Origin of the Acquisition

In Fall 2021, VMC 283: The Art and History of the Book embarked on a project that gave students an unprecedented level of input into the contents of the college’s library. Students were given money from an endowed library fund to purchase books from the Kelmscott Bookshop which would enter Goucher’s Special Collections. In groups of four, students selected either one book or a group of related books that they felt would enrich Goucher’s Special Collections and be in harmony with Goucher’s Mission Statement. Our group selected “Handmade Paper in Nepal: Tradition and Change,” by Dorothy Field, published by Hand Papermaking Inc.

About the Book

This is not a traditional, or “codex” book. Rather, it is an booklet and 18 different samples of paper, primarily handmade and from Nepal. Some sheets are colored, and others are block-printed. Many of them are of lotka paper, a material only produced from Daphne trees in Nepal. They were collected by Dorothy Fields, a papermaker who claims to have “not followed the traditional discipline of printmaking,” during her travels from 1984- 1986. The booklet contains an essay, a brief description of each sample, a glossary, and a bibliography, all written by Fields. These samples and booklet are enclosed in a handmade clamshell box.

Why Here? Why Now?

The global pandemic and subsequent restriction of travel showed how important it is for Goucher to maintain resources to allow students to think globally on campus. We already have a body of work on papermaking in Special and General Collections in the library, but they are very Western focused. This work, while still presented from the viewpoint of an American, is a starting point for re-exploring papermaking as an art informed and practiced by people in cultures different than the one in which Goucher resides.

Perspective Check

We acknowledge that this book is fundamentally from the perspective of an outsider coming in and making judgements. There may be incorrect assumptions, either informing the work or contained within it. We do not offer this book as a definitive entry on Nepalese papermaking, merely one that provides a single, limited perspective. We hope that Special Collections continues to acquire books on the subject of papermaking from people of different backgrounds, both in nationality and in approach to the craft, so that interested students can take a multivocal approach in their study.

Physical Exhibition

If you’re on the fourth floor of Goucher’s Athenaeum, come by Special Collections to see the display of all books acquired by VMC 383, along with related books from Special Collections and objects from the Art and Artifacts Collection.