Pre-Conference Activities

“Opening of Mass Aggie”
[Massachusetts Agricultural College, the forerunner of the University]
mural in UMass Campus Center

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Kindly register by June 19

(Afterwards, we will make our best efforts to accommodate any additional requests but we cannot guarantee a place.)

Sunday, 14 July

Pre- pre-conference
Behind the Scenes at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS), Worcester, Massachusetts

late afternoon(c. 1:30 or 2:30-6:30 p.m.) Sunday, 14 July


We regret that we have had to cancel this activity due to low registration. The AAS could not open specially on a weekend for such a small group.

We realize that relatively few SHARPists may choose to arrive as early as the 14th, but both we and the AAS wanted to offer this rare opportunity for those who are here (we may be able to adjust details of timing depending on your needs).

The American Antiquarian Society is the preeeminent institution for all resources on early America, including the history of the book. It has just undergone a major expansion and modernization.

This tour would introduce SHARPists to the collections as well as the renovation of the facilities.

[* * *]

Monday, 15 July

• 1. Frost Library Special Collections, Amherst College

(note: application process–see below; estimated 16-20 participants)

c. 12:30-4:30 p.m. (tentative time)

(transportation from UMass provided; check this site for details and updates)

An Introduction to the Native American Book with Michael Kelly, Head of Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College 

The focus of this seminar is the The Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection. The Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College holds perhaps the largest collection of Native-authored books in the United States. After purchasing the private collection of 1,400 Native-authored books assembled by Pablo Eisenberg, Amherst has added more than 1,000 additional items, and continues to acquire very actively in this field. The collection includes nearly 150 items published before 1900, including extremely scarce books from the close of the eighteenth century. Recently published works include children’s books, comic books, card games, and artists’ books. For example, the collection includes five different printings of Samson Occom’s (Mohegan) A Sermon, Preached at the Execution of Moses Paul, An Indian (1772–1827); the only surviving copy of Gertrude Bonnin’s (Lakota) The Constitution and Bylaws of the National Council of American Indians (1926); extremely scarce poetry chapbooks by Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabeg), Joy Harjo (Creek), Maurice Kenney (Mohawk), Cheryl Savageau (Abenaki), and many dictionaries and indigenous-language resources. The focus of the collection is Native authorship regardless of topic, format, or intended audience.

In this workshop, Mike Kelly (Head, Archives & Special Collections) will survey more than 350 years of Indigenous engagement with print in North America. Participants will view dozens of rare books and periodicals that illustrate the range and variety of “the Native Book.”

Application process: Please register (below) and send a brief biographical statement and expression of interest (the latter, no more than 500 words) to Mike Kelly: mkelly at amherst dot edu .

Preparation: Participants should read Removable Type: Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1663-1880 and be prepared for a lively conversation about indigenous intellectual sovereignty and the role of the press in Native North America

 • • •

2. Behind-the-Scenes Tours at the Book-Historical Institutions
on the Hampshire College campus:

Yiddish Book Center and Eric Carle Museum

c. 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. (tentative time)
(transportation from UMass provided; check this site for details and updates)

(20 participants)

Curators and other staff will explain the missions and histories of these two pioneering institutions and take participants on behind-the-scenes tours of collections and facilities.

• Yiddish Book Center 

The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture.

The million books recovered by the Yiddish Book Center represent Jews’ first sustained literary and cultural encounter with the modern world. They are a window on the past thousand years of Jewish history, a precursor of modern Jewish writing in English, Hebrew and other languages, and a springboard for new creativity. Since our founding in 1980 we have launched a wide range of bibliographic, educational, and cultural programs to share these treasures with the wider world.

Note: If you are planning on visiting the Yiddish Book Center on your own while attending SHARP, please be advised that it is closed from late Friday afternoon through Saturday for the Jewish sabbath. [hours]
Free guided tours are available Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Tuesdays at 2 p.m.

• Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art 

The Eric Carle Museum 

The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art  is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. A leading advocate in its field, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world. In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy.

The Carle houses more than 11,000 objects, including 7,300 permanent collection illustrations, three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren. Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country and four onsite graduate programs in Children’s Literature in collaboration with Simmons College.

[hours and admission information for those intending to visit on their own time while attending SHARP 2019.

