Exhibit gives Johns Hopkins students glimpse of romantic texts, both rare and risqué

The Department of Special Collections at Johns Hopkins University's Sheridan Libraries hosted its annual Valentine's Day open house featuring rare books—both sweet and saucy—about the art of love.

With items and images ranging from the charming (hand-crafted Victorian valentines) to the risqué (Baron d'Hancarville's 18th century take on Roman women, Monumens du culte secret des dames romaines) to the downright bizarre (cherubs being eaten by a crocodile?), the materials gave students a glimpse into some of the treasures that they can explore through the university's special collections holdings.

"This event, along with our other Special Collections outreach programs, is meant to create a fun and accessible entry point to the world of rare books," said librarian and curator Heidi Herr, who organized the event, titled Dirty Books and Longing Looks. "It offers students the opportunity to learn about our collection and also make connections with the past. After all, 19th century scrapbooks documenting the crushes and obsessions of Victorian teenagers are not that different from all the romantic drama one can get caught up in on social media!"

For more images of some of the items featured at the event, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/hopkinsarchives/sets/72157632701027729