Blogs, images, and other cool things from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections at Miami University, Oxford, OH.


New Digital Collections Portal

As of Friday April 16, 2014, the portal to our digital collections is now

Digital collections homepageDigital Collections homepage

On behalf of Special Collections and the Center for Digital Scholarship, I am excited to announce the launch of our new digital collections portal. The new website is the end result of a long migration process of collections divided across instances of DSpace and CONTENTdm version 4.3 into a single, up-to-date instance of CONTENTdm 6.6. In addition to a variety of new features, the new instance is based on a significantly improved platform to allow for better searching and viewing of the items in our digital collections.

List of currently available collectionsList of currently available collections

In total, our digital collections hold roughly 90,000 items, shared between over two dozen collections. These collections include:

The migration project began over a year ago and was spearheaded by John Millard, the Head of the Center for Digital Scholarship, and Elias Tzoc, the Digital Initiatives Librarian. From Special Collections, I have been collaborating with them to migrate and update the information about our collections that have been digitized. The project had several stages, each with their own unique set of challenges, including coordinating import/export tools from different platforms, updating image files to current standards, and preparing for a seamless-as-possible transition to a new platform.

This migration also comes ahead of Miami University’s domain name overhaul - migrating from the domain name (which will be defunct June 1st of this year) to the newer As a part of this, we are working to ensure that citations to our digital collections elsewhere on the web are ready for the migration and domain name change. One of the biggest current challenges in this is updating the links in our Flickr collections that lead back to the full objects and metadata records in CONTENTdm. Earlier this year, Miami University Libraries’ digital collections officially joined the Flickr Commons. Since then, I have been tracking the changes in views of both our Flickr account and their comparable collections in CONTENTdm. I have been thrilled to note the significant increase of both, but it has become clear to me that when it comes to access, there is no competition - the increase of views of the Bowden Postcard Collection Online in CONTENTdm is outnumbered fifteen times over by the views on Flickr. While the Flickr collection only shows the front of the card and a limited version of the metadata found in the CONTENTdm collection, the number of views is undeniable evidence of the importance of social media platforms for access in the modern world of information.

Page from Thomas B. Marshall's DiaryPage from Thomas B. Marshall’s diary

Another exciting part of this migration is the relaunch of our Civil War Diaries online collection. These diaries include three kept by Miami students and three by local Ohio community members who took up arms to fight for the Union. The diarists, all of whom served as members of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, record their impressions and experiences on a variety of topics, including their interrupted college studies, the daily life of a soldier, military engagements and news from the home front. In the near future we will be also relaunching our digitized Samuel Richey Collection of the Southern Confederacy, as well as digitizing and making available new materials related to the American Civil War.

Studio 14 host Rick LudwinStudio 14 host Rick Ludwin

Finally, I am pleased to announce the completion of our newest digital collection: the Studio 14 Archives. This collection features digitized copies of the variety show produced by Miami students under the oversight of Dr. Bill Utter, from 1968-1970. The two-inch wide quadruplex videotape originals were kept by the show’s producer, Miami alumnus Rick Ludwin, who had them digitized and donated them to Special Collections so that we might be able to make them publicly available online. Special Collections continues to enjoy an ongoing relationship with Mr. Ludwin, who spoke at Special Collections’ first Annual Lecture Series. In addition to being a Miami alumnus, Rick Ludwin was also VP at NBC, where he is remembered for backing a new show called Seinfeld. The Studio 14 episodes in this collection feature a wide range of sketch comedy, musical performances, and famous guests. Happy viewing!

