Unearthing the Past through Pop-Ups

by Jen LeMay As a kid I always found the world an amazing mysterious place full of people in the present and made from the past. Today I’m an archaeologist intent on exploring and bringing to light those lives of the past, the cultures they come from and their everyday life. More specifically I’m fascinated by the Mediterranean-Ancient Greece & Rome, the great pharaohs that ruled the lands of Egypt, the Alexandrian Library, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, etc. While interning with James Madison University’s Special Collections & Preservation team, I’ve had the opportunity to pursue my passion in a very unique way. Recently my colleague, Fiona Wirth, and I have gotten to inventory a large collection of pop-up books in preparation for cataloging; pop-up books are full of interactive movement, pulling tabs, lifting flaps, spinning rotating volvelle wheels, and of course seeing images pop up in 3-D before your eyes—paper magic. However, not all are for kids as you might imagine. Behold my favorite, “Ancient Rome: Monuments Past & Present” by archaeologist R.A Staccioli and translated into English by H. Garrett. This is not a normal pop-up book though, as it only has clear overlaid sheets that help reconstruct what Continue reading Unearthing the Past through Pop-Ups

The Carol Barton Pop-Up Book Collection

by Fiona Wirth Have you ever had an interest in paper engineering? The Carol Barton Pop-Up Collection found in Special Collections has over 700 examples of movable books. Jen LeMay and Fiona Wirth, two student assistants, spent several weeks this summer preparing the collection for use. Additions to Special Collections require organization, preservation, and archival processing. Fiona and Jen were tasked with recording each book’s structure and analyzing the multi-faceted techniques used to engineer these three dimensional worlds. Elements used to form each pop-up were identified, including “box cuts” that can create stairs in their most basic form, “pull tabs,” “flaps” (lifted to reveal hidden images), “rotating volvelles,” (a fancy term for a spinning wheel), and many more. The information collected will be added to the library catalogue so they may be retrieved for instruction sessions in the reading room when art classes visit the library to view examples of paper engineering techniques. Most of the pop-up elements identified involved cuts and creases made in the paper. Jen and Fiona examined each book and wrote the elements found on a preliminary check list that will eventually accompany the books to cataloging. For example, here is a photo of a valley Continue reading The Carol Barton Pop-Up Book Collection