Applications are now open for a new seminar - The Long Lives of Early Printed Books - Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Thursday, July 16 – Saturday, July 18, 2020

November 26, 2019

Applications are now open for a new seminar:


The Long Lives of Early Printed Books
Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Thursday, July 16 – Saturday, July 18, 2020

This three-day intensive seminar is being offered by the Harry Ransom Center in partnership with The Bibliographical Society of America and The Bibliographical Society (of the UK). The Harry Ransom Center is an ASECS Library Partner and The Bibliographical Society of America is an ASECS Affiliate.

All of the early printed books that survive today carry with them the years between their original creation and their presence in 21st-century institutions and private collections. They are home to bookplates, stamps, labels, shelfmarks, and manuscript inscriptions. They are in housings, and they travel with laid-in materials: descriptions, receipts, newspaper clippings, and pressed plants. They have also occasioned the creation of entirely new documents: auction and bookseller catalogs, accession paperwork, shelf lists, MARC records, conservation files, and emails. And, of course, many books have seen substantial structural changes. They've been bound with other publications into composite volumes, disbound, rebound, rebacked, and overbacked. Their leaves play host to paper mends, ranging from the slapdash and crude to the virtually undetectable, and they have been washed and pressed. Some of their leaves have been lost, and some have been replaced, either with originals that once belonged with other copies or with facsimiles. Europe's medieval and early modern books have been deemed waste and recycled in the structures of other books, too.

The seminar serves to demonstrate that each book's accretions and subtractions have meaning—even for those most interested in books' earliest years—and it will arm participants with the tools needed for identifying and interpreting them. Drawing on the Ransom Center's rich collection of European books printed between the 1450s and around 1700, The Long Lives of Early Printed Books will offer training in bibliographical forensics and provenance research, emphasizing potential payoffs for humanities researchers.

The application to participate in The Long Lives of Early Printed Books is open to anyone whose research requires working with premodern printed books: booksellers, conservators, graduate students, independent researchers, library professionals, and university faculty.

With the goal of increasing access to this kind of training, the Ransom Center is offering this seminar free of charge. Admitted participants will, however, be responsible for arranging and paying for their own travel and lodging. To help offset costs for some participants, the Bibliographical Society of America has generously made five $300 stipends available.

The application and more information are available here: If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Aaron Pratt -

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