Author Archives: Elizabeth Call

About Elizabeth Call

Elizabeth, Public Services Librarian, started with the Burke Library in June 2014. She has been working with the public within special collections settings for nearly a decade.

Burke’s Religious Education Collection

Not much is known about how or why this large collection of college catalogs came to Union Theological Seminary except we did find postcards stuck into a few of them that tells us these were intentionally being sent and collected.  One such postcard included in this small exhibit dated from July 29, 1913, states:

 

We publish our Catalogue only once in two years. We are using 1912 with a supplemental slip, a copy of which I am sending you.

Fraternally,

Alfred Theol[ogical] Sem[inary]

  1. E. [last name illegible]

Ranging in years from approximately 1826 to 1983, this assembled collection is collectively referred to as the Burke Religious Education Collection and consists of school catalogs, registers, announcements, and bulletins mostly from seminaries and each have been cataloged and are findable through the library’s online catalog – CLIO (http://clio.columbia.edu).  

From plain beginnings to robust examples of graphic design, these catalogs offer a lot of information.  From names of students enrolled, to the names of professors teaching, to the courses being taught — numerous lines of inquiry can be drawn from these information-packed booklets.

 

 

This small exhibit will be on display on the 1st floor of the Burke Library through till the end of the fall 2017 semester.

All of these catalogs are cataloged and findable through the library’s online catalog (CLIO), to see all of the records just do a series search for “Religious Education Collection.”

Organizing for Racial Justice, 1960s and Today: A conference recap

The public-facing work of #LoveInAction:Voices in Social Justice culminated on May 3rd with a one-day conference held in Union Theological Seminary’s Social Hall, “Organizing for Racial Justice, 1960s and Today.”  The conference, an inter-school (Columbia and Union), inter-departmental (the Burke Library, the student fellows, Union alumni/ae, the Office of Alumni/ae Relations, and the Office of Student Affairs), inter-generational collaboration (I believe the ages of those involved with the planning ranged from 20 to 90!), featured Union alum that were involved in the Student Interracial Ministry in dialogue with current Union students and faculty.  Consisting of four panels, the day’s events were so rich, so charged with energy, that now upon reflection two weeks later, my words seem lacking in comparison.  Luckily for us, all of the panels were taped and will be available soon!

Flyer for “Organizing For Racial Justice, 1960s and Today.”

The conference started off by a welcome and general introduction by yours truly.  I made sure to scoot off the scene quickly so Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. (’62) and storäe michele (class of 2017) could open  the conference.  Each read powerful poems they had written at different points in their lives.  The poem Dr. Forbes shared was written shortly after the legal integration of lunch counters in the South, where he had suffered an unfair and unjust encounter.  storäe read a powerful poem she had written in response.  The second panel, “Setting the Context: Racism and Student Activist in the 1960s,” was led by Dr. David Cline, author of From Reconciliation to Revolution: The Student Interracial Ministry, Liberal Christianity, and the Civil Rights Movement, 1960 to 1970, who gave a brief history of the Student Interracial Ministry.  After which Rev. George D. McClain (’64), Rev. Charles M. Sherrod (’66), Petra Thombs (M.Div. candidate), Benjamin Van Dyne (class of 2017), and Virginia Wadsley (’67) gave their responses.  All focused on their own personal experiences, for Rev. Sherrod, Rev. McClain, and Wadlsey these centered around their involvement with SIM.  Thombs and Van Dyne offered a critical lens from their own personal experiences at and around Union.

Rev. Dr. Douglas during her presentation, “White Supremacy in the Age of Trump.”

The afternoon sessions were started off with a talk by Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas (’82) based on her book Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, “White Supremacy in the Age of Trump.”  Union student and #LoveInAction fellow, Tabatha Holley (M.Div. candidate) and Director of Alumni/ae Relations, Dr. Marvin M. Ellison (’81) co-moderatored the session, with Dr. Ellison introducing Dr. Douglas.  After Dr. Douglas’ talk, Holley asked some questions to get the conversation started.  Last but certainly not least was the final panel of the day, “White Supremacy and Student Activism Today,” which featured a mix of current Union students and professors including, Associate Professor of Ecumenical Studies, Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung (’87); Jessica Halperin (M.Div. candidate); Yazmine Nichols (class of 2017); Kaio Thompson (class of 2017); Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Dr. Lisa L. Thompson; and Wesley Morris (class of 2017). The panel was introduced by one of the SIM founders, John Collins (’61), and the questions moderated by #LoveInAction fellow, Kristine Chong (MA candidate). Each panelist gave extremely poignant and personal stories about where they were coming from with regard to social activism, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Shirley M. Sherrod speaking at the Union Medal ceremony, James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary, May 3, 2017.

