The Archivist’s Nook: “Don’t be Crude” – Protecting the Earth like a Catholic

Our guest blogger is Julie Pramis, who is a graduate student in Library and Information Science (LIS) at the Catholic University of America. 

Catholics care about climate change (try saying that five times fast). Here in the archives we have a collection of papers from the Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. focused on caring for the Earth. Founded in 2006, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops helped form the non-profit in order to address climate change through Catholic social teaching:

Caring for creation and caring for the poor have been a part of the Catholic story since the beginning, but in recent years St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and especially Pope Francis have added a sense of urgency to their call for Catholics to act on climate change. (Our Story, Catholic Climate Covenant)

Example of research report but together by the CCC.

CCC has funded grants for climate change awareness campaigns across the country, held conferences, and published reports on the reality of climate change.

The St. Francis Pledge

Among their missions, perhaps at the forefront is the St. Francis Pledge. Anyone can take the St. Francis Pledge, from National Catholic Organizations to Universities to individuals. The pledge comes with a handy pdf with recommendations on how to reduce your carbon footprint.

In addition to their own business papers – from 2006 to 2016 – CCC collected magazines and newspapers that covered the cross-section of Catholics and environmentalism. Even several secular magazines were saved, among them Time magazine and two issues of Sports Illustrated (it’s about climate change – we swear!).

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Check out the finding aid here to learn more about the collection, or come to the archives for a visit!

The Archivist’s Nook: One for the Ledgers – The Case of the Mystery Armor

The mystery armor…

Earlier this summer, this humble archivist was minding his own business, when who should walk into my world but trouble – cold, metal trouble…

While performing a standard inventory review in one of our storage rooms, I noticed a large metallic object on a shelf that was hidden behind a piece of furniture. Naturally I investigated further, and unearthed a tag reading , “Miscellaneous – breastplate and loincloth…” with no other details. Super helpful…and a mystery was afoot

Moving the mystery object to our reading room, I inspected and documented it. Obviously, it was some type of armor, but I am no military historian. Thus  with documentation in hand, I reached out to a colleague who knows more about these types of things than me. Within minutes, he replied, “WWI German body armor” with a photo showing this type of armor. So now we knew what the piece was, but how did it get to Catholic University and why? That was the next step in the investigation…

Our collections are rich in materials from the First World War. Not only was it a significant event in world history, but it represented a defining moment for American Catholics. The predecessor organization to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – the National Catholic Welfare Council – was founded in 1917 to unite and lend Catholic support for the American war effort, and many American Catholics saw the war as an opportunity to display their loyalty to a nation that often saw them as disloyal. So it would be no surprise that the University would have collected objects from the war, but from whom and when?

Fr. Dubois, ca. 1918.

This is where institutional knowledge came into play. I recalled that we had a large trove of WWI photographs and objects donated by a French soldier by the name of Fr. Leon Dubois, S.M. So who was Fr. Dubois?

A French priest, Dubois served in a group of French tank soldiers during the First World War. He may have served as unofficial chaplain to these soldiers, as the French government did not have official chaplains in its military at the time. In fact, clergy of all faiths could be drafted to serve in military units. While not formally sanctioned as chaplains, these recruited clerics would often perform rites for their compatriots during the war. Later in the war, some clerics would even volunteer to serve in order to be near the battlefield for performing these sacramental duties.

French World War I dagger issued to a tank crewmember.

While we do not know the full status of Fr. Dubois – was he recruited or did he volunteer – we can say that he may not have been directly involved in combat or eager to fight. A letter sent with one of his objects – a dagger given to members of his tank unit – indicates that the only action this weapon ever saw was battle in opening sardine cans.

After the war’s end, Dubois wrote to the then-director of Catholic University’s museum and long-time Semitics professor, Fr. Romain Butin, S.M. The letters seem to indicate some familiarity between the two French Society of Mary priests. It is through this correspondence that Fr. Dubois’s World War I collection came to be housed at Catholic University.

But what is in this collection from a French soldier that made me immediately think of it, when I learned that the mystery object was WWI German armor? 

Fr. Dubois’s collection includes both French and German equipment, ranging from German helmets and French gas masks to message papers for carrier pigeons. So looking into any notes from his collection would be the first place to seek answers. Fortunately, several of his donated objects have detailed records, including the date they arrived on campus – March 3, 1920.

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With this information in hand, I could open our antique museum accession ledger, which recorded all new museum donations from 1900-1940. Seeking out the March 3, 1920 date, I soon found an entry for “Breastplate armor…Germany” donated by a Fr. Leon Dubois. The mystery of its donation was solved, and the armor could be fully recorded.

Original Catholic University Museum Ledger, March 1920 entries.

And thus another archival mystery was solved! A tale of war, transatlantic friendships, and faith under fire all coming together in an object sitting before me in the archives reading room. 

This object – coupled with the rest of Fr. Dubois’s collection – makes tangible the tragedy of the First World War and humanizes its participants. It will be secured in archival storage with full documentation, and it will be preserved for future generations.

