Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Podcast 3: Murder! Politics! Books!

LibraryThing Podcast 3, which follows on the heels of the wildly successful*—if somewhat incoherent—LibraryThing Podcast 2, is an interview with Jeremy Dibbell, who runs the Legacy Library/I see Dead People’s Books project.

The (somewhat meandering) conversation explores the Legacy Library project, 18th century book tastes, the top-shared Legacy Library book (Jeremy guessed wrong a few times), what your books are saying about you, and related topics.

Here’s the direct link to the MP3: http://www.librarything.com/podcast/003.mp3

The Murder Part. Jeremy came to Portland to present at the New England Historical Association. His topic was the rediscovery/reconstruction of an important 18th-century library. The library belonged to George Wythe (LibraryThing Library, Wikipedia), a prominent Virginia politician/jurist and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Wythe, a slaveholder who ended his life an abolitionist, was poisoned by his grandnephew for the inheritance (the grandnephew had a serious gambling problem). The murderer got away because the testimony of free blacks was ruled inadmissible, but Wythe lived long enough to disinherit him.

Signing the Declaration of Independence, Wythe to the left

In his will, Wythe gave his extensive book collection to Thomas Jefferson (LibraryThing library), a longtime friend and former student. Jefferson received some 338 titles, of which he gave away 183 to relatives and acquaintances, and kept 155. Only a few dozen of these were known until now.

Jefferson’s inventory of Wythe’s library was recently identified by Jeremy and Endrina Tay, Associate Foundation Librarian for Technical Services at Monticello. See Jeremy’s post for more on Wythe’s library. Wythe’s LibraryThing catalog, based on Jeremy and Endrina’s work, is the first reconstruction of Wythe’s full library.

Using LibraryThing’s new comparison feature, you can compare Wythe’s library against other Legacy Libraries, other Signers of the Declaration of the Independence, or T. E. Lawrence.

*Actually, I have no idea how many people listened.

Labels: legacy libraries, podcasts

One Comments:

  1. Nancy says:

    Regarding cutting pages – making use of a paper knife also known as a tagliacarte. I knew the term tagliacarte but wondered what else I could find about its use/definition. I didn't really find what I was looking for but did enjoy reading a related comment from Dirda on Books (the columnist in DC), in reply to someone asking about the rough edges of pages in a book:

    "…has that rough-edge is that the publisher for esthetic reasons decides not to have the slicing blade shear off the edge, as they do with the top and bottom of the page. The effect somewhat replicates the look of books that have been opened–ie cut–with a paper knife. French books used to come with the signature unopened all the time, and one of the pleasures of reading was the preliminary cutting of the pages. You would then end up with this rough edged, scalloppy look."

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