Hispanic Heritage Month

The Library celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) with an exhibit in the library entrance hall of materials that have to do with our country’s Hispanic heritage. There is also a cart of books, CDs and DVDs next to the circulation desk that are ready to circulate. Both the exhibit and the cart were arranged by Andra Crawford and Eileen Cusick.

National Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 when Congress authorized President Lyndon Johnson to proclaim Hispanic Heritage Week. The observance was expanded by Congress in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It is intended to be a time to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish-speaking areas of the Caribbean and Central and South America. This year’s theme is “Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America.”

September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. They all declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18 and September 21, respectively. More information about the Hispanic heritage of the United States can be found at the National Hispanic Heritage Month web site: http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov.

A New Exhibit for Fall

We have a new exhibit up in the Library’s display area in Rockefeller Hall (we had previously mentioned it here in the blog as a possible show for last spring, but better late than never, no?).  The show’s title is “Gone but not Forgotten: Exploring Exeter’s Missing Past.” Made up mostly of scanned archival images, the show focuses on Academy halls, homes, and interior spaces that either no longer exist, or have been radically transformed over the years. Below are four images from the exhibit; we may post more in the weeks to come:

2010 Lamont Poet, W.S. Merwin, named the new U.S. Poet Laureate

Just two months after giving a reading at the Academy as part of the Lamont Poetry series, W.S. Merwin was named Poet Laureate of the United States. You can read the official Library of Congress press release here, and a recently published New York Times article about  Merwin here.

To read a handwritten poem by Merwin, as well as those of the other Lamont Poets, please see the Library’s special online exhibit.

The new U.S. Poet Laureate, W.S. Merwin (photo by Brian Crowley)

The Lamont Poets project

Since 1983, the Academy’s Lamont Poetry Program has been inviting poets to come and read their work to the entire local community, as well as personally meeting with students. Beginning with the second invited poet, it also became a tradition to have them write a poem to be framed along with their portrait. Our latest digitization project is a celebration of these portraits and handwritten poems.

The framed works, which reside in the Library’s Special Collections, were a challenge to digitize. Because they’re matted, under glass, and rest in frames with at least an eighth of an inch lip, flatbed scanning didn’t work well on our test image. The light had to penetrate two sheets of glass to reach the images, giving us a scan that was blurry and had very noticeable visual “noise.” Correcting such noise in Photoshop is a time-consuming process.

In the end, we decided to use our copystand, which is essentially a flat platform, two bright lights, and a pillar for mounting a camera. Each framed piece was photographed twice (once for the portrait, once for the poem). We straightened, cropped, and tonally corrected 115 images. We also had to edit out the reflection of the camera in the glass (we’ll use a physical solution for this next time – live and learn).

It took a while to get these images on the web, but we’re pleased with the final results, which you can see here.

Abraham Lincoln in Exeter

Come by the library to see our current exhibit honoring the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s visit to his son at Exeter in March 1860.   On display are a selection of books and photographs illustrating a few of the many facets of Lincoln’s life:  the frontiersman, the family man, the inventor, the politician, the Commander-in-Chief, champion and defender of the vulnerable and oppressed.   

Included in the exhibit is a letter from Robert Todd Lincoln to his mother, written December 2, 1860, shortly after his father’s election as U.S. President.  On a visit back to Exeter during his first year at Harvard, Robert wrote, “Dear Mother – You see I am back at Exeter and I feel very much at home…..Tonight we are out to tea which will wind up our fun, as we have to commence study again tomorrow.”  He fills her in on other general news and continues, “I have a couple of friends from St. Louis who are going to the inauguration after vacation is over and I have invited them to stop at our house on their road.

Balancing studies and social life, inviting classmates home for a visit – in some ways life at Exeter has changed very little over the past 150 years!

Also on display are commemorative postage stamps and coins on loan from members of the Academy community and photographs of Exeter-born Daniel Chester French and his work, which included the famous seated statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.  One of French’s first public commissions was the Minute Man Statue in Concord, Massachusetts; later in his career he sculpted others whose names are well-known locally including entrepreneur and philanthropist Ambrose Swasey, lawyer and politician Amos Tuck, and lawyer and statesman Daniel Webster (PEA Class of 1796).

The Lincoln exhibit will be on display through the month of April.