The conference was followed by a Union Medal ceremony that honored Rev. Charles M. Sherrod (’66) and Shirley M. Sherrod for their lifetime of work for racial justice in Southwest Georgia.  As with the entire day, the ceremony is hard to justly give summary to.  Opening with the remarkable documentary about the Sherrod’s tireless efforts, Arc of Justice: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of a Beloved Community, the Sherrods were individually presented with the Union Medal.

 

 

 

 

 

Stay turned for more blog posts about the various components of #LoveInAction: Voices In Social Justice!

All Roads Lead Back to Brooklyn

Matthew and I had the pleasure this summer to work with Dr. Henry Goldschmidt in having a library and archives session with the Religious Worlds of New York Summer Institute 2016 fellows.  In addition to giving an overview of the resources at the Burke Library and elsewhere, we also had them look through the Department of Church Planning and Research records, 1855-1985.

This was a great collection for them to look at since it contains a ton of reports largely compiled between 1930 and 1980 on practiced religions in New York City.  Needless to say the uses of this collection are infinite in possibility!  This collection is such a rich resource on the history of NYC’s demographics.  One fun fact: the surveying tactics that the organization used were adopted by the U.S. Federal Census!

There are many reasons why I love working with students who are doing archival research, but one reason in particular are the discoveries they make — which if it were me going through the boxes, might have been details I would have overlooked.

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One such discovery (well there were several during this class session, but the one that stands out in my memory) was within this 1946 publication titled Brooklyn U.S.A. by John Richmond and Abril Lamarque, which I am pretty sure I came during my tenure at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s library and archives.

 

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Inside this unassuming but eye-catching publication we are introduced to Sidney Ascher, the president and founder of the “nondues-paying” Society for the Prevention of Disparaging Remarks Against Brooklyn.

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Looking some online I found this awesome interview with Sidney about his club from the WNYC Archives from August 4, 1948.  In this interview he proclaims that there were half a million card carrying members and when asked what one had to do to become a member, Sidney states “Just love Brooklyn.”

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Image from http://onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.com/2012/09/05/the-society-for-the-prevention-of-disparaging-remarks-about-brooklyn/

 

#LoveInAction: Voices in Social Justice

 

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The Burke Library is excited about the start of it’s newest outreach project, #LoveInAction: Voices in Social Justice.  This project will train two Union Theological Seminary students in the theory and practice of oral history and archival research.  The students will be doing extensive research in the Union archives in order to prepare and conduct oral history interviews of alums during the Student Interracial Ministry reunion, a program that will happen in May 2017 (details TBD).  The participating students were selected through a competitive application process and we are thrilled to announce them here:

Kristine Chong
Tabatha Holley

We are so excited to have Kristine and Tabatha working with us on this amazing project for the next academic year!  We will be sure to post updates along the way.

Scavenger Hunt 2017

 
  • This scavenger hunt was designed as a fun way to have new students explore and learn about the physical and virtual library resources available to them.
  • Scavenger Hunt Questions

 

Verification

Burke Coloring Book

Today is our inaugural stressbuster where we will be offering up coloring books and sweet treats!  The coloring book was created using images of items within our amazing special collections.  For those who are unable to come and who want to follow along at home we wanted to share the pages as well as a PDF of the entire coloring book here on our blog.  Feel free to print out and color in from wherever!

Burke Coloring Book (pdf)

 

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Coloring in the Burke

In honor of the Burke’s first “coloring book,” created for a stress buster event the library is hosting for Union Theological students next week, I thought it would be nice to show off this sweet children’s coloring book from ca. 1920:

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Each page offers a new image (x3) to be painted in with the way it should be painted in attached.  The image below shows what the backs of the pages look like.  Children could paint these in, then tear along the perforated edges to mail off as a post card.
Color post card_4color post card_6color post card_7color post card_8My favorite aspect of this book are the instructions given at the end,”Read this before Painting the Pictures”:

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Before going into great detail about how each of the different skin tones should be painted, it instructs the child to “Be sure not to begin painting before you have cleaned your paint-box.  To do this let just a trickle of water from the tap run on to your paints while you wash them carefully with your brush.  Then dab away the water with a rag, except when the paints have got hard and dry – these you can leave full of water to soak a bit.”  Just to give you the reader a little perspective below is an image of my daughter’s paints.