With thousands of museum objects, hundreds of archival collections, and tens of thousands of rare books, Special Collections is a place of constant re-discovery and updating catalogs. While virtually all our materials are documented, they may exist at various stages in the documentation process from simply being recorded in an old ledger to being fully cataloged and listed online. But even the most documented objects need updates from time-to-time to account for new information, new contexts, and updated terminology

The job of the sleuthing, er I mean, processing archivist was done for today, but the work never ceases!

You may see the Fr. Leon Dubois collection finding aid here:


Boniface, Xavier. 1997. “AU SERVICE DE LA NATION ET DE L’ARMEE: LES AUMONIERS MILITAIRES FRANÇAIS DE 1914 A 1962.” Guerres Mondiales et Conflits Contemporains 47, no. 187: 103-113.

Boniface, Xavier. 1998. “L’AUMONERIE MILITAIRE CATHOLIQUE: LES INSPECTEURS ECCLESIASTIQUES (1917-1918).” Revue Historique des Armées no. 3: 19-26.

Fontana, Jacques. 1997. “LE PRETRE DANS LES TRANCHEES: 1914-1918.” Guerres Mondiales et Conflits Contemporains 47, no. 187: 25-39.

Collaborative Collections and Shared Print: Libraries Working Together for a Better Future

In 2022, most libraries face the same two significant realities: decreasing budgets and finite space. Librarians are tasked with providing diverse populations of library users with the information resources they need and want (for ex., books, journals, scores, manuscripts, etc.) within a physical space that gets more crowded with each successive year.

It is not surprising, then, that discussions around collaborative collections and shared print have been on the rise for the past several years.

Books being digitized
Gerd Altmann via

What are Collaborative Collections and Shared Print?

In the simplest sense, a collaborative collection is “the combined holdings of a group of libraries.”1 These collections do not just provide a list of all of the holdings of the participating libraries, but rather truly work to combine the collections. As this is done, any duplicate resources are reduced from the collection and as libraries consider future resource purchases the collaborative collection must first be consulted to make sure there are no duplicates. Having a collaborative collection can increase the scale of one’s collection while leaving items such as the status of ownership, collection access, and what resources are shown in the collection to those managing it.2

While some of these collaborative collections focus on online resources, there has been a rise in the amount of shared print programs as well. Through these programs, libraries work together to create a collection of their print resources in a physical or digitized format thus allowing patrons to access monographs, serials, and periodicals from multiple libraries. Shared print programs have a focus on “access and preservation, and an emphasis on partnerships and shared collection management.”3 The move toward shared print programs has helped to drive the growth of collaborative collections as the benefits of sharing collections have become more evident. 

Catholic University has seen these benefits first hand through our involvement in the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC). We work together with several other partner universities in the area to maintain a collaborative collection of over 22 million items that can be found at libraries throughout the area as well as at a shared storage facility in Maryland. With this, Catholic University patrons can borrow print resources from any of our partner universities to have them delivered directly to campus through the Consortium Loan Service (CLS). The Coordinated Collections Committee (CCC) of the WRLC, composed of librarians from nine academic institutions, collaboratively acquire and share some print and e-resources, at a substantial financial savings for each individual library. Consequently, each individual library has more discretion to purchase and share unique and specialized publications.

Washington Research Library Consortium
Washington Research Library Consortium

The Benefits 

The biggest benefit of collaborative collections for libraries and patrons alike is the increased access to resources. As these collections are created and duplicate works are weeded out, individual library collections become rather distinct from one another. The collaborative collection is then built to contain a well rounded collection with diverse and unique works within it.4 This optimizes the access to resources that patrons receive while allowing the library to then spend money on contributing more unique resources to the collaborative collection rather than spending money on resources that one of their partner libraries may already have.

The freedom that individual libraries retain within these collaborative collections is another benefit. Libraries working within one of these collections will follow standards for collection development and organization to best work with its partner libraries, but the libraries are still able to make decisions on how their individual resources are organized and retained within their physical space and are thus able to curate them to their specific community. Being able to keep individual communities in mind while still working within a collaborative collection and managing the collection as a group, really highlights the “shared goal of preservation and access” that these collections were created with.5 

Growth of Collaborative Collections

As collaborative collections and shared print initiatives continue to develop, librarians are excited by the possibilities for sharing resources more broadly, diversifying collections, and reaching users around the world. The Internet Archive, the Rosemont Shared Print Alliance, and HathiTrust have introduced innovative initiatives that are leading the way in exploring the potential for shared collections.

Catholic University is in the process of becoming a member of HathiTrust. HathiTrust is a collaboration of academic and research institutions that offers over a million digitized titles. It is fully funded by its member institutions so it is able to stay focused on the goals of preservation and access. It includes the digitally preserved collections of over 200 libraries and has made 40 percent of the collection available to the public which is the “broadest access legally possible” due to copyright constraints.6 HathiTrust can be fully integrated into a member library’s systems allowing patrons and library staff to take advantage of its offerings. It also offers tools for text analysis such as worksets and a separate analytics site to accomplish objectives such as text mining. Users are then able to benefit from this highly diverse collection and access titles online easily while libraries are able to preserve their print collections to allow users to engage with them for the foreseeable future.


