Welcome to the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project

Click here to go straight to the JLPP Flickr Site!

Many objects in our everyday lives, from bumper-stickers on cars, to name-tags on suitcases, to dents on cellphones, demonstrate evidence of ownership and use. Books are no different.

Think back to your favorite childhood book. Did someone — a grandparent or a favorite aunt — inscribe that book to you? Did you write your name on the inside cover or leave your favorite bookmark inside to make sure everyone, including your pesky jealous siblings, knew it was yours? Perhaps Mom or Dad read it to you so much that the binding is worn or even entire pages are falling out? The books in our lives often bear traces of their ownership and use. So, too, do the books that we borrow from the library.


St. Ignatius College Main Library Room c. 1894

The goal of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project is to uncover the history of the acquisition and use of Loyola’s original library books.  It grew out of an initiative to reconstruct the earliest surviving library catalogue of St Ignatius College (founded 1870), the forerunner to Loyola University Chicago.  In the course of this work, it was  discovered that over 1750 original books still survive in the Loyola university libraries today — in Special Collections, in the Library Storage Facility, even still circulating in the main stacks of the Cudahy Library.



Cudahy Library c. 1930 and Today

Over the coming months, the Provenance Project team will be photographing and analyzing these survivals and posting images of their titlepages, bindings, marginalia, and ownership marks on the social media image-sharing site Flickr.  The assembly of a visual archive of marks of ownership — labels, bookplates, inscriptions, notes, stamps, images, doodles — and inserted objects — prayer cards, bookmarks, pressed flowers — may help us answer some of the following questions:

1.  Where did the book come from, and how did it make its way into the collection of St. Ignatius College?

2. Who might have previously owned the book before it came into St Ignatius’ collection?

3. Does the book bear any evidence of how it was read or used?

4. What does the book tell us about the late nineteenth-century Jesuits, Catholicism, and America?


St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)

The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project Flickr site publicly launched in early March. Flickr’s social media image-sharing platform will allow users around the world to view and comment, as well as identify and transcribe rare book labels, bookplates, inscriptions, notes, stamps, illustrations, and engravings.


Click here to go straight to the JLPP Flickr Site!

Whether you are a student, a scholar, an alum, an archivist, a collector, or a lover of old books, we hope you will visit the site each week to see the newest uploads.  We need your help in identifying and transcribing illegible or unidentifiable marks of provenance. In the process of sharing and uncovering information about the histories of individual books we will ultimately uncover the history of Loyola’s first library and of the school itself.

We encourage you to follow our blog as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages to learn more about the creation of the Jesuit Libraries Project and the organizations who support and believe in its continued success. We also invite you to meet or contact our current staff working on the project and read our recent posts on this blog which will keep you up-to date on all things related to the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project.

Finally, feel free to contact anyone who is a part of the provenance project team to ask questions or offer your ideas, suggestions, or insights. We look forward to hearing from you!

Joshua Arens
Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project Coordinator


Unpacking Our Library

“I am unpacking my library. Yes, I am. The books are not yet on the shelves, not yet touched by the mild boredom of order. I cannot march up and down their ranks to pass them in review before a friendly audience. You need not fear any of that. Instead, I must ask you to join me in the disorder of crates that have been wrenched open, the air saturated with the dust of wood, the floor covered with torn paper, to join me among piles of volumes that are seeing daylight again after two years of darkness, so that you may be ready to share with me a bit of the mood — it is certainly not an elegiac mood but, rather, one of anticipation — which these books arouse in a genuine collector.”

-Walter Benjamin, “Unpacking My Library”

As Evan Thompson pointed out in a previous post, many of the books in the St. Ignatius College library collection bear a history of ownership that predates the 1870 founding of the college. They have been through several owners, each who has left her or his own mark on the material text in some way, each adding to the book’s story.

This was a relatable concept for me. I have a growing personal library, and many of my books are bought second hand from several incredible book stores located throughout Chicago. Often I’m intrigued by the simple scribbling in the margins; other times an airline ticket left as a bookmark, or a handwritten dedication on the title page excites my sense of mystery.

And, like most people in their early twenties, I often find myself picking up and moving apartments year after year. My own books go through a lot of packing and unpacking. It always takes longer than packing my other things. After all, these books contain memories: my experiences and the ghosts of previous owners. Some books were bought for class, others received as gifts, and others come from my childhood.

