

See you at JohnCon!

Fifty Years Later: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Beloved Community

Today, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death: his assassination by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee, where King was preparing to march on behalf of sanitation workers on strike. In marking this tragic anniversary, we also celebrate the U.S. Civil Rights Movement King did so much to advance. Indeed, most 21st-century Americans see King as a national hero; we regard his writings, speeches, and sermons as key documents of the expanding American experiment, and we honor his memory through monuments, parks, schools, a holiday, and the names of our boulevards.

As much as King has become an American champion and even a legend, we should also—and especially on this day—recall the international scope of his vision: how King’s notion of “the beloved community” grew to encompass all the people of the world.

Image of Dr. Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. The Nobel Foundation (Public Domain)

The Nobel Foundation (Public Domain)

King refined his philosophy of nonviolent resistance to racial segregation, racist brutality, and injustice over many years, but even in the beginning, he saw the international dimensions of the civil rights struggle. In July of 1956, he gave a speech to the Home Mission Societies of Christian Friends in Green Lake, Wisconsin, while in the midst of the Montgomery bus boycott; the state statute requiring racial segregation on intrastate buses had just been overturned in district court, but the boycott continued and the case would not be decided by the U. S. Supreme Court until November of that year. With his feet in Wisconsin and his heart in Alabama, King nevertheless brought his mind and the minds of his listeners to global horizons: “Now this determination on the part of the Negro to struggle and to struggle, until segregation and discrimination have passed away, springs from the same longing for human dignity that motivates oppressed peoples all over the world. This is not only a nation in transition, but this is a world in transition.” In a later version of the speech, King said that actions like “non-cooperation and boycotts are not ends within themselves… the end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of non-violence is the creation of a beloved community.”

King drew on a variety of religious and philosophical sources as he developed the basic tenets of this philosophy. The non-aggression principle of ahimsa, as popularized by Mahatma Gandhi, is the best known of these sources, as outlined in King’s 1959 Sermon on Gandhi. He also benefitted from the ideas of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an international interfaith group founded in 1914 in an attempt to prevent World War I; the U.S. chapter was attended by Josiah Royce, a theologian and philosopher who first articulated the idea of the beloved community. (Royce received one of the first doctorate degrees granted by Johns Hopkins in 1878. We have some of his early writings in the University Archives.) Over the years, King’s description of the ideals and practices of nonviolent resistance grew more specific, as he and his brother and sister activists sought to implement it in their arduous and dangerous work.

Image of a shantytown established in Washington, D. C. to protest economic conditions as a part of the Poor People's Campaign.

A shantytown established in Washington, D. C. to protest economic conditions as a part of the Poor People's Campaign. (Henry Zbyszynski, "Resurrection City," Washington D.C. 1968. Creative Commons.)

In April 1957, when he gave his sermon on “The Birth of a New Nation,” King’s beloved community was explicitly global. In this speech, celebrating Ghana’s successful fight for independence from British colonialism, he connected that struggle to the Indian independence movement and the U.S. struggle against segregation—and he invoked again the goal of a beloved community that leaves no one out. King’s view of the beloved community also clearly embraces migrants to and from all nations. In a 1966 note to Cesar Chavez, leading farmworkers who were largely undocumented, King said, “Our separate struggles are really one—a struggle for freedom, for dignity and for humanity.” And in his 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” a response to local clergy who objected to “outsiders coming in,” he issued perhaps his most eloquent defense of the beloved community as a global phenomenon: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” His murder interrupted the launch of the Poor People's Campaign, a multi-pronged crusade against U.S. poverty through policies to provide jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, and improved opportunities for education that was organized by over fifty multiracial organizations. While its immediate goals were national, its premise was transnational—a recognition that poverty at home was linked to economic and political power dynamics that created wealth and poverty everywhere.