In the Future

Going forward, collaborative collections and shared print are likely to become increasingly more popular and seen within many library’s systems. Libraries are continuing to develop innovative processes to compliment these collections and allow patrons greater access. Controlled digital lending (CDL), circulating a temporary digital copy of a print book while removing the physical copy from circulation, is one such process that has become an emerging trend.7 With the rise of such collections and lending processes, patrons will be able to access more works than ever before while libraries will be able to preserve and more widely share their collections. Libraries will be tasked with developing best practices for such collections and emerging processes but the work put in now will benefit libraries and patrons for years to come.


  1. Lavoie, B., Dempsey, L., & Malpas, C. (2020). Reflections on collective collections. College & Research Libraries, 81(6).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Fulkerson, N., & Weltin, H. (2021). Old texts, new networks: HathiTrust and the future of shared print. In L. McAllister and S. Laster (Eds.), Transforming print: Collection development and management for our connected future (pp. 69). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
  4. See note 1 above.
  5. Fulkerson & Weltin, 2021, p. 67.
  6. Ibid., p. 71.
  7. Association of Research Libraries. (2020, July 1). Association of research libraries signs statement in support of controlled digital lending.

The Archivist’s Nook: Special Collections Resources on the History of Mexico

Scattered throughout Catholic University’s Special Collections are a range of resources related to the history of Mexico. We are happy to offer a new Library Guide to those materials. Here are a few of the highlights:

The National Council of Catholic Women announce their protest of the treatment of Catholics in Mexico in this 1920s letter from the NCWC/USCCB Office of the General Secretary’s “Mexican Files.”

The National Catholic Welfare Conference, forerunner of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, became involved in U.S.-Mexican affairs just after its founding in the early 1920s. Mexico-related records can be found throughout this enormous collection, partly due to the migration of Mexican Catholics into the U.S. at the time, but also because the bishops were concerned with the unstable political conditions in that country leading to persecution of Catholics in the 1920s. The archives, which holds the NCWC/USCCB records, contains a series of records known as the “Mexican Files,” Subseries 1.4, of the NCWC/USCCB Office of the General Secretary, which document the precarious position of the church in Mexico and attempts by U.S. Catholic authorities to stabilize such conditions. The Office of the General Secretary files also contain various materials throughout related to Mexican relations and migration which one can find by doing a simple search of the finding aid.

Established in 1920, the NCWC Press Department provided the Catholic press, radio, and eventually, television in the United States and other countries with news, editorial, feature, and picture services gathered and prepared by professional journalists and released under the names NCWC News Service and Noticias Catolicas (in Spanish and Portuguese for Latin America). Both services were designated by the abbreviation (NC) and the former later known as the Catholic New Service (CNS). Administrative files include correspondence, general subscriber files, obituary files for prominent Catholics, and miscellaneous publications and press releases. The NCWC/CNS finding aid can be found here.

La Esperanza. La Esperanza, Los Angeles, 11/3/2022, from The Catholic News Archive

Hosted by the  Catholic Research Resources Alliance the from The Catholic News Archive contains more than 30,000 issues of digitized Catholic newspapers comprising over 600,000 pages of news.

Included are digital copies of the Catholic News Service Press releases, La Esperanza of Los Angeles (ca. 1929-1954), The Monitor of San Francisco, and several other publications publishing Mexico-related articles.

Agustín Iturbide y Green (1863-1925), grandson of Emperor Agustín Iturbide I (1783-1824), was born in Mexico City during the French occupation of the country in 1863. Desiring a Mexican heir, Emperor Maximilian I, an Austrian by birth, arranged to adopt the younger Iturbide, then two years old, in 1865. Following the collapse of Maximilian’s regime in 1867, young Agustín was reunited with his birth parents in Havana, and resided with his mother in the United States until 1875 before leaving to study in Brussels. Agustín remained in Europe for many years before returning once again to attend graduate school in Washington, D.C. He was awarded a master’s degree in Linguistics from Georgetown University in 1884.

Iturbide returned to Mexico in 1887 to enter the Military Academy in Chapultepec. Although he had aspirations for a storied military career, his criticisms of the Porfirio Díaz regime in both a New York newspaper and in personal correspondence resulted in his being court-martialed in 1890. Convicted of insubordination, he was sentenced to one year in prison and was subsequently exiled.

An undated photo of Agustín de Iturbide y Green, image taken by a student at Georgetown University.

Financially ruined and grieving for his mother, who passed away during attempts to salvage the family fortune, Iturbide moved to Rosedale to teach Spanish and French at Georgetown University. It was there, that he met Louise Kearney, who would become his wife in 1915. The Kearneys were a prominent Washington family whose ancestors had emigrated from Ireland in the late 1700s.

Iturbide continued to teach until his death from tuberculosis in 1925. Louise Kearney lived the rest of her life in a small P Street apartment and became friends with Catholic University procurator Msgr. James Magner, to whom she entrusted this collection in 1957.

This collection contains original documents from the Iturbide family from Emperor Agustin Iturbide I’s reign until the death of his grandson, Agustín Iturbide y Green, including correspondence, Mexican governmental documents, military medals and coins, newspapers, magazines, and portraits. The Kearney section contains correspondence and portraits from Louise Kearney, Iturbide’s wife from 1915 until his death.

Note that this collection is digitized and all of the links to the digitized documents are in the finding aid.

