Identifying prints

When creating metadata, we pay particular attention to the format of the material being described. Identifying postcards and photographs is fairly straightforward, but determining the differences between the various types of intaglio and relief prints has proved to be quite challenging. So we invited Barbara Duval and Elizabeth Stephenson from the College of Charleston’s Department of Studio Art to give an informal instructional session on identifying different types of prints. Their tips were incredibly helpful. For example, we learned that the presence of a plate mark or embossing indicates that the print is an etching or engraving not a lithograph. And prints that have a pitted or grainy quality were likely created using a method of intaglio printing called aquatint. Additionally, Barbara and Elizabeth recommended several publications to consult as needed: How Prints Look by William Ivins, Jr. and How to Identify Prints by Bamber Gascoigne.

Steph, Will, Barbara, Elizabeth, and Amber

In other news, the Lowcountry Digital Library is in the final stages of building a new digital repository. We hope to have about 1,000 more images from the Rosenthall collection available in a new user-friendly digital library by the end of March!

Belated welcomes and holiday greetings

We’re a few weeks late on this holiday post, but Happy Rosh Hashanah! To celebrate, Gillian Rogers (our newest intern) has been digitizing and creating metadata for not one, but two of Rosenthall’s New Years postcard albums. Gillian is a senior majoring in history at the College of College of Charleston.


Below are a few of her favorite postcards from the collection.

Romantic Rosh Hashanah postcard

Rosh hashanah postcard with greeting from America to the Old World

Zionist Rosh Hashanah postcard

Uploading hiatus

The Lowcountry Digital Library is currently developing a new open source digital repository that will be launched in early 2012. The good news is this new repository will be much more dynamic and user-friendly than the current content management system used by LDL. The bad news is we are not able to upload additional content until the new system is up and running. However, we are still moving forward with scanning, metadata, and rehousing efforts. I will continue to post selected images from the new scanned portfolios.

Recently, we finished up a portfolio of images depicting Jewish ceremonies and customs, such as weddings, circumcisions, burials, and prayer. The following is a sampling of our favorites.

Caricatures and cemeteries portfolios now available

Over 300 images were uploaded to the Lowcountry Digital Library earlier this week. Approximately 80 images from Rosenthall’s “Jewish caricatures” portfolio were added to the prints and photographs digital collection. Many of these images play upon Jewish stereotypes and illustrate anti-Semitic beliefs.

College of Charleston student Cameron Moon scanned, rehoused, and created metadata for this portfolio. One of her favorite items is the hand-drawn illustration below, which stood out among the printed images that make up the majority of Rosenthall’s collection.

Additionally, over 200 images of Jewish cemeteries, tombs, and monuments were uploaded to the postcards digital collection.

Summer update

It’s been a busy summer at JHC, and we’ve been trucking along with the Rosenthall digitization and rehousing project. So busy, in fact, that I haven’t had time to introduce our latest intern–-Rebecca Zola.

Rebecca will be a senior this fall at Lexington High School in Lexington, Massachusetts. She spent the summer visiting family in Charleston and joined the Rosenthall project in July. We were happy to take advantage of her fluency in Hebrew and knowledge of Jewish customs.


Rebecca scanned, rehoused, and created metadata for over 200 images, including portraits, sheet music, and maps. The sheet music is particularly interesting as some of the cover images and lyrics play heavily on anti-Semitic stereotypes. The images were uploaded to the Rosenthall prints and photograph digital collection earlier this week.

Rebecca pointed out the similarity between this print of Herzl and the Obama “Hope” poster. Both images have a “screen print-y”* style.

*For the record, I have never taken an art course.

Another group of fantastic interns

June brought us great beach weather, the Spoleto Festival, and two new interns. We are happy to have Cameron Moon and Colleen OConnor join our project.

Cameron finished her junior year at the College of Charleston this spring and is majoring in Historic Preservation and Community Planning. Her first assignment is to digitize a portfolio of cartoons and caricatures.