Marcus Ladd
Special Collections Librarian

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Jemima, Duchess of Kent and Wrest Park: A Provenance Story

I’m a sucker for a book with a fancy provenance and I’ve written about some of my favorites in our collections here and here. And since it’s always nice to end the work week on a high note, I thought I’d indulge myself once again by writing a blog post on another book I found while cataloging pre-1800 titles in our backlog. The book is a rather commonplace devotional work on the subject of contentment, entitled The Art of Contentment. The book was published “At the Theater in Oxford” in 1689 and is attributed to the English clergyman Richard Allestree (1619-1681). Allestree was a prominent Royalist and supporter of the High Church tradition in the Anglican faith. According to modern scholarship, he also penned the extremely popular English Protestant devotional work,The Whole Duty of Man, first published anonymously in 1658 at the end of Oliver Cromwell’s rule.

Art of Contentment, 1689Art of Contentment, 1689 Jemima, Duchess of Kent's bookplate dated 1710Jemima, Duchess of Kent’s bookplate dated 1710 Thomas Philip, Earl de Grey's bookplateThomas Philip, Earl de Grey’s bookplate

As part of the cataloging of an early printed work, or any item in special collections for that matter, it is important to include copy-specific provenance information (if it exists) in the catalog record, such as manuscript signatures, inscriptions, library stamps, or bookplates. This book had two striking armorial bookplates, one belonging to “Jemima Dutchess of Kent” dated 1710, and another early nineteenth century bookplate belonging to “Thomas Philip Earl de Grey, Wrest Park.” After recording this information in the record, I did a little investigating just for fun to see who these members of the English nobility were…

Jemima Crew by Charles D'Agar in the National Trust, Calke AbbeyJemima Crew by Charles D’Agar in the National Trust, Calke Abbey

Jemima Crew (1675-1728) married Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, and they had six children, before she died and he remarried in 1729. Her portrait shown here was done by prolific portrait artist Charles D’Agar. Since the Duke had no surviving children at the time of his death, his titles eventually became extinct, but it is clear that this book (and another in our collection by the same author with the same bookplates) remained at his country estate near Silsoe in Bedfordshire in the east of England. Wrest House, shown here in an engraving from 1708, would have been where Henry and Jemima raised their young children in aristocratic splendor.

Wrest House, 1708Wrest House, 1708

Thomas de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey (1781-1859), whose bookplate adorns our book as well, eventually inherited the estate and rebuilt the house between 1834 and 1840. An aside for fans of the popular BBC show Downton Abbey who might be interested to know that there really were historical Lord Granthams: due to a title inherited from his father, de Grey was known as Lord Grantham for most of his life. de Grey was a Tory statesman who served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1841-1844. The Wrest Park estate contains gardens that were originally designed by George London and Henry Wise for Jemima’s husband, Henry Grey, in the early eighteenth century, and later modified by the famous landscape architect Capability Brown (1716-1783). Shown here is the restored library at Wrest Park, now open to the public, where this book may have once sat on the shelf.

Thomas de Grey, Earl de GreyThomas de Grey, Earl de Grey Wrest Park today

Many ask how books like this, once owned by duchesses and earls living on luxurious estates centuries ago, end up in academic libraries here in the United States. Many estates went bankrupt in the early twentieth century as the power and influence of the British aristocracy began its rapid decline and the contents of homes like Wrest Park were sold to pay debts. The contents of Wrest Park were sold in 1917 and it’s very likely that many of the original library books were included in that sale. These books would often end up in the stock of auction houses, antiquarian booksellers , or private collectors. Many of Miami’s early printed works, like this one, were then purchased by Marcus Selden Goldman or Howard Robinson, professors at Miami who later donated their collections to the Libraries.

Wrest Park library todayWrest Park library today

Linking the physical book to its historical “journey” from printer to owner(s) to library shelf has always been one of my favorite aspects of working with rare books and I like to take every opportunity I can to highlight the rich early print materials in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections.

Kimberly Tully
Special Collections Librarian

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Myaamia Collection Updates

This week’s post is by a guest writer, John Bickers.

My name is John Bickers and I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself. I’m currently a senior at Miami University as well as a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. As an employee of Special Collections I work solely with the Myaamia Collection and any other materials related to Myaamia people. My current positions was created by Special Collections and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma in order to organize the materials housed here at Miami University and make them more accessible to Tribal members and other researchers that may be interested.

