Hello, Academic Blogosphere! It’s lovely to meet you. Today I’ll be sharing with you the third collection I’ve worked on since I started here in Special Collections Processing, but first, let me introduce myself. I’m a second-year Post-Baccalaureate student in Classical Studies at Penn. I also did my undergrad at Penn, so I’ve been around for quite some time. My background is in ancient history and civilization, and most of my work focuses on social history in Classical Greece. When I’m not studying dead languages and dead people, I spend most of my time thinking about food. I also write a blog for a local purveyor of cured meats (i.e., BACON! and other stuff), so if I slip in a porcine pun here or there, please forgive me.
Anyhow, on to the collection! Yesterday, Holly handed me a pair of boxes filled with the Bartholomew family’s theatrical scrapbooks. Unfortunately, a large portion of the collection was unlabeled, so it’s hard to say exactly who’s who. A rather thorough combing of the internet turned up virtually no information on the Bartholomew family and not a single picture, so it is impossible to verify the identities of some of the depicted. This leads me to believe that the Bartholomew family acting careers weren’t particularly illustrious.
Despite this letdown, the collection makes up for its labeling deficiencies with a thoroughly satisfying quantity of rather “theatrical” hats. While the scrapbooks are loaded with all sorts of fodder for research, it is the silly headgear that intrigues me most.
I think every Classicist can tell you that hats are one of the most exciting things about history. My personal favorite is the Phrygian cap, generally worn by non-Greeks as far back, allegedly, as the Trojan War. It looks like this:
See? How could Classicists not love hats! So just imagine my excitement when I stumbled across these babies in the Bartholomew family collection:
As I’m sure you can tell, this collection was a ton of fun to work with. I found it especially interesting to see that the Bartholomew family, since they lived in Philadelphia, left tangible records of their interactions with city landmarks that still exist today. The family scrapbooks include funeral bills from the Olive H. Bair Funeral Home on Chestnut Street near Rittenhouse Square, which I pass on my way to the pharmacy, and playbills from the Walnut Street Theater, where Philadelphians and tourists alike still go to see shows. As a social historian, I’m fascinated by what quotidian things these not-so-prominent actors thought necessary to immortalize in their scrapbooks, and I’m totally blown-away by the fact that those things are still a part of my daily life.
On that note, I think it’s time for me to get started on my next collection, but before I go, let me leave you with this last little bonus image from the collection: a rather seriously-mustachioed gentleman who, much to my dismay, remains unidentified.