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Thaddeus Mason Harris (1768-1842) was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts on July 7, 1768. He received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1787 and was invited the same year to become private secretary to General George Washington. He was prevented from accepting the position, though, by an attack of smallpox, and he served as the interim librarian of the Harvard College Library for three months in 1787. In 1791 he was appointed librarian at Harvard, a position he held until he became pastor of the First Unitarian church in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1793. He was awarded an honorary S.T.D. (Doctor of Sacred Theology) by Harvard in 1813. He remained as pastor in Dorchester until three years before his death in April 1842.

From the description of Thaddeus Mason Harris' working documents regarding subject-based library catalog, ca. 1790. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 695671657

The Widener renovation project was an extensive five year project. It began in 1999, with the Widener Stacks Renovation. Phase 2 began in 2001, and involved the restoration of the original architectural features and finishes.

From the description of General information about the Widener Library renovation project, 1999-2004. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 236232250

The origins of the Harvard College Library can be traced to the College's namesake, John Harvard. Following his death from tuberculosis on September 14, 1638, Harvard's library of four hundred volumes, along with half of his estate, was given to the newly-established college subsequently named in his honor. These books were the College's first library collection. By 1642 the library was housed in what was known as the Old College building, where Grays Hall now stands, which was described as "having in it a spacious Hall (where they meet daily at Commons, Lectures, Exercises), and a large Library with some Bookes to it, the gifts of divers of our friends." The library was located on the second floor, in the southeast chamber. In the summer of 1676, the library was moved to the so-called New College and housed in Harvard Hall, where it would remain until that building was destroyed by fire almost a century later (see below). The library collection continued to grow in its new home, holding approximately 3,500 volumes by the time the first printed catalog was produced in 1723, and an additional 600 volumes by the time a second supplement to that first catalog was printed in 1735. By the time of the fire in 1764, the library contained over 5,000 volumes.

On the night of January 24, 1764, Harvard Hall (sometimes referred to as "Old Harvard Hall," as another building named Harvard Hall was later built) burned to the ground, destroying all of the volumes in the library except for the approximate 400 which were then out on loan and another 100 or so books which had been received but were not yet unpacked and shelved. This fire took place during the College's winter vacation, while the Massachusetts General Court was temporarily holding session in the building due to a smallpox epidemic in Boston. Apparently a fire was left burning in the library's fireplace and spread to the floor beams, quickly destroying the entire building and its contents. The General Court took responsibility for the loss of the building and agreed to pay for its replacement. The burning of the library prompted an immediate and tremendous outpouring of generosity from myriad other sources, which included both financial donations and thousands of new books. By the time a new home for the library - Harvard Hall - was completed in 1766, the size of the library collection had surpassed what it was before the fire just two years earlier.

The library was located in the upper west chamber of the new Harvard Hall, with books arranged on shelves within alcoves. Some of these alcoves were designated to hold the volumes donated by specific benefactors, including Thomas Hollis, John Hancock, the Province of New Hampshire (whose General Assembly voted to donate £300 previously allocated for the creation of New Hampshire's own university to Harvard instead), the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England, Lieutenant Governor William Dummer, Harvard Treasurer Thomas Hubbard, Jasper Mauduit, and Thomas Wibird. There were initially ten alcoves in the library, though that number increased as the collection grew. By 1790, when the third printed catalog was published, the library contained over 12,000 volumes. The library remained in Harvard Hall into the nineteenth century, expanding to comprise the entire second floor in 1815 when commons and recitation were moved to the newly completed University Hall.

The catalogs, shelflists, and other materials in this collection represent Harvard librarians' ongoing efforts to maintain physical and intellectual control over a rapidly growing collection at a time when there were no established standards for cataloging and no professional training to help them with their task. Annotations and corrections to the catalogs (manuscript and printed) demonstrate that these were active records, continually used to track deletions and additions to the library's holdings. As the collection grew, problems of storage and cataloging became increasingly complex. The short duration of most librarians' tenure - very often only one or two years - certainly also contributed to difficulties in organizing, cataloging, and locating the volumes in a consistent and accurate manner.

