The Return of Special Collections at Burke!


Earlier this Fall, The Burke Library proudly reopened its doors to the Columbia and Union communities after being closed for eighteen months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been wonderful to see so many new and returning friends use Burke’s study spaces, stacks, and general collections. Our staff is particularly proud to provide renewed access to Burke’s fabulous collections of rare and archival materials, which were mostly inaccessible during the extended period of closure.

Almost immediately after reopening, we installed a new exhibit in the Seth Kasten Memorial Exhibit Case on the first floor of the library. This exhibit, devoted to new rare and archival materials acquired by Burke in the last year, provides a small window into the diverse array of special collections that are available for individual research and teaching purposes. Among the items on display are an Early Modern edition of a medieval theologian’s letters; a twelfth-century passion play with roots in Classical Greek literature; a sixteenth-century program of theological education by Erasmus; a manuscript theological dictionary from the eighteenth century; the travel narrative of a female itinerant evangelist in the early 1800s; and a notebook from the archival papers of Union’s own James H. Cone. We hope you will stop by and have a look at these exciting items!


New Exhibit in the Seth Kasten Memorial Exhibit Case (Fall 2021) -- visible are several open books and a yellowed manuscript page with the text illegible
New exhibit in the Seth Kasten Memorial Exhibit Case in the Burke Library


We were also delighted to welcome our first special collections class back into The Burke Library! On Friday, September 24, Susan Boynton, Professor of Historical Musicology at Columbia, held her class on medieval liturgical manuscripts in our conference room. Students spent three hours examining several of Burke’s wonderful liturgical manuscripts, brought to Union Theological Seminary in the mid-nineteenth century as part of the collection of Leander Van Ess. It was such a pleasure to welcome this group of students back into the library, and we look forward to many more special collections visits in the near future!


Students wearing face masks examine books and yellowed manuscript pages in a warmly-lit conference room
Prof. Susan Boynton’s class on medieval liturgical manuscripts in the Burke Library Conference Room

One thought on “The Return of Special Collections at Burke!

  1. The links below provide profiles of these collections, finding aids and related resources where available. The region is mourning the loss of a passionate youth advocate who fostered community through art, connection and collection.

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