“It has been said that loneliness is the great American malady. What is the nature of this loneliness? It would seem essentially to be a quest for identity.”—Carson McCullers’s essay “The Nature of Loneliness”
The PEN records occupy 180 linear feet, span 1912 to 2008, and document the history and activities of the English PEN and PEN International, as well as the formation (and sometimes dissolution) of other PEN centers around the globe. Read more
Going back to the origins of research libraries, there is a long history of scholars building collections to suit personal interests, constructing around themselves an athenaeum of books that supported their individual research goals. Read more
Poet, translator, and editor Miller Williams (1930–2015) is known for writing poetry in plainspoken language that captured meaning in everyday experiences. The Ransom Center recently acquired his archive, which documents the career and writings of this influential American poet. Read more
Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Cultural Compass that highlights the work, experience, and lives of people at the Harry Ransom Center.
Joan Sibley has filled a variety of roles during her 25 years at the Ransom Center. Now, as Senior Archivist, she is responsible for the completion of retrospective conversion cataloging of manuscript collections, grant writing, and management of grant projects. Read more
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Ransom Center a $18,900 grant to preserve and enhance access to the Ransom Center’s non-commercial sound recordings. The grant allows the Ransom Center to complete a preservation survey of more than 13,000 archival sound recordings to establish and document preservation digitization priorities, processes, and standards to enhance access to these research materials.
“To make the most prudent and productive use of resources available, the Ransom Center must understand the condition of its sound recordings, as well as their intellectual and research value, in order to make preservation decisions based on clear principles that will expand current and inform future reformatting, stabilizing, and cataloging efforts,” said Ransom Center Director Steve Enniss. “This support from the NEH is powerful validation of the Center’s efforts.”
A majority of the recordings are unique and were made for private, non-commercial use. The content varies widely but includes literary spoken word, conference proceedings, dictated notes and letters, field recordings, structured interviews, lectures and readings, musical performances, radio broadcasts, rehearsals, telephone conversations, dictated drafts of writings, and even therapy sessions and psychic readings.
Recordings in the collection belong to some of the twentieth- and twenty-first-century’s most notable writers, artists, and performers including Stella Adler, Neal Cassady, Andre Dubus, David Douglas Duncan, Norman Bel Geddes, Spalding Gray, Denis Johnson, Ernest Lehman, Norman Mailer, Bernard Malamud, Gerard Malanga, David Mamet, Nicholas Ray, Ross Russell, David and Jeffrey Selznick, Anne Sexton, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Warren Skaaren, Ted Spagna, Gloria Swanson, and Leon Uris.
Of the more than 13,000 audio recordings cataloged in the Ransom Center’s Sound Recordings Collection database, 2,700 have been digitized and are available for streaming onsite in the Center’s Reading and Viewing Room.
A long-term goal is to place the Sound Recordings Collection database on the Ransom Center’s website, providing patrons access to existing sound recordings.
“In the 50 years since NEH’s founding, the Endowment has supported excellence in the humanities by funding far-reaching research, preservation projects and public programs,” said NEH Chairman William Adams. “The grants continue that tradition, making valuable humanities collections, exhibitions, documentaries, and educational resources available to communities across the country.”
Upon completion, the project will serve as a model for a follow-up project to survey the Ransom Center’s archival moving image materials.
Beginning Saturday, April 4, the Ransom Center increases its Saturday operating hours for its Reading and Viewing Room and will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The times are an increase from the Center’s prior Saturday hours of 9 a.m. to noon.
The Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room is an active place, facilitating the scholarly inquiry of researchers. In the past year, researchers from 46 states and 30 countries worked in the Reading and Viewing Room.
Patrons from Austin and Texas will benefit from the increased hours as will other researchers, including many of the Ransom Center’s fellowship recipients, 49 percent of whom travel from abroad to conduct research here.
The increased hours will provide additional opportunities for onsite use of the Center’s collections of manuscripts, rare books, photographs, and other materials.
Information about using the collections, including establishing a research account, can be found online.