I was invited to contribute a post this week about the Myaamia Collection, a project that I have been working on for over a year now. In a collaboration between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami University many texts relating to the tribe are stored here at Miami University. In addition to published materials, the Collection includes three manuscript collections donated by different individuals: the Turtle-Wells Family Papers, the Godfroy Family Papers, and the Luke Scheer Papers. The former two are Myaamia families that still exist today and the latter was an amateur historian who collected many documents related to Myaamia and other Native peoples.


The Turtle-Wells family descends from a Myaamia war leader Mihšihkinaahkwa, also known as Little Turtle, and his son-in-law Eepiihkaanita, also known as William Wells (pictured above). Mihšihkinaahkwa and Eepiihkaanita were Myaamia men who fought in the Northwestern Indian Wars of the 1790s and after the Treaty of Greenville (1795) became advocates for peace with the Americans. This particular collection mainly contains documents created by or pertaining to Eepiihkaanita’s son-in-law James Wolcott and his son William Wells Wolcott. Soon after James Wolcott’s marriage to Eepiihkaanita’s daughter, Amehkoonsihkwa, or Mary Wells, the family moved to the area of Toledo, Ohio. Both James and William worked as lawyers as well as holding other political positions. The largest section of this collection is a legal document created by William Wells Wolcott in 1894. By this time their family had been so geographically separated from other Myaamia people that they had been removed from the tribal rolls as citizens. The purpose of this document was to establish their ancestry as Myaamia people and convince the United States government to re-add the family onto the Myaamia annuity rolls and give them the money due to them as Myaamia people.


The Godfroy Family Papers have a special meaning for me. My grandfather, Kenneth Hunter, and I donated this particular collection. It primarily contains documents that were in the possession of his grandfather, Waapinaakikaapwa or Gabriel Godfroy (pictured above). As an adult, Waapanaakikaapwa was a prominent Myaamia leader in the area of Peru, Indiana. As a leader he often represented Myaamia people in legal situations. For example, one document is a legal document signed by several Myaamia people giving power of attorney to a couple Myaamia people, including Waapanaakikaapwa.

Along with documents that relate directly to my family, there are also several documents relating to the descendants of a Myaamia leader Pinšiwa, aka Jean Baptiste Richardville. Pinšiwa was the nephew of Mihšihkinaahkwa and succeeded his uncle, Pakaana as akima (leader) of the Myaamia village of Kiikayonki, now known as Fort Wayne. How exactly these documents came into the possession of my grandfather is currently unknown. Waapanaakikaapwa’s elder brother, James R. Godfroy, married Maankoonsahkwa or Archangel Richardville, the granddaughter of Pinšiwa, and his son Šiikwia, or James M. Godfroy, married a descendant of Pinšiwa. It’s possible that these documents came into my family through those channels, but it is presently unknown.

The final collection is half of a collection of work by amateur historian, Luke Scheer, the other half residing in Miami, Oklahoma in the Myaamia Heritage Archives and Museum. These documents are compositions of many primary and secondary sources by Mr. Scheer and organized either chronologically or by family group. His goal was to create a book regarding the descendants of Mihšihkinaahkwa and his sister Tahkamwa, the mother of Pinšiwa. To this end, he also wrote letters to many Myaamia people that descended from these individuals from across the country. This collection then records the words and thoughts of Myaamia individuals from the mid 20th century who may have descendants alive today that never knew this people. As such, it’s a great resource for contemporary Myaamia people to learn more about their families.

