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Meet Curators ... of Art, Books, and Manuscripts

Erin Blake, Rachel Doggett, and Heather Wolfe

There are three curators at the Folger—the curator of rare books, the curator of art, and the curator of manuscripts. It's our job to care for all of the rare material in the collection.


Caring for the collection involves many things. We help make sure rare material is properly stored, handled, and displayed. We help keep it organized and catalogued. We help scholars with their questions. We help decide how to enhance the collection with new additions.


One of the best things about our job is spending time in the vault with books, pictures, and manuscripts that are up to 700 years old, and figuring out where they came from, and why they're important to scholars. Sometimes a curator is like a detective!




Curator of Art

Erin Blake uses a magnifying glass to study a 17th-century engraving of Charles II. The engraving is bound into a book about Charles II's escape after the battle of Worcester.


Why do you think the curator is using a magnifying glass?




Curator of Manuscripts


Heather Wolfe transcribes (or copies out the text from) part of an Elizabethan New Year's Gift Roll.


A Gift Roll recorded the gifts given to the monarch on New Year's Day. The names of the gift-givers and descriptions of their gifts are listed on one side of the roll. The gift-givers of highest rank are listed at the top, while those of lowest rank are listed at the bottom. Queen Elizabeth I received many gifts of jewelry and clothing.


What holiday gift would you give a Queen?


Curator of Books


Rachel Dogget, who recently retired, examines a 17th-century broadsid


A broadside is a piece of paper that is printed on one side. In Shakespeare's day, broadsides were used for royal proclamations, or announcements made to the public by a king or queen.


Imagine you are a king or queen in Shakespeare's day, and write your own proclamation to your loyal subjects.


Is there something you would like your subjects to do, or not to do? Begin your proclamation with the phrase, "By the King (or Queen)."



Curators care for objects, such as this hornbook, that are important to understanding how people lived and thought in past times.


Do you know who would have used a hornbook?


Students used hornbooks in class. The hornbook includes the alphabet, numbers, elements for learning spelling, and the Lord's Prayer.


Try making your own hornbook.


What would you include on your hornbook?


What do you think students need to learn about in school?




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