Timothy Barrett & John Bidwell

H-60: The History of European & American Papermaking

11–15 June 2012

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: I did all the required reading and about half the suggested readings. They were well-chosen and very useful, without duplicating the face-to-face content. 2: I read most of the recommended parts of Dard Hunter; it wasn't strictly necessary to have read it, but was useful to have some advance knowledge of the unfamiliar parts so that I wasn't hearing it in class for the first time, and to have an idea of the spelling of words heard in class. 3: The pre-course readings were very useful. 4: The pre-course readings were a useful foundation. 5: Very useful—shed a lot of light on discussion and lecture for the week. 6: Yes, very helpful and they will be used in the future. 7: The pre-course readings were essential to my understanding of the course. 8: The Hunter was very useful. I didn't have any experience with paper history before this course, and Hunter gave me a good context. 9: Very useful, especially Dard Hunter and Japanese Papermaking. 10: Readings were very useful and served as good background reading and preparation for the course. 11: Readings were diverse and specialized. They represent a bibliography that I will return to in the future over and over again. 12: Extremely well thought out choices. Book choices reflected teachers' areas of interest and what would be covered in class. I did two main readings (Hunter and Febvre) and several recommended ones (Barrow's "Permanence/Durability of the Book") and felt prepared for class, not completely overwhelmed and lost. 13: Very helpful required readings. "Suggested" readings were rather expensive or out-of-print. Online PDFs or send out photocopies? (If no copyright violations involved.) 14: They were useful—I was able to frame my questions ahead of time. There are parts that were recapped during the course, so I probably could have gotten away with not doing all of the readings.

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

1: Yes. 2: Yes, our paper samples, fiber samples, and the workbook will continue to be useful. 3: All of the materials distributed during class were useful to me. I will share the material with my coworkers to enhance current projects. I am very grateful for this information. 4: The workbook was a useful tool, and I'll refer to it in the future. 5: Very much so! I particularly appreciate a flax sample! 6: The workbook was useful—perhaps even a few more slides from the lecture could have been included. 7: The bibliography alone is worth the price of admission. 8: Yes. I wonder if some of the slides could be shared electronically to use in classes. 9: Yes, I will continue to refer to it. 10: Yes. I will continue to refer to it when I return home. 11: Workbook will be very useful, especially the bibliography. 12: Captions in workbook could be more descriptive for future consultation when it all isn't really fresh in my mind. 13: They seemed more practical as post-class-reference, but yes, I will use mine. 14: Absolutely.

3) Have you taken one or more RBS courses before? If so, how did this course compare with your previous coursework?

1: First RBS course. 2: Yes, I've taken several courses. This one wasn't as intense as some of the others, but I still learned a lot. 3: Yes, I have taken other classes. This course had more dimension to it. 4: Yes. This course compares favorably with the only other course I've taken. 5: I have taken two other courses and this one really blew the others out of the water. Brilliant, engaging lectures coupled with hands-on exercises equals an absolute win! 6: Yes, this was on par and excellent! 7: Yes. I felt this course to be a more related course than previous. I believe this is reflected in our instruction: two men with superior knowledge about a subject they clearly love. 8: Yes. This is one of the best courses I've taken (though I haven't had a bad course yet). 9: No, this is my first RBS course. 10: This is the most enjoyable and worthwhile RBS course that I've taken. 11: Yes, I have taken several RBS classes. All of these have been highly informative. 12: No. 13: No. First time! 14: No.

4)    What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes?