I will be graduating this May with a major in History and a minor in Linguistics. Then this fall I will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Ph.D. program in Linguistics. At the moment both the Turtle-Wells Family Papers and the Godfroy Family Papers have completed finding aids online and the Luke Scheer Papers will soon follow suit. By the time I graduate I plan to have all our collections stored in the Special Collections organized within the Myaamia Collection. Then as new materials are added to the collection in the future, they will have a pre-existing system that they can be organized into. I have been given a remarkable opportunity at Special Collections and I am honored to have received it. I have been able to do work and go through materials here that I never thought I would. I am very humbled to have the privilege of working with this collection and the people of Special Collections.

John Bickers Class of 2014

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

From the Stacks: Cosmos

This week I have chosen to highlight some of our astronomy books in Special Collections. The inspiration for this choice came from Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s current television show, Cosmos, A Space Time Odyssey. This series is a follow-up to Carl Sagan’s 1980s, Cosmos, A Personal Voyage. Tyson, like Sagan before him, is making the knowledge about our universe understandable and exciting to viewers.


Alexander von Humboldt had this same desire; to write a popular scientific work that would create an appreciation for science and inspire scientific inquiry. The first volume of his work was published in 1845 and was called Cosmos. It became the biggest scientific bestseller of its age, and was eventually translated into most European languages. Humboldt began his five volume set at the age of 65 but died before he could finish it. Special Collections has three volumes from an 1855 edition, and the fourth volume from an 1860 edition.

One of our earliest books on astronomy is our copy of Sphaera Mundi by Johannes de Sacro Bosco. The author flourished around 1230 a.d. Wikipedia cites Sphaera Mundi as one of the most influential works on pre-Copernican astronomy in Europe. The manuscript was frequently copied and used by Universities for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press. Our printed copy is dated 1501. This work was one of the most frequently reprinted scientific books of the 15th century.

sphaera mundi final

Another of our early astronomy books is The Celestial Worlds Discover’d, Or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets by Christiaan Huygens.

celestial worlds discovered

Huygens (1629-1695) was a Dutch mathematician, astronomer and physicist. He was the first to recognize the rings of Saturn and he discovered the Saturn moon, Titan. He observed and sketched the first known drawing of the Orion Nebula. Huygens also made pioneering studies of the dynamics of moving bodies, and was the leading advocate of the wave, or pulse theory of light. Our copy of this work was printed in 1698.


The illustration of Saturn on the left is from Richard Proctor’s 1865 volume, Saturn and Its System: Containing Discussions of the Motions (real and Apparent) and Telescopic Appearance of the Planet Saturn, Its Satellites, and Rings; the Nature of the Rings; the Great Inequality of Saturn and Jupiter; and the Habitability of Saturn. to Which Are Appended Notes on Chaldæan Astronomy, Laplace’s Nebular Theory, and the Habitability of the Moon; a Series of Tables with Explanatory Notes; and Explanations of Astronomical Terms.

institutions of mathematical experiments

We have a very fragile copy of The Institutions of Mathematicall [sic] Experiments: In Three Parts ; 1. the Constitutions, Power, and Effects of the Planets and Starres ; 2. the Method of Mathematicall Physicke ; 3. the Resolutions of Astrologicall Questions. I could find very little information about this book. Our copy of this book was printed in 1643 in London.

history of astronomy

The last book that I want to single out is The History of Astronomy: With Its Application to Geography, History, and Chronology; Occasionally Exemplified by the Globes by George Costard. Our edition was printed in London in 1767. This is the work for which Costard is most known. There are numerous drawings throughout the book. The author’s preface indicates that this work was intended primarily for students.

If you search our collections for astronomy your search will produce eighty-nine titles. Nine of those titles are from our 1841 Collection, the extant books from Miami University’s earliest cataloged library. I mention this because Miami University had one of the earliest Observatories in the United States. The observatory was erected in 1838 and survived for a year or two, until students destroyed the building. The stone pier which was erected to support the telescope still stands today in front of Bishop Hall. It is possible that some of our books may have been used by those early Miami astronomers.

I hope that you will visit Special Collections to see some of these early works on astronomy.

