Love at the Library

Brought to you by Hopkins at Home 

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February 10, 2021 - February 24, 2021 (3 sessions)

Wednesdays, 12 - 1pm 

May your heart be your guide as Sheridan Libraries staff showcase their favorite love-themed collections and teach you how to recreate historic letter-writing techniques. In this three- part mini-course, you will sample some vintage love songs from the Lester Levy Collection of Popular American Sheet Music, learn about the history of Valentine’s Day cards, and have the chance to create your very own “locking letters” as a Valentine’s Day treat.

Week 1, February 10, with Heidi Herr
The valentine card as we know it today was popularized in the 1840s, giving the besotted and lovelorn alike a chance to find their perfect match in Cupid’s mailbag.  Librarian Heidi Herr will talk about the history of some of her favorite valentines in Special Collections, including 19th century hand-cut tokens of love, vinegar (or “poison”) valentines, and the secret correspondence of a 1930s sailor and his favorite gal!

Week 2, February 17, with Jennifer Jarvis
Locking Letters: an introduction and demonstration of historic techniques for securing information. The term “letterlocking” refers to the process by which letters, in this case on paper, were folded and secured in order to prevent the information contained within falling into unintended hands. In use from the late Middle Ages, these techniques were commonplace among the nobility and those working for them, as well as the general public. Conservator Jennifer Jarvis will briefly discuss the history of these documents before demonstrating how to make your own locked letters, which make perfect secret Valentines! 

Week 3, February 24, with Sam Bessen
The Levy Sheet Music Collection is the product of decades of love. Between the  purchase of a dozen songs for fifty cents each, to the dramatic purchase of a first edition of the Star Spangled Banner, Lester Levy dedicated his life to his collection and his love of history. In this lecture, Assistant Curator Sam Bessen will explore the love of  collecting through Levy’s writings and correspondence, and share some love songs from the collection. 

Headshot of Heidi HerrHeidi Herr, outreach librarian for Special Collections, creates programs and learning activities that engage Johns Hopkins students in conducting research with primary sources. She is also the librarian for the English and Philosophy departments. Heidi teaches courses on a wide variety of topics, including fortune-telling board games and the development of the cookbook, and oversees the Sheridan Libraries’ Freshman Fellowship program. She holds MA degrees in English and Library Science from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Headshot of Jennifer JarvisJennifer Jarvis has an MA in Conservation Studies from the College of West Dean, University of Sussex, and a diploma in Bookbinding from the North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA. From 2008-2011 she was the Project Director/Chief Conservator for the Derry & Raphoe Diocesan Library Project in Northern Ireland and has since held positions at Columbia University and the Smithsonian. She has been a book and paper conservator at the Sheridan Libraries since 2015.


Headshot of Sam BessenSam Bessen, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, is Assistant Curator of the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection at Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries. With a background in music performance, Sam completed his Master’s degree at the Peabody Conservatory in 2017. Sam is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the In the Stacks series at the George Peabody Library, named by Baltimore Magazine as one of eleven local institutions making classical music relevant in the 21st century. His programs have included explorations of ancient sculpture, neoclassical architecture, immersive theater, queer silent film, immersive theater, and research into university archives to uncover previously unheard works by women and African American composers.  



 Event Date
Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


Via Zoom
Baltimore, MD 21218

Hopkins at Home

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