Monday, November 29, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I am from Denver. Our “historic” buildings are usually from the 1880’s. We weren’t a state until 1876, an entire 100 years since the Colonies declared their independence from the Crown. So, almost every day in Boston I found myself astonished by the history that has been left intact. Today I find myself sitting in the same pubs and walking the same streets Washington, Franklin, Hamilton and Revere did. I am a history geek. I love it. Why didn’t I major in it in college? I find that most Bostonians are proud of their surroundings, through I have to admit, are a bit desensitized.
While visiting the Harvard Gray Herbarium for the first time this week with Hunter, I was again overwhelmed by the history. Hunter is the Biographer of the most famous American Botanist of the 19th century, Harvard professor and friend to Charles Darwin, Asa Gray- of whom the Herbarium is named after. After working for Hunter for 15 months, I am amazed that this was my first visit. As with most of my time with Hunter, it came with an unexpected lesson.
The main goal of the visit was for Hunter to say hello to his friends, Judy and Lisa at the Archives and for me to see where he had done his research for the book and his time writing a majority of Science in the Federal Government. One of the things Hunter insisted that I look at was the autograph collection of Mrs. Jane Loring Gray. It was a massive 5 volume collection of autographs she and Asa had collected in both Europe and back home.
Hunter knows I have a love of autographs. I have collected them for years, writing to people that I find intriguing in attempts to gain a small piece of script back in the mail. Knowing that for a few seconds, just enough time to scribble their name and dedication on a piece of paper, I had their attention, their thought, and the autograph-to me- is one of the most personal items one can receive from someone else.
Lisa brought only one of the five autograph volumes out for me to view. Gingerly handling it as its spine had come away from the binding, they placed two huge foam wedges together to support the weight of the book and allow for easy access to the contents. As I gently thumbed through the book one of the first letters that we stopped to admire was one to Gray from Charles Darwin. This, I fully expected as the archives contain most of the correspondence between the two. However, never the less amazing to see the midnight blue script pulled across the page by an ink pen held by the author of The Origins of Species. We stopped by other pages of other historical figures, all of them I did not recognize.. Hunter, Lisa and Judy were busy talking about stories connected to some of the names we passed and I continued through the book, reading the names on the bottom of the album written my Jane Loring Gray. Then it jumped out at me… Franklin, Ben. I looked at the date: June 26, 1774, then to the signature- Your Most Obedient Humble Servant- then to the date.. signature, date. I thought, “No way, this isn’t possible this is THE Ben Franklin.”
Then I said it, in a most poised and educated manner, “Ben Franklin letter! What?”
They were as interested and I was, so it appeared. Judy immediately grabbed a sheet of archival tissue paper to place between the page and the signed etching that was inserted on the opposite page. She then shot to a computer to Google its value- all like a blaze, but in slow motion- almost like the moments before a car collides into another, you grab the steering wheel while space and time seems to contort, silence deafens your ears even thought noise surrounds you. I just sat there, star struck. Literally, star struck. To me, this was the rock star of any autograph I could ever imagine to place my hands on. To touch something that should be behind glass, to feel the paper, to run my fingers across the ink made the man on the one hundred dollar bill come to life. He signed the Declaration of Independence. He SIGNED the Constitution. Need I continue? I am sure my pupils dilated, I felt tingly, light headed, and sparkly. Could this be? Oh, it be!
I walked on cloud 9 for the rest of the day. I skipped through Harvard Square to work, spinning like Mary Tyler Moore- wishing I had a hat to throw in the air for it to stop in mid air to run the title credits. I felt amazing!
Credits: Photo taken by Lisa DiCesare, Harvard Botony Library, November 24,2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
This one is on my way to work. I pass its faded stickered, bent existence four feet above my head everyday. Is it a relic of the past? With the FEMA poster posted just down the street on the bus stop, it might not be.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Stuart met me at the Prudential Center for lunch after I visited the salon. After, we visited the Boston Public Library to view their current display of their collection of vintage and historic postcards showing Boston and the surronding area. When we left to catch the T home, we stumbled on the newly unveiled, freshly restored 19th (1892) centry fillagree entrance to the inbound T. Such a delight we had to stop and take a photo!