David Pearson

C-90: Provenance: Tracing Owners and Collections

13-17 June 2011




1)      How useful were the pre-course readings? (Leave blank if you applied and were accepted late for the course, and thus did not get the list in time.)


1: Very useful. 2: Very useful, very pertinent, provided a good context for the course. 3: Very useful. The one less-useful book was Book Cataloguess: Their Varieties and Uses, simply because [Taylor's—ed.] writing is so dense. But overall there was an excellent balance of coverage. 5: Very useful. 6: Provided an excellent introduction to the subject. 7: DP's book was very useful to me; it gave me the background I needed to get quickly up to speed in class. 8: Practical, sensible, and just the right amount. 9: DP's book on provenance is very good. Other recommendations included heraldry and the book on paleography.


2)     Were the course syllabus and other materials distributed in class appropriate and useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)? 


1: Yes to all. 2: I loved DP's workbook. I had to supplement with only a few notes—it's very complete. Love the bibliography, also very complete. Yes, I will consult with it in the future. 3: Very useful. The workbook will sit on my desk and soon become quite dog-eared, I'm sure. 4: Course book was very helpful with both extensive lecture outlines and tools for the activities. Weekly schedule with class periods and subject matter was very helpful for planning out questions. 5: Workbook is tremendous. The best information I have ever received from RBS. All instructors should follow the example of DP. 6: The workbook is an invaluable tool that can be used as a ready reference source—the bibliography will be useful to do in-depth research when I return to work. 7: Yes and yes. 8: Indeed useful both here and in the future. 9: Extremely well prepared. Full of great information. Useful every day in my work.


3)     What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?


1: Paleography and deciphering heraldry were most helpful. DP was clear and open to questions at all levels. 2: Bookmarks, bookplates—most relevant, armorials, paleography—most interesting. Intellectual level was appropriate, could even have been pushed up a notch. 3: I especially appreciated coverage of inscriptions, the basics of paleography, and blazon. 4: The paleography introduction was very helpful. However, the flow of subject matter made all aspects discussed both relevant and timely. 5: The instruction received all week enabled me to work with several books on Friday from Special Collections. I was extremely successful in locating all of the evidence of provenance. 6: Paleography as I often need to transcribe signatures and notes found in rare materials. 7: Learning the basics of heraldry was most interesting personally, but really all the topics will be relevant to figuring out some provenances back home. 8: Intellectual level most satisfactory; classroom conversation both informative and fun; material keenly relevant to my work. 9: Paleography, heraldry, bookplates. The level was relative to the professional requirements of the class.


4)    What did you like best about the course?


1: The interaction between DP and the class and how well the group bonded. The worksheets were a challenging aspect. 2: The classmates had a good rapport. DP was a delight. The group activities were especially useful. 3: Working with the class to decipher inscriptions. 4: The instructor. DP prepared for this course and provided a structured experience fit for both expert and novice. 5: DP, his wonderful workbook and all of the knowledge he imparted to the class. 6: The interaction and class discussions facilitated by the instructor as well as the hands-on exercises in the classroom and in special collections. 7: The knowledge, humor, and teaching style of the instructor. 8: There was nothing not to like about this course so it's hard to choose the best—all parts equally superb. 9: DP's thorough knowledge and his amiable ability to share it with all. And, several practice sessions to apply recently learned material.


5)     Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information and skills that the course was intended to convey?

1: Absolutely. 2: Yes. 3: Absolutely. DP is generous, good-humored, open to questions. I think that truly intelligent people are often incredibly kind; he is one example. 4: Yes. The tools, workbook, and class discussion augmented the lessons and gave them a useful context. It would be nice to formalize the resources in the workbook to make [them—ed.] more widely available. 5: Most definitely. 6: DP is an amazing instructor and who literally wrote the textbook. His enthusiasm and abilities allowed him to work with the wide variety of students in this class. 7: Yes. 8: Yes, quite successfully; he was very patient and careful with everyone. 9: Yes, he truly approached each student's needs and questions individually and was always eager to help.


6)     Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn?  


1-4: Yes. 5: Yes. The cross-section of students was wonderful! It made for some fascinating discussions. 6-9: Yes.


7)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course? Y/N                                                                                  


1-4: Yes. 5: Yes. Even more than I expected. 6: Yes. And even more about subjects like heraldry that I did not consider relevant in the past. 7-8: Yes. 9: Yes. And more!


8)     How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?