Walter Benjamin, the great twentieth-century philosopher, literary critic, and intellectual giant of the Frankfurt School, knew this intimately.  His essay, “Unpacking My Library,” found in his collection, Illuminations (English edition, 1968), reflected on his experience of reconnecting with his private library collection.

But what about a library collection?

Benjamin remarks, “the phenomenon of collecting loses its meaning as it loses its personal owner. Even though public collections may be less objectionable socially and more useful academically than private collections, the objects [books] get their due only in the latter.”

The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project looks to recover a private collection, limited to the use of the Jesuits and their students at St Ignatius, but it is far more ‘public’ than an individual owner. Through our own ‘unpacking’ of this collection nearly one hundred and fifty years later, we are able to learn more about the book’s previous unpackings, and more about the individuals who have opened, read, stamped, torn, and written in the books. A university library, after all, is simply made up of individuals, isn’t it? Benjamin is correct in pointing out that our access to these individuals becomes blurred and dispersed the more communal a work becomes.

Benjamin continues, “The acquisition of books is by no means a matter of money or expert knowledge alone…Dates, place names, formats, previous owners, bindings, and the like: all these details must tell him something – not as dry, isolated facts, but as a harmonious whole.” At first thought, this ‘harmonious whole,’ that Benjamin speaks of seems like an impossible utopian goal. But maybe it’s closer than we think.

The digital nature of the Provenance Project further complicates Benjamin’s public/private dichotomy. Benjamin was certainly keen on the effect that technology would have on collecting and art, but perhaps even he could not have imagined photographing a library and putting it on the Internet, giving billions of people access. By crowdsourcing parts of the project, we’re able to share what used to be held by only one individual at a time, with people all over the world. Already we’ve seen incredible results and stories.

Benjamin wrote, “For inside him [the book] are spirits, or at least little genii, which have seen to it that for a collector – and I mean a real collector, a collector as he ought to be – ownership is the most intimate relationship that one can give to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them.”

Benjamin argues that ownership over an object, in this instance a book, produces an aura, or ‘little genni,’ around it. The Provenance Project has shown that it isn’t necessarily ownership alone that generates this aura; perhaps it’s also the book’s usage.

A book is like a home, filled with locked rooms containing the life of each of its previous owners. The Provenance Project, while it may never find the ‘harmonious whole,’ of the history of the collection, or even of one book, it hopes to unlock these rooms, and let the lives and stories of individuals and their time using a book meet each other.

Zac unpacking our library.

Zac unpacking our library.

- Zachary Davis, Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project Intern

The Roots and Routes of a Science Textbook

The Italian Peninsula in the eighteenth century was the staging ground for countless wars and revolutions.  The Empires of Spain, Austria, and France, not to mention countless Italian factions, spilled blood over one of the smallest strips of land in Europe.  The city of Rome, and all of its inhabitants, witnessed much of this slaughter. One of the books in the library of St. Ignatius was more than just a witness, it was a likely victim.

Andrea Caraffe's Elementa Physicae Mathematicae (1840) in the St. Ignatius College Collection

Andrea Caraffa’s Elementorum Physicae Mathematicae (1840) in the St. Ignatius College Collection


Caraffa’s Elementorum Physicae Mathematicaefound its way from the Eternal City to Chicago in the short 30 years between the book’s publication and when the Saint Ignatius College Library was founded. During that time, the city of Rome was subject to numerous uprisings and suppressions. The Roman Republic, a rebellion against the Papal Monarchy with connections to other rebel movements in Venice and Milan, was formed in 1848 under the guidance of Garibaldi and Mazzini, two Italian nationalists and republicans who would be instrumental in Italy’s later unification. The revolution was soon suppressed by French forces who retook the city of Rome and returned it to the fled Pope Pius IX. For the next twenty years the Pope would be under French protection until the retaking of the city by King Victor Emmanuel II during the unification of Italy.

Stamp of the Collegio Romano indicates its ownership before coming to St. Ignatius College.

Stamp of the Collegio Romano indicates its ownership before coming to St. Ignatius College.