• • •

3. Book-Historical Amherst : Three Distinctive Sites 
(Conference Co-Chairs Jim Kelly & Wald; Jason Fuller, Collection Manager, Five College Library Repository; Georgia Barnhill, Past Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society; Cynthia Harbeson, Curator, Jones Library Special Collections)

tentative time c. 12:30-400

The Library Repository: Books, Not Bombs! 

The history of this unique venue might be summarized as: books, not bombs! “The Bunker,” as we fondly call it, was actually a Cold War command center built into a mountain just south of Hampshire College, so that US commanders could continue to conduct war if other bases were decapitated by a Soviet nuclear strike. Amherst College now uses it as an off-site repository for its burgeoning library and art collections. Jason Fuller, Collection Manager, Five College Library Repository, will explain both the military history and current use of the site in an age more worried about information explosion than nuclear explosions.

Jones Library: Centennial Exhibit & Special Collections highlights

The Jones Library (the central public library in Amherst), which celebrates its centennial in 2019, had a distinctive vision from the start: long before the idea of the library as a site for cafes, internet access, youth clubs, and other non-bookish functions, the Jones conceived of itself as an intellectual community center avant la lettre. Indeed, the architecture and design–whose features included oriental rugs, fireplaces, and paintings–were intended to summon up visions of domesticity: “Mother Amherst welcoming her children home.”

Equally  distinctive was the ambition to be a research center, as well. Visionary librarian Charles Green collected not only the records of Amherst’s past, but also contemporary literature, causing Robert Frost to call the Jones “my first serious collector.” Although the extensive holdings of Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Noah Webster material will no doubt be of particular interest to SHARPists, the Library continues to collect the papers and works of contemporary local authors.

Head of Special Collections Cynthia Harbeson will talk about the history and collecting practices of the Library and show some book-historical collection highlights as well as the Centennial exhibit, “Celebrating Over 100 years of Amherst Authors.”

Amherst History Museum 
Permament exhibits include
• a room dedicated to the career of  founder Mabel Loomis Todd: civic activist, author, lecturer, artist, and first editor of Emily Dickinson’s works 
• Emily Dickinson’s famous white dress

Among items in the current exhibition are a rare collection of Amherst College student letters from the 1830s; the above portrait of schoolteacher Caroline Phebe Dutch Hunt (1799-1861) holding a book, by noted folk painter Erastus Field; formal evening wear belonging to Carl van Vechten, writer, photographer, patron of the Harlem Renaissance, and literary executor of Gertrude Stein.

SHARPists and members of the Board of Trusees Gigi Barnhill and Jim Wald will show some of the additional collection holdings.

Update (end of May): to be decided

We had originally planned this pre-conference event as a walking tour from the cemetery to the Jones Library and Historical Society (about 1.5 to 2 miles/2.4- 3.2km) but an opportunity arose to include “The Bunker” on Monday (not possible on the day of the post-conference excursions, so we thought this latter was the more unusual activity–open only to small groups and by special permission–and therefore worth including, especially as the cemetery is open to the public every day. For those particularly interested in the cemetery in general or just as the site of Emily Dickinson’s grave, we may be able to arrange other opportunities to visit (e.g. as part of the reception at the Dickinson Museum Monday evening, or through instructions for a self-guided tour).

Write us at sharp amherst at gmail dot com if you are particularly interested in the cemetery.

Historic 1730 West Cemetery

1730 West Cemetery,
This “burying ground,” carved out of the original royal highway, contains a piece of the old hilly Colonial topography hidden away behind a gas station, shops, and apartments in downtown Amherst. Among notables buried there are poet Emily Dickinson, past presidents of Amherst College, including Edward Hitchcock and his wife and intellectual collaborator Orra White Hitchcock, and Civil War soldiers (some, African-American, among them, veterans of the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry, made famous by the film, “Glory”).

Many of these individuals, as well as other local literary figures such as poet Robert Frost, were depicted on the community history mural. The building on which it was painted was recently demolished to make way for a new structure, and artist David Fichter is in the process of recreating his work here this summer.

John Lovell (1825-1903), Morgan Library, Amherst College
from Digital Amherst, Jones Library Special Collections