The Department of Special Collections and Archives has oodles of really cool materials available for everyone to use, including Hopkins students looking for fun and fabulous ways to gain experience with primary resources!

One such student is Ellen Urheim, JHU Class of 2014. Ellen had a class at the George Peabody Library in which she and her colleagues had the opportunity to work with 19th century travel diaries and other neat old books and manuscripts. Ellen totally loved handling all sorts of old stuff, and she is now one of our star interns at the Peabody, having scanned and transcribed a portion of an account of one traveler to Baltimore in 1818 (the poor fellow was not taken with the “repulsive & unpleasant effluvia” of Fells Point).

Ellen’s most recent project involved researching a rather interesting scrapbook created sometime in the 1870s by a woman named Louisa Cullen. This scrapbook isn’t just cutting and pasting old newspaper articles; a lot of care went into embellishing the pages with intricate designs, patterns, and poetry. In fact, the scrapbook is a fine representation of Victorian photo-collage, an art form in which women of the time excelled. The Cullen scrapbook is also home to the infamous Tom the Creepy Cat! Seriously, do you now need any further reasons to look at the Cullen scrapbook? We didn’t think so!

Of course, after reading this and surviving a meeting with Tom the Creepy Cat, contact Heidi Herr if you would like to volunteer in Special Collections!

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