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This was not quite the neat image of a paint box conjured when reading those instructions!

 

 

 

 

This children’s coloring book is part of the Mission Research Library pamphlets held by the Burke Library, many of which are fully digitized and available on the Internet Archive.

Creation of the Burke coloring book referenced in the very beginning was inspired by the inaugural #ColorOurCollections week (February 1-5) started this year by The New York Academy of Science Library.

#LoveInAction

 

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I started at the Burke Library a little over a year ago.  Not coming from a theological background, I was a little intimidated. However I quickly saw how my background in public history and public services could help do effective outreach to promote usage of the amazing materials in our special collections by Union students. It was during my first Student Senate meeting where the new senate officers announced that they would be adopting the theme #LoveInAction.

Based off of the infamous words of Union professor, Cornel West, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public,” #LoveInAction embodies perfectly the activist spirit held by the students, alumni/ae and faculty at Union both today and yesterday.  Seeing an immediate link between Union’s archives and this sentiment, I saw the potential in getting students aware of Union’s history not just through other’s words but through their own research experiences.  With the approval from the Burke Library’s director, Beth Bidlack, I set upon recruiting Union students to curate the library’s display cases that would help begin to tell of Union’s activist history.

Three students were recruited, Benjamin Van Dyne (MDiv, 2017), Carolyn Kaasen (PhD cand.), and Timothy Wotring (MDiv, 2016), to curate a series of three small exhibits in the library’s first floor display cases.  Each student has curated an exhibit that narrates Union’s activist history in one area: Carolyn selected education; Benjamin, activism in action; and Timothy, local community involvement.

Timothy’s exhibit, which is currently on display until September 28, 2015, focuses on the East Harlem Protestant Paris (EHPP).  Created by Union students in 1942 EHPP was an interdenominational ministry that provided leadership in the development of community life as served as an excellent example of an ecumenical ministry in a local, inner-city setting.  For his exhibit, Timothy dug into  the EHPP (1942-2007) records held at the Burke Library.

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Up next will be Benjamin’s exploration of activism in action, and will focus on Union’s archives relating to student-led activism.  Primarily focusing on the time period between 1922 through to 1969, his cases hope to show the major shift in the civil rights narrative that occurred in the mid to late ’60s.  Benjamin’s exhibit will be on view from October 5, 2015 to November 30, 2015.

Carolyn has been researching forms of activism within education and has been sifting through the student driven and led Student Interracial Ministry (SIM) records (1960-1968) and archives relating to the Free University and the Union Commission. Carolyn’s exhibit will be on view in January 206 through to April 4, 2016.

Each exhibit also has a program tied to it.  For the unveiling of Timothy’s display cases, the Burke Library hosted a panel that was organized by the student curator and which brought 3 Union folks together, all of whom are at different points in their activist careers, to discuss the guiding philosophies of the EHPP founders.  Benjamin is working with Burke Library staff and the Union alumni/ae liaison to put together a panel of Union alumni/ae and current Union students to reflect on how their education here at Union is preparing and/or has prepared them for a career in activism.  This panel is to take place in the main reading room of the Burke Library on Friday, October 9th from 2-3:30pm, and is part of the roster of fabulous events planned for Union Days 2015.

If you would like additional, more detailed accounts of this project please check back here as links will be added to articles that are slated for publication shortly!

We are looking to carry on this project for at least another round, and are on the look out for new student curators. If you are interested and are a current Union student please reach out to us by email:

burke@library.columbia.edu

The next round would start in early January 2016 and run through the spring semester.  The time commitment would be at least 3 group meetings during the semester as well as individual research sessions.

Even if you feel you might not have the time to commit to being a student curator you can contribute to the project in other ways.  In order to help students document all of the work they are doing that celebrates the theme #LoveInAction, we have created a website that invites members of the Union community to contribute their personal photos, videos, writings, etc.

Codicology: Part 4

In the Spring of 2015 Union Theological Seminary students from CH108: The History of Christianity Part 2: Introduction to Western European Church History (c.1000-c.2000) viewed manuscripts and early printed books from the rare books collections at Burke Library. Over the course of the semester they chose manuscripts or early printed books to study and wrote codicological descriptions. Excerpts from their work are recorded below – along with the opportunity to read their research in full.

Dr. Jane Huber and Russ Gasdia, Teaching Fellow

**Please note: For footnote citations and bibliography, see paper in full at the above author link.  


 

John Rogers — UTS Ms. Cop. 1 [and Arabic]
Psalter, n.d.; Coptic Manuscripts collection; UTS Ms. Cop. 1, Burke Manuscripts.