A link to the Iturbide-Kearney papers’ finding aid can be found here.

The  National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) was established in 1920 as an initiative of the Lay Organizations Department of the NCWC. One to three women represented each of the 114 dioceses of the time.  As the first federation of Catholic women’s organizations, the NCCW was able to provide a unified voice for the thousands of independent Catholic women’s organizations that existed in the United States, to offer resources for united actions, to ensure official Catholic representation in national movements, and to stimulate the local efforts of the women’s organizations.

The NCCW records span 1917-2000 and consist of administrative records and minutes, correspondence, national and international project notes, publications, photographs, and scrapbooks. While there are over 200 boxes of records in this collection, one can do a search for Mexico-related materials; specifically, series 7 (International Organization Affiliations, 1919-1984), boxes 111-142 (especially 115-116) contain materials related to the NCCW’s involvement with international organizations. A link to the NCCW finding aid can be found here.

A selected list of texts from our Rare Books collection related to the history of Mexico can be found here.

A full list of Mexico-related resources from Special Collections can be found in this Mexico-related Library Guide.

University Research Day 2023 Call for Abstracts

As a member of the 2023 University Research Day Committee, I would like to share the following announcement with you:

University Research Day at Catholic University is back! The deadline for abstract submission for University Research Day 2023 is Jan. 24, 2023.

All members of the Catholic University community are encouraged to share their work by submitting an application. Research has a broad meaning and can include anything that falls under ‘scholarly work.’ Some examples include:

  • a scholarly paper
  • a collaborative project with a faculty member
  • a recent presentation given at a professional meeting
  • a dramatic or musical performance
  • a display of art

URD will be in-person with in-person presentations and a poster session on our DC campus. All presentations will also be pre-recorded so that the global community can access them virtually. Remote students, faculty and staff (e.g., online programs, at the Rome Center, and Tucson) can participate in the virtual poster and oral presentations. Students, faculty and staff on campus can participate in-person as well as share their research virtually.

URD is an opportunity to share one’s scholarship in a way that ensures accessibility to everyone — even those unfamiliar with the subject matter. Abstracts should reflect this, written with clear, non-technical language that is geared for ALL people. Examples of past selected abstracts are available here. Submitted abstracts will be judged by members of the URD Planning Committee and selected presenters will be notified by email.

Look for more information on social media from our hashtag, #CUatResearchDay and from this website including important dates, the format for the presentations, and the link to the application form. In addition, the names of the current planning committee members are listed on the website, should you have specific questions. See University Research Day 2022 presentations here.

Abstracts: If you are interested in presenting a paper, poster, or interactive demonstration, please complete the abstract submission form. Abstracts must be received by January 24, 2023 at 5 p.m., to be considered. Submissions received after that date will not be reviewed.

Elizabeth Edinger and Chris Raub
URD 2023 Co-Chairs

Life Is Hard

Gene Brutty at Unsplash

In Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way, Kieran Setiya writes a deeply personal and thought-provoking book, not only drawing on ancient and modern philosophy, but fiction, history, memoir, film, comedy, social science, and stories from his own experience. He offers a map for navigating rough terrain, from personal trauma to the injustice and absurdity of the world. Once you are finished, check out the rest of our Popular Reading collection. Titles range from commentary, fiction, historical fiction, mystery, suspense, non-fiction, current affairs, science, social issues, and politics.

Our collection is on the first floor of Mullen Library in the Reference Reading Room.

Hold your cursor over the Title to see a short description of the book, or click to view the catalog record. The status of the book is shown beside the call number.



Title Author Status
Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way Setiya, Kieran
Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder Shatner, William & Brandon, Joshua
Mad Honey: A Novel Picoult, Jodi & Boylan, Jennifer Finney
The Evolution of Charles Darwin: The Epic Voyage of the Beagle That Forever Changed Our View of Life on Earth Preston, Diana
Fen, Bog and Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis Proulx, Annie
You Don’t Know What War Is: The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine Skalietska, Yeva
Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions Grandin, Temple
Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness House, Patrick
Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard Felton, Tom
Demon Copperhead Kingsolver, Barbara
They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom Tamimi, Ahed & Takruri, Dena
The Family Outing: A Memoir Hempel, Jessi
Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology Miller, Chris
Curse of the Reaper Mcauley, Brian
Everything the Light Touches Pariat, Janice
Livid: A Scarpetta Novel Cornwell, Patricia
A More Just Future: Psychological Tools for Reckoning With Our Past and Driving Social Change Chugh, Dolly
The Ransomware Hunting Team: A Band of Misfits’ Improbable Crusade to Save the World from Cybercrime Dudley, Renee & Golden, Daniel

For more great information from CUA Libraries, follow us on Facebook and Twitter: Mullen Library Facebook; @CUAlibraries

The Archivist’s Nook: Neither Quenya nor Klingon – Glagolitic books in the Clementine Library

– How many languages does the Church speak?
– All of them.
(a Sunday school joke)

Books from the Clementine Library, a collection of some 9,600 volumes, acquired by CUA in 1928, which came from the libraries of the Albani family of Urbino and Rome, Italy.
University Libraries, Rare Books, Clementine Library

By proclaiming being “Catholic” (meaning “universal”), the Catholic Church highlights its missionary effort to bring the light of the Gospel to every corner of the world and all nations. And often, there’s no other way to reach a community except by learning the language it speaks and the traditions it follows.