Any of these events could have led to the loss of the book from its place in an important Jesuit Library in Rome. A stamp on the title-page indicates that the book belonged to the Collegio Romano (College of Rome/ Roman College – today’s Pontifical Georgian University).  The Collegio Romano was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1551 as a “School of Grammar, Humanity, and Christian Doctrine” at the base of the Capitoline Hill.  Three hundred years later, the Collegio Romano had an important library on a variety of subjects but had also witnessed its share of persecution, having been closed with the Suppression in 1773 and not restored to the Jesuits until 1824. During the revolution of the Roman Republic, the Jesuits were expelled from the city again by the new government.

How this book made its way to North America amidst the violence of mid-century uprisings is unclear. Perhaps French troops removed it and it was sold in Paris. Or maybe a fleeing priest took the book with him when the revolution was threatening the stability of the city.  Somehow it made its way either to London, Paris, or perhaps even one of the Italian port cities like Genoa where books were easily bought and sold.

Ownership mark of the Missouri Province, post 1863

Ownership mark of the Missouri Province, post 1863

Yet sometime during or after 1863, this book had made its way into the hands of the Jesuits at the Scholasticate of the Province of Missouri (Schol. Prov. Miss.ae) which was located at Florissant.  How this book (and hundreds of others) made their way north to Chicago is also imperfectly understood, but will be a focus of research in the coming academic year.

From Rome to St Louis to Chicago — and to an unknown number of places in between — this copy of Caraffa’s Elementa Physicae Mathematicae has been a witness to violence and exile and now safely resides in Loyola’s Special Collections, waiting to tell its story!

Research by Evan Thompson, JLPP Intern, with valuable help from Doug Wayman and Stephen Schloesser, SJ.

Catch us on the Road!

From the Geological Survey of Illinois, Vol. 5 (1873) in the collection of the original St Ignatius College Library.

From the Geological Survey of Illinois, Vol. 5 (1873) in the collection of the original St Ignatius College Library.

Connecting with the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project just got easier! In the next few months, team members from the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project will present at conferences throughout the United States.

The talks begin here, in Chicago or the Third Coast, with Lunch & Learn: Fostering Engaged Learning with Museum and Archive Collections, a program for Loyola faculty on Thursday, O‌ctober 9th, 2014 11:30am – 1:00pm at the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) Simpson Lecture Hall.  Danielle M. Forchette, M.Ed., Center for Experiential Learning, and Dr Kyle Roberts will explore how museum and archive collections can provide resources for engaged learning across the disciplines. Drawing from the Crossings and Dwellings exhibition, they will look at ways works of art and primary sources can provide inspiration and fresh points of entry into the reflection activities that are critical for the student’s engaged learning experience.

Evan Thompson’s will discuss the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project as part of a larger panel on the “Digital Future of Jesuit Studies” at the conference Crossings and Dwellings: Restored Jesuits, Women Religious, American Experience, 1814-2014 in Chicago on Loyola’s Water Tower Campus on Saturday, October 18th, at 11:45 am.  The conference closes the exhibition of the same name on display at LUMA, Loyola’s Museum of Art, which has a gallery devoted to the work of Loyola students reconstructing Loyola’s original library catalogue.

Project Director, Dr. Kyle Roberts will be presenting at the Newberry Library on Wednesday, October 29 at 4 pm. Roberts’ talk “Historic Libraries as Sites for Teaching Digital History,” focuses on what he’s learned about teaching digital history through the reconstruction of the original St. Ignatius College library and digitally archiving the surviving books provenance information.

Next, in November, the project team travels to the East Coast to present at Bucknell University’s Digital Scholarship Conference, titled, “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Faculty Research.” Roberts and Thompson present on Sunday, November 16 at the “Old Records, New Questions, New Collaborations” session. Their paper “Analog Library Books and Digital Scholarly Collaboration,” promises to close the three-day conference well, simultaneously showcasing new opportunities for collaboration and raising questions about the processes.

Roberts then goes to the West Coast for the American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting in San Diego. He presents on the “New Media, New Audiences: Making the Study of Religion Online” panel the first day, November 22. Together with Sally M. Promey, R. Marie Griffith, Nausheen Husain, and Hussein Rashid, the panel focuses on how born digital projects intended for wide audiences fit into the tradition and established modes of scholarship in the academy.

The team returns to the East Coast in January to present at the American Society of Church Historians and American Catholic Historical Association meeting in New York City on January 3. Here, Roberts and Thompson will discuss digital approaches to nineteenth-century Catholic print culture.

Although we’d greatly appreciate meeting you in person, there are ways to remain digitally connected to the project as Roberts and Thompson travel from coast to coast. Follow up with them in upcoming blog posts and look out for live tweets from the conferences!

