Lost & Found Editor, Diane di Prima Fellow, and organizer of the Primary Source working group Mary Catherine Kinniburgh, who this past spring hosted Saturdays at NYPL: Open House for Archival Encounters, an open invitation to the public that’s part reading group, part reading roulette of archival encounters, recently had her work as archival specialist at the New York Public Library's Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection and its collection of eclectic literary artifacts highlighted in The New Yorker.

Read the full article "The Odd Literary Paraphernalia of the New York Public Library's Berg Collection" here in The New Yorker by Gareth Smit.

And watch The New Yorker's video here (or below) that takes you inside the Berg Collection, which includes a lock of Walt Whitman’s hair, Jack Kerouac’s boots, and Virginia Woolf’s cane as just a few of the literary items on display.

Literary artifacts curated and displayed from the NYPL's Berg Collection. Image: Still from the video for the article "The Odd Literary Paraphernalia of the New York Public Library's Berg Collection" in The New Yorker by Gareth Smit. Image courtesy of The New Yorker.

We asked Mary Catherine Kinniburgh about her work as an archival specialist for the NYPL's Berg Collection (and how the public can interact or visit), and her editorial and archival research work for Lost & Found and Primary Source working group and how they intersect and inform each other, and here is what she had to say:

Mary Catherine Kinniburgh:

"My training as an editor for Lost & Found undergirds my work at the New York Public Library—especially opportunities that require interpretive and curatorial skills. In this piece for The New Yorker, I selected items from the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature to showcase a different side of literature's material history: realia, or everyday objects, belonging to authors from Charles Dickens to Virginia Woolf to Jack Kerouac. I worked with the Director of Exhibitions, Declan Kiely (who also processed the Kerouac archive years earlier), to situate objects from shoes to death masks, pens to locks of hair, hats, cat paws, and typewriters. In this piece, we explore not only the meaning of the realia, but the contours of our encounters with it. This sensibility—of 'listening' to documents to understand them on their own terms, but also ourselves—is a methodology I've honed through conversations with Lost & Found General Editor Ammiel Alcalay, as well as co-editors in Lost & Found. It's capacious enough to accommodate any author, in any genre or time period. Its primary requirements: listen to your subject, let it live fully in context, and account for how it changes you.

All items in the short film are available for research with advance notice, alongside many other items at the New York Public Library—home to many archives that have resulted in Lost & Found chapbooks. Please send an email to berg@nypl.org to learn more, and start our conversation."

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