Click for PDF of complete paper

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The Psalter, found within the “Coptic Manuscripts Collection” of the Burke Library, could also be labeled “A Liturgical Handbook.” Coptic Psalters are traditionally a collection of one hundred and fifty-one psalms. An additional psalm is contained in the Coptic tradition written specific for David when he combated Golaith (Kamel 205). The existing information regarding this specific book is sparse. Filed under the call number “Coptic 1 (and Arabic),” the worn, brown leather binding of the Coptic Liturgical Handbook is as nondescript as present codicological information. The cover of the manuscript measures 6.5” x 4.25”. The hand-laid paper on the inside spans 6.25” x 4.25” with a depth of 1.75”.3 Exposed end-bands hold the manuscript. The blue spring found within the end-bands appears intentionally visible.4 To conclude this description of the external physical features of the Psalter, a hole on the back cover should be noted. An examination of other bound Coptic Manuscripts supports the assumption that the hole once functioned to tie the book to a table (Kamel 7).

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The process of translating the Psalter led to less knowledge about the documents content, but indicated further clues regarding the Psalter’s origins. With my A Simplified Coptic

Dictionary (Sahidic Dialect) in hand, I attempted to decode the title page (figure one). Two unfamiliar letters, however, halted this process. By combing other resources I found these letters, an alpha and gamma, in the Bohairic dialect. Bohairic Coptic is known as the Memphitic dialect.

These letters do not appear in the same form in the Sahidic dialect and thus this finding altered my method. Upon further investigation, I found out that Bohairic Coptic had replaced the

Sahidic dialect as the official liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church since the 11th century (Budge xiv). The world around the text began to expand. The realization that the Psalter is written in Bohairic Coptic inspired further inquiry regarding the manuscript’s origin. Since the Memphitic dialect derives from the western Nile Delta, I posit this region could be the document’s source. Furthermore, there are a number of watermarks sprinkled throughout the pages. The damp conditions of the western Nile Delta have hindered the preservation of the area’s earlier texts, but later documents—like this one —survive (Kamel 5). Finally, while interest Sahidic Coptic has increased due to the discovery of early Gnostic Christian texts Nag Hammadi, the Bohairic dialect proves more valuable for later texts.

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Link to catalog record in CLIO


Gregory Simpson – Latin to German Dictionary
Lateinisch deutsches Wörterbuch de 1463, manuscript, 1463; UTS Ms.24 Burke Manuscripts.

Click for PDF of complete paper

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With call number UTS MS 024, this manuscript forms part of the Leander Van Ess (1772-1847) collection in the Burke Library of Union Theological Seminary (UTS). The manuscript acquired two years after the founding of UTS in 1836, is a 249 page Latin to German Dictionary, with its origin of writing dating back to 1463 in Germany. Although no reference is made about the original owners specifically, Gatch reports that in 1500 the manuscript was owned by Sebaldus von Plaben of Nürnberg (Gatch 158-9). It follows the manuscript tradition of German texts of the Middle Ages, demonstrating particularly unique features both in binding and text writing style (Ricci 1643). This codicological description will seek to uncover some of these unique features, in addition to gaining some understanding of the region, reasons and purpose for the writing of this manuscript.

This hand written manuscript written in Cursiva script, and lacking imagery and color inside the book, strongly suggests that this dictionary was used in a scholarly way. It was not meant for a general readership, but for those engaged in research. The region from which the owner Sebaldus von Plaben of Nürnberg, was known to be a conservatively and free Lutheran city, where authorities allowed evangelical preaching in 1521 (MacCulloch 616, 630). Depending on the depth of the preaching, it can be imagined that exegesis of biblical text may have required research and translation from Latin to German. The Free City of Nürnberg would have been fertile ground on which to expand and expound ideas of Lutheranism through preaching in German. This was a time of reformation in Europe, where writing and knowledge of scripture fueled Protestant ambitions (Ozment 257, 463). Outside of the fascinating history of the late 15th and early 16th century, the other point of interest for this author was in the technology used to produce the manuscript. Particularly the use of cords in the binding of the paper and the use of parchment waste to strengthen the manuscript. The thought of further study on where the waste came from and what books were they first published in, if any, posed interesting thoughts for pondering. The necessity for clasps and hinges also was of interest, and it is hoped that further research would lead to better understanding of the reasons for these types of ornaments during this time.