Such universality is evident to anyone browsing stacks in Mullen Library with books in various languages, both modern and ancient, usually well-known and spoken or studied today. In Rare Books, though, visitors may encounter volumes that can deeply puzzle any enthusiast willing to identify, not to mention – study them closely. Among them, there are several humbly-looking 17th and early 18th-century volumes that are part of the Clementine library, one of the crown jewels of our collection.

These volumes intrigue and raise questions. What script is that? What language? Who were these books meant for and what’s their purpose? Is it one of the mysterious languages, like the famous Voynich Manuscript, or an example of the “invented” ones like Tolkien’s Quenya or Star Trek’s Klingon? Are there nations that use it still? For most, it won’t look familiar at all, except maybe for some fans of modern video games, who may say that it definitely rings a bell. (Spoiler alert: They are not mistaken!)

A page from the Azbukidarium, or an Alphabet of the St. Jerome's language, published in Rome in 1693. Part of the Clementine Linbrary (University Libraries, Rare Books).
Azbvkidarivm Illyricum Hieronimianum, Romae, 1693, University Libraries, Rare Books.

Our volumes are maybe less mysterious, but they will definitely require deciphering skills. The oldest of them were printed in Rome in the 1630s-1640s at the press of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide (today – Dicastery for Evangelization), and the texts they contain, are in a local version of the Old Slavic language, used in the territory of modern Croatia. Most of them are printed in the script called Glagolitic, an older brother of the Cyrillic and one of the two main writing systems of Slavic nations. Today the Glagolitic is rather extinct.

Glagolitic Script

Whether invented by the holy brothers and missionaries Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century as a writing system for Slavs, as it’s commonly believed by Eastern Christians or, according to an old Western tradition, by St. Jerome, native to Dalmatia, who may also have translated the Bible in his native tongue using “Alphabetum Hieronimianum”, it still remains a mystery what Glagolitic was inspired by and whether it was just an act of pure invention of a brand new and unique writing system for an already existing spoken language.

"Witcher 3" video game screenshot: Map fragment of the kingdom of Kaedwen with its capital Ard Carraigh written in Glagolitic. One can read it easily using the pamphlet with the Glagolitic Alphabet published in Rome in 1693 (see previous photo).
“Witcher 3” video game screenshot: the kingdom of Kaedwen and its capital Ard Carraigh.

Soon, Glagolitic was followed, and ultimately, replaced by Cyrillic, a more familiar and easy-to-use script. But it managed to survive in some territories until the 19th century and was revived recently to be used as a script within the “Witcher” video game series, based on the fantasy universe created by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski.

Latin and vernacular languages

Contrary to popular belief, Latin was not the only official language of the Roman Rite in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council. At various times, missionary efforts required using other scripts and languages of nations the Church tried to reach and teach, and such practice was not reserved by Rome for only some “far away” lands, labeled on maps as “here be dragons”, but also for the nations right across the Adriatic Sea.

This set of volumes, preserved and accessible today in University Libraries’ Rare Books, was meant to be used among the people in Dalmatia and Croatia. It consists of a few primary liturgical books revised, approved, and published soon after the Council of Trent.

Missale Romanum Slavonico idiomate (Rome, 1706)

The first one to be published was the “new and corrected” Roman Missal in the Old Slavic language (also called Illyric in Rome). It was translated by a Croatian priest (later – bishop) Rafael Levaković, O.F.M. and was printed in 1631 in Glagolitic by order of Pope Urban VIII. Our copy is the 2nd revised edition of the Missal, published in Rome in 1706.

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Missale Romanum Slavonico idiomate iussu S.D.N. Urbani Octavi editum… Romae, typis Sac. Congreg. de Propaganda Fide, 1706 (2nd revised edition).
Call number: CL 264.6 M678

Breviarium Romanum Slavonico idiomate (Rome, 1688)

The Roman-Illyrian Breviary was the second volume to be published by the same translator. It came out of the printing press in 1648, after a long editorial process initiated by the Congregation of Propaganda Fide, which required the psalms to be consistent with the newly approved text of the Latin Bible. Our copy is the second printing of 1688.

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Breviarium Romanum Slavonico idiomate iussu S.D.N. Innocentii PP. XI editum… Romae, typis & ompensis Sac. Congreg. de Propaganda Fide, 1688.
Call number: CL 264.3 B846S 1688

Rituale Romanum [Illyrica lingua] (Rome, 1706)

Meanwhile, the Rituale Romanum, another important liturgical volume, was translated. This time, by a Jesuit Bartol Kašić (1575-1650) and not into the ancient Old-Croat-Slavonic, but into the vernacular. According to scholars, this edition “marks the beginning of the standardization of the Croat literary language” [1].

The volume was published in Rome in 1640 and, after a period of discussion and consideration, in Latin script. Nevertheless, this book is part of the same corpus of liturgical books published for Christians in Croatia by the Congregation of Propaganda Fide.

