The Archivist’s Nook: Adeptio-Rare Book Acquisitions, 2021-2022

Special Collections, including the Rare Books Department, like the rest of the world, is continuing to emerge from the shadow of the COVID Pandemic. We continue to purchase new books and related materials, which we reported on in our November 2020 and November 2021 blog posts, and are pleased to announce further acquisitions during the 2021-2022 fiscal year from reputable dealers in order to further enhance our collections. This was a banner year, with eight purchased Rare Book acquisitions, four of which are featured below. The others are listed in the footnotes and more information is available upon request.

[Reverendissimo patri domino] Hipolito Aldobrandino Mantuanorum feudorum Processus de partibus vigore compulsorialium generalium factus pro partas perillustris et reverendissimi Claudii et eius consortium de Gonzaga per compulsiv… Die30martii 1583…SpecialCollection,The Catholic University of America.
The first item is a Sixteenth century Italian manuscript, 11 x 8 inches, regarding a dispute between the Gonzaga family of Mantua and the Vatican represented by its auditor, Ippolito Aldobrandini (1536-1605), later Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605). The manuscript is a notarial deed concerning the February 4, 1583 trial held in Mantua in the San Pietro Cathedral.  It is a certified copy written in the Bishop’s Mantua palace on March 16, 1583 and given to Aldobrandini, who was representing the Holy See appearing in this trial as the judge commissioner. The trial, initiated at the request of Claudio Gonzaga, Abbott of the Benedictine Church of Santa Maria di Felonica in Mantua, addressed the validity of feudal rights claims by Felonica concerning properties used by the church. The manuscript has 90 leaves, or 180 written pages, with contemporary inscriptions on front cover and many pages with a notary stamp. This was purchased in June 2021 from Portuguese dealer Sandra Antunes, who in turn obtained it from Sotheby’s of Italy, in 2005.[i] Incidentally, it is often claimed that the spread of Coffee’s popularity is due to Pope Clement VIII’s influence. Supposedly responding to criticism of the beverage as ‘Satan’s drink,’ he tasted it, declaring it would be a pity to permit infidels to have exclusive use of it, so he blessed the bean, arguing it was better for people than alcohol.

Fifteen (15) items in one volume, 1682-1709. Bound in contemporary sheep with gilt title on spine (“Paneg[yrique]. Jans[eniste]. [et] Div[erse]. Autre Ecrits”. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.
The second purchase is a remarkable Sammelband, 7.6 x 6 inches, of fifteen Jansenist tracts, 1682 to 1709, in contemporary binding titled “Paneg[yrique]. Jans[eniste]. [et] Div[erse]. Autre Ecrits”.  Several of the items are not recorded in any American institutional library. The rarity of these tracts may be due to their heterodox nature as at least seven were added to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Books prohibited to Catholics) soon after publication. Many were written anonymously by Gilles de Witte (1648-1721) who followed Jansenist ideas of reading the Bible in the vernacular. He had already attracted the attention of the authorities by publishing a Dutch translation of the New Testament in 1696. He also wrote approvingly of Cornelius Jansenius with a biography of the Bishop of Ypres and an overview of the Jansenist conflict, affirming that many Jesuits has similar views and had not been condemned.[2] This was obtained in September 2021 from David Rueger of InLibris.

The Church Affirms its Stance on Abortion – Printed in Mexico Rodríguez, Mathías (active 17th c.); Innocent XI, Pope (reg. 1676-1689), 1684.

The third accession was a book printed in Mexico, then a province of Spain, by Por Dioego Fernandez de Leon in 1684, titled: Explicacion de las sesenta, y cinco proposiciones prohibidas por la santidad de N.M.S.P. Innocencio XI. mandadas publicar por el Excellentissimo Señor Don Diego Sarmiento de Valladares, obispo inquisidor general: y publicadas por el Santo Tribunal de la Inquisicion de esta Nueva España en siete de abril de mil seiscientos, y ochenta. Author el padre fr. Mathias Rodriguez, predicador, y confessor, de la Santa Provincia de San Diego de religiosos descalços de N.P.S. Francisco de esta Nueva España ; dedicada al Capitan Don Francisco de Alarcon, y Espinosa alcalde ordinario, que fue de la ciudad de la Puebla de los Angeles, su regidor, y thesorero general de la Santa Cruzada.  This is a first edition, 7.5 x 6 inches, with an armorial woodcut on the second leaf, bound in contemporary vellum with remnants of the original ties. The text was written by Fransican friar Mathias Rodriguez of San Diego, New Spain, examining a papal bull condemning sixty-five supposed heretical propositions or ‘laxism’ by Jesuits relating to fornication, gluttony, robbery, and usury. This includes the original Latin of the bull, the Spanish text of the heresies, and Rodriquez’s commentary. In order to expand their ministry, many Jesuits adopted a less stringent approach to theology (‘probabilism’), resulting in Pope Innocent XI’s condemnation in 1679 reasserting Conservative ‘rigorism.’[3] Among the condemned propositions in this book are two related to abortion. Obtained in January 2022 from Liber Antiquus.

Salesman’s Sample Book, Saint Etienne, les Succs de Bochard. Ca. 1935.

The fourth acquisition is a salesman’s sample book of sacramental textiles from the French firm of G. Bochard, which operated in St. Etienne from the late nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century. The company focused primarily on embroidered silks, not only for vestments, but also table cloths, banners, and book braids. Examples in this volume include swatches of numerous priestly vestments, including cincture, maniple, stole, chasuble, cape, dalmatic, surplice, and cotta represented in vivid woven silks as well as embroidered and tapestry fabrics, many with stock notes, and other related marginalia in French. This burgundy board scrapbook, ca. 1935, has a string tied with matching silk braid, approximately 10.5 by 8 inches, containing 16 card stock leaves mounted recto and verso with 92 original silk sample swatches. There are also three black and white mounted photo illustrations of finished patterns.[4]  This was purchased in March 2022 from Type Punch Matrix.

In addition, there were four other purchased acquisitions, listed below. These new arrivals are a further enhancement to the diverse Rare Books Department of Special Collections at Catholic University. They are already making an impact via perusal by patrons and instructional purposes for various university classes. If you are a faculty, student, or alumni with interest and expertise in rare books and have acquisition suggests, please contact us. We can not make any promises but will seriously consider any proposals.

[1] Sandra Antunes, R. Dr. Augusto Jose da Cunha 9 Menos-2C,1495-240 Alges, Portugal.

[2] David Rueger, Inlibris LLC, 245 9th Ave, #166, New York, NY 10011.

[3] Paul Dowling, Liber Antiquus, 7306 Brennan Lane, Chevy Chase, MD, 20810.

[4] Type Punch Matrix, 1111 E. West Hwy, Suite 300, Silver Spring, MD, 20910.

[5] Small format Prayer Booklet to the Holy Family, partially titled, ‘Tierna, Y Dulce Memoria…’ printed in Puebla by Manuela de la Ascension Cerezo, 1753, purchased in June 2021 from W. S. Cotter Rare Books, 4615 Cedar Point Drive, Auston, TX, 78723.

[6] Broadside by Adolph Sutro, titled ‘Sutro and the A.P.A.’, printed in San Francisco, 1894, regarding the anti-Catholic American Protective Association, obtained in June 2021 from David Lesser, Fine Antiquarian Books, One Bradley Road, Woodbridge, CT, 06525.

[7] Two catechisms in English and Odjibwe, titled ‘Katolik Anamie…’ 1880, and ‘A Baltimore Short English-Odjibwe Catechism..’ 1896, bought in February 2022 from William Reese Company, 409 Temple Street, New Haven, CT, 06511.

[8] Collection of Sixteen Anti-Catholic Pamphlets from the Rail Splitter Press, ca. 1920-1935, acquired in April 2022 from Walkabout Books, P.O. Box 22, Curtis, WA, 98538.

The Archivist’s Nook: Rare but Numerous – ‘Imitation of Christ’ in Rare Books

Thomas à Kempis, De Imitatione Christi, Leiden, 1658

“Why do you need so many copies of the same work in your collection?” Such a question can be easily asked by any patron after finding in the library catalog that Rare Books houses 36 cataloged copies of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. It blows some people’s minds and raises questions: Why so many? Is not one or two copies enough, especially since there are multiple modern editions and translations available in the general stacks?

As the matter of fact, most of the books, pamphlets, and other kinds of resources housed in Rare Books are preserved on our shelves not only because of the text they contain (though this may be the case for some extremely rare or unique editions) but rather because of some other unique or special features of the books as physical objects, such as print and type, binding and tooling, illuminations and miniatures, paper and watermarks, corrections and marginalia (personal notes, images, and doodles left on margins by previous readers), bookplates and inscriptions, association with prominent historical figures, items left between the pages, and many more. Similar to twins, that develop unique features of their look and character as they grow, so the books even if they came out of the same printing press on the exact same day, will differ significantly in their appearance and each will have its own story to tell.

Scholars in various disciplines study rare books as objects that possess historical, evidential, and informational value through their physicality. They can provide insights on the history of book printing and binding, circulation and ownership, reading habits and purposes (both recreational and educational), aesthetic preferences, changes in society, and more. That’s what makes our books special: they are always ready to give a personal witness to the past.

Thomas a Kempis, De Imitatione Christi, Cologne, Germany, 1507
Thomas à Kempis, De Imitatione Christi, Cologne, Germany, 1507

“The Imitation of Christ” is one of such popular works translated and reproduced abundantly through the centuries. It has always and continues to be deeply respected, loved, read, studied, and praised by many, religious and laypeople, artists and soldiers, and novelists and scholars alike. It has brought comfort to many historical figures, such as St. Theresa of Avila, George Eliot, Thomas Merton, and St. Thomas More, who, according to some, had a copy of The Imitatio with him while waiting for his execution, as well as fictional characters such as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, who used to keep a copy at her bedside and read a few chapters every night. But the main reason, it has been chosen as the hero of this story is its astounding 600 years jubilee which we celebrate today.

Well, not exactly “today,” for we do not know the year in which De Imitatione Christi was composed. Various scholars agree only on the timeframe between 1410 and 1425, which gives us still plenty of time to commemorate the date and salute this great work. Though it first appeared anonymously, De Imitatione Christi is now commonly attributed to a German-Dutch canon regular and member of the modern devotional movement (aka Devotio Moderna) Thomas Hemmerken from the town of Kempen, better known as Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380 – 1471). 

In homage to his inspirational work, we’d like to highlight today three of our special copies of The Imitation of Christ, offering also a glimpse into Rare Books holdings and encouraging everyone interested to come and see the original volumes in person.

A copy with a secret (Cologne, Germany, 1503)

Various museums and libraries in the U.S. and overseas preserve peculiar books that have a hidden compartment in their bindings. Sometimes it can be as wild as a place to hide a pistol. Our volume is not a book of a criminal or a smuggler, but rather of an early 16th-century passionate reader, who just wanted a convenient spot to keep their reading spectacles and to never have to ask one of the eternal questions of mankind: “where did I put my glasses?

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An annotated copy (Cologne, Germany, 1507)

There are always people who like to make notes on the margins of a paper book one studies deeply: agreeing or arguing with the author, developing their own ideas about the topic, or recording insights and expanding the perspective. That is one of the ways to collaborate with the author and create a personal relationship with the book: both, the work and the object (Though we don’t encourage it in any other than one’s own books!). Another of our early 16th-century copies of the Imitatio, which was previously part of the collection of a book lover and our great donor Msgr. Arthur Connolly, holds marginal notes of a scholar who was deeply immersed in the text. It’s still waiting for its researchers who would like to transcribe and study the thoughts and insights of this early reader of the Imitation of Christ.

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The Musica Ecclesiastica (New York, 1891)

As a devotional work, The Imitation of Christ was meant to be not only studied by the educated but read and put into practice by anyone. To assist with that, there were numerous attempts conducted to translate it from Latin into vernacular languages making it accessible to everyone. There are multiple translations of the Imitatio known and available today, but in this unique late 19th-century American edition, the translator, an English theologian, Oxford professor, and a personal friend of Lewis Carroll, H. P. Liddon, endeavored to preserve its original beauty. According to him, the Imitatio was also called “Musica Ecclesiastica” or “The Church Music”, because of the rhythm and melody of the original Latin, which the translator wished to catch and preserve. Maybe it’s not as old as other copies that are shown here, but it is trying to be faithful to the original intent of the author as well as is faithful to the spirit of its own time: in its language, appearance, binding, and other features.

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Each one of these books, as well as any other copy of The Imitation of Christ in our collection, can be accessed by appointment in Rare Books (Mullen 214, lib-rarebooks@cua.edu) by any patron or researcher interested in studying them more closely. 

 

Sources:

  • Becker, Kenneth Michael. From the Treasure-House of Scripture: an Analysis of Scriptural Sources in De Imitatione Christi. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2002.
  • Thomas, à Kempis. The complete Imitation of Christ. Translated and commented by Father John-Julian. Brewster, Mass.: Paraclete Press, c2012.
  • Thomas à Kempis, De Imitatione Christi, Leiden, 1658

The Archivist’s Nook: Of Art and Industry – A Sample of 19th Century Literature in CatholicU’s Rare Books

The nineteenth century was a period of rapid growth and change for England and America, and one can find a microcosm of these changes reflected in the English novel, in both the pages themselves, and the culture around printing their printing and distribution. Further advancements in printing, and intense industrialization had made books cheaper than ever to produce and ease of access naturally spurred an increase of interest. Lending libraries began to spring up all over England, where users could pay a small fee to receive access to a communal collection of novels. Throughout the nineteenth century, but particularly during the Victorian era of literature (lasting from 1837-1901) the novel blossomed, coming into its popularity just in time to help document the culture of a society diving headfirst into modernity.

The cover page to the first volume of the two part “Frankenstein” including some reviews describing it as “universally acceptable.” Surely, Shelley was duly flattered.

Despite the relative opulence that industrialism brought with it, many people felt an understandable skepticism towards a society that seemed to have forsaken pastoral life for a life crushed into the bustle of polluted cities, toiling away at dangerous machines, gradually allowing the beauty of the natural world to be rendered strange, carved up for wailing steam engines and smoggy factories. Mary Shelley was a writer of the Romantic movement, known for venerating the wonder of the natural world, and she viewed this zeal for industry with a certain amount of skepticism. In her novel Frankenstein, first published in 1818, the monster is cobbled together from various bodies, with its parts being selected for beauty. Yet despite it being made of only the most beautiful bits and pieces its creator, Victor Frankenstein, could find,  the end result is something grotesque. Frankenstein cannot hope, even with all his scientific arts, to match the beauty that comes naturally to the world. Instead he creates a mockery. A first edition of this work, of which only 500 were printed, sold last September for a record breaking $1.17 million. Catholic University’s special collections cannot boast to have such a rare copy, but we do own a first American edition, printed in 1833 and generally believed to be pirated from the original 1818 British text. (Pirated in this context means that American publishers set unauthorized copies of the text by lifting it from a book published overseas. Clearly, the “industrial spirit” was alive and well in America as well.)

An issue of the weekly journal All The Year Round, in which some of Dickens’ greatest works were printed as serials.

Our copy of Frankenstein was printed in Philadelphia by Carey, Lea & Blanchard. This is the same press which was publishing Charles Dickens’ first book, The Pickwick Papers, before the man had even finished writing them. Given that Dickens dedicated the book to the lawyer Tomas Talfourd for his work on copyright laws in Britain, this seems in particularly poor taste but in fact, pirated texts of foreign novels were incredibly common in the United States. Dickens, on his tour of America in 1837, campaigned heavily against this practice, citing the wrongs it inflicted upon already underpaid authors and their families, but to no avail. Indeed Dickens was, and is, famous for his championing of London’s poor, and could speak first hand to their suffering, having grown up in poverty, and worked in factories as a child to help support his family. Two of his later novels, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, which, among other topics, explore the universal hardship of extreme poverty, can be found serialized in the weekly journal All the Year Round. The journal was owned and run by Dickens himself and a full collection can be found in Special Collections.

America may have been home to a bustling business of pirated publications, but as the nineteenth century pressed on, its history and culture became increasingly re-entwined with Britain’s own and these themes of transatlantic cultural exchange made their  presence known in the literature. And not all of it was uncomplimentary. The writer Henry James often explored themes of American idealism and naivete, mixed with its reputation for forward boldness through the characters of young American women, such as Isabel Archer in The Portrait of a Lady. An expansive collection of American and British first editions of the works of Henry James are available in the Catholic University Special Collections, as part of the Richard N. Foley collection. The late Professor taught in the English department here at Catholic University from 1940 until 1974 and his collection was acquired by Rare Books in 1982.

This copy of Apologia pro vita sua contains a letter written by Cardinal Newman bound into its pages, requesting that the editor of the Union not publish a note on Newman’s “Visions of Hope.” It was given to us by bibliophile and prolific donor, Msgr. Arthur Connolly.

America fostered a reputation for embracing freedom, even from its colonization. It offered refuge to those religious dissenters who could not practice their faith as they liked amongst the Anglican church. But even this was changing. In George Eliot’s Victorian pastoral masterpiece, Middlemarch, the characters express their concerns over land rights and railroads. Yet in the background of these concerns, there are often references to “the Catholic question,” and what to do about it. In 1791, practicing Catholicism in England was legalized, and in 1829, parliament voted in favor of the Catholic Emancipation Act, which restored most civil rights to Catholics. Although Roman Catholicism remained something of a minority, the church did manage to gain some notable converts, the first of which was John Henry Newman. As anti-Catholic sentiment rose, his autobiography, Apologia pro vita sua was one of the pieces of literature which helped render Catholics more sympathetic to the average Englishman. 

Cardinal Newman had another piece of writing which, while perhaps not achieving the same lofty heights as Apologia pro vita sua, is certainly very dear to us here at Catholic University. Upon our founding, Catholic University’s first chancellor, James Cardinal Gibbons, received a letter of congratulations from Cardinal Newman. This letter is a cherished piece of CatholicU history, and held in a secure place in the Catholic University Special Collections, where it keeps good company with the other works mentioned in this blog post, along with numerous other wonderful treasures. If you would like to visit them sometime, drop us a line. We are a library after all, and unlike the Victorian lending libraries of old, we won’t even charge you.

 

References:
Foley-Hoag. (2017, January 17). Charles Dickens And Copyright Law: Five Things You Should Know. JD Supra. www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/charles-dickens-and-copyright-law-five-29878.
Herringer, C. (2012). Catholicism and Anti-Catholicism. Oxford Bibliographies. www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199799558/obo-9780199799558-0102.xml.
University of Delaware. (n.d.). The Realistic Novel in the Victorian Era. British Literature Wiki. https://sites.udel.edu/britlitwiki/the-realistic-novel-in-the-victorian-era/.

The Archivist’s Nook: A Patron “Saint” – The Bookish Legacy of Msgr. Arthur Connolly

The man, the myth, the patron. Msgr. Arthur Connolly portrait, donated on his birthday (December 2) in 1930. The plaque reads, “Rt. Rev. Msgr. Arthur Theodore Connolly 1853-1933 Library Patron”

I am glad to place this collection where it will be of so much benefit to students of history, yet I must confess I feel as if I were bidding good bye to friends who have become very dear to me…I have grown to love them for the many hours of pleasure they have afforded me.

-Msgr. Arthur Connolly to Rector Bp. Thomas Shahan, April 25, 1917

Anyone who spends time in the Catholic University Special Collections will soon become acquainted with the names of consequential donors and collectors. Ranging from Fr. James Magner and James Cardinal Gibbons to Mercedes McCambridge and Dorothy Mohler, there are several patrons whose legacies ripple through our collections and the campus. Few of these donors span the full scope of our collections, with their bequeathed items in the museum, rare books, and archives. But one Boston-area priest’s influence  is present in the stacks of the archives and rare books, as well as in the paintings and sculptures displayed around campus – Msgr. Arthur T. Connolly (1853-1933).

Born December 2, 1853 in Waltham, Massachusetts, Connolly was the son of Irish immigrants. He was a product of public schools and later attended Boston College then St. Charles College in Ellicott City, Maryland. From there, he would go on to study theology at the Grand Seminar in Montreal, Quebec. On December 21, 1876, Bishop Édouard-Charles Fabre ordained Connolly to the Catholic priesthood. (He would be given the title Monsignor in 1926.)

Relocating back to his native Boston, Connolly would remain a lifelong parish priest. His longest tenure was as the inaugural rector for the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Jamaica Plains neighborhood in Boston, serving from 1892 until his retirement in 1931. But beyond serving his parish community, Connolly was an avid collector and traveler. On multiple trips to Europe and South America, he acquired numerous books and art objects. Of particular note was his collecting of ivory artwork, religious manuscripts and incunabula, and Irish history and early American publications.

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But beyond merely collecting, Connolly was a generous benefactor. His love of knowledge was only surpassed by his love of libraries! From 1916-1932, Connolly served as a Trustee of the Boston Public Library, acting as the Library’s Board President from 1923-24 and 1927-28. (There is even a branch of the Boston Public Library named after him to this day.) His engagement was not limited to his local libraries, as he donated thousands of volumes to his alma mater, Boston College. And in 1915-16, Connolly began the first of many generous donations to Catholic University.

This first shipment to the University focused predominantly on books intended for the general reference stacks in the campus libraries. A second wave of materials arrived in 1918, which included medieval manuscripts, early printed incunabula, and chromolithographic prints as well as Renaissance-era artwork sculpted from ivory. Over the next 15 years, Connolly continued to send books, art, and papers to campus. By the time of his passing in 1933, the Connolly Library – as it was called at the time – had amassed approximately 16,000 titles located in its own designated spaces in McMahon Hall and Mullen Library. Among the many, many special collections that existed in the Library from the 1890s until the 1960s, Connolly’s stood out as among the largest and most eclectic.

Connolly’s bookplate. Motto: Patientem ovem agnus eucharistiae regit illluminat levat et coronat. (The Lamb of the Eucharist rules, illuminates, supports and crowns the suffering sheep.) Connolly seems to have commissioned this piece in December 1896 by Boston-based engraver Sidney L. Smith, whose initials (and the date) can be seen in the lower right corner.

In the early 1960s, these many collections would be reviewed and combined into the present Rare Books Library, which today is part of the broader Catholic University Special Collections. The Connolly Library remains a significant part of the collection, and his legacy can be seen by all visitors to Rare Books and campus. Researchers often encounter his handwritten notes and personalized bookplate in medieval manuscripts and early printed works, while visitors to campus may see one of the many donated sculptures or paintings he donated displayed in an office. 

Today, there are thousands of unique theological, historical, and literary works in the stacks from Connolly. These include 30 medieval manuscripts, 11 incunabula, and over a dozen pieces of art displayed around campus.

Connolly passed away on November 10, 1933. As a beloved local figure, his funeral would see over 3,000 people in attendance, including delegates from the Catholic Archdiocese and City of Boston. His legacy continues in the many collections he donated to his home city’s institutions, as well as to the Catholic University community.

To learn more about our rare books and museum collections, please visit our website: https://libraries.catholic.edu/special-collections/archives/index.html

Questions can also be directed to: lib-archives@cua.edu 

Special thanks to the Boston Public Library and Catholic University Special Collections for providing documentation on Connolly’s life and collections.

The Archivist’s Nook: A Man for All Reasons – Curating St. Thomas Aquinas

 

I first encountered Aquinas during my time as a philosophy undergraduate at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY, and his proofs for the existence of God had a great impact on my “reconversion,” my coming back home to the Catholic Faith, after years of falling away as an atheist. Thus when I learned about the Thomistic Institute Intellectual Retreat to be held in October of 2020 and  entitled “Choosing Well: Practical Wisdom in an Unpractical Time,” I jumped at the opportunity to apply, and to steep myself more in Aquinas’ works with the guidance of professors who knew him best. It was a life-giving weekend that proved to leave a huge impact on me. I experienced the Divine Office in its entirety for the first time, and was transfixed by the beauty of the chanted Psalms. I was also energized by the presence of other young adults, some who were in graduate school, some who were young professionals, all of whom were on fire for their faith. It was an inspiring environment, and it led me to consider how I could incorporate the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas into my own work. 

Now I had the inspiration, but what was I supposed to do next? I wanted to work with the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, but I’m not a scholar. Still, there must be a way to merge what I do on a daily basis with his work. That’s when I recalled that Special Collections, where I work, has some manuscripts related to his writings! I sought the advice of my colleague Shane MacDonald, the  expert on our Rare Books Collection, and together we discovered that we did indeed have two manuscripts from the 15th century related to St. Thomas Aquinas – MS200 and MS201. MS200 is a copy of the first half of his Commentary on Book IV of the Sentences of Peter Lombard and MS201 is a copy of his Quaestiones de duodecimi quodlibet. After inspecting these two items closer and consulting our catalog entries for them, I determined that,  given their historical significance and the fact that they are manuscripts, they would be the centerpiece of the exhibit. 

But two books does not an exhibit make! In order to make a digital exhibit, I would need to incorporate many more items, which I would then pick out of if I choose to create a physical exhibit. I turned to our catalog and found over 100 items related to St. Thomas Aquinas in our collection. This would require some sorting and refining of what I wanted to focus on! I considered my prospective audience – I wanted to reach the widest audience possible on the Catholic University campus, which meant that I would want to highlight the most “popular” works of Aquinas, to create a sort of introduction to his thought, while also emphasizing the importance of Aquinas to Catholic University.

After a month of research and browsing our stacks, I narrowed my list down to fourteen items – two manuscripts, two incunables, four examples of the Summa Theologiae, four examples of 16th century folios, and two pamphlets. This variety would create a visually dynamic experience – books of various sizes, colors, and lengths – while providing an appropriate scope for beginners to experts in St. Thomas Aquinas. I plugged in all of the research, writing, and photographs I had worked on over the spring of 2021 into Omeka, a web-publishing platform for digital collections, and published the site after receiving feedback from my colleagues. 

I could have stopped at just the Omeka site, but I wanted to stretch myself and exercise some of the skills that I learned in my Library Science courses, such as website building. Using Wix, I wanted to  create an accessible space for visitors, with an attractive environment that could fully convey the mission of the exhibit, but in a way that had more creativity and flexibility than Omeka. This was one of the parts of the project that I was most proud of. You can visit the Wix site here, and the Omeka site here!

Although I was extremely happy with the results of the digital exhibits, I still felt that we could reach a wider audience, and an in-person exhibit in the main library might be just the thing to do this. I discussed my idea with the University Archivist, John Shepherd, and we began the process of planning.

“Thomism Through Time” Exhibit Cases

I decided to take a three pronged approach with this exhibit, as there would be three cases. The first case would have three items – the two manuscripts and one of the incunables. Its purpose would be to feature our oldest items, and introduce guests to rare book terms. The second case would include the different copies of the Summa Theologiae, in order to showcase the various sizes and editions of Aquinas’ most important work. Finally, the third case would have selections of current publications from the Catholic University School of Philosophy, School of Theology and Religious Studies, and from the CUA Press. The goal of this last case would be to make students aware of the fact that current work is being done on St. Thomas Aquinas, possibly even by their own professors. I wanted to tell the story of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas not only in his time, but in ours as well.

The exhibit was kicked off by a special event, held on September 24th, 2021 by the co-sponsorship of the university Special Collections and the Thomistic Institute. CUA professors Dr. Kevin White and Msgr. John Wippel, through whose efforts the two manuscripts, which are the focal point of the exhibit were acquired, were both speakers at the event, as well as Fr. Dominic Legge, the Director of the Thomistic Institute. We had a total of 52 attendees, and the entire staff of the Catholic University Special Collections was thrilled with the turn-out. Our goal is always to reach as many people as possible through our collections, and we  hope that through exhibits such as Thomism Through Time, more students will be able to experience that same burst of invigoration and inspiration that I did upon first discovering him. 

 

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

 

If you wish to see the exhibit yourself, it’s running in the Main Reading Room of Mullen Library until November 24th, 2021!

OLL Blog – A selection of gems: nineteenth-century Brazilian Literature and Culture materials from the Oliveira Lima Library collection – Giovanna Gobbi Alves Araujo

Giovanna Gobbi Alves Araújo 

Doutora em Literatura Brasileira, Universidade de São Paulo (CNPq/Fulbright) 

Scholar-in-residence at the Brasiliana Guita and José Mindlin Library (BBM-USP)

giovannagobbi@alumni.usp.br

Cover of A confederação dos Tamoyos…(1857).

 

Manoel de Oliveira Lima’s efforts in curating a personal library throughout the years dedicated to diplomatic service, teaching, and research built a collection of immeasurable value not only for Latin American Studies, but for Brazilian Literature in particular. 

 

Thanks to a Fulbright fellowship, I had the privilege of consulting a number of books and pamphlets related to Brazilian History and Literature at the Oliveira Lima Library, which have greatly contributed to my doctoral investigation of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian representation in nineteenth-century Brazilian epic poetry. Among myriads of holdings, the consultation of A confederação dos Tamoyos (1857), the Souvenir of the “Land of Palms” [1892?], and the Discussão litteraria entre o notavel jornalista bahiano Belarmino Barreto e os Drs. Frederico Lisboa, Arthur Americano e Aquino Fonseca acerca das poesias de Castro Alves, por occasião das manifestações do decennario do desapparecimento deste immortal poeta (1902) were notably significant in establishing the rhetorical-poetic traditions and the socio-cultural practices that underlay the construction of Indianist and abolitionist works committed to the rewriting of national history in the nineteenth century.

A confederação dos Tamoyos is an epic poem in ten cantos by Domingos José Gonçalves de Magalhães (1811-1882) that focuses on Native Brazilians’ resistance to Portuguese colonizers in the sixteenth century and the demise of indigenous peoples following their confrontation with European armed forces. Its mythological narrative, commissioned by the emperor Pedro II, was part of the political project of the Second Reign, which entailed the forging of national symbols through artistic, historiographic, and literary productions. Published in 1856, A confederação dos Tamoyos is not only Magalhães’s most prominent work, but a paradigm of nation-building literature for subsequent poets. OLL owns the 1857 edition, a reprint of the 1856 editio princeps by the same typographer, the Empresa Tipográfica Dous de Dezembro.  

Title page of A confederação dos Tamoyos…(1857).

Souvenir of the “Land of Palms” is an extremely rare pamphlet that presents the poem “Canção do Exílio” written in Coimbra, Portugal, in 1843 by Antônio Gonçalves Dias (1823-1864) and its English version, “The exile’s song”, translated by D. M. Fox in Bornemouth, England, in 1892. The unique material also contains a handwritten French translation of the poem [La chanson de l’exile], possibly transcribed by Manoel de Oliveira Lima himself. There is no mention of the translator’s name in the French version of the poem. Its pages are decorated with sepia illustrations of tropical plants, palm trees in particular, which evoke the Edenic landscape depicted by European travelers to the New World. In a nostalgic mood, “Canção do exílio”, published in “Poesias Americanas”–Primeiros Cantos, inaugurated a particular mode of representation of the Brazilian natural landscape and an emotive viewpoint from which to represent Brazilian indigenous cultures. The publication of “Canção do Exílio” as a souvenir in the late nineteenth century illustrates the interest of anglophone and francophone readerships in Dias’s work, a testament to the longevity of his Indianist writings.

Front page of Souvenir of the “Land of Palms” by Antônio Gonçalves Dias. Translated by D. M. Fox, n.p., [1892?].
Discussão litteraria is a compilation of texts first published in the Bahian periodical press in 1881 concerning the public commemoration of the ten year anniversary of the death of Antonio de Castro Alves (1847-1871),  a republican and abolitionist poet, playwright, and activist. Though some commentators celebrated Alves’s poetry and political reach in his own time, others emphasized the limitations of his writing, which was prone to hyperbolic diction. From the late nineteenth century on, critiques of his work oscillated between praise and repudiation, both of which can be identified in this singular edition. In nearly 400 pages and three volumes, intellectuals Belarmino Barreto, Frederico Lisboa, Arthur Americano, and Aquino Fonseca discuss the (de)merits of Castro Alves’s work and the parameters of literary criticism as well as argue over the literary pre-eminence of various European authors, offering insightful remarks on the cultural atmosphere of nineteenth-century Brazil. 

Title page of Barreto and Lisboa’s Discussão litteraria (1902).

From books and pamphlets to manuscripts, the items related to Brazilian literature and culture in the Oliveira Lima Library (OLL) collection open up avenues of possibility for scholars of the Nineteenth-century and cast light on a complex period of Brazilian history. 

Works cited

Barreto, Belarmino, and Frederico Lisboa. Discussão litteraria entre o notavel jornalista bahiano Belarmino Barreto e os Drs. Frederico Lisboa, Arthur Americano e Aquino Fonseca acerca das poesias de Castro Alves, por occasião das manifestações do decennario do desapparecimento deste immortal poeta. 3 v. Typographia Genesio de Souza Pitanga,1902.

Dias, Antônio Gonçalves. Souvenir of the “Land of Palms”. Translated by D. M. Fox, n.p.,[1892?].

Magalhães, Domingos José Gonçalves de. A confederação dos Tamoyos; poema. Rio de Janeiro: Empreza Typographica Dous de Dezembro, 1857.

The Archivist’s Nook: To Our Honest Readers – Curses in Rare Books

A friendly curse written in The works of Jonathan Swift, 1756-62.

Working in the Special Collections stacks, you often see messages from the past. Notes from long-past authors or readers, who have scribbled in the margins or front leaves of books. Some notes are merely the thoughts of a reader or a dedication, but at other times, there is a note directed to you – the person holding this book – a warning from centuries past. A curse! 

“Steal not this book my honest friend for fear the gallows should be your end”

So warns a handwritten note in a 1756 edition of The Works of Jonathan Swift. Written in the same hand as the note of its later owner, “Wm. Davis’s Book Coolmore [possibly Culmore, Ireland] May 2nd 1817…”, it stands out as one of the known curses that exist within the Catholic University rare books collection, but not a surprising find.

Modern special collections libraries have all manner of security features to protect their holdings from theft, flood, fire, and more. These protections come in many forms – from alarm systems, specialized access policies, disaster plans, etc. But one thing that is perhaps missing from today’s library is curses. A long-common practice, dating back millennia, book curses were another means by which creators and owners of books wished to protect their manuscripts. The labor-intensive process of creating books prior to the invention of the printing press made books an extremely valuable – if not vulnerable – piece of property. One could limit access to a collection or chain up the books, but why not add a final threatening note to ward off would-be miscreants? 

These stacks are secure…but spooky in the dark.

While the curses could be written by the later owners of a book – such as is the case in early modern printed books – in the medieval period, it was often the scribes themselves who added a final warning to their texts. After spending countless hours copying a text, a scribe may have wanted to guarantee that his work would be respected and protected by adding a few lines of warning to any would-be book thieves or desecrators. 

While these warnings could be simple pleas to one’s conscience, they could also call forth cruel punishments or God’s wrath (or the executioner’s rope) upon anyone who plucked or mistreated the work in question. But the spirit was the same – protect the hard labor and valuable material that constituted the book. In an age before the printing press – and even well past its widespread use in Europe – books were valuable and expensive objects that might not be easily replaced. The loss or desecration of one could snuff out a person’s only copy of a work or eradicate months (or even years) of hard work by a dedicated scribe.

Beyond a warning from the nineteenth century in our collection, we also hold a 1460s German Passionale, a collection of martyrology narratives. This handwritten manuscript from the late medieval period is cataloged with the note that it has a “book curse” on its first folio. No further details or translation were offered, so our staff went to work. (We had to know what actions we should avoid, lest we receive the curse…) 

While it still remains somewhat of a mystery to us – and we welcome additional feedback – thanks to the dedicated work of History doctoral candidate, Nick Brown, and several graduate students*, we are much closer to identifying what spell may have been placed upon our staff. Here is an approximate transcription and translation:

Concordes ineunt Lybie deserta leones,

Sevaque concordi tygris depascitur ore.

Nec lupus ipse lupum, nec aper male vulnerat aprum;

Non aquilis certant aquile, non anguibus angues.

Soli homines proprio grassantur sanguine. Soli

Exercent trepidas per mutua vulnera cedes.

 

Dic quibus in terris, et eris mihi magnus Apollo,

Tres pateat celi spatium non amplius ulnas?

A close-up of the possible curse, Passionale Sanctorum, 1460 (Ms 141).

The lions go peacefully together into the deserts of Libya,

And the fierce tiger grazes with a docile mouth.

The wolf does not harm another wolf, nor does the boar harm another boar;

Eagles do not contend with eagles, nor does the snake contend with the snake.

Only humans go after the blood of their own kind. Only they,

Through wounding each other, bring about restless murders.

 

Speak, and you will be great Apollo to me, in what land

Does heaven extend no more than the space of three measures?

Our working theory is that the “curse” is a later addition, and not from the original scribe. While the date of the “curse” is unclear, we are are certain that the passage is referencing two distinct sources, circulating in the late medieval/early modern period. The first is a passage on animals,”taken from De vita solitaria et civili, a collection of poems attributed to Theophilus Brixianus. There was a fifth-century bishop of Brescia by this name, but it looks like all we know about him is that he was bishop and martyr. Perhaps the “curse” author wanted to open the work with a quote attributed to an early Christian martyr, as a link to the passion narratives in the text (and on the theme of the humans shedding blood)?

A blessing, hanging in our archival stacks.

The last two lines of the “curse” are from Virgil’s Eclogue III, and is called the Riddle of Damoetas. The rediscovery of Virgil is a significant theme in the early Renaissance, suggesting a familiarity with the scribe to his works. While it may not be a “curse” per se, it does open up a fascinating window into the literary diet of its author, as well as the broader social milieu under which they operated. This passage may have been written during a time of early literary humanism and classicism in the Italian and/or German sphere. As the riddle itself remains unresolved, is the scribe offering his own answer to it in the context of the example of the passion narratives? Take your own guess!

So while we cannot say for sure how many of our books are definitively cursed, we think it safe to say that we will treat all our books with the utmost respect (and caution). Not just as professional curators of these treasures, but lest some vengeful reader/writer past unleash their curse upon us! 

And even if our books are cursed, our reading rooms are not! In fact, they are blessed, and are open to appointments. Contact us at this link: https://libraries.catholic.edu/special-collections/archives/about/contact-us.html

*In addition to Nick Brown, special thanks to Patsy Craig, Jon Dell Isola, Jane and Luke Maschue, and Alex Audziayuk. They double-checked the translation and aided in the research of the Passionale’s “curse”.

For more information on book curses:

Drogin, Marc. Anathema: Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses. Totowa, NJ: Allanheld & Schram, 1983.

O’Hagan, Lauren Alex. “Steal not this book my honest friend.” Textual Cultures 13, no. 2 (Fall 2020): 244-274.

More on Virgil’s riddle:

Campbell, John Scott. “Damoetas’s Riddle: A Literary Solution.” The Classical Journal 78, no. 2 (1982): 122–26. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3297061.

OLL Blog – Autonomous Native Peoples in the South American Borderlands – Heather Roller

Heather Roller

Associate Professor of History

Colgate University

 

It was the dry season of 1845, and the Guaikurú were on the move again. Some groups rode on horseback across the grasslands, while others navigated in canoes along the Paraguay River or its tributaries. These Native peoples had been visiting Brazilian and Paraguayan forts and garrison towns for more than a half century, following a series of fragile peace agreements negotiated between Guaikurú leaders and Spanish or Portuguese representatives. Much had changed over those decades, but the Guaikurú remained powerful actors in this borderlands region. One outsider who described them in these terms was the French naturalist Francis de Castelnau, who led a scientific expedition to the interior of South America.

“Guaycuru Warrior,” 1845. Portrait from Francis de Castelnau, Vues et Scènes, vol. 2 of Expédition dans les parties centrales de l’Amérique du Sud, de Rio de Janeiro à Lima et de Lima au Para (Paris: P. Bertrand, 1852), Plate 37, Oliveira Lima Library, The Catholic University of America.

Two remarkable illustrations of the Guaikurú appear in a volume of Castelnau expedition “views and scenes,” which can be found at the Oliveira Lima Library. The first is a portrait of a warrior whose path crossed with that of the French naturalist at the garrison of Albuquerque in 1845 (figure 1). Castelnau gathered that this group of Guaikurús had arrived from the Chaco region only a few days before: “They told us that they had massacred the population of a Spanish town [in Paraguay] and that, being pursued, they came to place themselves under the protection of the Brazilian garrison.” A subgroup, which Castelnau characterized as a “much more savage” band of Kadiwéus, had similarly just crossed into Brazil from Paraguay, to escape retribution from an Indigenous enemy.[i] Both groups were eager to trade some horses for liquor and other supplies. Castelnau was fascinated by the appearance of the Kadiwéu visitors, who—like the man in the portrait—“paint the body with genipapo [ink], covering it with precise figures made of concentric lines and beautiful arabesques…They also frequently paint their hands black, giving the impression of wearing gloves.”[ii]

The second illustration depicts an encampment near Albuquerque that Castelnau described as inhabited by another subgroup of Guaikurús, featuring open-walled shelters arranged in a semicircle (figure 2). Although this subgroup was described in his account and in official reports from the 1840s as “aldeado”—or settled in a state-run village—other evidence makes clear that they remained mobile and autonomous. Indigenous raiding in the borderlands remained common in this period, and the lands between forts in Brazil and Paraguay still effectively belonged to the Guaikurú and Kadiwéu. After the Frenchman visited the Paraguayan fort at Olimpo, he was escorted back to Coimbra Fort on the Brazilian side by a group of soldiers who were terrified to venture into the open terrain. On high alert for Native raiders, “every grass mound of the Chaco seemed to them a Guaikurú ready to attack.” The Paraguayan soldiers’ fears, as it turns out, were justified: upon Castelnau’s return to Brazil, he was told that the Guaikurús had been tracking the party and would have attacked it, had it not been for the presence of the French travelers. He also discovered that the Guaikurús had already given the Brazilian commander at Coimbra a precise account of the trip to Olimpo, fulfilling their longstanding roles as borderland spies and informants.[iii]

“Encampment of Guaycuru Indians,” 1845. From Castelnau, Vues et Scènes, Plate 21, Oliveira Lima Library, The Catholic University of America.

I included both of these illustrations in my recent book, Contact Strategies: Histories of Native Autonomy in Brazil. The central argument, as suggested by the book’s title, is that Indigenous groups took the initiative in their contacts with Brazilian society. Rather than fleeing from that society, they actively sought to appropriate what was useful and powerful from the world of the whites. (In this context, “white” was broadly defined as non-Indigenous.) At the same time, many Indigenous people chose not to live like whites. Groups like the Guaikurú refused permanent settlement, rejected most missionary overtures, and continued to move and gain their subsistence in the old ways—even as they acquired new, useful things like axes, guns, and horses. They also aimed to control the pace and extent of contact: they might open up to outsiders for a period of time and then decide to limit interactions for as long as was collectively deemed necessary. At the time of Castelnau’s expedition, the Guaikurú were using strategies of alliance and warfare in an effort to maintain their autonomy and to reassert authority over people and territory.

[i] Francis de Castelnau, Expedição às regiões centrais da América do Sul (Rio de Janeiro: Itatiaia, 2000), 365, 366.

[ii] Castelnau, Expedição, 366-367.

[iii] Castelnau, Expedição, 386 (quotation), 388.

 

 

 

Latin American Independence: a guide to resources at the Oliveira Lima Library and Catholic University’s Special Collections

In anticipation of the upcoming celebrations of the bicentennial of the independence movements of many Latin American countries, the Oliveira Lima Library has collaborated with Special Collections on a guide to relevant source material. 

Holland, William, active 1782-1817. General Miranda, an accurate likeness taken at Barbadoes (1806).

 

While the materials presented focus on Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela, we cannot overstate just how much impact these independence movements had throughout the whole of the European continent, particularly in the ever more powerful British Empire. Readers will thus note the presence of many materials written in English. It should also be noted that the materials contained in this guide do not merely relate to portrayals of the great figures of the time, though figures like Agustín de Iturbide, Simón Bolívar, Francisco de Miranda and Dom João VI are certainly present. In many instances, readers will also gain insight into daily life in the erstwhile colonies.

We hope you enjoy this guide as much as we did working alongside the staff at Special Collections! To access the libguide, please visit the following link: https://guides.lib.cua.edu/c.php?g=1163778

Chamberlain, Henry, Lieutenant, 1796-1843. Views and costumes of the city and neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1822). Plate 4: A market stall.

To access materials in the Oliveira Lima Library, please schedule a visit with us via email at cua-limalibrary@cua.edu.

The Archivist’s Nook: Conservation in Rare Books, Part II

First folio of MS 126. Image of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, often pictured with the devil in chains.

This past academic year, Special Collections staff continued our long-term project of addressing conservation issues within the Catholic University’s Rare Books collection. As “Part I” of the conservation blog post reported, we began by looking at four of our late medieval European manuscripts. While we continue to prioritize our handwritten manuscripts, this time, the date and geographic range of Quarto’s efforts varied from medieval Europe to late colonial Mexico! 

Our goal in Special Collections is to provide both our external and campus patrons with access to the works they need to research and study. And thus, our number one goal in conserving these manuscripts was to render them stable for both eventual digitization and in-person access, without damaging the text or any original materials in the binding.

As this project progresses, we will continue to keep the campus community informed about the ongoing conservation work and what materials are now safe for full access! And thus, without further ado, we present the five most recently conserved works:

MS 115 – Exposed textblock on the top. Bottom: the rebound textblock.

1. Quadriga Spirituale, ca. 1500, (MS 115)

This work faced real challenges with its binding. The original binding had become quite loose, with tears throughout. The conservators stabilized the binding using wheat starch and Japanese tissue. The binding was preserved and stored in a separate box with a foam insert to mimic the original textblock (the pages inside the covers and binding) and support the binding.

The endbands (the cords affixed on a book spine to provide structural support) of the textblock were stabilized, with the spine stabilized through Japanese tissue and new alum tawed (a calf leather prepared with a liquid solution to create a white appearance) sewing supports sown in. The text was covered with a handmade non-adhesive paper binding to protect the spine and text.

2. Instruccion del Estado del Regno de Mexico, 1794 (MS 121)

MS 121 – The exposed textblock (left). After stabilization, the covered work (right).

This volume lacked any binding, leaving the textblock fully exposed. The spine was loose, with tears in the page caused by abrasive iron gall ink used in the original writing. Iron gall ink was a widely used ink in European works until the nineteenth century, made of iron salts and tannic acids. The conservators worked to stabilize the spine and remove – but conserve for our records – some of the abrasive papers and glue in the spine. They cleaned, stabilized, and mended the tears caused by the ink on the first few pages of the text. A paper binding was created to cover and protect the work.

3. Meditationes Beati Bernardi Abbatis, ca. 1400 (MS 126)

The text’s binding and end cover boards (front and back) were loose, with the boards completely detached from the textblock. This binding was a nineteenth-century addition to the original text.

MS 126 – Left: Detached cover boards. Right: Cover boards reattached to the textblock.

The conservators cleaned the spine and end boards, stabilizing them. They then carefully reattached the endsheets (blank sheets often bound at either end of a textblock to protect the text) and end boards to the textblock. Utilizing microscopic analysis, they reviewed the ink of the text to see if any stabilization was required and noted that none was currently necessary. 

4. The interior Christian or a sure guide for those who aspire to perfection in the spiritual life, 1796 (MS 262)

The leather cover was worn along the spine, but the most grave concern about this work was that the binding and textblock was split down the middle of the spine. The work was literally falling in half, with the two halves stiff and difficult to open.

MS 262 – One the left image, the split in the spine is visible. One the right, the mended spine.

The conservators stabilized the leather front and back cover boards, as well as cleaned the interior of the text. They gently lifted the leather spine and added new sown bindings to stabilize the textblock and make it accessible to readers again. The original spine was removed and safely stored with our records, with a new paper spine created to cover the binding.

5. Theologiae polemicae, 1733 (MS 264)

MS 264 – Top shows the red rot damaged cover, with the loose pieces on the spine. Bottom: the new cover.

This work’s leather cover was heavily damaged through red rot. The spine of the cover had completely disintegrated over the years, leaving the threads of the binding exposed. However, the threads were heavily compromised, offering no support to the text and thus rendering the pages loose. Some damage was noted along the pages that had been in close contact with the leather binding. The binding is original to the text, but was so damaged that it needed to be replaced (but with the threads and cover boards kept). 

The conservators unbound the text and carefully paginated the pages to maintain proper order. The spine was cleaned and tears throughout the text mended with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. The textblock was resewn, with new endsheets added to protect the original pages. A historically similar binding with boards was created to protect the text.

To find out more about these books or the general Catholic University Rare Books collection, please contact us at: lib-rarebooks@cua.edu

Our digitized manuscripts may also be viewed at this link.