Jim Bricker
Senior Library Technician

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Library Instruction and the Artist’s Book

In addition to many other activities, Special Collections is often host to a variety of classes and instruction sessions, usually led by our primary instructor, Librarian Kimberly Tully.

The Art and Craft of Printing, By William Morris, 1902The Art and Craft of Printing by William Morris, 1902 While certain areas of study, such as history and literature, seem an obvious match for Special Collections instruction, one can also include many areas of the fine arts, such as the history of printing, printmaking and illustration to that list. One area that seems less obvious are the studio classes in the fine arts, but even these students can greatly benefit from the rich collection of materials housed in Special Collections. Having a Bachelor of Fine Arts myself, these classes tend to be my favorite of the bunch, and I sometimes even get the chance to participate in the instruction sessions, as was the case with last week’s visit of an ART 450 Letterpress class led by Steve Garst. On This Land, by Lenora Castillo, 1996On This Land by Lenora Castillo, 1996 The instruction session started with Kim leading the class through an active show and tell of a variety of Special Collections materials related to printing, papermaking, and bookbinding. Of Boulders and Bolides, Hamady, 1991Of Boulders and Bolides, Hamady, 1991

The class then moved onto a small selection of artist’s books, which are unique or limited run handmade works of art in book form. In the past few years we’ve had the pleasure of leading instruction sessions for both letterpress classes and papermaking classes. The students in these classes usually have an assignment to create a book of their own, and a visit to Special Collections gives them the opportunity to view and interact with a wide variety of artist’s books and specialty bindings. The collection of artist’s books housed in Special Collections continues to grow, and we’ve even added copies of the books produced by the visiting classes to the collection.

One of several class produced letterpress books donated to Special CollectionsOne of several Art 450 class produced letterpress books donated to Special Collections Another Letterpress 450 produced book housed in Special CollectionsAnother Art 450 produced book housed in Special Collections After getting a chance to interact with the materials from Special Collections, the class then moved over to the Preservation Lab to get a hands-on tutorial. I began my half of the instruction session by giving an overview of library preservation, specifically focusing on book repair. Getting to handle and inspect damaged books with broken bindings is a perfect way to learn about the structure of a book, and how that structure can fail with various levels of use. The class then moved onto the hands-on tutorial component, where I lead them through the steps of making a protective phase box.

Library instruction is always an excellent way to introduce students to the materials in Special Collections, and art students are no exception!

Ashley Jones
Preservation Librarian

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Soviet Children’s Book Illustration Reform: Vladimir Lebedev (1891-1967)

gladilshchitsaGladilshchitsa (Woman Ironing). 1925 okhotaOkhota (The Hunt). 1925

Vladimir Lebedev is considered the greatest reformer and the most prolific and successful children’s book illustrator in the Soviet Union. Many generations of Soviet and post-Soviet children were raised on the works of this brilliant and versatile painter.

Illustration wasn’t his only passion. He was also an accomplished and revolutionary (politically as well as creatively) avant-garde painter and poster artist. The part of the André and Catherine de Saint-Rat collection dedicated to Lebedev, however, focuses largely on his illustration work. There are a very large number of children’s books illustrated by Lebedev in Special Collections.

lebedev_8Vchera i segodnia (Yesterday and Today). 1925 lebedev_9Vchera i segodnia (Yesterday and Today). 1925 lebedev_10Vchera i segodnia (Yesterday and Today). 1925

His work, illustrative and non-illustrative, ranges from constructivist and cubist experimentation to socialist realist, almost saccharine renderings of children and animals. The change in his style is amazingly chronological. As one of the few great Russian avant-garde artists, who chose to stay in the Soviet Union, rather than look for creative freedom abroad, he had to adapt to the political climate. It’s interesting to trace and compare his artistic career to those, who chose to take it to Europe and the United States. Lebedev became successful very early in life, before he even finished his education. In the early 1920s he was already an influential figure in Soviet illustration. When the state publishing house opened a children’s book section, Lebedev was a natural candidate to head the department. While spending time with no less distinguished colleagues Mstistlav Dobuzhinskii, Iurii Annenkov, and Kazimir Malevich, he was in the position to reform the entire approach to children’s book illustration, attract the best illustrators of his generation, and raise a new generation of artists, such as Vladimir Konashevich and Iurii Vasnetsov.

