Field Trips

It’s been a busy week at the Rosenbach. We started out the week with the annual docent trip, which focused this year on two of our hometown treasures: the rare book department at the Free Library and Bartram’s Garden. Monday morning did not look auspicious, as the rain poured down during the morning rush hour, but the weather was no match for our hardy docents, who made it to the Free Library in fine form just as the sun began to emerge. The docents were kind enough to allow some of the Rosenbach staff to tag along, including myself; I hate to admit it, but my only previous contact with the rare book folks at the Free Library had been through picking up or returning loans, so I had never really had a chance to see their collection.

At the Free Library my group started out with the stuffed and mounted body of Grip, Charles Dickens’s pet raven, who was ultimately the inspiration for Poe’s The Raven. We then moved on to the Elkins room, a ” 62-foot-long paneled room bequeathed to the Library, along with its furnishings, by William McIntire Elkins.” Among the many treasures in the room are Paul Revere engravings, Dickens’s desk and lamp, and a really awesome library ladder. We managed to figure out that William Elkins was the first cousin of Harry Elkins Widener, one of Dr. Rosenbach’s important early clients, and the man for whom Widener Library at Harvard is named.

After our tour of the Elkins Room, we were treated to a show and tell of specific books from the library’s collection. The presentation focused partly on the history of the book, with examples of different book forms such as scrolls, accordion books, and codices, and partly on children’s books, especially the 800+ volume children’s book collection that Dr. Rosenbach donated to the Free Library in 1947.

If any of this whets your interest, you can go on a public tour of the Rare Book Department Monday through Friday at 11:00 a.m., although I doubt the public tours include the children’s books.

I did not accompany the docents to Bartram’s Garden, since I had visited last year with my interns, but from all accounts it was a great visit. Luckily the weather had cleared up very nicely for them. Here’s a picture of the intrepid crew at Hamilton House in Woodlands Cemetery, where they stopped en route to Bartram’s.

Image courtesy of Barbara Zimmerman

So that was Monday’s festivities. It’s a good time to stop and say a big thank you to all our hard-working docents, who are the face of the Rosenbach to our visitors.

Thursday’s field trip was down to the Navy Yard for the annual Rosenbachannal, which was held at the Urban Outfitters headquarters. I did not attend the party, but I was there for set-up. If you came to the event last night and saw the blue balloons guiding you from the entrance of the Navy Yard, that was my small contribution to the evening’s festivities. Anyway, Urban Outfitters is a really neat venue and very different from the Rosenbach– spacious and open and industrial chic as opposed to intimate and red-brick. Everything looked fabulous when I left and I can’t wait to see the pictures of everyone having an awesome time at the event! Here the big thank you is to our amazing development staff who put in an incredible amount of work to make it a great event and to all of our supporters who attended!

That’s it for this week–more Rosen-thoughts next week.