Link to catalog record in CLIO


Jason Storbakken – Martyr’s Mirror
Het Bloedig tooneel, of, Martelaers spiegel der doops-gesinde of weereloose Christenen, die om’t getuygenis van Jesus haren salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn can Christi tijd af tot desen tijd doe : Versamelt uyt verscheyde geloofweerdige chronijken, memorien, en getuygenissen,
Thieleman J. van Braeght, 1685; Burke Union Rare Folio.

Click for PDF of complete paper

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The Martyr’s Mirror was first published in Dutch in 1660 and documents the testimonies of Christian martyrs. The second edition appeared in 1685 and includes additional content as well as engravings not included in the first edition. The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York contains a copy of this magisterial 1685 edition of the Martyr’s Mirror, and it is this text to which I will provide a codicological description. The full title of the book is The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians who baptized only upon confession of faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Savior, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660. Second only to the Bible, the Martyr’s Mirror is held in utmost prominence among Anabaptists, especially Amish and Old Order Mennonite. The term “Defenseless” is in reference to the pacifist convictions of the Anabaptist martyrs.

The 1685 edition was published after van Braght’s death by a group of Anabaptist investors. This edition included 104 superbly crafted copper etchings by the renowned Mennonite artist Jan Luyken. There are 49 etchings in Part 1 and 55 in Part 2. Each of the etchings captured the climactic moment in a particular martyr story. According to Roth, “The Luyken etchings were not only a stroke of marketing genius, making the 1685 much more popular than the earlier version, but they also transformed the way later generations would encounter the volume” (Roth). Luyken’s powerful images provided a simple way to understand and interpret the massive and complex martyr stories, making the text much more user-friendly, although these images perhaps simplified the depth and nuance of many of the stories.

Link to catalog record in CLIO

 


 

Hannah Tasker — On the Freedom of a Christian
Von der freyheyt eynes Christen menschen, Martin Luther, 1520; Burke Union Rare.

Click for PDF of complete paper

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These Luther pamphlets are two copies of the same treatise titled “Von der Freyheyt eynis Christen menschen” which translates to “On the Freedom of a Christian”. Both pamphlets were printed in Wittenberg, but by the different printers, which was very uncommon. In November of the year 1520 is regarded as an important year for the Reformation where Martin Luther created many pamphlets that opposed the abuse of the papacy. Each pamphlet contains leaves measuring 20.5 centimeters tall and 15.5 centimeters wide. These pamphlets were printed on paper with small black text and paragraph markers at the beginning of each paragraph. For the Luther, Christian freedom of faith from the papacy is essential to the life of a Christian. Addressed to Pope Leo X, Luther points out the abuse of power surrounding the Roman Curia and articulates his Reformation concept of justification by faith. This meant the freedom of a Christian was not dependent upon good works and the practice of the sacraments but on faith and the grace of God alone. Luther believed this liberating idea outweighed Pope Leo X’s papal authority. For Luther, the inner spirituality of a person is saved by faith alone and those who are saved by faith therefore engage in good Christian works. These works help the neighbor and discipline the soul.

The early years of the Reformation, the supply of pamphlets needed to reach a large audience with its message, therefore there was a major turn to the vernacular (Edwards 21). Only a small portion of the German population could read and an even smaller portion could read Latin. This drastic turn to print in the German language made the pamphlets more available to the small population that was literate. The pamphlets themselves were resolutely addressed to the laity hence the switch to the vernacular (Edwards 81). Due to the popularity of Luther’s pamphlets there was massive printing and reprinting of his works. This meant that because of the amount of pamphlets being printed it actually saved money to print from one’s actual town rather than to send for the products that were being produced in a much larger printing town. This may explain why there were two of the same pamphlets printed in the same place in the same year by different printers. Luther’s popularity was growing and the demand for his writings was so great that two printers were used. Also since Wittenberg wasn’t a big printing area like Augsburg or Leipzig, it was necessary for two printers to print the work. Since Luther brought Melchior Lotter to Wittenberg to print his works, there was an obvious necessity demand for another printer.

Link to catalog record in CLIO


Heidi Thorsen — Necrology
Necrology, ca. 1400; UTS Ms. 60, Burke Manuscripts.

