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THE BIG DIG: Buried Treasures Under Sage House (and in the Backlist)

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Crossing a make-shift bridge every morning to enter your place of work takes getting used to, especially when the moat they’ve dug around the doors is deep enough to fill and make home to a crocodile or two. A foundation-restoration project has begun on Sage House, a summer-long excavation renovation we’ve coined The Big Dig. This massive undertaking, while substantial, won’t disturb us from our nests inside. We simply bear a bit of shaking and the jarring noise of the occasional jackhammer. We’ll be on a construction site all summer, and we’re honestly excited to watch the progress. As the trench gets deeper, the porch torn down, the original stone foundation exposed, it seems the past is being raised right outside our windows.  

A foundation-restoration project has begun on Sage House, a summer-long excavation renovation we’ve coined The Big Dig.

As the backhoe took to our front yard, our staff historian, Karen Laun, couldn’t resist treasure hunting to unearth some history. From her daily digs, she brought in strange artifacts to show our staff: a clay pipe, pieces of pottery, a door handle, and the sole of a shoe. These hidden gems each had their own story, a predictable sentiment coming from a publishing house. We were hooked! Was it a thoughtful assistant, packing her pipe during her afternoon tea to sit down with Chisholm’s Perceiving, getting so lost in the philosophy text, she dropped her pipe under the porch? An editor so excited to acquire Sagan’s UFOs: A Scientific Debate he sprinted out of the building, losing his shoe, and discarding a door handle in the same stride? What else could we uncover during this Big Dig? Not all of us were willing to jump down into the moat to find out, so we decided to dig through our backlist, instead.

Not all of us were willing to jump down into the moat to find out, so we decided to dig through our backlist, instead.

Without having to get our hands dirty, we dipped into our library pulling our foundation-building texts from our 150-year history. Visit our new website to see the treasures in our backlist. We wouldn’t be CUP without cornerstones like Parties and Politics in America or Primitive World; not to be forgotten is the Beekeepers Handbook or Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. With help from the staff, we’ve also come up with a few more hidden gems that we’ll be sharing while construction continues.

Follow #THEBIGDIG and maybe we’ll get lucky and find some more artifacts as well. Grab a shovel and come dig with us! And while you’re at it, enter 09BIGDIG to get 30 percent off any backlist book while the construction lasts.


Sarah Noell is a Marketing Assistant at Cornell University Press, she regularly takes an afternoon tea to contemplate the backlist, though the porch is currently a no-ponder zone.

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