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Rituale Romanum Urbani VIII, Pont. Max. issue editum. Illyrica lingua… Romae, Ex typographia Sac. Congreg. de Propaganda Fide, 1640.
Call number: CL 264.12 R615

Azbukidarium Illyricum Hieronimianum (Rome, 1693)

An additional item in our Glagolitic collection is a small pamphlet that serves as an introduction to the script and language. It contains both the Glagolitic and Cyrillic versions of the alphabet, some basic words, abbreviations, and a few popular prayers. One can assume, it may have been a starting point for everyone willing to get familiar with the language.

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Azbvkidarivm Illyricum Hieronimianum, habens correspondentes characteres Cyrillianos, seu Seruianos, & Latinos, Romae, Typis Sacrae Congr. De Propaganda Fide, 1693.
Call number: CL 411 A456.

Research value 

These books are not just another curiosity in our collection. Their unique content may be of interest to scholars of a range of disciplines, from church history and liturgy to Eastern European language and history studies.

The researchers willing to study them deeply will have to face countless questions about their history and purpose, translation techniques and language features, relationships between Western and Eastern Christians, missions among non-Catholics, such extinct traditions as Glagolitic and Aquileyan liturgical rites, and more.

One of the mysteries that puzzle our staff members is the controversy around the Slavic Psalter printed with the Breviary. The original, and rather standard text of the Psalter, commonly used by Eastern Orthodox Churches, was rejected by Rome, and a committee was established with a Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Methodius Terleckyj as its head with the task to review the text and make it consistent with the promulgated text of the Latin Vulgate. But how many corrections were made and how significant they were? How much the revisions were influenced by Ukrainian liturgical tradition [2]? These are some of the many intriguing questions one can encounter while approaching these volumes. And only they can provide an answer and help us to know our past better.

These books can be accessed by appointment in Rare Books (Mullen 214, by any patron or researcher interested in studying them more closely.



Thomson, F.J. (2005). The legacy of SS. Cyril and Methodius in the Counter-Reformation: The council of Trent and the question of scripture and liturgy in the vernacular, together with an account of the subsequent consequences for the Slavo-Latin (Glagolitic) rite and the Bible in Croatian translation. In E. Konstantinou (Ed.), Methodios und Kyrillos in ihrer Europäischen Dimension (Philhellenische Studien, 10)(pp. 87-246). Peter Lang. doi:10.1017/S0022046906429882, 

Žubrinić, D. (2009). Hrvatska glagoljička kultura s osvrtom na Francusku. Croatia: Overview of history, culture, and science.


[1] Thomson, 2005, p. 82.

[2] See Thomson, 2005, p. 78.

Open Access Week: Open Everything

In the past few years the term “Open Access” (OA) has gained attention in the worlds of higher education, research, and publishing. With this rise in attention has come a rise in misconceptions surrounding OA. OA is incredibly multifaceted and to truly get a grasp on it, it is best to understand the basics before gaining a deeper understanding.

Back to the Basics

Open Access pertains to e-publications that are online for free public access and that are free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. With this, OA has the goals of (1) providing the public with research free of charge and (2) allowing research to “be analyzed and built upon for downstream innovation and the pursuit of knowledge” through open licensing (Electronic Frontier Foundation).

OA is often confused with open educational resources (OER). OA and OER are very similar and sometimes overlap, but it is important to distinguish between the two. OER refers to freely accessible materials that are useful for teaching and learning. While OA and OER have the key component of free public access, the biggest difference between the two is the formats they come in and the permissions that come along with them. OA materials are always accessed online unless they have been printed while OER could come in digital, print, or other analog formats. OA materials include scholarly books (including textbooks) and journal articles while OER includes formats such as videos, software, textbooks, and teaching guides. Along with this, OA gives readers the freedom to read, reuse, retain, and redistribute materials. 

Understanding the OA Movement

The Open Access movement has been around since the early 1990s, so why has there been a recent surge in the attention this movement is garnering? Like many other issues that have surfaced in the past few years, we have the COVID-19 pandemic to thank. At the start of the pandemic, as it became apparent that this was something that the world had never really seen before, the need for information about the disease became immediate. Authors and publishers began putting scholarly works online to help educate the public and contribute to ongoing research being done (Tavernier, 2020). As the pandemic forced schools to migrate online, there also became a greater need to support virtual learning. This forced publishers to make textbooks, eBooks, and other scholarly works available through OA either permanently or temporarily in order to support these needs. This work in openly sharing research and information and essentially collaborating for the greater good, highlighted the benefits of OA and opened up a world of possibilities for the future of research and education outside the realm of the pandemic.

Who Benefits?

While Open Access may seem like it only benefits researchers, there are several main stakeholders involved, including students, instructors, researchers, and libraries.

Free the textbook with books that appear to be flying
Flying Textbooks (CC-BY-SA,
  • Students. Students are one of the biggest benefactors of OA. Open Access makes it possible that no matter what an institution can afford in terms of subscriptions, students can have full access to scholarly works for their educational needs. Whether a student is just starting their academic career and writing a research paper or finishing their PhD dissertation, they are able to access the information they need. OA textbooks are also beneficial for students. When OA textbooks are used for classes instead of purchased or rented textbooks, students have the potential to save a lot of money.

