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


Summer Reading I

The latest issue of the Journal of Jesuit Studies has arrived just in time for the end of the spring semester.  Aficionados of Jesuit print culture are in for a treat: the whole issue is dedicated to fascinating new scholarship on Jesuit libraries.  Editor Kathleen M. Comerford takes a global approach and has sought out articles on regions whose book and library culture have received less study over the past few decades: the Orinoco Delta, Japan, Ethiopia, Beirut, Canada, and Croatia.

Comerford identifies several overarching themes that tie the essays together, and which raise important questions about Jesuit libraries in other times and places.  First, she reminds us that libraries need to be considered first and foremost as a component of Jesuit missionary activity, providing materials that will be shared with their target audiences and which will also be resources (and relief!) for Jesuit missionaries.  Second, while the Constitutions of the Society often spell out the necessity of forming a library in a new field, they rarely specified which books had to be contained within it. As a result books in Jesuit libraries often comes from a variety of sources, by a range of means, and for a diversity of reasons.  Third, and only tantalizingly touched upon, is the way in which Jesuits confronted modernity and modernization through their libraries.  Finally, Comerford stresses the importance of placing Jesuit libraries, in particular, and print culture, in general, within the Society’s global context.

Three articles look at Jesuit missionary book culture in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  The work of José del Rey Fajardo, SJ on seventeenth-century Jesuit missions to the Orinoco Delta reminds us of the preconditions — linguistic diversity, illiteracy — which needed to be addressed before a library could even be useful.  In Fajardo’s telling, the libraries in these regions were more of a resource for highly-trained European Jesuits who felt isolated in the field.  Yoshimi Orii explores the complex ways in which Jesuits translated European books for Japanese audiences.  Books can also become proxies for people and faith reveals Kristen Windmuller-Luna in a fascinating essay on Ethiopian missions.  There Jesuits encountered the exact opposite of the Orinoco Delta: a longstanding culture of the book.  But efforts to erase doctrinal error led Jesuits to efface beloved works of the Ethiopian Orthodoxy, only to find their own libraries – and even themselves — erased not long after.

Two articles situate Jesuit libraries in the twentieth century.  Through his study of the Oriental Library of the Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut, Rafael Herzstein reveals the way in which libraries were shaped in reflection to the context in which they were located.  His focus on scholarly magazines published under the aegis of the library remind us of the way in which writing, translating, and printing have long been part of the Jesuit missionary enterprise, even as their preferred formats have changed over time.  Gordon Rixon, SJ shows how the provenance of books collected from the relatively late library of Regis College in Toronto (founded 1930) illustrate the long history of Jesuit-Native American interaction, although he does not explicitly reveal if they were collected for that reason or (as it sounds) if the library collected everything that was sent to it from Canada’s Jesuit houses.  Intention and chance are opposing but omnipresent realities of library growth.  The real treasure in his essay is a fantastic reproduction, description, and analysis of a visual mnemonic for a pedagogical plan designed by Nicholas Point for one of the Native reductions in Canada.  It is a rich document that will be incorporated into my teaching this fall semester.

Finally, Marica Šapro-Ficović and Željko Vegh’s article on Croatian Jesuit libraries takes a longue durée approach, spanning the pre- and post-suppression order.  Particularly valuable in their account is the attention paid to the way in which Jesuits shaped their library collections in relation to local circumstances.   Rather than all having identical collections, Jesuits built libraries that responded to local needs and opportunities.

Check out this excellent new issue of the Journal and share with us what you’re looking forward to reading in the coming months!



Multi-vocal History

This past November, Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project (JLPP) Director, Dr. Kyle Roberts, received an e-mail from Carolyn Sharp, a descendent of John Gordon Morrison, the Union soldier who looted a copy of the Lives of the Popes from the house of Rev. James A. Harrold, a Virginia minister went over to the Confederate side during the American Civil War.  The book, one of the original books in St. Ignatius College Library, was written up on this blog last spring and now resides in Loyola University Chicago Special Collections.

The descendent shared with Roberts information about the relatives who found and transcribed Morrison’s diaries and a theory about how the book might have made its way from Morrison to the Jesuits in Chicago:

“It does not surprise me that the book ended up in Jesuit hands.  The family has a history of friendship with priests, including Jesuits.  I suspect the book would have been a gift to one such who was in New York, perhaps in Brooklyn, but maybe also upstate as John G. lived in Troy, NY before moving downstate, and that the gift recipient would have made his way with the book to Chicago.”

She also shared information about other family members who had been educated at Jesuit schools.  This connection provides another invaluable information as we seek to solve the puzzle of the history of this book.