This collection contains at least one copy of each of the three printed catalogs of the Harvard College Library produced in the eighteenth century: that of 1723 (with its printed supplements from 1725 and 1735), that of 1773, and that of 1790. It also contains alcove lists, which list the titles found on each shelf in each alcove; manuscript catalogs, arranged either alphabetically or by subject; and catalogs listing pamphlets, then known as "tracts," in the library collections. These materials provide insight not only into the contents of the library at any given time, but also into the challenges of arranging and describing those contents in a way that provided sufficient and efficient access to users.

Many of the catalogs and shelflists in this collection include shelf locations for some or all of the volumes listed. For example, a shelf location of 4.3.12 would indicate that a volume was located on the fourth bookcase, on the third shelf from the bottom (shelves were numbered from lowest to highest), and in the twelfth location on that shelf. Some shelf locations begin with a fourth number, which indicates the alcove within which the shelf was located. The last element of the shelf number was often written on the fore-edge of a book, which indicates that books were - at least in the library's earliest years - shelved with their spines inward. The shelf marks were also written, often in ink, on the flyleaf or title page of the volumes.

The following is a list of the individuals who served as Librarian in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The librarian was often a recent graduate, junior fellow, College tutor, or resident bachelor. In addition to the care and circulation of books, the librarian was responsible for the care of benefactors' portraits, marble and plaster busts of writers and classical subjects, and the so-called philosophical apparatus (scientific equipment) housed within the library. No salary was paid to those who held the position prior to 1693.

  • 1667 - 1672 : Solomon Stoddard
  • 1674: Samuel Sewall
  • 1674 - 1676 : Daniel Gookin
  • 1676 - 1679 : Daniel Allin
  • 1679 - 1681 : Daniel Gookin
  • 1681 - 1690 : John Cotton
  • 1690 - 1693 : Henry Newman
  • 1693 - 1697 : Ebenezer Pemberton
  • 1697 - 1701 : Nathaniel Saltonstall
  • 1701 - 1702 : Anthony Stoddard
  • 1702 - 1703 : Josiah Willard
  • 1703 - 1706 : John Whiting
  • 1706 - 1707 : John Gore
  • 1707 - 1709 : Nathaniel Gookin
  • 1709 - 1712 : Edward Holyoke
  • 1712 - 1713 : Thomas Robie
  • 1713 - 1714 : John Denison
  • 1714 - 1718 : John Rogers
  • 1718 - 1720 : William Welsteed
  • 1720 - 1721 : William Cooke
  • 1721 - 1722 : Joshua Gee
  • 1722 - 1723 : Mitchell Sewall
  • 1723 - 1726 : John Hancock
  • 1726 - 1728 : Stephen Sewall
  • 1728 - 1729 : Joseph Champney
  • 1729 - 1730 : Joseph Pynchon
  • 1730 - 1734 : Henry Gibbs
  • 1734 - 1735 : Samuel Coolidge
  • 1735 - 1737 : James Diman
  • 1737: Samuel Cooke
  • 1737 - 1741 : Thomas Marsh
  • 1741 - 1742 : Belcher Hancock
  • 1742 - 1743 : Benjamin Prat
  • 1743 - 1748 : Matthew Cushing
  • 1748 - 1750 : Oliver Peabody
  • 1751 - 1753 : Stephen Badger
  • 1753 - 1755 : John Rand
  • 1755 - 1757 : Mather Byles
  • 1757 - 1758 : Elizur Holyoke
  • 1758 - 1760 : Edward Brooks
  • 1760 - 1762 : Samuel Deane
  • 1762 - 1763 : Stephen Sewall
  • 1763 - 1767 : Andrew Eliot
  • 1767 - 1768 : Jonathan Moore
  • 1768: Nathaniel Ward
  • 1768 - 1769 : Caleb Prentice
  • 1769 - 1772 : William Mayhew
  • 1772 - 1787 : James Winthrop
  • July 19 - September 24, 1787 : Thaddeus Mason Harris (interim librarian)
  • 1787 - 1791 : Isaac Smith
  • 1791 - 1793 : Thaddeus Mason Harris
  • 1793 - 1800 : Samuel Shapleigh