1: Greatest personal interest—Tim Barrett's (TB) reflections on the meaning and value of handmade paper and handmade works in general. Greatest professional interest—identification of papers and the details about how they were made; how the economics/innovations of papermaking affected printing and publishing. (Basically all the course!) 2: Recognizing higher vs. lower quality papers, recognizing manufacturing techniques and advice on dating was most relevant and interesting. Making paper was not especially relevant for me, but very interesting. 3: All of it! 4: The social and cultural history. 5: I found the historical lectures and the hands-on activities most helpful! 6: Learning more about the context of the papermaking process and product was most interesting. It is amazing to consider how many hands go into each sheet of handmade paper. 7: The history of papermaking. John Bidwell (JB) is awesome! Plus, making paper offered the practical aspect in the appreciation of fine paper. 8: I needed a good sense of the actual production process—including how it changed over time—and that came through clearly. 9: Both history of the paper trade and hands-on papermaking are essential for evaluating materials from a conservation perspective. 10: Learning how to interpret watermarks and dating paper. 11: I liked the mixture of art and science, lecture and hands-on experience. Good use of multimedia and web resources, too. 12: Paper trade and relationship of papermakers and printers/market demands; how to date paper; thoughts on why paper degrades. 13: Paper identification, watermark identification—use as historical contextual evidence. 14: 1) Historic paper identification. 2) Physical components of paper and practices of making paper. The social history was also fascinating, even though not directly applicable to my field.

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

1: Yes—it was challenging and that was excellent. 2: Yes, they did. It was a pleasure hearing from both of them, and I really liked that they asked questions of each other in class. Intellectual level was appropriate, or maybe a bit low. 3: Yes, the instructors helped me acquire needed information and skills at the appropriate intellectual level. 4: The intellectual level was appropriate. Because my main interest is the history, I would have enjoyed doing more reading beforehand so that class sessions could have been more focused and interactive rather than straight history lectures. 5: Yes and yes! 6: TB and JB each have unique perspectives and approaches to the topic. Their presentations were highly informative and chock-full of thought. 7: Yes and yes. 8: Yes. TB and JB pitched the course well. Occasionally I would have liked to move toward more detailed bibliographic description, including the relationship between paper and typography, but that's not really the purpose of the course. 9: Yes, on both counts. 10: Definitely the intellectual level was appropriate. 11: Yes. These are very smart men. Their stories and experiences are priceless. 12: Yes and yes. Very engaging. 13: Very much so, and for what details we did not get into they prepared us with methods and intro as to how we can continue to work and learn on our own. 14: Yes—the instructors have an extensive breadth of knowledge and presented it in a very organized and accessible way.

6) What did you like best about the course?

1: TB's reflections on the intrinsic value of handmade objects, at the end of the day Wednesday. 2: The friendly, encouraging atmosphere for learning. The instructors covered a lot of ground, but it all felt very relaxed. 3: I enjoyed the instructors' passion for papermaking and paper history. Bravo. 4: The teachers. Their knowledge is deep and broad yet they wear their learning lightly and they have an easy style for teaching novices in this topic. 5: The papermaking labs—it was an absolute treat! 6: The subject is a winner, but the instructors made this course delightful, inspiring, thought-provoking, and memorable. 7: Making paper and feeling the raw materials. It was an honor to learn from TB. I feel privileged to have learned from a master. 8: The hands-on work, which really solidified the lectures. 9: The instructors' knowledge and enthusiasm. 10: The instructors! I very much enjoyed the differences in their teaching styles and the variety of activities during the course. 11: Touching, smelling, and visually examining so many types of paper. 12: The chance to ask extremely knowledgeable teachers questions (especially obscure or technical ones) and get an informed, careful answer. The opportunity to be directed to additional resources or new ideas. The depth and breadth of knowledge presented—and great use of multimedia and slideshow pictures. 13: Being in the same room with very interesting physical materials, being able to handle and explore them and at the same time having access to two brilliant instructors of whom I could ask questions and with whom I could explore possible unknowns. 14: I enjoyed JB's historical tidbits and stories. His presentations on social history were quite lively, and I feel like I have a better understanding of the entire industrial revolution. I also admired TB's obvious passion for the subject, which is contagious.

7) How could the course have been improved?