Colleen recently started the Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of South Carolina. She received her BA from the College of Charleston in Historic Preservation and Community Planning. Colleen is currently digitizing a portfolio of synagogue postcards from Israel, Africa, Canada, and the West Indies.


In other news, I have been working with Heather Gilbert, the Acting Project Coordinator of the Lowcountry Digital Library, on making some changes to the William A. Rosenthall Judaica digital collection. We hope to have the updates finished in the next few weeks.

Where it all began…

While scanning a portfolio of postcards from Germany and Austria, our intern Heidi Wilson (CofC undergraduate, historic preservation program) discovered the very first item of Rabbi Rosenthall’s Judaica collection!

Rosenthall discussed his collecting in a 1997 oral history interview with Dale Rosengarten.

“WR:      My collecting—aside from philately which, how shall I say, charmed me from early youth, my Grandmother Rosenthall, née Moss, had gone to Europe a few years before my birth and had, in our attic in Ohio, huge boxes of travel folders, souvenirs, and hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of postcards. One of the postcards, among others, intrigued me because it showed the interior of a very beautiful synagogue with round balconies in Augsburg in Germany [ed.: Mainz, Germany], which she had visited. Eventually I asked her for it and, of course, she gave it to me.

Then when my father died and the household was in disruption, we moved and it got lost. I kept trying to find it periodically and, in the meantime, started collecting other Jewish postcards. Low and behold, one year or month or day, I found it, although I had lost some boxes, incidentally, in the moves. That started the postcard area, but that was related to graphics in general.

And, let’s say by the time of my marriage, I had already started to pick up a print here, a print there, and then going to Europe and Israel immediately thereafter increased this. Then the years following, living in New York for so many years and traveling to Europe, basically, and Israel so often, it just kept accumulating. I lay it all, basically, to a double entry that would be my interest in stamps and the search for my grandmother’s postcard. So now I have more than three thousand different Jewish postcards and the print collection, I think, in private hands in the United States, is the largest Jewish interest.

DR:         What would you say motivated your collecting?

WR:        The same thing that motivated my eventual entry into the rabbinate, I guess: an interest in Jewish history and affairs. I was the only Jewish boy in my hometown and, therefore, questions of identity entered into it. There was a Jewish girl a couple of years younger that I used to run from [laughter] every time I saw her because she was kind of, shall we say, pursuing [laughter]. But that fact, that I had to represent Jewry among the young, I think, had a lot to do with it, and I was very pleased to do it.

DR:         It was really more from the angle of your Jewish identity than it was from—

WR:        You see I was always interested in drawing and so forth, and in painting. There were a few things around the house, not much. So from early school, from early elementary school, I was usually the class artist. When I was in high school, I edited the yearbook, but I also was the artist thereof, and was interested in general art always and did painting and drawing. I don’t do much now, although I go to the Gibbes classes every now and then. I may do something again if I feel up to it—soon.”

JHC’s newest interns

JHC welcomed three new interns last month.

Jocelyn Leving, Spanish and English double major, College of Charleston
Joshua Minor
, School of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina
Heidi Wilson
, Historic Preservation and Community Planning major, College of Charleston

Heidi, Joshua, and Jocelyn will be digitizing and rehousing postcards, prints, photographs, and other images from the Rosenthall portfolios, which will then be made available through the Lowcountry Digital Library. They are currently digitizing postcards of synagogues and tombs. Stay posted for updates on their progress.

Second portfolio uploaded to Lowcountry Digital Library

We are pleased to announce that the second Rabbi William A. Rosenthall portfolio has been uploaded to the Lowcountry Digital Library. This is the first portfolio digitized under the CLIR grant.

Most of the images are photographs and prints of European synagogues. Also included are several depictions of rabbis, Jewish cemeteries, and Jewish ghettos. While all the images are fascinating representations of Jewish culture, individuals, and architecture, we’ve selected a few here to demonstrate the breadth of the collection.

Stay posted for more updates on our progress.