From the guide to the Early Catalogs and Shelflists of the Harvard College Library, 1723-1822, (Harvard University Archives)

Thomas Hollis V (1720-1774), widely known as Thomas Hollis of Lincoln's Inn, was a very generous donor to the Harvard College Library, particularly in the wake of a 1764 fire which destroyed most of the library's books and scientific instruments. From a wealthy British family with a history of generous philanthropy towards the young College, Hollis donated thousands of books to an institution he would never visit. He was widely known for his ardent and energetic promotion of civil and religious liberties (he was a liberal Whig, known for being a somewhat radical dissenter), and the books he sent to the College reflected his own interests and intellectual bent. His legacy endures at the Harvard libraries to the present day.

Thomas Hollis was born in London, England on April 14, 1720. He was born into a family of successful merchants and manufacturers and was the only child of Thomas Hollis (d. 1735). The name of his mother, a daughter of Mr. Scott of Wolverhampton, is not known. His father died when he was fifteen years old, leaving Thomas sole heir to a large fortune. When his grandfather died three years later, his estate increased substantially once again. Hollis pursued broad, liberal studies throughout his life. He was a student at the free school in Newport until the age of nine or ten, when he enrolled at St. Albans. Several years later he spent fifteen months in Amsterdam, studying languages and mathematics in anticipation of a career in business. He took chambers at Lincoln's Inn from 1740 to 1748, and although he read law he never pursued a legal or political career. Due to his sizable inheritance, Hollis was never obligated enter professional life, and he instead devoted much of his time and energy towards travel, civic engagement, and philanthropy.

Hollis was an ardent admirer of John Milton and collected artifacts related to him; this interest ran so deep that he even purchased the bed in which Milton died. He also collected widely, with collections encompassing books, classical antiquities, coins, medals, and works of art. He remains widely known among bibliophiles for the distinctive bindings he commissioned for books he donated and otherwise distributed, and he was a patron of many writers, printers, publishers, and artists. Although he has been described as a "political propagandist," most assessments of Hollis's life and deeds are more generous.

Thomas Hollis died suddenly on January 1, 1774 and was buried, as he had wished, ten feet deep in a field at his Corscombe, Dorset farm. The field was then plowed over, also per Hollis's instructions, leaving his grave unmarked. As Hollis never married, his estate was left to longtime friend Thomas Brand on condition that Brand added the name of Hollis to his own name. He did, becoming Thomas Brand Hollis, and continued his friend's traditions of philanthropy and political engagement.

On the night of January 24, 1764, Harvard Hall (sometimes referred to as "Old Harvard Hall," as another building named Harvard Hall was later built) burned to the ground, destroying all of the volumes in the Harvard College Library except for the approximate 400 which were then out on loan and another 100 or so books which had been received but were not yet unpacked and shelved. The fire also destroyed the College's "philosophical apparatus," a significant collection of scientific instruments. This fire took place during the College's winter vacation, while the Massachusetts General Court was temporarily holding session in the building due to a smallpox epidemic in Boston. Apparently a fire was left burning in the library's fireplace and spread to the floor beams, quickly destroying the entire building and its contents. The General Court took responsibility for the loss of the building and agreed to pay for the building's replacement. The burning of the library prompted an immediate and tremendous outpouring of generosity from myriad other sources, which included both financial donations and thousands of new books. By the time a new home for the library - Harvard Hall - was completed in 1766, the size of the library collection had surpassed what it was before the fire just two years earlier.

