In October 2018, Princeton University Library’s (PUL) Rare Book Working Group examined more than 50 books from the Robert H. Taylor Collection. The selected items dated back to the 17th and 18th centuries and shared a common feature: they were inscribed by women.
That initial committee sparked an idea in Associate Professional Specialist Emma Sarconi’s mind. How many more women were obscured from recognition in PUL’s collections? After participating in the ‘Her Book’ session of the Rare Book Working Group, hosted by Scheide Librarian and Assistant University Librarian for Special Collections Eric White and Librarian for Academic Programs and Curator of American Books and Western Americana Gabriel Swift, Sarconi continued surveying PUL’s collections, discovering and identifying female book owners.
Sarconi was already attuned to the absences of women and other underrepresented groups in the Library. As an organizer of Princeton’s Archival Silences working group with Associate Professor of English and African American Studies Kinohi Nishikawa, she sought to ignite conversation around the biases that exist in past and present archival practice. “Her Book,” as she explained, “creates an inventory of women’s ownership markings found within Special Collections material in an effort to promote the study of gendered patterns of book ownership at Princeton and afar.”
The Her Book project is expected to launch publicly this spring. Sarconi invites questions or comments about the project via email.
Yours, Mine, and Hers: Her Book Project Identifies Missing Female Book Ownership in Princeton University Library Collections
Filed by March 24, 2021on