1: The seating in the auditorium of Special Collections was awkward, though I realize it was hard with a full class. We would be able to see more if we were at a long table and could pass items down. 2: It's pretty darned good already. Maybe more on conservation problems and ethics (e.g., discuss visible mends, Japanese paper mends on Western paper, Schweidlerizing) of paper in special collections and what can cause problems. 3: More time on watermark identification. 4: The watermark exercise was frustrating because all dozen students needed to use the same few reference books during the same 30-minute period. Few if any of us were able to do the exercise as expected because we could not get enough time with the reference books. The exercise should be retained but improved. 5: N/A. 6: Some points with the labs and collections could have flowed a bit smoother, but in general I think that this was due to the size of the class. 7: Two weeks?! 8: At the very end, we tried identifying papers. That was a useful exercise for me, and I could imagine it being extended. 9: Perhaps a chronological summary of paper traits that could aid in the paper dating final exercise—if such a thing is possible. 10: I enjoyed every minute of the course—I can't think how it could be improved. 11: The course was great. I have no suggestions for improving what is already so fine. 12: "Papermaking in the machine age, 1800 to the present day" segment felt a bit rushed—wish we had another twenty minutes to spend on it. 13: Maybe a bit more hands-on in the historic research topic—finding or exploring cultural and regional influence of watermarking—really only possible with hands-on. 14: I can't think of any way.

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

1–4: Yes. 5: Yes. I hadn't expected as much lab time as we got—it was great. 6–11: Yes. 12: Yes. Considerably more than advertised. 1314: Yes.

9)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course?

1–8: Yes. 9: Yes. And much more. 10–11: Yes. 12: Yes. Hungering for more now. 1314: Yes.

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

1: In addition to cataloging, I assist with most of the public services needs of special collections in my library—class presentations, exhibits, donor tours. Increasing my knowledge about any aspect of rare books contributes to this, but in fact I think the topic of this particular course offers more to share in those contexts than, say bibliography. 2: While doing show-and-tells for library visitors; when evaluating potential new acquisitions (is it as old as it claims to be?), when judging the expense of production (and importance) of early books. 3: I will share the knowledge with my coworkers, and we will apply it to current projects. 4: Perhaps take a course in papermaking. Use some of the information in teaching binding/book arts. 5: I teach about rare books/book history at my institution—I'm going to be able to share so much more with students! 6: In my artwork and binding. 7: I intend to use the information learned to add genre terms in my catalog research. 8: I teach a course in book history, and now that course will include papermaking. 9: To share new insights into physical paper formation and the effects of paper history on its quality with colleagues; use in the determination of a treatment approach when applicable. 10: Knowledge and skills will enable me to describe paper more accurately. I'm far more informed about how paper has been made and I can put papermaking into historical context. 11: I will never look at books or paper again without referencing something I learned this week. I will be adding these perspectives to my instruction. 12: I will be additionally informed when looking at paper in the course of my job. Basically, the class will add depth to my research and general understanding. 13: In my research as a historian. 14: I will be able to write more informed and specific reports on items I treat. I also have a better understanding of why some historic papers are better than others, which is useful in treatment. I have a renewed respect for gelatin sizing.

11)  If you made any trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?

1: (We only went to the building next door.) 2: Yes, Special Collections and papermaking studio time was very well spent. 4: N/A. 5: Yes! The papermaking exercises in the studio were great! 6: Yes, however with a class this size it may be better to split up the trips to Special Collections or arrange the chairs so that we had two rows to make viewing materials more efficient. 7: Yes. Trips to Ruffin Hall and Special Collections were essential to the overall mission of the course. 8: Too bad the mill shut down! 9: Yes, all trips to Special Collections and the papermaking studio were essential to the course. 10: Yes, we looked at wonderful examples in Special Collections—time very well spent. Yes. Always enjoy visiting UVA's Special Collections. And the paper lab was amazing. 11: 12: N/A. 13: Definitely! Papermaking! 14: Yes.