E-mails and correspondences like these highlight an important part of JLPP.  Team members embrace a concept popular in public history circles called “shared authority,” or doing history alongside and with the communities involved. The term shared authority gained ground among oral historians, most notably Michael Frisch, who in his research worked with people and their histories. Thus, shared authority pushes against the “master narratives” or histories about “great men,” as it focuses on the experiences and voices of every day people.

JLPP team members rely on experiences, insights, and narratives  from various communities to best capture the provenance for each book in the original St. Ignatius catalog.  In gathering this information the team hopes to write histories of these books that incorporate the voices of all those who have been touched by them.

As a digital initiative, the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project seeks to reach audiences inside and outside Chicago’s and Loyola’s boundaries, and in so doing, the project enters a dialogue with other digital initiatives throughout the world. Yet, do digital initiatives allow for each potential stakeholder to enter into the conversation? As a project team member, enrolled in Loyola’s Public History graduate program, I often think about the communities excluded from the conversation. For example, does everyone associated with Jesuit communities or the global Catholic mission have access to digital resources? And, how digitally literate are individuals in the aforementioned communities? More simply, what does it mean for the project if users in communities the team wants to reach do not have access to technology, and more importantly, social media? Are there ways for the project to reach people without access to social media or social media literacy?

JLPP functions on a participatory level. It allows students, faculty, public historians, independent scholars, antiquarians, alumni, and the broader public to learn about and discuss these books’ histories. And, more than that the histories related to Jesuit education in Chicago, the global Catholic mission, libraries, the organization of knowledge…the list goes on! The e-mail Roberts received in November reinforces the role participation and shared authority play in the project’s development. No matter the task, it is necessary for team members to think about how to share the histories at hand and make them accessible to our multiple audiences. Moreover, it is equally important to include and highlight user experiences and histories in the project itself, so as to preserve the multi-vocal histories related to the library’s original catalog.

– Samantha Smith, Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project Social Media Coordinator

Report from the road: New York City, 2015

A modern struggle for anyone in the humanities is  justifying the importance of their research. The rapid progress of the hard sciences has left fields like History in a precarious position. This comes from the (misguided) opinion that everything that can be known about the past has already been discovered and all other work in it is purely academic. Some would argue, History does not cure cancer, grow the economy, or build satellites. Short of discovering the lost city of Atlantis, History does not need more students.

During the annual conference for the American Historical Association (AHA) and American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA) this past January, this idea was shown to be simply wrong. Shortly after the start of the new year, the project team of Dr. Roberts, Evan, and Zac traveled to Times Square, New York City for AHA and ACHA’s annual conference. Hundreds of historians and people interested in history gathered together from around the world to share their work.

Some of those people came to our presentation on the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project. The panel helped reinforce our confidence in the project’s legitimacy and importance to the field. In particular, legendary Jesuit historians John Padberg of Saint Louis University, and John O’Malley of Georgetown University offered praiseworthy comments and questions about collaboration with other like projects. While we have given this presentation previously, the opportunity to do so before such accomplished and decorated historians made it seem as though our project was contributing something very valuable to the larger historical community.

Much of our work requires long hours alone with original library books and computers. Often when we are collaborating with others, its through the means of social media. The conference provided an exciting opportunity to bring the fruits of our endeavors to the larger academic community on a personal level.

As we move towards finishing gathering and photographing the remainder of the original books from St Ignatius College, the experience of presenting our research in a global city surrounded by a community of scholars was gratifying — a much-welcomed bridge between us and the larger academic world.

– Zachary Davis and Evan Thompson, JLPP Intern

“More Properly Rudeman”: Great Stories Behind Our Great Charters

Amongst all the potential categories Jesuit scholars could have chosen when organizing St. Ignatius College’s first library catalogue, they considered the subject of legislation important enough to include within their six final subdivisions. In such a category, there are certainly some paramount pieces that historians would expect to see, perhaps none more than the revolutionary 1215 English charter best known as the Magna Carta. Well, the catalogue does not disappoint. It includes not one copy of the Manga Carta, but two. Moreover, each reprinting of this landmark legislation carries with it a unique story along with enigmatic elements for we modern historians to unravel.

The oldest copy of the Magna Carta in the first library catalogue is entitled Magna Carta in F and was published in 1529 by an English printer named Robert Redman. Historians of print are most assuredly familiar with Richard Pynson, one of the most pivotal figures in fifteenth and sixteenth century English book making. Well, it was in Redman that Pynson found not only a virulent rival, but also an unlikely successor.

