Artistic inspiration is often ephemeral and intangible, but it can also be drawn from the physical world and collected into portfolios and scrapbooks full of ideas. At the Redwood Library, we have two examples of such inspiration from the architect Whitney Warren (1964-1943).
Opening the Redwood Annals to the earliest days of the Library always encourages me to make connections between now and then. As we pass through the first week of November, adding books to our collection and starting new projects, our forebears at the Redwood Library were doing the same. At a meeting held on November 4, 1747, 270 years ago as of this weekend, “The Company met in the Council Chamber” and made decisions that continue to be relevant to our work today.
As the spookiest night of the year approaches, your Redwood Librarians are preparing the only way we know how, by reading everything we can find on witchcraft and demonology on our shelves. We have pulled two books on these subjects from our special collections to share with you and hopefully alleviate any witch- or demon-based fears you may have about this Halloween season.
Small collections can provide a wealth of information about a person’s character, preserved for us in a few scribbled lines in a note written over a hundred years ago. Such is the case with our manuscript collection of Jane Stuart (1812-1888), American painter and daughter of Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828). In the collected letters at the Redwood, she entreats a woman to join her for lunch and sends several notes of regret to another and in doing so, helps to sketch out an idea of who she was as a person, beyond her well-known artistic talents.
Our portraits may be our most visible art collection, greeting visitors in every room, but the Redwood Library is also home to several collections of artistic works on paper. This week, the spotlight falls on our holdings of the works of Alfred Bendiner (1899-1964), which were given to the Redwood Library by the Alfred and Elizabeth Bendiner Foundation in 1996. Bendiner was an architect, a muralist, a caricaturist, an author, and a world traveler whose work shows his many talents and interests with humor.
Many of the men and women whose portraits line the walls of the Redwood Library are the descendants of families who have been in New England since its earliest days. Joseph Hurlbut Patten (1801-1881), the son of Reverend William Patten (1766-1839) and Hannah Hurlbut (1769-1855), is proof of this regional lineage on both his father’s and his mother’s sides, each with long histories in the area.
This week at the Redwood, we became detectives again, searching for information on a book in our collection that recently caught our eyes. Our copy of L’Email des Peintres (1866) by Claudius Popelin (1825-1892) was stored in its own personal box, hiding its magnificent binding from immediate view. Today, we decided to open it up and begin to try and piece together its origins.
Today’s Redwood Library is open daily to both members and visitors, with different policies and privileges for both, but this has not always been the case. A look through the annals has revealed an evolving visitor services policy first recorded in the early 1800s that identified anyone not previously known to the library as a “stranger.” This blog post observes the changes made throughout the 1800s to today.
While the original construction of the Redwood Library, as designed by architect Peter Harrison, met the needs of its members in 1750, the library had to grow in the centuries that followed to accommodate an ever-increasing collection of books and to serve its new members.
One of our fall projects here at the Redwood Library is to begin a new effort to catalog and digitize our Newport Collection of photographs. Our archives hold several boxes of photos that serve our researchers well when they come to visit, but there isn’t currently a way to get a complete idea of our collection without contacting a reference librarian. We hope to change that this season and present here an overview of the collections we will be providing access to.