Click for PDF of complete paper

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This necrology originates from an unnamed Benedictine convent in the diocese of Halberstadt, near Hadmersleben. The convent was affiliated with a double cloister located in nearby Huysburg. Double cloisters, or double monasteries as they are also called, attempted to create a symbiotic relationship between communities of monks and communities of nuns. Women in particular had to rely on ordained men for practical and spiritual needs, from representation in public and financial matters to celebration of the mass and administration of other sacraments (Griffiths 5).Two other necrologies of Hadmersleben are known (Digital Scriptorium). This paper seeks to describe the book that contains the necrology, speculate on its uses, and rediscover the identity of an unnamed community of women who created and stewarded this book for centuries.

The necrology dates from the 15th century with entries up to 1710. It does not stand alone, but is bound together with a martyrology (1v-52) and the Rule of St. Benedict (53v-68)—I will refer to these documents as Part 1 of the manuscript and the necrology as Part 2, which will be the main focus of this paper. However, there are some interesting things to note first about the documents with which the necrology now shares its present binding. Both documents in Part 1 are printed, in contrast to the various styles of handwriting we will find in Part 2. The Digital Scriptorium notes that the martyrology is a defective document, missing its first two leaves (Digital Scriptorium). The entire book is heavily worn, with ruffled or torn pages, stains, and various annotations. However, the edges of the pages on the Rule of St. Benedict are noticeably more ruffled, possibly indicating that this section was referred to most often by the monastic community. There are numerous examples where the book has been repaired with scraps from a missal printed in red and black. The expense of other text for the preservation of these pages suggests that all the documents in this book, not just the Rule, were of paramount importance among other texts in the convent library.

Link to catalog record in CLIO

 

Codicology: Part 3

In the Spring of 2015 Union Theological Seminary students from CH108: The History of Christianity Part 2: Introduction to Western European Church History (c.1000-c.2000) viewed manuscripts and early printed books from the rare books collections at Burke Library. Over the course of the semester they chose manuscripts or early printed books to study and wrote codicological descriptions. Excerpts from their work are recorded below – along with the opportunity to read their research in full.

Dr. Jane Huber and Russ Gasdia, Teaching Fellow

**Please note: For footnote citations and bibliography, see paper in full at the above author link.  


Chanda Rule Bernroider – Processional
Processional: Manuscript, Flanders, 1351, Plimpton MS 34, Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

Click here for PDF of complete paper

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This manuscript, considered a “lesser genre” of books for Mass was created to contain music for processions that came before Masses of feasts (McGatch 20). Its size, 175 x 135 mm and 36 pages, was perfect, frugal and portable for the Urbanist Poor Clares community it was intended for. This community of nuns, also known as “Rich Clares” because they followed a Rule by Pope Urban IV that allowed the sisters joint possessions unlike the Poor Clares, danced in the sacred footsteps of St. Clare of Assisi who was the first woman to denounce the wealth of her family and embrace a monastic life in the Franciscan tradition. Although the Rich Clares accepted possessions, mainly to avoid any type of economic dependence on outside communities (specifically of monks who did not appreciate the responsibility of supporting these groups of women), both communities adhered to a strict vow of poverty. Commitment to a life behind convent walls meant a life of seclusion and religious contemplation – they were not allowed to leave, and on the rare event that visitors were allowed, they could only speak to the sisters through an iron gate covered by a cloth panel. Visitors could not look upon the nuns and the nuns could not look into the eyes of their visitors. Saint Clare revered this life of absolute seclusion and almost complete silence. Urbanist Poor Clares of the 14th century continued to uphold these vows, adhering to absolute silence in the church, refectory, and dormitory and speaking as little as possible in other spaces within the convent (De Paermentier 53-63).

Els De Paermentier in a paper entitled, “Experiencing Space Through Women’s Convent Rules: The Rich Clares in Medieval Ghent (Thirteenth to Fourteenth centuries) stated that upon joining a convent, a nun denies her previous, secular individuality in order to assimilate into a collective identity. Space for private experiences dwindle as they “depersonalize” their identity. In a contemplative community such as this, liturgical songbooks and singing together becomes elevated in importance. In a recent study, the American Psychological Association touts the benefits of group singing calling it a “tool for social living” due to the hormone oxytocin that is released while singing. Perhaps this Processional became a symbol for these things – the therapeutic effects of singing together, the joy of a lovingly bonded community embedding its long term effects within the pages. Perhaps it also became a symbol for the hidden part of a sister’s heart that still relished her individuality. Upon opening the pages, her heart, her lips — her unique expression escaped unbounded. Her notes left to fly and dance with the distinctive voices of her sisters. Such is held between two aged pasteboard covers intended for a community of “depersonalized” women who denounced all things of the world: a small key to living together in harmony, pleasure, and individuality.