Mühlbauer & Behrle: Importers, Booksellers, and Stationers

The provenance material that we have been collecting over the past few months from Loyola’s original library books has come from all points in the lifespan of the surviving books.  Some tell us about original owners, like seventeenth-century monasteries, while others get us closer but not quite to the founding of St Ignatius College.  Last week’s research brought to our attention a bookplate that places us right in the period when St. Ignatius was collecting in the 1870s.  Researching this work reveals a story that includes two enterprising German businessmen, the Great Chicago Fire, a rare title, and a tragic loss.

The bookplate is pasted on the inside front cover of Loyola’s edition of the Spiritual Exercises from 1738 (now in the collections of Loyola’s Special Collections and University Archives):

our starting point

The bookplate and it’s placement in an eighteeth-century edition of the Spiritual Exercises raises interesting questions.  First, who were Mühlbauer & Behrle?  How did they get in to the book selling business? Were they successful at what they did? Did they deal in antique books? rebind old books? or some combination thereof? Luckily, this pair left a trail in the history of the Chicago book selling business.

According to Alfred T Andreas’ History of Chicago Vol 3 (1886), Mühlbauer and Behrle began their business in July 1870 at No. 147 North Clark Street.  They lost their stock, worth $10,000 in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.  According to Andreas, they only realized $350 on their insurance policy of $5200.  “Their creditors not only extended the time for payment of old debts, but sent word to them to order all the goods they wanted and to take all the time they needed for payment. By the leniency of their creditors, they have always paid one hundred cents on the dollar.”   Mühlbauer and Behrle rebuilt their company at No. 311 West Twelfth Street, which would have been right down the street from St Ignatius College.  In the spring of 1874 they moved to a new location at No. 41 LaSalle Street.  Perhaps this book came into the collection of St Ignatius between the fall of 1871 and the spring of 1874.

Andreas includes more information about the principals in the firm:

“Aloys Muehlbauer, the senior member of this firm, was born in Bavaria, Germany, on April 15, 1841. Finishing his education, when sixteen years of age, at one of the gymnasium schools near his birthplace, he became an employee with Fred Pustet, Ratisbon, Bavaria, and other book firms in Bavaria and Austria, and then with Benziger Bros., a Catholic book and church-goods house, whose headquarters are at Einsiedelen, Switzerland. With this firm he remained nearly four years. They have branch houses in New York, Cincinnati and St. Louis. He came to America in 1867, going to Cincinnati as an employee of the old firm in Switzerland. There he remained until 1870, when he came to Chicago in company with Raymond Behrle, his present partner …

“Raymond Behrle was born at Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 25, 1836. His parents, natives of Baden, Germany, immigrated to this country in 1830, and settled at Cincinnati in 1831. He received his education in the parochial school of St. Mary’s Church, Cincinnati, and in 1850 commenced work for Kreuzburg & Nurre, a book firm, continuing with them until 1860. At this time he made an engagement with Benziger Brothers, successors to Kreuzburg & Nurre, remaining with them until 1870, when he formed a partnership with his present partner…”

Once they settled into their post-fire operation, they were well-known for their selection.  “Here may be seen as complete a stock of books as is to be found in the city, comprising the leading standard works of fiction, history, biography, science, theology, prose and poetry, many of the editions being imported, and most of them printed in the German language. The firm also publish and deal in all kinds of church goods. They have achieved a more than local reputation, and are in constant receipt of orders from all quarters of the United States. Every effort is made on the part of the able and painstaking proprietors to cater to the most elevated and refined intellectual taste. ranging from fiction to history to prose and theology… (Origin, growth, and usefulness of the Chicago Board of Trade, 1885, p.359). Mühlbauer and Behrle were also listed in an edition of Publishers Weekly under “German Bookstores” which stated that they were known for selling “a full line of church goods, from vestments, chalices, lamps, candlesticks, statues…”  This pair of German businessmen thrived in their enterprise. According to Publishers Weekly the pair recorded annual sales of $50,000, which adjusted for inflation comes out to over $890,000.

The sources from the 1880s establish that the firm was selling contemporary German publications.  But is this 1738 Spiritual Exercises an indication that they also dealt in antique books?  Or were they simply rebinding books for customers? Answering this question is a little bit more tricky…


Click on the image to see the book on our Flickr site.