lebedev_6Petrushka-inostranets (Petrushka the Foreigner). 1935 lebedev_7Petrushka-inostranets (Petrushka the Foreigner). 1935

His most frequent collaborator was chilren’s writer Samuil Marshak, with whom Lebedev created the majority of the chilren’s books. They were both loyal to the cause of raising a more aware generation of Soviet citizens, using more straightforward and politically conscious subjects, simpler rhymes and shapes, and very bold colors. They became the most powerful creative duo in the first decades of the Soviet Union, constructing the new children’s book standard for the new world. However, not even the strong Soviet political agenda prevented Lebedev from remaining one on the most talented, skilled, and versatile painters. His paintings in the same time period were highly experimental, executed with seemingly effortless skill and fluid colors and lines. His very large body of work shows a wide range of technical skill and experimentation. Regardless of whether or not his style appeals to the viewer, everything about his execution is perfect and has a certain simplicity even in the most complex pieces.

lebedev_4Usatyi polosatyi (Mustached and Striped). 1938 lebedev_5Usatyi polosatyi (Mustached and Striped). 1938 lebedev_3Usatyi polosatyi (Mustached and Striped). 1938

In the mid-1920s and 30s, when most of his peers chose to leave the Soviet Union, Lebedev remained in the country. When the socialist realist style of painting and writing started becoming more prominent and culminated in acquiring the status of state policy in 1934, artists like Lebedev and Konashevich became victims of frequent attacks. His illustration style began to change drastically to highly naturalistic and saccharine renderings of “healthy” Soviet children and animals by the late 1940s. These attacks came as a surprise to Lebedev and he seemed to never recover his creative self-esteem, not even during Khrushchev’s “thaw” of the 1950s and 60s.

lebedev_2Zhivye bukvy (The Living Alphabet). 1940 lebedev_1Zhivye bukvy (The Living Alphabet). 1940

His legacy, however, whether experimental or naturalistic, is lasting and Lebedev is still considered the high point of Soviet and Russian children’s book illustration. This legacy is very well represented in the André and Catherine de Saint-Rat collection.

Masha Stepanova
Slavic Librarian

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

Cradle of Coaches Presentation Tour

In order to promote our collections here at the Walter Havighurst Special Collections, we are doing a presentation tour of the Cradle of Coaches Collection.  In the fall semester of 2013 we mounted an exhibit to promote and share our Cradle of Coaches Collection.  You can see items from the exhibit here.  Due to the popularity of this exhibit, we began a presentation series promoting the collection.  This presentation focuses on some of the prominent coaches from the Cradle of Coaches, such as Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, Ara Parseghian and several other, as well as featuring items from our collection.

The first presentation was at The Knolls in Oxford on February 6.  This presentation was a small outing, to test the presentation locally.  The turn out was modest, but filled with an engaged and vocal audience, which included widows, daughters and acquaintances of members from the Cradle of Coaches.  That was followed up on Feb. 23 at the Voices of America Center in West Chester, Ohio.  This presentation had a good turnout, that included former players and staff.  They were very interested and the after presentation discussion lasted for close to an hour. There are two upcoming presentation:
March 11, 1 p.m. - The Villages, Floride (Destin Room and the Sea Breeze Recreation Center)
March 12, 11:30 a.m. - Fort Myers, Florida (Fiddlesticks Country Club)

In the future more dates may be added.  If you would like to be notified in the event that this program comes to your area, or if you would like to sponsor this program, please contact Peter Thorsett in the Office of the Dean for assistance.