Link to catalog record in CLIO


Theodore Kerry – Horae
[Horae]: [manuscript], ca. 1425, Burke Manuscripts, UTS Ms.50.

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Click here for PDF of complete paper

Within the Burke Library collection is a Book of Hours that belonged to the the Clyfford / Culpepper family of Wakehurt, Preston Hall and Kent England. Cataloged as MS 50, the book survives as a collection of more than 10 gatherings, unbound, in a plain orange box. It is a manuscript printed on parchment, measuring 190 x 150 mm, containing 80 pages. The script is formal gothic book hand, and the manuscript is in the style of Claes Brouwer, most likely produced in the Netherlands, intended for export to England. Many of the miniatures (illustrations) are cut away, with only two remaining, one of which is overpainted: there is an image of the Empty Tomb painted over to include “the holy spirit as a dove descending along rays of the tomb” (Digital Scriptorium).

We know the book belonged to the Clyfford / Culpepper family due to marginalia within the book that reads, “By me Edwarde Culpeper”, i.e.: Edward Culpeper of Preston Hall in Aylesforrd Kent (before 1471-1533) as listed on the Culpepper Family tree (Culpepper Connections). The provenance of the book can confirmed by further marginalia that reads, “This is Jhon Culpepers booke, who soo ever stealeth this booke shal be hnaged upon an hundred fute high.” John (born most likely around 1494) was Edward’s son. Father and son were part of the Kent branch of the family. Additionally, names hand written on the Calendar page of MS 50 list deceased family members providing a window into the book’s possible owner / whereabouts before Edward and John. While we know the book was created between 1425 and 1450, the Digital Scriptorium notation, “s. XV2/4” suggests that the marginalia is from a later time. Listed on the May page of the Calendar is an obituary note that mentions Edward’s relatives: “walteri culpeper” who may be the father and father-in-law respectively of those listed on the July calendar page “Ricardi Wakeherst” and “margarete Culpepyr” (see image: July) Looking at the family tree, it is possible the pair are Richard Culpeper of Wakehurst (say 1435 – circa Oct 1516) and Margaret (Culpepper) Wakehurst (1448 – 1504). Given these names are listed and not others it is possible to consider the book had been the dominion of the Wakhurst side of the family before it was received by those living in Kent. How the book would have travelled from branch to branch is unknown, although Richard’s Will does survive and in it he mentions a house he had in Kent. Is it possible, given that people carried their Book of Hours with them, that Richard gave the book to Edward sometime between Edward’s birth (1471) and Richard’s death (1516) and that in turn Edward gave the book to his son John.

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Jamie Myers – Biblia Sacra Hebraica
[Biblia Sacra Hebraica]: [manuscript], ca. 1300, Burke Manuscripts, UTS Ms.74

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Manuscript 74 is a Hebrew Bible, hand-written on vellum in Hebrew script. It was produced in Spain in the 14th century and was rebound on April 29, 1949 by Ronald MacDonald Specialists, which can be seen from an insert found at the back of the manuscript. It has 291 leaves, with text on both sides, and its dimensions are 12-1/2 x 9-5/8 inches.

The manuscript is missing the Pentateuch, as well as 2 Kings 10:12b-Isaiah 19:19a, and only contains up to 3:13 of Esther. The books in the Nevi’im (Prophets) portion of the manuscript adhere to the standard order. The ordering of the books in the Ketuvim (Writings) portion is as follows: Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs, Ruth, Job, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Song of

Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther.

Manuscript 74 emerged out of the Jewish community in Catholic Spain at a time of rising anti-Semitism from both the general populace and the crown. During the massacres of Jews in 1366 and 1391, many Jewish texts and Torah scrolls were also destroyed. Though it is unverifiable, the missing pieces of this manuscript may be attributed to violence against the

Jewish communities in the region and time period of its creation. A other particularly fascinating feature that remains in this manuscript is the triangular text which concludes 2 Chronicles. The verses read:

In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, when the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah was fulfilled, the Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his realm by the word of mouth and in writing as follows:

Thus said King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord God of Heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has charged me with building Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Anyone of you of all His people – may his God be with him, and let him go up.

By dedicating an entire page and unique design to these two verses, the scribe who wrote this manuscript seems to have wanted to highlight the Babylonian exile and the eventual return of the

Jews to Israel at the decree of Cyrus of Persia – but why? As noted before, vellum was expensive, and one can tell by how close-together the words are written throughout the manuscript, that space limitations were indeed a concern. As such, dedicating an entire page to two verses of script would not have been done haphazardly.