Although the fire was devastating, as the College library was already more than a century old and had been the largest library in British North America prior to its destruction, the donations made in its wake were tremendous. Although many colonists made small donations, the rapid and thoughtful rebuilding of the library collections were primarily the result of large and generous donations from Britain. Thomas Hollis V, who shipped thousands of volumes across the ocean to Harvard from London, was the most significant of these donors. The titles he shipped in the years following the 1764 fire were not arbitrarily selected, but rather carefully assembled to represent what he considered the most important and relevant works for the education of young men in colonial New England. He sent works on government and political theory, classical antiquity, agriculture, geology, medicine, and many other subjects he deemed practical for the formation of citizens and scholars. Hollis often had these books distinctively bound, and he frequently annotated them to highlight the passages and themes he considered most essential. Following Hollis's death in 1774, a bequest of 500 pounds sterling established Harvard's first endowed fund for the purchase of books. This fund is still in active use.

From the guide to the Lists of books donated by Thomas Hollis, 1763-1787, (Harvard University Archives)

The origins of the Harvard College Library can be traced to the College's namesake, John Harvard. Following his death of tuberculosis on September 14, 1638, Harvard's library of four hundred volumes, along with half of his estate, was given to the newly-established college subsequently named in his honor. These books were the College's first. By 1642 the library was housed in what was known as the Old College Building, where Grays Hall now stands, which was described as "having in it a spacious Hall (where they meet daily at Commons, Lectures, Exercises), and a large Library with some Bookes to it, the gifts of divers of our friends." The library was located on the second floor, in the southeast chamber. In the summer of 1676, the library was moved to the so-called New College and housed in Harvard Hall, where it would remain until that building was destroyed by fire almost a century later (see below). The library collection continued to grow in its new home, holding approximately 3,500 volumes by the time the first printed catalog was produced in 1723, and an additional 600 volumes by the time a second supplement to that first catalog was printed in 1735. By the time of the fire in 1764, the library contained over 5,000 volumes.

On the night of January 24, 1764, Harvard Hall (sometimes referred to as "Old Harvard Hall," since another building named Harvard Hall was later built) burned to the ground, destroying all of the volumes in the library except for the approximate 400 which were then out on loan and another 100 or so books which had been received but were not yet unpacked and shelved. This fire took place during the College's winter vacation, while the Massachusetts General Court was temporarily holding session in the building due to a smallpox epidemic in Boston. Apparently a fire was left burning in the library's fireplace and spread to the floor beams, quickly destroying the entire building and its contents. The General Court took responsibility for the loss of the building and agreed to pay for its replacement, and the burning of the library prompted an immediate and tremendous outpouring of generosity from myriad other sources, which included both financial donations and thousands of new books. By the time a new home for the library - Harvard Hall - was completed in 1766, the size of the library collection had surpassed what it was before the fire just two years earlier.

The library was located in the upper west chamber of the new Harvard Hall, with books arranged on shelves within alcoves. Some of these alcoves were designated to hold the volumes donated by specific benefactors, including Thomas Hollis V, John Hancock, the Province of New Hampshire (whose General Assembly voted to donate £300 previously allocated for the creation of New Hampshire's own university to Harvard instead), the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England, Lieutenant Governor William Dummer, Harvard Treasurer Thomas Hubbard, Jasper Mauduit, and Thomas Wibird. There were initially ten alcoves in the library, though that number increased as the collection grew. By 1790, when the third printed catalog was published, the library contained over 12,000 volumes. The library remained in Harvard Hall into the nineteenth century, expanding to comprise the entire second floor in 1815 when commons and recitation were moved to the newly completed University Hall.

