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Uncovering Thoreau: The Discovery and Conservation of Thoreau’s Notes on Margaret Fuller’s Death

Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Reception to follow
Sheet #7 of Thoreau’s notes after treatment. The image shows the indentations of Thoreau’s pencil made as he wrote on the back side of the sheet (Credit Karen Walter).
Sheet #7 of Thoreau’s notes after treatment. The image shows the indentations of Thoreau’s pencil made as he wrote on the back side of the sheet (Credit Karen Walter).

Uncovering Thoreau: The Discovery and Conservation of Thoreau’s Notes on Margaret Fuller’s Death

Leslie A. Morris and Karen Walter

In 2015, the Houghton Library at Harvard University purchased the most important Thoreau manuscript to come on the market in decades: his notes on his search for the bodies and belongings of Margaret Fuller Ossoli and her family, shipwrecked off Fire Island on July 19, 1850. The talk will describe the process through which the notes were acquired, and the conservation that was required to make them fully available to scholars.

Leslie A. Morris is Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts, Houghton Library, Harvard University, a position she has held since 2005; she was Curator of Manuscripts in the Harvard College Library from 1992-2005. She is responsible for acquisition of research materials in all languages and subjects dating from 1800 to the present, and she curates a collection that includes the papers of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, the Alcott family, Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, Herman Melville, John Updike, and Gore Vidal (to name a few of the American collections) and many others. Her personal research centers on the history of bookselling and book collecting in the 19th and 20th centuries.

credit Jeffrey BlackwellKaren Walter is a Senior Paper Conservation Technician at the Weissman Preservation Center, where she has worked for close to twenty years. Her primary responsibility is for the care, housing, and conservation treatment of paper based materials in the rare collections of Harvard Library. Examples of past treatments include the manuscripts of John Keats, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson. She is also a practicing artist, creating works of art on paper which she exhibits regularly.

credit Catherine Badot-CostelloWant more Thoreau? Make an appointment to study James Elliot Cabot’s letters to Ralph Waldo Emerson which discuss philosophical, religious, and literary topics with references to Thoreau, Schilling, Tennyson, and others.

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