A 1891 edition of The Directory of Second-Hand Book Sellers provides evidence that Mühlbauer & Behrle sold used books.  More evidence that Mühlbauer & Behrle sold used and rare books shows up again in a recent listing in the Philadelphia Rare Books and Manuscripts Company for a 1583 edition of Pietro Galatino’s De arcanis Catholicae veritatis… in original condition and with a book plate from Mühlbauer & Behrle.

There is one more piece of the puzzle:  Behrle married Christina Ellick in 1860 and had five children.  Alexander J, the oldest, attended St Ignatius College for three academic years, between 1873 and 1876, studying Third, Second, and First Humanities, the equivalent to today’s High School part of the curriculum. His younger brother Louis Frederick followed in his footsteps and began the Third Humanities program in the Fall of 1876, but soon after died at the age of sixteen. (Source: St Ignatius College Course Catalogues).

Whether Mühlbauer & Behrle acquired (probably from Europe) and sold the book to St Ignatius, simply rebound the book for them, or perhaps gave it in memory of Louis Frederick Behrle requires more research.  The book itself is quite rare.  Worldcat only lists six known copies, of which Loyola owns the only one in the United States.  Given the importance of the Spiritual Exercises to the Jesuits, we can only begin to imagine the range of ways and reasons this book made its way to the St Ignatius College Library.

If anyone has information to share on Mühlbauer & Behrle, on this edition of the Spiritual Exercises, or anything else that might be useful, please do in the comments below!

- Jim Naughton, Intern


Head West, Young Man

This week of photographing books in Loyola’s Special Collections and Rare Books brought a title and a genre to mind that piqued my interest. Wah-to-Yah, and the Taos Trail; or Prairie Travel and Scalp Dances, with a Look at Los Rancheros from Muleback and the Rocky Mountain Campfire is by Lewis Hector Garrard. The genre according to Loyola libraries’ Pegasus site for the book is description-travel and the story the author tells is certainly one of being away from home and partaking in dangerous adventures.

a first edition!

a first edition!

It may helpful to know a little bit about the author.  According to the finding aid for the authors’s papers at Minnesota State University Mankato, Lewis Hector Garrard embarked on his voyage when he was seventeen years old and traveled through the Southern Rocky Mountains, which encompassed New Mexico and the state’s Taos areas. Following his trip, Lewis Garrard published Wah-to-Yah, and the Taos Trail in 1850 and later went on to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Garrard lived out most of his days in Minnesota serving in various political offices and eventually passing away in 1887 in Lakewood, New York. This raises the question: what did this man have to contribute to Native American history and how common was this type of narrative at the time?

According to a summary on Amazon.comWah-to-Yah follows the adventures of a young man who traveled with the famous trader Céran St. Vrain on a caravan heading to Fort William. Mr. Garrard spends a good deal of time at the fort and later with a group of Cheyenne Indians before joining a band of volunteers to avenge the death of Governor Charles Bent of Taos. Throughout his work, Mr. Garrard talks about notable figures such as Kit Carson and John L. Hatcher during such an interesting time as the Taos Revolt and Mexican-American War. However, even with such an interesting narrative taking place, it is not hard to see why this title may have lost some of its popularity.

According to the Indiana University-Bloomington Libraries site, the author of the Encyclopedia of Exploration, 1800-1850: A Comprehensive Reference Guide to the History and Literature of Exploration, Travel, and Colonization between the years 1800 and 1850, Raymond John Howgego, stated that there may have been more travel narratives written between 1800-1850 than all preceding years. Travel literature is an interesting genre because it attempts to transport the reader to a place where they can visualize the landscape, experience the culture of a particular people or imagine the taste of a certain population’s cuisine. Personally, I feel as though this genre has been dwindling and I could not name one modern day travel novel.

This brings up one last and more direct question: Why would St. Ignatius College bother having a copy of Wah-to-Yah in their library? Some possible answers to why St. Ignatius may own a copy include: The readership during the 1870’s and onward had an interest in the travel genre. Someone may have donated or gifted the book from their own personal library. Perhaps, it was pure coincidence that the book ended up here at all. Regardless of what conclusion one might come to it certainly is food for thought about how the readership and interest of library goers chances over time. What do you think the next big trend will be?

Intrigued?  Read the full text of Wah-To-Yah for free on Google Books or Hathitrust.

