Manuscript Digest –October 2019– This complimentary e-digest, launched in 2012, covers significant acquisitions and sales, manuscripts lost and found, rare books and ephemera, document conservation, and more.

In the News

First Shot
Smithsonian Magazine, October 2019
In 1754 George Washington led Virginia troops in a skirmish that helped trigger the French and Indian War. A newly discovered document suggests he may have done something more.

Handling History
Hyperallergic, September 6, 2019
Did the Emancipation Proclamation have a close encounter with a large Mountain Dew? There’s lots to unpack in this story of art handlers and their arcane assignments.

Locke and Key
The Guardian, September 3, 2019
Scholars are calling this a “once in a generation” find: a previously unstudied manuscript by philosopher John Locke. How was it found? Chalk up another one for dealers’ catalogs.

Milton’s Markup?
Philadelphia Inquirer, September 17, 2019
The Free Library of Philadelphia has a Shakespeare First Folio. The folio has notes in the margins. It was probably once owned by John Milton. Two scholars just connected the dots.
• Librarian: The book was not hiding.

Last Words
Atlas Obscura, September 26, 2019
How did one of the most beloved writers in the English language spend his final days? What was the last thing Charles Dickens penned? The answer is both prosaic and poignant.

Twain’s Mark
KFOR/CNN Wire, September 27, 2019
The Hannibal, Missouri, cave of Tom Sawyer fame has 250,000 signatures scratched on its walls. But Mark Twain’s autograph was nowhere to be found — until now.

Signature Occasion
Los Angeles Downtown News, September 25, 2019
LA’s Central Library has quite an autograph collection. Walt Whitman. Langston Hughes. Helen Keller. Last year the library held an open-call Autograph Day. What happened next.

Class of 1984
Providence Journal, September 17, 2019
How long since Janis Ian’s hit song “At Seventeen”? Well, she’s 68 now, and downsizing. Brown University got her library. In it: the sole surviving manuscript of 1984, plus …

Handwriting: It’s Alive!
New York Times, September 3, 2019
The death of handwriting is greatly exaggerated. The proof? A New York gallery asked random people to write down their story, then put the results on show (and on Instagram).
• Handwriting to the rescue

The (Un)Paper Trail
Kitchener Today, September 15, 2019
As the paper trail gives way to digital documents, historians enter uncharted territory. What historians need to know, and why context matters more than ever.

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From Our Blog

Supreme Court Autographs, Letters, and Portraits

John Jay. John Marshall. Oliver Wendell Holmes. William Howard Taft. They’re just a few of the justices featured in Supreme Court Autographs, Letters, and Portraits. The University of Chicago’s D’Angelo Law Library has posted the online exhibition with its backstory — a real manuscript mystery.  Read about “Supreme Court Autopens” in Manuscripts, 2017, vol. 69, no. 3 (member login required)