[NOTE: The University Libraries wants to know about the textbook experiences of our students. Students are welcome to share their textbook experiences through this feedback form.]

  • Instructors. Instructors can use OA textbooks for classes and the advantages of doing that may include locating an open access textbook that is more current than a traditionally published textbook on the same topic; eliminating the task of placing orders with the campus bookstore; and demonstrating sensitivity to their students’ wallets.
  • Researchers. Researchers also benefit greatly as OA allows for the advancement of research and higher visibility of publications. Researchers are able to become more productive through OA as they are able to easily access both new and old research which they can cite and build on with their own work. Researchers also become more visible as there is the potential for more people to view works that are freely available. This helps to account for quality assurance as the more people that view and cite a work the more people there are analyzing it. It also can help keep publications from being plagiarized for if a publication is free it makes it easier to find and the more people that are familiar with a publication the harder it becomes to plagiarize (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).

    Infographic with benefits of Open Access for researchers
    Benefits of Open Access Publishing (CC-BY, Danny Kingsley & Sarah Brown)
  • Libraries. Academic libraries fund access to journals through “Big Deals.” These Big Deals are contracts that offer institutions journal subscription bundles at prices that over time have become unsustainable for most libraries. The desire for more control in their investments and the need for greater budgetary cuts has called some academic libraries to cancel these deals (Cooper & Rieger, 2021). For example, in 2019 University of California (UC) ended its contract with Elsevier, one of the world’s largest and most profitable academic research publishers, after not being able to come to an agreement with them. In 2021, negotiations reopened and UC signed a four year Open Access agreement with Elsevier which is the first of its kind. This landmark agreement cost UC $13 million, which is 7% less than their previous subscription agreement and will give people all over the world access to their research (Kell, 2021). Furthermore, academic libraries can find material outside subscription services through various OA platforms such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the Open Textbook Library, the Internet Archive, and HathiTrust. Having fewer print subscriptions means that library space can be freed for other purposes such as study space and/or digital scholarship labs.

Hurdles for OA

While Open Access offers many benefits, it comes with some challenges as well. 

  • Funding. To have Open Access resources, libraries must have funding to publish such works. Often, libraries pay for or help to pay an article processing charge (APC) that allows authors to publish their works OA. These charges can build up quickly and can be rather expensive. As seen in the case of UC and Elsevier, making OA publishing agreements and maintaining repositories or accessing journals for these works is rather expensive. UC is an extremely large public institution that is funded mostly by the public and that has a steady stream of research being done by members of its community. With this, the OA model of research access is sustainable for the institution. For smaller institutions without such funding it is much harder to afford and maintain OA publishing.
  • Lack of OA policy. Generally, there is a lack of OA policy in academic libraries. Libraries typically have formal written policies pertaining to library collection development and maintenance. OA is often still seen as being relatively new, extremely multifaceted, and rather unstable. With this, it could be that lack of policy stems from best practices for OA not yet being established or the fear of the ever changing state of OA in the scholarly field (Dubnjakovic et al., 2021). Either way, this lack of a universal understanding surrounding OA in a library could have consequences for how it is used in library services and resources and therefore, in establishing OA as a standard source of information.
  • Perception of OA as ‘less’ scholar. Many faculty members in higher education are reluctant to embrace Open Access because they have the misperception that not all OA works are peer reviewed and the unsupported belief that free content is of poorer quality than content that has a price. Faculty may be surprised to learn that OA publishing often follows the same procedures as traditional publishing. Their misperceptions are reinforced by their university, if the university does not recognize OA publications in their tenure and promotion process.
Cartoon books trying to cross mountains and a river

The Future of OA

Even though the Open Access movement has progressed and significantly picked up steam over the years, there is more to be done as many issues within OA, such as open data or author rights, are evolving. Nevertheless, the road ahead for integrating OA publications into library collections and into classroom use is exciting and full of possibilities.



Cooper, D. M., & Rieger, O. Y. (2021, June 22). What’s the Big Deal?: How researchers are navigating changes to journal access. Ithaka S+R.

Electronic Frontier Foundation. (n.d.). Open access. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from 

Kell, G. (2021, March 18). UC’s deal with Elsevier: What it took, what it means, why it matters. University of California. 

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. (n.d.). Big Deal tracker. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from 

Tavernier, W. (2020). COVID-19 demonstrates the value of open access: What happens next?. College & Research Libraries News, 81(5), 226.

The Archivist’s Nook: Bewitching Tomes

Wandering through the Rare Books stacks is always an adventure. The shelves hold all kinds of secrets, waiting for the right librarian to pull them, or the right researcher to request them. But on a rainy October afternoon, with Halloween on the mind, it is the witchcraft books that stand out to me.

The Rare Books selection of witchcraft volumes covers a wide range of fascinating topics: prophecy, astrology, somnambulism (which according to many of these volumes has some fairly magical connotations), and general folklore. If you’re having trouble with local witches tormenting you, Witches and the Second Sight in the Scottish Highlands, by John G. Campbell, published in 1902 may be able to offer you some relief. This book contains a near limitless selection of scenarios in which unsuspecting innocents might find themselves plagued by witches, and several practical solutions for ridding yourself of their evils. For instance, in the event that a witch is turning herself into a white hare and stealing your cow’s milk in the night (Don’t worry, it can happen to anyone), you need only put a bit of silver in your gun (a sixpence will work, or a silver button if you don’t have any obsolete currency on hand) before shooting at the hare. Naturally the silver is essential, for if you should forget to include it, the witch can easily use her powers to turn your weapon against you and you may find your gun exploding violently in your hand. Sound advice, and perhaps it’s better to follow the age-old ‘better safe than sorry’ and refrain from shooting at any hares unless you have silver in hand. Just in case.