The reason may have been related to the original owner’s family background. The inscription in the front page of the manuscript mentions Rabbi Samuel Nehardea, from whom the owner Rabbi Abraham appears to have descended. Samuel of Nehardea (165-257 CE) was a famous Jewish Talmudist from the town Nehardea in Babylonia. The special reference to

Babylon in the manuscript may be related to the family’s personal history. Another more moving possibility is that the creators of this manuscript equated their experience of Jewish persecution, which led to mass Jewish emigration from Spain well before the official expulsion in the fifteenth century, with the Babylonian exile, recalling Cyrus’s words as a beacon of hope that perhaps they too, might one day be able to return home.

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Nancy Rakoczy – Book of Miracles
Liber in quo habentur varia miracula patrata de patrocinio SS. Cornelii et Cypriani, item et varia testimonia, ca. 1100, Burke Manuscripts, UTS Ms.11

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The Liber un quo haben turvaria miracula patrata de patrocino SS Corenlii et Cypriani, item et varia testimonia is a compilation of history and miracle stories. It relates the history of the founding of the Premonstartensian monastery dedicated to Saints Cornelius and Cyprian at Ninove at Ghent (Gatch 150). It also lists the miracles and healings attributed to the monastery. The Liber is composed of thirty-one pages of parchment written in Latin, with Flemish marginalia (ArchiveGrid). It measures 9.25” x 6.25” and its present brown leather cover is reported to have been rebound in the sixteenth century, with no stiffener or backing. The brown leather cover is still supple, though discolored in places, and when laid open, the inside cover reveals a hem of the same leather glued top and bottom. The parchment pages are written in Latin in the littera minisculat protogothica textualis hand (Gatch 150).

Simplicity not complexity is in evidence in the binding: thick threads protrude through the spine used to sew the quires together, with no additional leather used to hide these threads. The casual construction of the Liber’s binding and decorations suggest it was used only within the monastery, and not prepared as a gift for nobility. “The higher the status of a manuscript and the richer the patron for whom it was made, the more complex would be the process of its production and the large number of techniques and pigments involved” (Clements and Graham 29). When the book is opened, more threads poke between the pages. The spine has the number eleven on it, suggesting it was one of a series. At least four different calligraphic hands created the Liber. Page twenty-three had a different calligrapher finish the page; the difference in hand is noticeable. There are smaller pages sewn between pages twenty-three and twenty-four: more evidence that the Liber was for the monks’ use and perhaps in service as a notebook.

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Caelyn Randall – Diadema Monachorum
[Diadema monachorum] : [manuscript], ca. 1080, Burke Manuscripts, UTS Ms.6.

 

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This codex was most likely produced in Germany in the 11th-12th century, but contains copies of texts from as early as the 6th century (Digital scriptorium). The following texts are included: De varietate liborum by Haymo of Halberstadt, Doctrina by Severinus, Historia ecclesiastica by Bede, Vita S. Fursei, Epistola XX by Boniface of Mainz, Expositio veteris ac novi testamenti by Paterius notaries Gregorii I, and Vita S. Bonifatii Moguntini by Willibaldus (Digital Scriptporium). Among these texts are various theological and exegetical pieces, as well as letters and hagiographies of British and Irish Saints. The presence of the latter suggests that while this codex was likely produced in Germany, it may have been used in a monastery in the region that would become England and/or reflects changing political allegiances in the region. The diversity of texts included in this codex may reflect diverse, everyday-needs expressed in a monastic community. This supposition is supported by the physical properties of the book, most notably the leather straps running from the back cover to the front cover as well as vastly different sized vellum pages and text size and font, among other properties.

The inclusion of the Diadema Monachorum points to a communal, monastic use of this codex. Smaragdus penned the Diadmema Monachorum at the Monastery of St. Mihiel in the early 9th century and was a popular monastic reformer in the Carolingian period. One of the hallmarks of educational reform in the Carolingian period was Latin literacy, which marked a distinction between sacred and everyday language (Poneese 62-63). Thus the Diadema, written entirely in Latin, is a testament to the monastic reform of the Carolingian period indicative of Charlemagne’s push to bring the land/people under his control into an “Ideal Christian Society” (Ponesse 64). Used as a community text within the monastery at St. Mihiel, the diadema was a compendium of “patristic spirituality and biblical exegesis intended to be read as a companion text to Rule of St. Benedict” (Ponesse 72) The inclusion of the Diadema in this codex suggests that this book was also used in a monastery concerned with the rules that governed monastic life.

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