From the guide to the Records of books spared from 1764 Harvard Hall fire and subsequent gifts, 1764-1778, (Harvard University Archives)

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Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adam, R. B. (Robert Borthwick), 1863-1940 person
associatedWith Adams, Amos, 1728-1775. person
associatedWith Alexander, Constance Grosvenor. person
correspondedWith Anderson, Wallace Ludwig, 1917- person
associatedWith Andover-Harvard Theological Library corporateBody
associatedWith Batchelder, Samuel, 1784-1879, person
associatedWith Bentinck-Smith, William, 1914-1993. person
associatedWith Bigelow, William Sturgis, 1850-1926, person
associatedWith Carney, Frank, 1861-1949. person
correspondedWith Carpenter, Park. person
associatedWith Cercle Français corporateBody
associatedWith Charles William Eliot person
associatedWith Child Memorial Library corporateBody
associatedWith Clara Therese, Evans person
associatedWith Class of 1851 corporateBody
associatedWith Class of 1877 corporateBody
associatedWith Class of 1882 corporateBody
associatedWith Class of 1899 corporateBody
associatedWith Class of 1909 corporateBody
associatedWith Coffin, Charles Carleton, 1823-1896. person
associatedWith Coolidge, Archibald Cary, 1866-1928. person
associatedWith Craig, Edward Gordon (1872-1966) person
associatedWith Currier, Florence May Wyman, 1881-1972. person
correspondedWith Currier, Thomas Franklin, 1873-1946 person
associatedWith Dall, C. H. A. (Charles Henry Appleton), 1816-1886 person
associatedWith Daniel B. Fearing person
correspondedWith David Ives Bushnell, Jr. person
associatedWith Diman, James, 1707-1788. person
associatedWith Draper, John, 1702-1762, person
correspondedWith Eccles, Mary Hyde. person
associatedWith Edward Henry Hall person
associatedWith Edward Henry Strobel person
associatedWith Eliot, Andrew, 1744-1805. person
correspondedWith Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882 person
associatedWith Emil Christian Hammer person
associatedWith Evans, Clara Therese, person
associatedWith Felton, C. C. (Cornelius Conway), 1807-1862 person
correspondedWith Ferrini, Vincent. person
associatedWith Fischer, Ruth, 1895- person
associatedWith Fleet, John, 1734-1806, person
associatedWith Fleet, Thomas, 1732-1797, person
associatedWith Flugel, Felix person
correspondedWith Forbes, Edward Waldo, 1873-1969 person
associatedWith Francis James Child person
associatedWith Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790. person
associatedWith Frank Wilson Cheney Hersey person
associatedWith Gee, Joshua, 1698-1748. person
associatedWith Gilman, Francis B., person
correspondedWith Glueck, Sheldon, 1896- person
associatedWith Gore Hall (Cambridge, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Green, Bartholomew, 1699-1751, person
associatedWith Hamilton, Henry, d. 1796. person
associatedWith Hancock, John, 1702-1744. person
associatedWith Harris family. family
associatedWith Harris, Thaddeus Mason, 1768-1842. person
associatedWith Harvard Alumni Association corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard Art Museum Archives corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College (1636-1780) corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1918. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College Library. Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College Library. Financial Services. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College Library. Friends. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College Library. Gifts and Exchange Section. person
associatedWith Harvard College Library Hohenzollern Collection corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College Library Icelandic Collection corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College Library. Judaica Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College Library Kipling Collection corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College Library. Ordering Department. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Board of Overseers. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Corporation. Committee to Advise the Corporation on Improving the Conditions in the Library at the University. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Corporation. Committee to Study the Future Needs of the College Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Library. person
associatedWith Harvard University. Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Library. Collection Development Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Vice President for Administration. corporateBody
associatedWith Heald, David, 1882-1945. person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Hollis, Thomas, 1720-1774. person
