Samuel Johnson Online Exhibition
August 26, 2009 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Samuel Johnson Online Exhibition
I work at Houghton Library at Harvard, and we have the world's best collection of rare books and manuscripts about the life and work of Samuel Johnson. In honor of Johnson's 300th birthday, we've put the collection on display, with an accompanying online exhibition. It's just our second online exhibition ever, so I'm especially interested to hear MeFites' feedback on the design and ease of use of the site.

Also, if you're in the Boston area, save the date Saturday, October 17th, when I'm hoping to do a meetup/MeFi private tour of the physical exhibition.
posted by Horace Rumpole (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

As someone who's been given a guided tour of Horace Rumpole's Johnson, I'll attest to its quality and vastness.
posted by Kattullus at 8:57 AM on August 26, 2009

All kidding aside (for now) I have to say that this is a fine site. My one complaint is that sometime I can't read the writing when clicking to see the enlarged image, such as in this one. Other than that, this is a well designed site with plenty of interesting material and information.
posted by Kattullus at 9:08 AM on August 26, 2009

Excellent! I particularly like the way that some of the online exhibits have a link directly to the Hollis catalogue entry. All in all I'm very impressed (and slightly envious, having recently been involved in selecting items for a small exhibition on 'Samuel Johnson and London' at my own place of work -- our Johnson holdings are pretty good, but they can't compete with the riches of the Hyde collection).
posted by verstegan at 3:06 PM on August 26, 2009

Horace, I'm in Cambridge and would love to check this out. Any info on location and hours would be most welcome.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:42 PM on August 26, 2009

foxy_hedgehog, it's open anytime Houghton is from now until Nov. 14th, and see here for info on finding us. But do keep an eye out for the meetup I mentioned above.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:13 PM on August 26, 2009

What a treasure.

I found it fascinating to see his handwriting in his letters. He has such a modern, fluid hand. Did he have to use a dip pen, or were there reservoir pens at that time?

And interesting to learn something of his wealth or lack of it as a young man when he withdrew from Pembroke College, Oxford after a year there because he was unable to continue paying his bills.

A search box would be a welcome addition to the site. I thought of the names of people that Johnson might have come across, and would have liked to search for them.
posted by Quillcards at 6:09 AM on August 30, 2009

Did he have to use a dip pen, or were there reservoir pens at that time?

I believe it would all have been quill pens. That's how he's depicted in the frontispiece to Boswell's Life.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:24 AM on August 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is great. My one suggestion would be to add a catalogue of every work in the collection listed alphabetically, for more targeted browsing (it's easy enough to pull up a simple list through Hollis, but it would be nice if you didn't have to leave the exhibition).

So jealous that you get to work at the Houghton. I went last spring to see some Whitman documents, and was blown away by how gorgeous that place is.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:49 AM on August 31, 2009

BBC Radio 4 is staging a week-long celebration of Johnson right now, much of which is available on-line. Go to this site and use the alphabetical guide to find Great Lives or The Classic Serial. But hurry - they only keep stuff up there for a week after it's been broadcast.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:00 PM on September 9, 2009

Thanks, Paul Slade!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:42 PM on September 9, 2009

Here's a direct link to the whole Johnson series.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:06 PM on September 9, 2009

Ha! I've been planning to do a post about some of this on MeFi (specifically surrounding Hester Thrale Piozzi and her annotations of Boswell's Life, which I learned about from the post on your blog). Will rustle that together shortly, and post it using the button from here.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:26 AM on September 14, 2009

To give this thread a recent activity bump for anyone who posted here, the aforementioned meetup has now been posted.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:31 AM on October 8, 2009

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