Webinar Notes

2020

The Fiske Icelandic Collection

Accessing the Fiske Icelandic Collection Photos       

Patrick Stevens, Curator of the Fiske Icelandic Collection at Cornell University, has provided the following instructions for accessing the photo collections. 

For accessing the photographs available digitally to the public, I [PJS] recommend going to the home page of the Cornell University Library Digital Collections, https://digital.library.cornell.edu/. One can then search for the collection of one’s choice using keywords. A list access (“View all collections”) brings one to a list of available collections (https://digital.library.cornell.edu/collections). The three collections  in this list from the Icelandic Collection or related to Iceland are:

Icelandic and Faroese Photographs of Frederick W.W. Howell with 416 images

John Clair Miller Image Collection of Twentieth-Century Architecture in Iceland with 612 images (copyright in effect)

Stereoscope Pictures From Iceland with 213 images.

We are planning to digitize others.

The Howell photographs are also available on flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/cornelluniversitylibrary/collections/72157623945676076/.

In addition, there were two questions submitted at the end of the presentation.  Mr. Stevens graciously agreed to answer them and to provide instructions for access the Collection’s online photographs.  If you were not able to attend the presentation on October 22nd, the recording is available at the INLUS website.

As more books are moving to on-line only publication, how is the Icelandic Collection prepared to store and make available those items?

Although more Icelandic books and other formats are becoming available online, I sense that preference for the printed book remains strong in Iceland for various types of literature we collect, and that online-only is not typically the only option. We now have impressive arrays of Icelandic fiction and poetry, for example, on paper and on the shelves. While we may collect some of these works in electronic format for one valid scholarly reason or another, the print edition will remain at the core for most of Icelandic literary production, including belles-lettres, historiography, and biography--the last two categories displaying what I regard as even deeper research in recent years.

In the event e-only is the only option, we anticipate purchasing or acquiring from a vendor for electronic works, whether a publisher or a government office or an educational institution. If the resource is not free (and some nominally are), then we would negotiate terms for purchase, subscription, licensing, and access arrangements appropriate for our university community. These terms vary from one vendor to another. Optimal would be terms that offer perpetual access for a one-time outright purchase fee, but such terms are not always available.

What is the oldest text in the Collection - is it the Jónsbók or is there an earlier one?

The oldest text in the Fiske Icelandic Collection is a copy of the oldest known complete printed book in Icelandic, the 1540 New Testament published at Roskilde (Denmark). (I showed the manuscript replacement leaf from Matthew.) While there may have been books published in the 1530s in Icelandic on a press in Iceland, they appear not to have survived. Our copy of the NT is a bit worn, as I indicated, but is still one of the finest among the very few--probably fewer than ten--still in existence.

The parchment manuscript of Jónsbók dates from about 1550. Thus, we have a thoroughly medieval-looking manuscript that is younger than a printed book, both in the same language and from the same culture, but this situation is not surprising: in fact, printing and manuscript production of literary, administrative, and religious texts existed side by side for decades and in some instances or categories for centuries in Iceland.

In Halldór's [Hermansson] time, the belief was that the Jónsbók manuscript on parchment was copied around 1450. Revision of the date to ca. 1550 occurred only when an Icelandic scholar, respected for his knowledge of Icelandic paleography, was able by comparison with other manuscripts to identify the hand of ours as the same--name unknown--responsible for other manuscripts originating in eastern Iceland in the mid-sixteenth century.

If you have specific questions about the collections, Mr. Stevens is happy to talk with you and may be reached at pjs3@cornell.edu.