Summer projects in the archives can be tedious, monotonous, and seemingly endless. Luckily (this time) I got something fun . . .
The expansive Mahoney Music Collection is slowly being cataloged by the University library, and much of what is yet uncataloged lives in file cabinets and is simply called “Mahoney pamphlets” — though most items are small or fragile books that aren’t safe on the shelf.
This summer, I have had the pleasure to spend quality time with these lonely books as I update their records on the Mahoney website. Until the remainder of the collection is cataloged, the website is the only source to see all 5000-plus items. It is very important, then, that our web records are accurate, especially for the books that aren’t yet in the library’s catalog system.
Also stored in the pamphlets are small articles in magazines like Harper’s Weekly, Life, Scribner’s, Smithsonian, and People; concert programs from around the world; oversized monographs of antique, rare instruments by Stradivari or Amati with enormous photographs; instrument dealer catalogs and ephemera from the last 200 years; sheet music and method books both old and new, sometimes accompanied by vinyl recordings; and beautifully illustrated children’s books.
The majority of books in the pamphlet collection are written in foreign languages, ranging from German and Italian to Japanese and Catalan. Translating information made my job slow sometimes but nonetheless fun (Google Translate is my new best friend). I certainly learned a lot more Italian, German, and French vocabulary, and just by reading titles and bits here and there I learned a lot of history, too.
In the end, I went through around 930 items over the course of 2 months. For a summer project, this certainly was the best.