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

1: Attended both lectures—very good. 2: Yes, attended all three, and all three were useful, but I wouldn't recommend showing the San Francisco Book Fair video again; it was cringingly badly shot and produced, and had little useful content. 3: They were enjoyable. 4: Attended one RBS lecture; enjoyed it. 5: RBS lectures were a bit too general—would appreciate more scholarly content. Booksellers' Night is always a treat! 6: The lectures were both good and I am glad to have attended them. 7: The lectures this year were first rate. 8: Yes—I went to one lecture and one film. 9: Yes, definitely. 10: Yes. 11: N/A. 12: Yes! Reminded me of larger world outside of what my class was studying; a chance to talk to other students. 13: Video Night needs more context or better videos. Connect lectures and videos with a theme. 14: The first lecture was fun. The first video on Video Night was actually pretty boring, and had limited usefulness. The second one was more interesting. Booksellers' Night was fun.

13)  We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching  collections and of materials owned by the 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: Need more room for a class this size. Room on tables to push your own materials away when a sample is passed down to you so they don't bump or snag, and more room needed for the samples kept on table in middle of room. 2: Love the hand-washing sinks being so handy! Can't remember if it was MFS or the instructors, but I really liked having it made clear at the start that it's pencil only and no food or drink in the classroom. 3: I have none. 5: N/A. 6: Perhaps suggest that the Special Collections staff put the materials away so that the faculty can complete their thoughts or move on to the next topic. 7: None. 9: No, the materials were well handled and very useful in illustrating the discussions at hand. 10: No. 12: Greater use of Mylar sleeves or a board to rest paper on when passing individual sheets of paper around classroom. 13: No. 14: Some of the Mylar folders used to house the watermark collection were large and unwieldy, and I didn't realize it was welded only on one side, causing the sheet to fall out. It was easier to just take it out of the folder to handle it comfortably, which led to unnecessary handling of the item.

14)  Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Yes, to both. 2: Yes and yes. 3: Yes! Yes, I will recommend the course to others. 4: Absolutely, yes to both. 5: Yes and yes! 6: Yes, I would gladly recommend this course. 7: As always, the answer is yes. 8: Yes, and yes. 9: Yes, enthusiastically. 10: Yes and yes. 11: Yes. And yes, most definitely. 12: YES and YES. 13: Yes. Yes. 14: Yes! Yes!

15)  Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year? (If you have further RBS praise or concerns, or if you have suggestions for a new course, please contact Amanda Nelsen [an2b@virginia.edu] or Michael Suarez [mfs3x@virginia.edu].)

1: I did not realize I would enjoy so much spending a week with other rare book librarians! 5: Take this class—take it, take it, take it! I also think that building yet more lab time/hands-on exercises would be great for RBS courses in general. This course was the first one where we "did" anything and it made all the difference in really absorbing the intellectual material. Also, it's just plain fun! 7: Read the course readings before coming to class and your learning experience will be enriched! 9: Well worth it, especially if taught by the Barrett/Bidwell team. 11: If you have any interest in paper, you must take this class. 12: Wonderful class. You will learn an incredible amount from brilliant teachers. 13: I would highly recommend it. 14: I would treasure this time to learn, because it goes by so fast! And it is a pleasure to be surrounded by so many likeminded folk.

Number of respondents: 14





Institution gave me leave


7 (50%)


I took vacation time


6 (43%)


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


1 (7%)


I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course






Institution paid tuition


8 (58%)


Institution paid tuition ___%




I paid tuition myself


2 (14%)


Exchange or barter


1 (7%)


N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship


3 (21%)



Institution paid housing


7 (50%)


Institution paid for ___% of housing




I paid for my own housing


4 (29%)


N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home


3 (21%)





Institution paid travel


6 (43%)


Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel


6 (43%)


N/A: lived nearby


2 (14%)





There were two rare book librarians (14%), two librarians with some rare book duties (14%), five conservators/preservation librarians (36%), one museum staff member (7%), one cataloger in medical history (7%), one collegiate associate professor (7%), one full-time student working towards an M.A./M.L.I.S. (7%), one other (7%)


How did you hear about this course?


RBS Website

10 (72%)

Work Colleague

1 (7%)



Word of mouth

1 (7%)

RBS faculty or staff recommendation

2 (14%)





Where did you stay?

Brown College: 8 (57%)

Courtyard Marriott: 1 (7%)

Hampton Inn & Suites: 1 (7%)

Other: 4 (29%)