Jim Naughton, JLPP Intern

Another Book with a Civil War History

Sifting through last week’s books from Loyola’s Special Collections we have made another interesting find: a 1647 Roman Missal with an inscription from a Union Army Chaplain.  As we dug into the inscription, we discovered a connection to a Chaplain who spent some time in the suburbs of Chicago, was present at the start of one of the most important Northern campaigns in the Civil War, and likely met a painful end.



The inscription

This Missal was handed to / me in camp near Canton Miss / Where is was found how it / was obtained or by whom / I am entirely ignorant

PJR Murphy / Chaplain 58th Regt /Ill[inois] Vol[unteers]

Pastor of St Charles Ill[inois] / Feb[ruar]y 27th 1864

At first the inscription seems to lead to a dead end, stating, “where it was found how it was obtained or by whom I am wholly ignorant.”  However, this inscription actually opens up a whole world of questions: who was P.J.R. Murphy? Was he Catholic? What was happening in Canton, Mississippi at this time? This questions and their answers paint a vivid picture of a moment in the life of this book took before it arrived at Loyola.

It turns out that P.J.R. Murphy was Patrick Joseph R. Murphy, a Union Army Chaplain serving in the 58th volunteer regiment of Illinois. According to a reference in Civil War: The Magazine of the Civil War Society (Vol IX, No. 2, March-April 1991), Murphy was 40 years old when he mustered and his enlistment dates spanned from 8/?/1863 to 8/13/1864. A list of “Irish Born Officers in the US Army” on Rootsweb reveals that Murphy was originally from Ireland and that his muster happened even earlier on January 21, 1863. Murphy is listed as a Roman Catholic Chaplain in the book Faith in the Fight: Civil War Chaplains (on page 181).

Before joining the Union Cause, Murphy was the Pastor of St Patrick’s Parish in St. Charles, Illinois in 1862 and 1863.  Modern day St Charles was founded on the site of an important Pottawatomie village on the Fox River forty miles west of Chicago.  After the Blackhawk War in 1832, white settlers moved into the area and established a community.  According to a 1975 history of St Patrick’s Parish, Catholic missionaries from Chicago and Joliet made there way out to the new settlement as early as 1833 and the first mass was celebrated in 1837.  By 1851, St Patrick’s Parish had been erected and established. Murphy was only the second resident pastor of St Patrick’s.

Turning our attention to the site where Murphy received the book finds him at the start of one of the War’s most important campaigns.  A search of Canton, Mississippi, during the Civil War gives us the picture of a town in the grip of war. General William Tecumseh Sherman, during his famous Meridian Campaign, left Meridian on the 20th of February 1864 and went through Canton, Mississippi. On February 24, 1864 there was a skirmish near Canton that likely stemmed from Sherman’s arrival. Three days later Chaplain Murphy received this book.  According to a Regimental history, the 58th then returned to Vicksburg, from whence they had arrived on February 3rd to participate in the engagement, rather than traveling on with Sherman across the South.

The cover

The cover

How Murphy met his final end seems to be of some debate.  According to the History of St Patrick’s Parish, “[s]ometime after returning to St. Patrick’s in 1863, Father Murphy fell while stepping off a train, sustaining injuries from which he later died.”  The author of that work puts the date sometime between May and December 1863.  But Murphy was alive in February 1864 when he received this book.  The Rootsweb article states that Murphy joined the Hospital Chaplain of Volunteers on February 27, 1865 and was honorably mustered out August 21, 1865. Was his death falling from the train something that happened soon after?  It appears that Murphy did not return to St Charles. Perhaps this is just a rumor that they heard?

The titlepage

The titlepage

Although we have learned a lot about this book from this single inscription we are still lacking some definitive answers to questions like: Who owned it originally?  Why would someone be carrying around a two hundred year old book on a Civil War battlefield? Was it stolen? It could be that this book was taken by a Union soldier as some form of war plunder but without anything concrete this is only a guess.  Finally, how did the book make it into the St Ignatius College Library in 1870? Did it travel up the river from Vicksburg to Chicago? Or did it make other stops along the way? Hopefully with your help we will get more answers to these questions. Thank you all for reading!

