from PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Princeton collections provide rich resources for researchers
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Scholar John Hench spent several days this summer in the quiet confines of the Princeton University Library's Special Collections poring over the letters of William Sloane, the director of Rutgers University Press in the 1950s.
Hench was looking for correspondence from the publisher's trip to Germany after World War II, hoping the letters would yield anecdotal information about the condition of Europe's publishing industry. That would be essential background material for Hench's research on a U.S. propaganda initiative to distribute American books in Europe after the war.
Hench, who lives in Massachusetts, is one of 19 scholars from around the world who descended on the library after receiving grants from the University this year. Twelve of the scholars were awarded a library research grant from the Friends of the Princeton University Library; seven others received funding from academic departments and other parts of the library. Most come to Princeton during the summer.
"They are using our collections, specifically materials in rare books and special collections, for dissertations or book projects," said Margaret Rich, reference librarian and archivist in rare books and special collections.
Each summer more than 1,200 scholars use materials in the Seeley Mudd Manuscript Library and in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections in Firestone Library, which have distinguished holdings of rare books, manuscripts, prints, archives and maps. The Mudd Library's Public Policy Papers include important collections in the areas of 20th-century American foreign policy, jurisprudence, journalism, public policy formation and international development.
The research topics of this summer's library fellows range from "The Napoleonic State in Italy: 1796-1814" to "Concepts of the ‘Child’ in the Russian Avant-Garde Aesthetic" to "Renaissance of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Medieval Japan." The fellows are from all over the United States as well as Germany, Cyprus, Japan, France and Britain.
After starting to examine Sloane's papers, Hench had a new view of his
significance to his research. "I think he's more central to my study
than I realized," Hench said. "I do see now much better than
I did what some of the problems were" in German book publishing.
Hench spent a month at Princeton examining several of the library's collections.
His research will become part of a five-volume series on the history of
the book in America that is being published by Cambridge University Press
and the American Antiquarian Society, where Hench is vice president for
academic and public programs.
"My work here has been tremendously fruitful," Cobb said. "Princeton's manuscript collections are both rich and unique because they have allowed me to access the experiences and perspectives of non-Indian policymaking elites, advocates working outside of the bureaucracy and grassroots Indian activists."
The only problem for Cobb? He ran out of time. But he intends to return to Princeton next spring to examine the papers of 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern.