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.

The Archivist’s Nook: Rare Book Acquisitions, 2021

Special Collections, including the Rare Books Department, like the rest of the world, is emerging from the shadow of the COVID Pandemic. Fortunately, we were able to acquire new books and related materials during the vicissitudes of 2020, which we reported on in a November blog post, and are pleased to announce further significant purchases during 2021 from reputable dealers to grow our collections.

English Recusant Prayer Book with Book of Hours, 1630. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

The first item is a work reflecting the response of English Catholics to persecution in their homeland. It is a English Recusant’s Prayer Book titled ‘Exercitium hebdomadarium, collectore Ioanne Wilsono sacerdote Anglo; in gratiam piorum Catholicorum’ from 1630 bound along with a Book of Hours titled ‘Officium passionis Iesu Christi ex oraculis prophetarum desumptum’ originally published in 1621. This pocket prayer book was compiled by Jesuit priest John Wilson, who managed the English College Press at St. Omer. The two books were edited by Wilson and printed in the same typographic format at Antwerp at the Plantin Press of Balthasar Moretus. Both parts include Flemish Baroque engravings in the style of Antoine Wierix, including the second part with a series of nearly a dozen scenes showing the Passion of the Christ. (1) Both editions are considered scares and this second edition was purchased from Samuel Gedge Books of England.

L’Histoire de Jansenius et de Saint-Siran, ca. 1695. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

The second item is a book related to the Jansenist Heresy, primarily active in France, which emphasized original sin, divine grace, and predestination.  It is titled ‘L’Histoire de Jansenius et de Saint-Siran’ and was published in Brussels, ca. 1695, anonymously, due to its scurrilous content regarding an imaginary dialogue between Cornelius Jansen and the Abbe de Saint-Cyran in a supposed conference about 1620 at the Bourgfontaine Monastery with a plot to overthrow the established church. The latter had introduced Jansen’s doctrine into France, in particular among the nuns of Port-Royal. This rare sole edition is 192 pages, bound in contemporary calf, with the joints and spine a little chipped. It also has a stamp on the blank flyleaf of an English boarding school of St. Edmund’s College, Ware, and was purchased by Catholic U. from Inlibris of Vienna (2).

Calendario Dispuesto por Don Mariano Joseph de Zuniga…1814, Special Collection, The Catholic University of America.

The third item is as much artifact as publication and a unique addition to our materials related to Latin America titled ‘Calendario Dispuesto por Don Mariano Joseph de Zuniga y Ontiveros Agrimensor por S. M. (Q. D. G.) Para el Ano del Senor de 1815 Los Seis Meses Primeros.’ It is the only edition of an 1815 colonial Mexican sheet almanac by Mariana Jose de Zuniga y Ontiveros, published in 1814 in Mexico City the last of the pre-Independence Zuniga dynasty of Mexican printers. The almanac records eclipses and other celestial events, lunar phases, meteorological predictions, astrological data, feast days, and key moments in the Catholic calendar. It is printed in seven columns within a typographic border on each side and includes small woodcuts of the Virgin of Guadeloupe and San Felipe de Jesús. Similar to European almanacs, Mexican almanacs were printed in the months preceding the forthcoming year. Zúñiga was a mathematician, land surveyor, and member of the Royal Board of Charity of Mexico. The only other year of this type of sheet or series is the 1805 edition held at the University of Texas at Sah Antonio. (3) The Catholic University almanac was purchased from William Cotter Books of Austin, Texas.

Manuscript Sermon by the Minister of Trinity Church, San Francisco, 1856. Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

The final item is a significant addition to our growing body of Anti-Catholic materials and is titled a ‘Manuscript Sermon Preached by the Minister of Trinity Church in San Francisco in 1856 on Hebrews XIII:  “We have an Altar whereof they have no right to eat those who serve the Tabernacle.”’ It is a firebrand sermon preached in 1856 in San Francisco at the Trinity Episcopal Church by the Reverend Stephen Chipman Thrall. He was the third rector of Trinity Church, 1856-1862, and the biblical text is the stimulus for his assault on what he considered the blasphemous dogma of the Roman Catholic Church (4).  It is a nineteen page, 8 ½ by 13 ½ inch, ink manuscript on blank versos of forms from the Custom House Collector’s Office, written in a contemporary hand and purchased from David Lessor Books of Connecticut.

These four new acquisitions, covering three continents and three centuries, are a further enhancement to the diverse Special Collections at Catholic University. We hope to post further updates regarding acquisitions as well as conservation work before the end of 2021. Please contact us with any questions.

(1) Samuel Gedge Ltd, Norwich, England, Catalog 30, 2020, p. 23.

(2) Thanks to David Rueger of Antiquariat Inlibris.

(3) William S. Cotter Rare Books at https://www.wscotterrarebooks.com/

(4) California Historical Society Quarterly, Sep., 1955, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep., 1955), pp. 231-237.

(5) Special thanks to STM and BM for their assistance.

OLL Blog – Engraved Illustrations of Jesuit Martyrdoms During the Persecution of Christianity in Early Modern Japan – Jan Levin Propach

Dr. Jan Levin Propach

Postdoctoral Researcher at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich – Department of Catholic Theology

 

The Oliveira Lima Library contains a collection of engraved illustrations showing Jesuit martyrdoms during the persecution of Christianity in 17th century Japan. Even though these illustrations were made in Europe in a propagandistic manner, they tell a story which is not well-known in the West: the rise and fall of Christianity in Early Modern Japan.

In 1549 Francis Xavier S.J. (1506–1552)—one of the first disciples of Ignatius of Loyola S.J. (1491–1556)—arrived at Japan’s southern Island Kyushu together with two other Jesuits and a former Samurai. What political context did the missionaries enter? Since the Ōnin War (1467–1477), Japan was no longer reigned by the emperor and a shogun (Muromachi Shogunate). Instead, dozens of small local rulers (daimyō and kunishū), different Buddhist monasteries fought for their supremacy. The three Great Unifiers Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582), Toyotomi Hideyashi (1537–1598) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616) attempted to bring the Age of Warring States (sengoku) to an end and to unify the country under the reign of a shogun again.

Martyrdom of Augustinus Ota S.J. (1572-1622). IN: Cardim. Elogios e ramalhete de flores… (1650)

The destiny of Christianity in Japan is neatly wedded into this Age of Warring States. Many Japanese local lords allowed the Jesuits to proselytize their subjects, because they benefited from the Portuguese trade and weapon technologies. They also perceived in Christianity an instrument against the influence of different powerful Buddhist sects. On the other hand, Christian missionaries were seen as representatives of foreign powers trying to increase their influence in Japan.

Despite this, the early Japanese missions were highly successful: about 150.000 Japanese were converted in 1583; 75 Jesuits organized the Japanese mission; there was a novitiate in Usuki, seminaries in Arima and Azuchi and about ten Jesuit residences throughout Japan. However, missionaries would be increasingly perceived as antagonists to the efforts to reach the country’s unity, especially after the donation of Nagasaki to the Jesuits in 1580. Thus on July 24th, 1587 Hideyoshi issued an edict that expelled the Jesuit missionaries. This first edict had only a limited impact on the Japanese mission, although it caused the confiscation and demolition of Christian buildings, such as the college in Funai and the novitiate in Usuki. From this moment on, the Jesuit mission focused on Kyushu.

Martyrdom of Emmanuel Borges, S.J. IN: Cardim. Elogios e ramalhete de flores… (1650)

The pragmatic politician Hideyoshi only reluctantly tolerated the Jesuits’ bidding out of an interest in and dependence on trade with the Portuguese. These economic relations could only be achieved with the help of the Jesuits. Tokugawa Ieyasu, who followed Hideyoshi after his death in 1598, tolerated the Jesuits’ missionary activities for economic reasons too, but once he issued a trade permit for the Dutch (1609) and the English (1613), he limited the Portuguese ships to the port of Nagasaki. There was no further need of tolerance for Christianity to get involved in the profitable European trade. And when in 1612 a court intrigue—involving Okamoto Paulo Daihachi and Arima Harunobi who were both Christians—was disclosed, Ieyasu’s aversion against the Christian missionaries increased considerably.

In 1614, the bakufu, or military government, announced the expulsion of all missionaries from Japan. This edict was renewed under Ieyasu’s successor Tokugawa Hidetada (1579-1632) in 1616. The great martyrdoms in Kyoto 1619 (88 martyrdoms), Nagasaki in 1622 (55 martyrdoms) and Edo, now Tokyo, in 1624 (50 martyrdoms) all attest to the serious commitment of the shogun’s government to this new policy. Between 1614 and 1650, 2,128 Christians died under the persecution, 71 of whom were European missionaries (1). The following illustrations from Antonio Francisco Cardim’s Elogios e ramalhete de flores… (1650) in the Oliveira Lima Library depict the martyrdoms of Emmanuel Borges S.J., Augustinus Ota S.J. (1572–1622) and Diego Yuki S.J. (1574–1636) by anatsurushi (2) and by smiting with a sword.

Martyrdom of Diego Yuki S.J. (1574-1636). IN: Cardim. Elogios e ramalhete de flores… (1650)

By 1643, after all of Japan’s missionaries were forced either to flee to China and the Philippines, were killed or apostatized, about one hundred missionaries had secretly entered Japan to maintain the religious, and especially the sacramental life of the Church. Between 1714, the year of the death in Edo of Giovanni Battista Sidotti (1668–1714), the last priest to enter Japan secretly, until the enactment of religious freedom in 1889, Christianity survived in the underground, disconnected from the Church hierarchy. Many of those Hidden Christians rejoined the Catholic Church in the late 19th century. However, down to the present day some Christian communities remain hidden in the underground, opting not to reenter the Catholic Church in order to keep their own religious identities in contact with the greater Japanese religious environment. (3)

 

(1) For a list of all Japanese martyrdoms see Boxer, Charles Ralph. The Christian Century in Japan (1549–1650). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951, 448.

(2) Anatsurushi was a method of torture by facing the victim upside down in an Excrement-filled hole in the ground; a lid closed on the neck. Slow death made it possible for those who were tortured to renounce their faith and thus save their lives.

(3) Cf. Turnbull, Stephen. The Kakure Kirishitan of Japan. A Study of Their Development, Beliefs and Rituals to the Present Day. Richmond: Japan Library Press, 1998; Harrington, Ann M. Japan’s Hidden Christians. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1993 and Pella, Kristian. The Kakure Kirishitan of Ikitsuki Island. The End of a Tradition. Uppsala: Uppsala University, 2013.

OLL Blog – Paesi nouamente retrouati. Et Nouo Mondo da Alberico Velputio Florentino intitulato (1507): Findings from a Study of the Oldest Book in the Oliveira Lima Library

Paesi nouamente retrouati. Et Nouo Mondo da Alberico Velputio Florentino intitulato (1507):
Findings from a Study of the Oldest Book in the Oliveira Lima Library

Erin Mir-Aliyev

Master of Science in Library and Information Science – The Catholic University of America
Flora de Oliveira Lima Fellowship for Graduate Students in Library and Information Science – The Oliveira Lima Library

Image 1: Rare Books shelf at the Oliveira Lima Library

As part of a rare books course this past fall, I was given an assignment to choose any book I wanted and to “write its biography”. Since I wanted to be able to review and make use of everything I had been learning about how to conduct bibliography in my classes, as well as take advantage of all of the rare books available to me in the Oliveira Lima Library collection, I decided to take a closer look at the oldest book contained in it – a work titled Paesi nouamente retrouati. Et Nouo Mondo da Alberico Velputio Florentino intitulato (Images 2 and 3). Compiled by Fracanzano da Montalboddo and first published in 1507, it contains the first printed narrative of the voyage of discovery of Brazil by Pedro Alvares Cabral among other early accounts of early exploratory voyages by Europeans, and is a very significant resource for many patrons of the collection.

Resources Consulted

Image 2: Front cover of Oliveira Lima Library’s copy of Paesi
Image 3: Title Page of Oliveira Lima Library’s copy of Paesi

My main task was to examine the physical characteristics of the copy available to me, the digitized version of the 1507 edition copy held by Oliveira Lima Library and available to the CUA community through Gale’s Brazilian and Portuguese History and Culture collection, in order to understand the processes involved in how it was made. I also compared this copy to another edition, which in this case was a digitized copy of a 1508 edition published as a facsimile in 1916 and held at Harvard University’s collection. Besides these two copies of the book, I also found useful information from outside sources including Ruth E. V. Holmes’ 1926 bibliography Bibliographical and historical description of the rarest books in the Oliveira Lima collection at the Catholic university of America, lists of known editions such as the one on the John Carter Brown Library website, Philip Gaskell’s book A New Introduction to Bibliography, and a 1917 article about Vespucci reprints in The American Historical Review. Going through this process allowed me to better understand where to go for bibliographical information and what to look for when studying books as artifacts, in order to gather clues about a book’s origin and the history of its development. This exercise also highlighted the continued importance of being able to physically, not only digitally, access books in library collections, as the information I was able to glean was limited by only viewing digitized versions. In order to give an idea of what kinds of information bibliographical research can uncover, as well as some limitations encountered, I briefly describe a few interesting things I discovered by analyzing the information I found through secondary sources as well as from looking at the physical traits of the copies themselves.

Circumstances of Compilation and Production

While common knowledge of the culture and time period in which Paesi was written, such as the atmosphere of competition between European nations to find and claim new lands, was helpful, researching also led me to detailed information about circumstances surrounding the book’s creation. Holmes’ bibliography contributed to my understanding of this a lot. According to her, writings by Jose Carlos Rodrigues reveal that a Venetian admiral and historian named Malipiero had connections to Venetian ambassadors in Madrid and Lisbon, who covertly passed on news and details of the voyage and discovery of Brazil mentioned within the text. One of these ambassadors had access to a letter from Pero Vaz de Caminha to King Dom Manoel of Portugal concerning the voyages, and based on the knowledge contained therein wrote a letter to Malipiero. It arrived too late for Malipiero to use it in the composition of his own works. However, Fracanzano da Montalboddo, a well-known sixteenth-century professor at Vicentia, Italy, was still able to use it to compile Paesi. This bit of information reveals that detailed knowledge about these exploratory voyages was not necessarily meant to be shared between different countries or meant for the average person, and hints that this knowledge about the Portuguese journeys contained in the text was probably not meant to be published, at least not at that time or in Italy. However, certain groups of people were seeking after it and produced the text anyway.

Quality of Materials and Unfinished Pages

Image 5: Inferior Paper Quality
Image 4: Good Paper Quality

Examination of the digitized images of the paper used in the production of the 1507 edition copy appears to indicate that quality was less of a concern as printing progressed. Some pages appear to be higher quality; these are mostly in the first half of the book and appear whiter in color, flatter, and without major flaws. Other pages, mostly in the second half of the book, have a more off-white color and have many imperfections such as warping that appear to have originated in the paper-making process (Images 4 & 5). Paper quality especially seems lower towards the end of the book, in section six. This variation in paper quality throughout the book could indicate that the creator or printer was running out of money towards the end of the printing of this book, and began to use any paper he could afford. It could also indicate that time became more of a concern, and that less focus was placed on having the best materials and more focus was placed on finishing the book the later into the process he got. Paper quality does not appear to be so varied in the 1508 edition copy, though the ability to see the paper closely in this version was more difficult due to the way the facsimile was made.

As mentioned before, this activity highlighted the necessity of accessing a physical copy of a book to thoroughly research some aspects of it or confirm certain details, which was at the time impossible due to Covid restrictions. A patron’s ability to analyze certain aspects of a book like paper, chain lines, format, ink, bindings, etc. are very limited without being able to hold and handle the object in person. This activity also brought to attention how often the bindings, covers, endpapers, and flyleaves of books are often not even digitized with other content deemed significant by whoever is doing the digitizing, leading to important information contained in those features being lost to those who only have access to digital versions. Good quality digitization, with the goal of providing patrons with as close a representation of the original object as possible, should include these features in the digitization process.

Image 6: Unfinished Page with Missing Block Print Letter
Image 7: Unfinished Page with Missing Block Print Letter

Similarly, something else interesting about the 1507 edition copy is that there are several pages in the second half of the book, especially in sections five and six, where the empty space intended to contain a block print of a large, decorative beginning letter is not filled with any design (Images 6 & 7).

Since this is something that would have been completed by hand after printing with the press, it is as if the printer was inattentive or rushed at this point in the process. When taken into consideration along with the decreasing paper quality mentioned above, it could indicate an instance of rushed production in which these details were not carefully checked before distribution of the final product. It could also indicate the importance of the written content over artistic details. It is unknown whether this is something unique to this individual copy, or something encountered in all 1507 edition copies. In contrast, the 1508 edition copy I looked at does not appear to be missing any of these images.

Different Perspectives Over Time

Reviewing the editions of this work that have been produced since the first one in 1507, also led me to realize how Paesi has remained relevant and important for scholars since the sixteenth century, but the format in which it is presented has changed. Unlike the 1507 edition and other early editions in which Paesi was published as its own standalone book, the 1916 version of the 1508 edition was created as part of a series of similar books, all containing Vespucci texts. The context of creation for this 1916 version is different in that the text is embedded within a body of similar information not originally associated with it, and the point of view of the creator and reader of this one is very different from the one that a creator or reader in 1507 would have had. The knowledge we now have of the events and results of the age of exploration contributes to how the information about it is now presented, consumed, and understood.

All of the conclusions made in this study are of course preliminary, but this was still a valuable exercise that taught me to start thinking as bibliographers do about the materials I encounter each day. 

The Archivist’s Nook: Pre-Vatican II Pamphlet Spotlight – Getting into the Christmas Spirit!

As we approach the Fourth Sunday of Advent, many of us are preparing for Christmas in a variety of ways. Everything from putting up decorations and baking cookies to attending Mass more frequently and receiving the Sacrament of Confession on a more regular basis. This is a season of penance and abstinence, joy and hope! To celebrate this most holy season, the Catholic University Special Collections would like to share a number of beautiful items from our Pre-Vatican II Pamphlet Collection! These small yet stunning pieces give us a glimpse into Christmas past, a peek into the traditions and observances of Catholics before the Second Vatican Council. Although I will only be focusing on five of our pamphlets, this post is in no way exhaustive of our collection. I invite you to take a look through our online database, which you can browse through our over 12,000 pamphlets: https://libraries.catholic.edu/special-collections/rare-books/pre-vatican-ii-pamphlets.html

Christmas – the Gift of God!

Christmas – the Gift of God!, 1951. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

The first pamphlet that I would like to feature is from the Paulist Press. Written in 1951 by Rev. James M. Gillis, C.S.P., this brief booklet packs quite the punch! Fr. Gillis outlines the historical and theological background of Christmas, with each section addressing a particular question or controversy. He answers hard-hitting questions such as “Is Christmas Pagan?”, “Christ or Bacchus?”, and “Is God a Sphinx?”[1]. Each section is not terribly long, but Fr. Gillis is able to address common misconceptions regarding the holy-day with deft and depth. Theologically hefty, this little pamphlet explains Christmas within the Catholic context, drawing on the Church Fathers, writings of the Saints, and the teachings of the Magisterium. The pamphlet concludes with the lyrics to a number of popular Christmas songs hymns, the majority of which are still enjoyed today, including “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, “O Holy Night” and “The First Noel”.

The Gifts of Christmas

The Gifts of Christmas, 1943. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.
The Gifts of Christmas, 1943. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

The second pamphlet that I would like to draw to your attention is from our sub-collection of pamphlets for children. This one was written by Rev. Daniel A. Lord S.J., who features heavily in our pamphlet collection, in 1943. This pamphlet is downright gorgeous, filled with full-color illustrations and pop-outs that are surely engaging for children (and this technician!). The pamphlet recalls the Nativity story in an easy to understand way, while also pointing to Christ’s presence in the Mass and the story of St. Nicholas. The illustrations make use of paper windows and a three-dimensional Christmas tree, making it seem almost like a picture book!

The Christmas Lamb

The Christmas Lamb, 1942. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

This pamphlet is another work of Fr. Lord’s, being published in 1942 by The Queen’s Work. Although this one is not as colorful as the last pamphlet, the cover is richly decorated with gold ink, and depictions of the Blessed Mother and Baby Jesus surrounded by lambs and angels. Fr. Lord retells the Nativity story, but in a very poetic way, almost lyrical. It seems that this pamphlet was meant to be given as a gift to someone, as there is space to write one’s name in the front cover after “That the Lamb of God may be The Joy of Your Christmas is the sincere hope of:” [2]. What a wonderful alternative to a traditional Christmas card!

Devotions for the Christmas and the Epiphany Season

Devotions for Christmas and the Epiphany Season, 1954. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

This fourth pamphlet was written by Rev. Philip T. Weller in 1954 and published through Saint Pius X Press in Berwyn, Maryland. A slightly less ornate pamphlet than the previous three, but nonetheless, still beautiful with a green cover featuring a delightful rendering of the Nativity. Inside, the text is more technical than our other examples, this being a prayer service outline with the words spoken by the priest celebrating and the responses of the congregation. It also includes instructions for the congregation as when to stand, kneel, and sit, along with instructions for the priest. The pamphlet directs the Celebrant to “place[s] the image of the Infant in its place, kneels and incenses the Crib, and says the following prayer:”[3]. The pamphlet ends with the Magnificat, O Salutaris, Tantum Ergo, the Divine Praises, and finally the Star of the Sea prayer.

The King’s Jongleur: A Medieval Christmas Play in Three Acts

The King’s Jongleur, 1936. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.
The King’s Jongleur, 1936. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

The last pamphlet that I will be featuring is different from the rest, but that is why I think it is worth mentioning! Written by Sister Mary Donatus in 1936 for The Catholic Dramatic Movement, this pamphlet is a script of a short play. The play focuses on an Abbey preparing for its Midnight Mass, but they are visited by a jester, who although at first seems to be causing trouble, is later revealed to have the purest heart and receives a blessing from the Infant Jesus. A short yet sweet play about charity and belief during Christmas, this is just one of the many plays in our pamphlet collection. 

This is just a small taste of thousands of pamphlets that we house in our collection, we have an assortment of material ranging from prayer and the Sacraments, to Catholic dating and perspectives on social issues. If you would like to know more, or would like to schedule an appointment to come visit our collection, please contact us at (202) 319- 5065 or lib-archives@cua.edu

 

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays from our families to yours!

 

 

[1] ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University, American Catholic Pamphlets and Parish Histories, Paulist, 501.

[2] ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University, American Catholic Pamphlets and Parish Histories, Lordy, 70.

[3] ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University, American Catholic Pamphlets and Parish Histories, 1902, 88.

The Archivist’s Nook: Rare Book Acquisitions, 2019-2020

Stacks in Rare Books, Mullen Library, May 2019, Taken by W. J Shepherd. Special Collections, Catholic University.

Rare Books was formally added to Special Collections in May 2019, joining the University Archives, Museum, and Manuscripts, also known as the American Catholic History Research Collection. New acquisitions have been a challenge while operating in a climate of budget and staff limits even before the onset of the COVID Crisis. However, we are pleased to report on four recent notable arrivals. Purchasing rare books, including pamphlets, is not a matter to be taken lightly. Several factors have to be accounted for, such as the reputation of the seller, price and provenance of the item, as well as whether the item has already been digitized or is available in print copies from other libraries. While the Rare Books collection at Catholic University is strong in many subject areas, we are looking to expand our Anti-Catholic literature, the Catholic Apologetics defending the Faith, and acquire more Spanish and indigenous language items from both North and South America.

A Sermon Preached in the Church of St. Augustine, in Philadelphia, on the 31st of May, 1829, at A Solemn, Religious Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the Emancipation of The Catholics of Great Britain and Ireland.’ By the Rev. John Hughes. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The first of the aforementioned acquisitions is a sermon pamphlet obtained in October 2019 from David Lesser of Fine Antiquarian Books in Woodbridge, Connecticut. Titled ‘A Sermon Preached in the Church of St. Augustine, in Philadelphia, on the 31st of May, 1829, at A Solemn, Religious Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the Emancipation of The Catholics of Great Britain and Ireland.’ By the Rev. John Hughes. Spanning 28 pages, it is in good condition and only lightly foxed. Born in Ireland, John Joseph Hughes became the fourth Bishop and first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, serving from 1842 to 1864. He was known as ‘Dagger John’, both for his following of the Catholic practice wherein a bishop precedes his signature with a cross, as well as for his aggressive personality. At the time of this sermon, he was the pastor of a church located in Philadelphia. He dedicated his sermon to Daniel O’Connel, who was known as ‘The Liberator,’ due to his tireless lobbying for Catholic Emancipation in both Ireland and Great Britain.  Philadelphia had been a center of anti-immigrant political unrest. Hughes’s address to this largely Irish-American congregation reminded them of the oppression that was historically directed towards Roman Catholics, and celebrated the British Parliament’s recent granting of fuller civil rights towards Catholics.

Catecismo y declaracion de la Doctrina Cristiana en lengua Otomi, con un vocabulario del mismo idioma. Megico: impreso en la oficina de ciudadano by Joaquin Lopez Yepes in 1826. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The second new addition was a book purchased in February 2020 from Rulon-Miller Books of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Written by Joaquin Lopez Yepes and published by Alejandro Valdes in 1826 in Mexico, it is a Catechism and Dictionary (Catecismo y declaracion de la Doctrina Cristiana en lengua Otomi, con un vocabulario del mismo idioma. Megico: impreso en la oficina de ciudadano) in both Spanish and the indigenous language of Otomi. This first edition has 254 pages, with a dictionary spanning pages 93-251. It is comprised of red morocco backed marbled boards, and has a smooth gilt spine that is laid out in six compartments. Otomi differs in structure from other languages spoken in Mexico, as it strongly resembles the languages of Eastern Asia. Luis de Neve y Molina was the first to establish a system of characters in 1767, which has been retained. Otomi is a monosyllabic language, which is still spoken today by nearly two million inhabitants of central Mexico. The author was a native Mexican and a religious brother of the Franciscan College at Pachuca. Many consider his vocabulary to be the most complete ever published in this language.

A Relation of the Bloody Massacre in Ireland; Acted by the Instigation of the Jesuits, Priests, and Friars, who were Promoters of those Horrible Murders, Prodigeous Cruelties, Barbarous Villanies, and Inhuman Practices Executed by the Irish Papists upon the English Protestants: With an Account of the Spanish Inquistition. London: Rowland Reynolds, 1689. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The third recent arrival is a pamphlet from Paul Dowling of Liber Antiquus, Early Books & Manuscripts, located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. It was purchased in May 2020 and is titled A Relation of the Bloody Massacre in Ireland; Acted by the Instigation of the Jesuits, Priests, and Friars, who were Promoters of those Horrible Murders, Prodigeous Cruelties, Barbarous Villanies, and Inhuman Practices Executed by the Irish Papists upon the English Protestants: With an Account of the Spanish Inquistition. London: Rowland Reynolds, 1689. This first edition is bound in recent quarter calf and marbled boards and has a spine label. There are four known copies in the United States, residing in the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Newberry Library, and at Yale and Harvard universities. The first leaf is soiled with marginal repairs and is illustrated with five woodcuts, two show images of mayhem and three depict torture scenes as practiced by the Spanish Inquisition. The first part was apparently issued as a news report in 1641 while the second part on the Inquisition is original. In this sensational account, the Irish are alleged to have tortured Protestants by drowning thousands and compelling family members to kill their own kin: “Wives were forced to hang their own husbands, and mothers to cast their own children into the waters.” This book was published in response to the tumult in Ireland that followed the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Catholic Ireland had to accept the military occupation and endure the rule of the Protestant regime of William of Orange. In 1689 several London printing houses recirculated pamphlets that had originally published in 1641 during the Irish Rebellion. Although readers of the republished Relation of the Bloody Massacre in Ireland were not provided with an introduction, they were able to recognize its relevance towards the present situation.

Requeste Presentee au Roy par Messieurs les Cardinaux, Princes, Seigneurs, & des Deputez de la ville de Paris, & autre villes Catholiques associez & unis pour la deffence de la Religion Catholique Apostolique & Romaine. May 23, 1588. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The fourth new acquisition is a Catholic League pamphlet printed in French, dated May 23, 1588, and purchased in July 2020 from Robert Heron of Three Gables in Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom. It’s English title is Presentation to the King by Cardinals, Princes, Lords, and Deputies of the City of Paris and other Catholic cities associated and united for the defense of the Catholic Religion (Requeste Presentee au Roy par Messieurs les Cardinaux, Princes, Seigneurs, & des Deputez de la ville de Paris, & autre villes Catholiques associez & unis pour la deffence de la Religion Catholique Apostolique & Romaine). In 1576, Henry, duc de Guise, formed the Catholic League to eradicate all French Protestants. On May 12, 1588, known as the ‘Day of the Barricades,’ King Henry III was forced to flee Paris to escape a popular uprising called by de Guise. This rare 16-page pamphlet was most likely printed in Lyon from the original which was published in Paris. It was a plea to the King, now in refuge at the royal Chateau de Blois, to embrace the Catholic cause in the Wars of Religion, which developed as the Reformation spread across Europe into France. Although Henry III made a formal reply to this request, he also took direct action by summoning de Guise and his brother, a Cardinal, to de Blois before Christmas of 1588 where he had them both killed. This led to many more League pamphlets and Henry’s assassination on August 1, 1589 by a Dominican friar. This pamphlet is unbound, protected by a brown paper cover, and in good condition even though the first few pages are somewhat dirty from frequent handling over the past 400 years.

In conclusion, these four new acquisitions, published in four countries, in four languages, across four centuries, represent the diversity of our ever growing collection of Rare Books at The Catholic University of America. We are dedicated to providing preservation, maintenance, and above all, access, to these cultural treasures and we invite you to contact us with any questions you might have.

The Archivist’s Nook: What’s So Special About Special Collections?

Most major institutional libraries have Special Collections, but what exactly are Special Collections and why are they so special? A special collection is a group of items that includes rare books, museum objects, or archival documents. They are irreplaceable or otherwise unique and valuable. Special collections are usually housed separately from the mainstream library collections and are secured in locations with environmental controls that enhance preservation. Special collections include rare materials that are focused on specific topics such as labor relations, social welfare, and military history. They benefit researchers by consolidating related items together in one repository that are distinguishable from the other libraries. At The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., our Special Collections consists of four distinct departments that have converged over the course of the last century and longer. These departments include the Museum, Rare Books, University Archives, and the Manuscript collection named The American Catholic History Research Collection. This current configuration was created in May 2019, though each department has its own unique history.[1]

Brandi Marulli, Special Collections Technician, with a Statue of St. Francis from the CU Museum Collection.

The Museum’s first donations arrived before Catholic University opened its doors in 1889 and were displayed in Caldwell Hall until 1905. Thereafter, items were housed in McMahon Hall, Mullen Library, or put into storage. Management of the Museum was placed under the University Archives in 1976 and was primarily kept in the Curley Hall Vault. Since then, some items are kept stored in Aquinas Hall while many others are loaned out to various campus offices to use for decoration. Today, it includes art works and artifacts representing different periods and genres which total over 5,000 pieces. They are broken down into three main categories:  Art and Artifacts, History, and Anthropology. The first includes paintings, statues, terra cotta works, ivories, and triptychs, Asian objets d’art, a coin collection from the Classical World, lithographs, engravings, modern works by Gene Davis and S. Saklarian, as well as varied decorative arts and furniture. The second consists of portraits and busts of important religious figures, artifacts related to the university, and Catholic devotional objects, while the third is made up of Ancient Near East archaeological artifacts, Native American implements and pottery, and ethnographic items from Samoa, the Philippines, and North America. For additional information or to inquire about a loan, please contact lib-archives@cua.edu.

Shane MacDonald, Special Collections Archivist, with an Early Modern Choir Book from the Rare Books Collection in Mullen Library.

The Rare Books Department was created by donations from Arthur T. Connolly, the Clementine Library, and the Maryland Collections that converged from the 1910s to the 1950s. The holdings contain approximately 70,000 volumes, which range from medieval documents to first editions of twentieth century authors. Its primary holdings contain printed books and pamphlets dating back to the fifteenth century, over 100 incunabula[2], and 1,400 books from the sixteenth century. There are also over 100 manuscripts, spanning from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries, and include papal bulls, books of hours, choir books and, in particular, the Quodlibeta of Godfrey of Fontaines. A significant section is the Clementine Library, acquired from the remains of the Albani family library, of which a member of whom was Pope Clement XI. Other collections include Connolly’s eighteenth and nineteenth century books and pamphlets, Richard Foley’s modern literature, the Order of Malta materials, Michael Jenkins’ Maryland Collection, pre Vatican II pamphlets, and American parish histories. For additional information, or to schedule a tour or class visit, please contact-lib-rarebooks@cua.edu.

W. J. Shepherd, University Archivist and Head of Special Collections, with the 1885 Deed for Catholic U. signed by Frederick Douglass, D.C. Recorder of Deeds.

The University Archives officially opened on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1949, with an impressive ceremony that included Wayne Grover, who was Archivist of the United States; Archbishop O’Boyle, chancellor of the university; Ernst Posner, archivist of American University and a seminal theorist of archives; and Philip Brooks, president of the Society of American Archivists. They spoke about the importance of archives in regard to the preservation of culture as well as the Catholic Church’s long tradition as a keeper of historical records. As the official memory of the University, the Archives acquires and administers non-current records, organized by office, department, or program, which document institutional activities. Materials often include minutes, reports, correspondence, photographs, or digital materials.  The donating office controls access but may not destroy any records in the Archives. Any questions can be directed to lib-archives@cua.edu.

Dr. Maria Mazzenga, Curator of the American Catholic History Collection, with a photograph from the T.V. Powderly Papers of women delegates, including L. Barry with her infant daughter, to the 1886 Knights of Labor meeting.

The Manuscript Collection, also known as The American Catholic History Research Collection, was founded in tandem with the University Archives in 1949. It has the separate function of collecting personal papers and institutional records beyond Catholic University which document the heritage and history of the American Catholic people. Areas of concentration are social welfare, philanthropy, labor relations, immigration, and international peace, in addition to Catholic intellectual, educational, cultural, and religious lives. These manuscript collections contain unpublished primary sources such as correspondence, meeting minutes, diaries, photographs, maps, oral histories, electronic records, and sound and video recordings. Consisting of over 400 collections, they range in size of less than one linear foot for the Josephine McGarry Callan Papers to major organizations such as the National Catholic Education Association equally nearly 700 linear feet. The index of collections lists them all alphabetically, with further links to more detailed descriptions including finding aids or inventories. To inquire about remote or in person access, please contact us lib-archives@cua.edu.

Our full-time professional staff, whether working remotely or on site, and assisted by several graduate student workers or volunteer interns, are here and happy to assist researchers and other interested parties as needed. We are happy to present on our materials to classes either virtually or in-house in the Rare Books space in Mullen Library or the other departmental materials in Aquinas Hall. These include myself as University Archivist and Head of Special Collections; Dr. Maria Mazzenga, Curator of the American Catholic History Collections; Shane MacDonald, Special Collections Archivist; and Brandi Marulli, Special Collections Technician. Please see our ‘Contact’ page, our ‘Come Visit Us’ page, and our ‘Reproduction’ policies.[3]

 

  

 

 

[1] Additionally, there are also two other independent and highly specialized Special Collections: The Oliveira Lima Library dedicated to the history and culture of Portugal and Brazil and the Semitics-Institute of Christian Oriental Research Library supporting the languages and thought of the Bible and Ancient Near East.

 

[2] An incunable, or sometimes incunabulum is a book, pamphlet, or broadside printed in Europe before 1501. Incunabula are not manuscripts, which are documents written by hand. As of 2014, there are about 30,000 distinct known incunable editions extant, 

[3] Thanks to MM, and SM.