The only know specimen of the devil’s writing from Ashton’s The Devil in Britain and America

Our next book, first published in 1896, is ominously titled The Devil in Britain and America and written by John Ashton on the grounds that “all modern English books on the Devil and his works are unsatisfactory.” He goes on to complain that most books redundantly cite the same examples of witchcraft and that, perhaps most importantly of all, “not one of them is illustrated.” Given this mission statement, it must come at no surprise that Ashton’s book is absolutely teeming with surreal little engravings with witches and devils, the odd and the obscene. The stories themselves come from all manner of sources, as Ashton proudly notes in his preface. (No ‘oft-repeated cases’ for him!) The material can range from an analytic (such as the word can be used in this situation) account of how witches are made, to a mid-seventeenth century English satirical ballad meant to demonstrate the devil as “sadly deficient in brains,” entitled, The Politic Wife or, The Devil Outwitted by a Woman, where one hapless man meets the devil (who introduces himself as ‘Dumkin the Devil.’) and is saved by his wife’s quick thinking. The book also contains what it claims to be the only known sample of the devil’s writing.

So far these books can be easily identified as the sort of things created for people who enjoy delighting in the taboo and the occult, stories meant to entertain and to thrill. Certainly there was an audience for them. The next work we’ll be looking at was actually given as a Christmas gift in 1930, so its handwritten inscription tells us. Ghost stories as Christmas gifts were not an uncommon tradition, especially in the Victorian era (think Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.)  This one seems ideal for reading aloud around a fire on Christmas eve. It’s a slim little pamphlet, (coming in at 7 pages, and that includes its paper cover) printed in 1928 and entitled The Story of Mr John Bourne. It tells of how the titular character was made the manager of an estate, and how when he was near death, the chest which held the details to that estate rose and unlocked itself, only to relock itself again upon his death, so that try as they might, no one could ever open it there after. Certainly it’s an uncanny little story, but I don’t know that it’s something I would traditionally associate with witchcraft, were it not for the “abracadabra” slowly vanishing down the title page. So why shelve it amongst all these other definitely witchy books?

The title page of The Story of Mr John Bourne, showing the descending ‘abracadabra’

As it turns out, The Story of Mr John Bourne is actually an excerpt from a much larger work, bearing the self explanatory and rather lengthy title, Saducismus triumphatus, or, Full and plain evidence concerning witches and apparitions in two parts : the first treating of their possibility, the second of their real existence / by Joseph Glanvil. With a letter of Dr. Henry More on the same subject and an authentick but wonderful story of certain Swedish witches done into English by Anth. Horneck. Although the excerpt of this work as we have it preserved seemed intended more to cause fearful delight, much like the books we were just discussing, the purpose of the larger text was much less recreational and its effects far more terrifying. Joseph Glanvill was an English preacher and philosopher, who believed that without the threat of demons and witches, people would see no reason for religion. In fact, he went so far as to view a lack of belief in the supernatural as akin to atheism. The book, which sought to prove the assured existence of witches, was hugely popular, and thought to be an influence on religious leaders such as Cotton Mather, a New England preacher known for stirring up witchcraft hysteria during the Salem witch trials.

In fact, if you’re interested in putting Saducismus Triumphatus in the historical context of Cotton Mather and the Salem witch trials, our library also contains his account of some of the witch trials he attended as well as a defense of the guilty verdicts given to those accused. It appears in a book called Salem witchcraft: comprising More wonders of the invisible world, collected by Robert Calef; and Wonders of the invisible world, by Cotton Mather; together with notes and explanations edited by Samuel Fowler, a man who served as a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention in 1853, as well as being known for his collection of books on witchcraft and American history which far surpasses our own modest assortment. The book juxtaposed Mather’s account with the first publication to ever publicly condemn the trials. Written by Robert Calef, the essay is in direct response to Mather’s and attacks both the injustice of the trials, and Mather’s own part in it.

Picture from the Fowlers’ ‘Salem Witchcraft.’ The caption reads “Soul killing witches that deform the body.”

Salem witchcraft is not the only book in our Special Collections on the topic of the Salem witch trials, and perhaps it is not unsurprising that this tragedy has captured the fascination of so many people for so long. As general opinion on witchcraft shifted, it seemed strange (macabre, even) that the contents of stories you read for thrills or give as Christmas gifts were once accusation enough to earn a death sentence. Regardless, the Special Collections witchcraft section represents the long standing fascination with witchcraft that has captured peoples’ imaginations for centuries, for better or for worse.

Prior, M. E. (1932). Joseph Glanvill, Witchcraft, and Seventeenth-Century Science. Modern Philology, 30(2), 167–193.
Walker, R. (2001). Cotton Mather. Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project.