Jim Naughton, Project Intern


The Oldest Book in the Collection

1473: The birth of Nicolaus Copernicus. The height of the Aztec Empire in Mexico. 19 years before the voyage of Christopher Columbus under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. The publishing date of the oldest book remaining from the St. Ignatius Library in University Archives and Special Collections at Loyola University Chicago.


This volume of Pliny’s Natural History was published in Rome.  It is written in Latin. Surrounding the text of the first leaf, and incorporating the initial letter, is an elaborate hand-drawn border, illuminated in gold and colors.  About 400 years after its publication, it found its way to the brand new Jesuit library at St. Ignatius College. How did it make its way from Renaissance Rome to Industrial Era Chicago? Only two parts of the book’s past are currently known, but their connections are fascinating.

According to the Latin inscription at the beginning of the book, this volume of Pliny belonged to the Dominican Order in Perugia, a city in the Umbria region of Italy.
The presence of the book, however, cannot be confirmed for quite some time afterwards. The turmoil the Italian Peninsula faced during the 17th-19th centuries, culminating in the unification as the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, could have led to the book’s departure at any time within the 300 year span. French and Austrian troops had control of the city itself at various points in time, so either could have removed it from the library, or the book could have remained where it was until its movement to England.


A bookplate found has the unmistakable crest of the Duke of Sussex. Luckily this title was only ever given to one man, Prince Augustus Frederick, 1st and only Duke of Sussex. He was well known for his extravagant library which he built through the acquisition of individual books rather than whole libraries. The question of how the Duke of Sussex came to obtain this book likely cannot be answered unless a proof of sale/purchase is found. The book may have still been in the care of the Dominicans at Perugia, or it could have found its way to a bookseller in Paris or London where the Duke bought it.

Living beyond his means, the Duke was forced to auction off his possessions, including his library, in the 1840’s. Volumes of Pliny are mentioned within the catalog of books for sale.  The book only has about thirty years at this point to make its way to the library at St. Ignatius, so its purchase by a book dealer or a different private owner is possible.  It might also have been purchased by a Jesuit or someone affiliated with the Jesuit Order who donated the book when the library was being formed.

More on the Duke of Sussex’s Library can be found here. Many thanks to Martin Davies for his help with the identifications!

Evan Thompson, JLPP Intern

Summer 2014 Edition: Saying Goodbye, Saying Hello

Last month the Project Team closed out the Spring 2014 semester by congratulating graduating senior Sarah Muenzer and master’s candidate Josh Arens.  Both have begun full-time jobs (not surprising given the great work they did for the Provenance Project!) and Josh is continuing to help out with the Project’s social media in his spare time.

Congratulations also go out to Evan Thompson who has been awarded both a Provost Fellowship (for Summer 2014) and a Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage Fellowship (for Academic Year 2014-15) to continue working on the Provenance Project.  Dr Roberts and he recently found out that they will be presenting the Provenance Project at the Annual Meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association in New York City on the first weekend of January 2015.  Both recently presented the Project on the Community Libraries: Connecting Readers in the Atlantic World Conference held at the Newberry Library and Loyola University Chicago on May 30-June 1st.

This summer we welcome two new members to the team and shift our focus to a new segment of books from the original catalogue.  Jim Naughton is a rising senior and Helen Davies is a graduate of the Digital Humanities Master’s Program and currently works in the Graduate School.  Jim is interning for credit towards his History major (check out his blog here) and Helen is squeezing in a project before she begins a PhD program at the University of Mississippi in the fall.  Jim, Helen, and Evan are shifting their attention to the original library books that are in the University’s Rare Books collection.  We estimate about 600 of the possibly 1750 surviving original books are in Rare Books today.  Keep an eye out for regular updates on what they uncover!

The Mystery of the “Looted Civil War Book” – Solved.

About a month ago we posted on our Flickr site the following inscription found in Loyola’s copy of The Lives of the Popes by Leopold Von Ranke (to view all images from this book click here).

The inscription is transcribed below:

civil war(Special Collections, Loyola University Chicago, Call Number BX955.R33)

“Taken from the house of the rev’d Jas. A. Harrold
Falls Church Fairfax County
Late rector of St. Andrews Free Church
Now in the Rebel service

30th N.Y.S.V.
Upton Hill
October 5th, 1861″

What we couldn’t seem to figure out was the identity of the soldier who looted the book, his name being smudged out. All we could make out was the first letter, which looked to be a “J.” But, with the aid of a Flickr visitor, we were able to determine that “30th N.Y.S.V.” stood for “30th New York State Volunteers.” And, a search through civil war diaries from the 30th N.Y.S.V. unveiled this:

The Civil War Diary of John G. (Gordon) Morrison, 30th N.Y.S.V.


