Mapping Special Collections

In November 2008, the Council on Library and Information Resources, through generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, awarded Goucher College’s Special Collections and Archives Department a grant to identify and catalog hidden collections. 

Mapping Special Collections for Research and Teaching at Goucher College, a one year project beginning in March 2009, will significantly increase scholarly access to Goucher’s special collections. A significant aspect of the project is training undergraduates in bibliographic description. Uncovering and understanding these "hidden collections" is key to Goucher's initiatives to increase undergraduate original research and partnerships with faculty to incorporate special collections into their curricula and teaching methods.

At the January 13, 2010 Meeting of the Maryland Library Association's Technical Services Division, Goucher's "Mapping Special Collections" team gave a presentation (pptx) on the workflows and techniques employed during their year-long processing and cataloging initiative.

Cassie Brand spoke about the efficiency of the workflow, which uses undergraduate students for initial processing in a multi-tiered design, and described the associated documentation.

E. Kenneth Giese discussed training of student workers in the methods of bibliographical description, citing examples of intriguing research questions and how physical examination can lead to answers about the manufacture and artistry of materials.

Allison Jai O'Dell emphasized how the thorough analysis of materials by both students and staff facilitates a more beneficial catalog, and allows for explorative data manipulation.

Collections included in the Project

Bright Bookplate

The James Wilson Bright Collection of 4,000 books (1539-1926) collected by pioneering Johns Hopkins philologist James Wilson Bright includes examples of early English printed books, and numerous early printed editions of English and European literary works and scholarly works relating to Anglo-Saxon literature and English philology from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.


Le Pas Des Fleurs

The Chrystelle Trump Bond Dance and Music Collection contains over 1,000 examples of American and European popular sheet music scores, and unique portfolios of dance music from 1820-1962. The music scores include many with colored steel engravings and lithographs, and the dance portfolios consist of scores, books, pedagogical materials, and ephemera relating to 19th and early 20th century social and theatrical dance that is valuable for dance reconstruction and cultural studies.


The H. L. and Sara Haardt Mencken Collection includes more than 700 letters (predominantly 1923-1935) exchanged between H.L. Mencken and his wife Sara Haardt Mencken (a Goucher alumna and professor). These letters provide great insight into the lives of two extraordinary writers, and the times in which they lived.


Austen Cover Gold

The Henry and Alberta Burke Papers and Jane Austen Research Collection document the Burke's extensive collecting of first and early editions of Austen's novels, as well as unique translations. This collection also contains many celebrated illustrated works by Humphry Repton and Thomas Rowlandson, and many other important books from the Regency Period. The papers include 20th century scholarly and popular articles on Austen and her works and provide provenance of many rare volumes in the collection as well as correspondence with Austen Bibliographer David Gilson.

 View the Mapping Special Collections  blog.