correspondedWith Holman, Louis A. (Louis Arthur), 1866-1939 person
associatedWith Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894, person
associatedWith Institute of Geographical Exploration corporateBody
associatedWith James, William, 1842-1910 person
associatedWith John Winthrop House corporateBody
associatedWith Kirkland House corporateBody
associatedWith Kress Library of Business and Economics corporateBody
associatedWith Kristjansson, Kristjan person
associatedWith Lane, William Coolidge, 1859-1931. person
associatedWith Langdon, Samuel, 1723-1797. person
associatedWith Levin, Harry, 1912-1994 person
associatedWith Library of Congress, corporateBody
associatedWith Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. person
associatedWith Livingston, Flora Virginia Milner, 1862- person
associatedWith Lowell Memorial Library of Romance Literature corporateBody
associatedWith Marsh, Thomas, 1710?-1780. person
associatedWith Mary Lyon Cheney Schofield person
associatedWith Massachusetts Historical Society, corporateBody
associatedWith Mauduit, Jasper. person
associatedWith Mayhew, William, 1746-1785. person
associatedWith McElwain, Alexander, 1897- person
associatedWith Mitchell, Barbara A. person
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Norton, Andrews, 1786-1853. person
associatedWith Norton, Charles Eliot, 1827-1908, person
associatedWith Packard, Hezekiah, 1761-1849. person
associatedWith Paine, Robert Treat, 1731-1814, person
associatedWith Parsons, Samuel Holden, 1777-1811, person
associatedWith Permelia E. Cheney Hersey person
associatedWith Pottinger, David Thomas, 1884-1958 person
associatedWith Prescott, Winward person
associatedWith Prince Henry of Prussia person
associatedWith Radcliffe College Library corporateBody
associatedWith Ring, Samuel. person
associatedWith Rogers, Bruce, 1870-1957. person
associatedWith Rogers, Henry Munroe, 1839-1937, person
associatedWith Ruzicka, Rudolph, 1883-1978. person
correspondedWith Sabsay, Nahum, 1890- person
associatedWith Sachs, Paul J., 1878-1965 person
associatedWith Scudder, Samuel Hubbard person
associatedWith Shapleigh, Samuel, 1765-1800. person
associatedWith Shea, John, 1888-1959. person
associatedWith Sibley, John Langdon, 1804-1885. person
associatedWith Skelton, R. A. (Raleigh Ashlin), 1906-1970. person
associatedWith Smith, Isaac, 1749-1829. person
correspondedWith Smithsonian Institution corporateBody
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Stillman, E. G. 1884-1949. person
associatedWith Stone, Arthur J., 1847-1938. person
associatedWith Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Library corporateBody
associatedWith Turner, Frederick Jackson, 1861-1932. person
associatedWith United States. Army. Corps of Engineers. corporateBody
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Welles, Benjamin, 1781-1860. person
associatedWith White, Richard Grant, 1821-1885, person
associatedWith Widener, George D., 1889-1971. person
associatedWith Widener Library (Cambridge, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith Widener Library (Cambridge, Mass.) corporateBody
associatedWith William Henry Schofield person
associatedWith Winthrop, James, 1752-1821. person
correspondedWith Woodberry, George Edward, 1855-1930 person
associatedWith Yale University. Library, corporateBody
correspondedWith Yourcenar, Marguerite. person
associatedWith Zamakhsharī, Maḥmūd ibn ʻUmar, 1075-1144. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Massachusetts--Cambridge
New England
Massachusetts--Cambridge
Massachusetts--Cambridge
Massachusetts
Massachusetts--Cambridge
United States--Massachusetts--Cambridge
New England
Massachusetts
Massachusetts--Cambridge
Massachusetts--Cambridge
Massachusetts
Massachusetts--Cambridge
United States
Massachusetts
Massachusetts--Cambridge
Cambridge (Mass.)
Massachusetts--Cambridge
New England
Massachusetts
Subject
Collection development (Libraries)
Library science
Library building--Designs and plans
Academic libraries
Library catalogs
Library catalogs--18th century
College students--Books and reading
Book catalogs--Early works to 1800
Cataloging--History--Sources
Academic libraries--Space utilization
Universities and colleges--Libraries
Library users
Books and reading
Smithsonian Exchange
Library circulation and loans
Education--History--Sources
Academic libraries--Catalogs
Classification--History--Sources
Librarians--Portraits
Exchanges Of Publications
Libraries
Education--18th century
Library catalogs--History--Sources
Library cooperation
Smithsonian Library
Scientific publications
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Active 1889

Active 1927

Americans

English

Information

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