Friday, Oct. 4th, 1861: “The right wing of our regiment went on picket to and beyond the village of Falls Church. Visited the house of the late rector of the church, the Rev’d Jas. A. Harrold, and a precious rascal he was, too, pretending to be a union man. He has run clear since. The spy is after him. He left a splendid suite of household furniture behind him, including a piano, harp, besides a library of about 300 volumes. I took seven volumes of his books.”

Sunday, Oct. 6th, 1861: “No church today, for a wonder. Read some of the books which I took from the minister’s house (The lives of the Popes, by Professor Ranke, a Prussian, I presume). He appears not to be as much of a bigot as the generality of the writers of ecclesiastical history are.”

Thus, thanks to Flickr and the help of a scholar, we are now able to put a name and a photograph to the history of this book! In 1862, Morrison, now serving in the Union Navy, won the Congressional Medal of honor for his bravery and courage when his ship, the U.S.S. Carondelot, came under significant rebel enemy fire. He passed away in 1897 at the age of 58, and was buried in Brooklyn, New York.


Only one question remains; how did Morrison’s book make it to St. Ignatius College? According to the 1860 and 1880 U.S. Census, Morrison lived in New York, and we already know he was buried in Brooklyn in 1897. Additionally, neither his wife or his nine children ever made residence anywhere other than the northeastern United States (most stayed in New York).

According to Morrison’s diary, he was in almost weekly contact with his wife Margaret Anne McCabe (quite frequently for a soldier). There is evidence that she sent him packages on occasion. Could he have sent the looted volumes home to his wife? See the following passages:

Wednesday, Jan. 29th, 1862: Was detailed for guard. Had to stay in the guard house when off post, a cold, dirty, cheerless hole. Borrowed a book of Lieut. Campbell to while away the time whilst off duty.

Wednesday, Mar. 12th, 1862
Received also a letter and papers from my friend Tom Gillespie which were truly welcome, as I had nothing whatever to read.

The above diary passages may support two possible hypotheses:

1. Morrison might have already mailed the looted volumes home to his wife, but there is no evidence in his very detailed diary of doing such a thing.

2. Morrison might have lost the volumes. Once again, we have no evidence of this in his diary, but this could explain his name being “smudged” out of the book.

All we can discern at this point is that Morrison is no longer in possession of any of the looted books. Thus, while we have solved one mystery, another mystery remains…

(Citation Notes: Click here for a biographical essay on John G. Morrison, and visit this link for a full PDF version of his entire Civil War Diary – Courtesy of the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center. The diary is currently held at The Naval Historical Center Library at the Washington Navy Yard)

13th – 15th Century Gothic Latin Manuscript Covering Book Found in Cudahy Library – under UV light

A couple of weeks ago we posted this photograph of a book cover in the hopes that someone could help us identify it, and what we discovered was remarkable:


A scholar who visited our Flickr site was able to identify this as a durable parchment, possibly vellum or animal skin. What’s more, the cursive markings seem to indicate that what we have here is a Gothic Latin manuscript cover from the 13th to 15th century!

UPDATED: The cover represents a re-used material, because the book that it binds is an 1807 French-Greek dictionary.  The reuse of materials in the binding process was not all that unusual, as we have seen with our discoveries with binding waste.  It is possible that the parchment used was dyed a darker color to cover over the manuscript writing and it has faded with time, or because the book was so utilitarian — a dictionary — and not a status object, they might not even have bothered.

This week, Kyle Roberts of Loyola’s History Department and Edward Wheatley of the English Department took the book down to the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) to look at the covers under UV light.

Before and after dimming the lights in the room and turning on the UV light:

Our 1807 volume and a UV light with magnifying glass photo 2

With the aid of the UV light, the words began to pop from the page:

The words on the front cover began to pop from the page!

The words on the front cover began to pop from the page!

While we were able to begin to make out letters and words, neither of us were able to make complete meaning from the writings on the page.

The JLPP has been in touch with Jeff Rydberg-Cox at University Missouri-Kansas City to see if he might be interested in looking at the book with the equipment he has for enhancing the faded writing.  Stay tuned for more exciting updates!