About POP

Welcome to the blog for the Provenance Online Project (POP) from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania.  To view the project’s collection of over 12,000 provenance images and contribute comments, visit the POP Flickr feed.

The Project

The Provenance Online Project (POP) makes digital images of provenance evidence contained in books —bookplates, inscriptions, labels, bindings, and other physical attributes indicating ownership—openly available alongside bibliographic and descriptive metadata.   POP creates a collaborative space in which librarians, scholars, students and bibliophiles from around the world contribute comments, transcriptions, descriptive tags and other information about the provenance images contained in the project with the goal of building identifications of owners associated with specific provenance marks and connecting individual copies of books with past owners.   The project’s approach of making visual data easily accessible and allowing an open community of users to contribute and exchange information make POP a unique resource, not only for finding and creating records of ownership for individual books but for many facets of research in the fields of book history and material culture such as the shape of past libraries, the use of material texts, and the social and geographic groups and networks that books were passed along.

The initial group of 12,000 images  included in POP are the result of the work of the Kislak Center’s cataloging team, which captured thousands of provenance images in coordination with the CLIR Hidden Collections Project, Promoting Research through Rare Book Cataloging Partnerships (2011-2014).  Many of the books currently represented are from the early modern period, but the project is increasingly opening up to include books from potentially any period.

POP is now expanding beyond Penn’s collections.  The project has  begun to include images from multiple institutions, beginning with the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Folger Shakespeare Library,  Princeton University Library with images coming soon from the Newberry Library,  the Clark Library at UCLA, the Beinecke Library at Yale, the Getty Research Institute, the Huntington Library, and the Library of Congress.

The images are presently hosted on the POP fickr feed where visitors can browse images and provide comments that help identify provenance marks or provide other valuable information.  To browse particular kinds of images, such as bookplates, or books from a particular collection, see the albums for the flickr feed.  Clicking on one of the tags (displayed to the bottom right below each image) will display other images that the same tag has been attached to.

Exciting new changes for POP are in the works, as the POP team, headed by the Mellon funded CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for Early Modern Studies, Laura Aydelotte, are currently developing a new database for the project.  Updates will be posted to this blog as developments get underway.

The Blog

The POP blog provides spotlight entries bringing attention to provenance images of interest and more in-depth articles telling the stories of books, owners, and libraries, that have been uncovered using POP images.  Check out “Mystery Monday” posts for examples of as yet unidentified provenance images to exercise your detective skills.    The POP blog is also a resource for posts about provenance research in the digital age and updates about POP as the project continues to develop as a leading resource for provenance study.


For more information about this blog or about the Provenance Online Project, please write to  Laura Aydelotte at aydel@upenn.edu  Click here to read more about me. 

Follow Laura’s POP posts on twitter: @LauraEAydelotte

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