1: To review my collection and update records based on provenance elements. 2: For provenance research to add to rare books records. 3: I want to trace the origins of some of the materials in our collection—in particular several books with armorial bookplates and no owner's name. 4: Personal study. 5: I will use the knowledge in my business daily. 6: Every time I catalog a rare book! 7: I intend to find some of the books in my rare collection and start looking for seller's marks, owner's inscriptions, bookplates, e.g., to see if I can produce some provenance information for them. 8: Q = How? A = With gladness, joy, and fond memories of the learning experience. 9: In my research and classroom.


9)    How could the course have been improved? If you have a suggestion for a new course (and—equally important—a person who could teach it), please contact the RBS Program Director.


2: Maybe more examples from Europe and America. 3: I would like this class to last for an entire semester. I would like DP to accept a job at my library and take me on as an apprentice provenance-researcher. 4: Additional real life examples or a case study of one library might be another way to augment the course context. Provenance is a tricky subject to teach as each new book/collector means there are no standards rather guidelines. 5: Clone DP and have him teach another course. 6: A perfect class—no suggestions for improvement. 7: Can't think of anything. 8: Difficult to say regarding improvements. 9: More hands on at Special Collections. The entire class were professionals, curators, graduate students who handle rare books in their daily work. They need to extend professional courtesy to the attendees. [NB: Every year, between two and three hundred RBS students visit UVA SC where they routinely study the same materials in their classes. To protect these important collections for future generations, UVA limits extensive handling of objects in large groups—RBS Staff]


10)    If your course left its classroom to visit Special Collections (SC) or to make other field trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?


1: Yes. The quality of Special Collections added greatly to the materials the class evaluated. Being able to fully describe books is critical to this learning process. 2: Yes! 3: Yes. 4: Yes. The Special Collections visit was the capstone of our experience—it made the week's discussion's relevant and helped answer or pose new questions to keep the conversation going. 5: SC was great and all the time well spent. 6: Class work in Special Collections working with their materials was one of the highlights of the course. 7: Yes. We visited Special Collections once to view some examples, and spent Friday there working up some of its books on our own. Very valuable. 8: Special Collections time was grand—very hospitable—very pleasant surroundings. 9: Special Collections twice—well-spent—very focused.


11)    We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by UVa's Special Collections. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?


1: None. 2: Use book wedges during class exercises. Wedges were always used for display. 3: Everything seems fine. 4: Perhaps there could be a broad set of guidelines issued at the start of the week outing some do's and don'ts and why not's? 5: None. 6: None. 7: Did not notice any problems. 8: I think you are doing all you can. 9: See number nine [above—ed.].


12)    If you attended the optional evening events (e.g. RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were they worth attending?


1: Yes. 3: Yes, the Barry Moser film was excellent. However, both lectures were a bit below the standard I'd anticipated. 4: RBS lecture and Video Night were refreshing and informative. 5: N/A. 6: Lectures were a bit tedious this year—I attended both of them. 8: I attended the lectures and the Video Night. The videos were/are delightful period pieces. 9: Yes, if lectures are created to maintain the audiences' attention.


13)    Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year?


1: I have always gotten my money's worth at RBS! 2-3: Yes. 4: The teacher and classroom group made for an unforgettable introduction into a weighty and often confusing subject. Thank you DP and class! 5: Absolutely. 6: Yes.7: Definitely worth the money. Definitely a great addition (second year, but still new) to the RBS lineup. 8: Yes—nothing like taking the course from the author of the leading text on the topic! 9: DP is a true scholar, a great teacher, and a wonderful human being; please treat him most kindly as we need more like him in the world!


14)    Would you recommend this course to others?


1: In a heartbeat!!! 2-4: Yes. 5: Most definitely. 6: Yes. 7: Definitely. 8: Yes, unconditionally. 9: Absolutely!



Number of respondents: 9






Institution gave me leave




I took vacation time




N/A: self-employed, retired or had the summers off




I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course






Institution paid tuition




Institution paid tuition ___%




I paid tuition myself




Exchange or barter




N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship




Institution paid housing




Institution paid for ___% of housing




I paid for my own housing




N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home








Institution paid travel




Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel




N/A: lived nearby





There were 1 retired collector (11%); 1 book collector (11%); 3 rare book librarians (34%); 1 antiquarian bookseller (11%); 1 general librarian with some rare book duties (11%); 1 art librarian with some rare book duties (11%); and 1 professor of humanities, African Studies, and cartography (11%).


Where did you stay?


Brown College: 3 (33%)

Cavalier Inn: 3 (33%)

Other: 3 (34%)