Here are some images from Feb. 6 at The Knolls.


Johnathan Cooper
Visiting Librarian

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

New Manuscripts in Special Collections

Verso of the Codex Justinianus leaf.Verso of the Codex Justinianus leaf

About a year ago, I wrote about our discovery of two uncatalogued manuscript leaves. Since then, we have hosted a paleography lecture to a class of French literature. Buoyed by positive feedback from the seminar and with intent to hold similar lectures in the future, we made a point this year to broaden our collection of handwriting examples.

Today, I’m happy to announce a wonderful group of additions to our manuscript holdings. Although there is not the mystery surrounding how we came to possess these new leaves, they are nevertheless a wonder to behold.

Illuminated S on the verso of the Codex Justinianus.Illuminated S on the verso of the Codex Justinianus

First is a leaf from a circa 1300 AD copy of the Codex Justinianus. The Codex was part of the codification of Roman civil law ordered by Justinian I in the first half of the sixth century AD. This codification, the Corpus Juris Civilis, was the foundation of medieval and modern civil law. Interest in the Corpus saw a huge revival beginning in the 12th century and this leaf is one of a variety of extant examples of a glossed copy of the Codex. The rounded style of gothic writing is commonly called ‘Bolognese’ hand or script, named for the city whose university saw the rebirth of interest in Roman law. This is an example of a medieval ‘glossed’ text, where the original text is bordered on all four sides by commentary.

The most obviously striking feature is the illuminated ‘S’ on the verso (back of the leaf). These stylized characters, decorated with gold, represent one of the pinnacles of medieval calligraphy.

Recto of leaf from the Book of Tobit.Recto of leaf from the Book of Tobit

Another new addition to our collection of manuscript leaves is this leaf from a c. 1240 pocket Bible. This leaf is in the same style as the leaf we discovered last year, a remarkably thin piece of vellum with handwriting so minute that an entire Bible could fit into your pocket. In contrast to the other leaf, though, we have a particularly interesting example here for two reasons. Most notable are the illuminated letters on the recto. The recto of the leaf contains the very end of 4 Esdras, the beginning of the Book of Tobit, and, sandwiched between the two books, a copy of Jerome’s prologue to Tobit. In this short prologue (which is actually a letter addressed to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus), he describes his translation process. The two bishops had apparently requested this particular book be translated into Latin and Jerome, having only a Chaldean manuscript, found someone who was able to translate the Chaldean to Hebrew which Jerome was then able to translate to Latin. The large illuminated ‘C’ marks the beginning of this prologue.

Illuminated 'C' on the verso of the Book of Tobit leafIlluminated ‘C’ on the verso of the Book of Tobit leaf

Because our other pocket Bible leaf is in the middle of a book, we have no way of knowing if the beginning of each book of that manuscript was marked by similar art as this leaf, and so it is exciting to have such an example of illumination to show to students.

Early 19th century Sanskrit manuscript leaf of the MahabharataEarly 19th century Sanskrit manuscript leaf of the Mahabharata

Not all our new acquisitions, though, are examples of Western manucript tradition. Our final addition to our collection of manuscript samples is actually a published collection itself, called Specimens of oriental mss. and printing: a portfolio of original leaves taken from rare oriental books and manuscripts. I love collections like these - another example is our edition of Pages from the past, a collection of manuscript and print examples spanning the history of human writing - and our newest addition is especially exciting for me because I know so little about many of these styles of writing. The publication, fortunately, contains a brief explanation of what each example is. Other languages found in the publication include Syriac, Japanese, Hebrew, and Armenian - what a collection!

As we continue to increase our examples of varied historic hands, I encourage you all to explore these specimens in person. Happy reading,

Marcus Ladd
Special Collection Librarian

18th century Burmese example of Pali, written on a talipot palm leaf18th century Burmese example of Pali, written on a talipot palm leaf

Taken from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections blog.

John Steinbeck Biography