In his last Sunday sermon, preached at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., King described the “great revolution” of his time in terms that are extraordinarily relevant to the networked, global dimensions of our lives in 2018. What was taking place in 1968, as he saw it, was “in a sense… a triple revolution; that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution of weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapon of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world.” He closed the sermon by reminding his listeners not to despair on the hard road to freedom, because “however dark it is, however deep the angry feelings are, and however violent the explosions,” what we are capable of making is “a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

Osler Medical Symposium

Tuesday, April 3, 6:00 p.m., Gilman Hall 50
-- The Role of Economics, Equity, and Entrepreneurship in Health and Medicine with Paul Rothman, CEO and Dean of Hopkins Medicine

Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 p.m., Gilman Hall 50
--  Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Research of Health and Medicine with Arturo Casadevall, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor

 Paul Rothman, CEO and Dean of Hopkins Medicine

Paul Rothman, CEO and Dean of Hopkins Medicine

In 1999, the student-run Voyage and Discovery series included talks by Kay Redfield Jamison (psychiatry; author of An Unquiet Mind), Michael Ain (orthopedic surgeon; featured on Hopkins 24/7), and the immortal Victor McKusick (the "father of medical genetics"), among many others. The V&D series focused on the doctors' personal stories -- why did they decide to enter medicine? What do they love (or hate) about it? How do they stay involved and retain their humanity every single day?

 Arturo Casadevall, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor

Arturo Casadevall, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor

Although health-related symposium series at Johns Hopkins are not new, they are always important -- the world of medicine evolves unbelievably quickly, and constant exposure to what's going on is crucial.

The Osler Medical Symposium (OMS) is the newest exciting addition to this tradition. (Another important development is the Hippocrates Medical Review -- read more background here and here).

Congratulations to the students who conceived of and then made this speaker series and journal happen. And thank you, from healthcare practitioners as well as those who depend on them.

Read It And Eat It 2018 Edible Book Fest

Now is the time to grab a spatula and let out a primal scream for Read It and Eat It, our fourth annual edible book festival, is nigh! Our promotion of literacy and gluttony and whimsy will occur in the Glass Pavilion on Friday, April 6th from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Did I mention eating cake? Because you get to eat cake!

Last year’s festival featured journeys to mystical places, a taco that wasn't quite what it seemed, and very wrathful grapes. Who knows what culinary mischief lies in the hearts of this year’s baking champions?

As is tradition, prizes will be awarded by popular vote in the following categories: most delicious dessert, funniest dessert, best effort, best literary theme, and overall best in show. Golly gumdrops, do we have prizes! Remember: you have to bake to win!

Ready to register? Then do so quickly. The deadline to enter a cake is 10am on Wednesday, April 4. Need some inspiration? Follow our sugary crumbs to tumblr or flickr to gain inspiration from desserts of years past!

How Can I Share My Article?

Event: Sharing Your Articles: What Can You Really Do?, Wednesday, April 4th, Noon - 1pm in the MSEL Hamburger Room, Q Level. This event is free, but please RSVP.

Your article is published. Hurrah! Now you'll share it with your family, friends, and colleagues. What about ResearchGate, Mendeley, or What about other places, like your personal website, a department web page, or a disciplinary server?

Sharing is a large part of our culture. But sharing your published journal article is tricky because copyright is involved.

If you're interested in learning more, join a librarian for this lunchtime discussion. Bring your lunch and laptops. We'll provide drinks and cookies.


Hoop Dreams: Struggles and Redemption in Basketball Films

BasketballDreamsCollege basketball is heating up; have you made your bracket yet?  There aren't quite as many movies out there about basketball as there are about football, but the Libraries does have a few to keep you company for those times without basketball.

Hoosiers is a must-see for any basketball fan - it has the whole shebang: an underdog sports team, a coach seeking redemption, and a small town with little else to do besides pay too much attention to the high school basketball team. It's loosely based on the 1954 Milan High School Indiana state championship team, so you get a small dose of history with this one as well.

If you want a little more of real-life stories set around the same time period, and just down the road from Milan High School, there's Something to Cheer About: Oscar Robertson and the Crispus Attucks TigersThis documentary explores the Crispus Attucks High School Basketball team and their 1955 State Championship win - marking the first time in the U.S. that an all-black team won a state title.

Other documentaries feature the stories of the Harlem Globetrotters in The Team that Changed the World, LeBron James in More than a Game, the Roosevelt Roughriders in The Heart of the Game, and aspiring young players in Hoop Dreams.