Mark of Richard Pynson

Mark of Richard Pynson

According to most sources, Redman followed directly in Pynson’s footsteps working to loosen his monopolistic grip on legal printing. While Pynson originally published an edition of the Magna Carta in 1508, Redman released his own version in 1525. This is, in all likelihood, the version available in Loyola’s library (with only a few additions). Considering its modest dimensions of 14 cm and subtitle of “Necessarye for all yong studiers of the lawe,” it is perfectly reasonable to infer that this book was meant to be used as an academic supplement. It is also reasonable to assert that this supplement was relatively successful since it would prove to not be Redman’s last foray into printing. He went on to earn the exacerbated ire of Pynson, the latter calling Redman, “more properly Rudeman, because among a thousand men you will not easily find one more unskillful.” Despite Pynson’s obvious indignation, Redman progressed smoothly in his profession. After the old printing master died, Redman assumed control of his Fleet Street offices and machinery. It is indeed from Fleet Street where our Magna Carta in F originates, a product of a bitter competition won, in the end, by Redman.

In addition to its interesting history, our Magna Carta in F also includes a feature not left by the publisher:

Unidentified Magna Carta in F Inscription

Unidentified Magna Carta in F Inscription

This unidentified inscription continues to confound us here at the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project. If any fellow historians out there could decipher it or provide some insight into its meaning, it would go far in adding to the great story of this great charter.

Speaking of great stories, the second Magna Carta featured in the first library catalogue dates back 1602. This version’s most prominent feature is its calfskin binding emblazoned with the initials R.B.

Magna Carta Book Cover

Magna Carta Book Cover

It is quite a remarkable coincidence that with another Magna Carta comes another set of initials beginning with R. As seen above, Richard Pynson monographed all his publications with an R.P. symbol. Redman followed suit using an R.R. symbol in the exact same style. However, since this 1602 text was printed by Englishman Thomas Wright, it is highly unlikely that the R.B. relates to the book’s publication information. According to a source uncovered by Dr. Robert Bucholz (whose own initials are also remarkably coincidental), Wright acquired a patent on common law books in 1589 and it is possible that this edition, much like Redman’s, was intended as an academic supplement. At 15 cm, it is certainly adequately sized for easy transportation, and it is also notable for the presence of underlinings and frequent annotations. So, who exactly was R.B.? Perhaps he was a lawyer or law student who once held this treasured tome in his private collection. At this stage of research, though, that answer is difficult to concretely ascertain. What is clear is that whoever R.B. was, he took great pleasure in this great book now held securely by Loyola University Chicago.

– Michael Albani, Provenance Project Coordinator. Featuring the much appreciated input of Dr. Robert Bucholz.

Confounding Crests

A year has passed since we began undertaking our detective work on the original books from the St Ignatius College library. Over that time we have been able to share some fascinating discoveries with you. In the third volume of Ranke’s Lives of the Popes we encountered an inscription from a Union soldier who decided to take some souvenirs from the home of a fleeing Confederate minister (and whose story we have been able to reconstruct thanks to the help of our readers!) In a 1471 edition of Pliny we discovered evidence of previous ownership by the Duke of Sussex, sixth son of George III, a collector and notorious spendthrift. Yet rarely have we written about our failures. Perhaps “failure” is too strong a word. Sometimes our efforts come up against dead ends, and there is little that can seemingly be done about it …

This was such a situation just this past month when I discovered this bookplate inside the cover of the first volume of James Stuart’s Three Years in North America (Edinburgh, 1833):

The bookplate that eludes identification!

The bookplate that eludes identification!

I decided the way to track down the previous owner might be through the heraldic crest.  After preliminary research, I thought it to be the crest of the Devonshire family from England as it matched one of their symbols. When I contacted the estate’s archivist, however, he confirmed for me that the bookplate did not belong to the Devonshire family. I spoke with him for a while and discovered that there were a hundred ways to decide whether a crest did not belong to a family, but there are very few ways to confirm who it does belong to. These crests can differ in very subtle ways such as the positioning of the animals, the number of antlers, and a thousand other ways. With the number of royal families, they would run out of the noble animals pretty fast if they were unable to differentiate in that way. I suppose this is why very few families adopt a gopher as their symbol.

After further research, I found that anyone could have put this crest into our book as the U.S. did not care to police the use of family crests or symbols. Anyone could have adopted these three stags as their personal symbol when they owned the book. Ultimately, I spent a good ten hours with this book, and came up with few results. The experience, though, was still important. I found out more than I could ever need to know concerning family crests and learned something new about the history of families in the U.S. So even though the search itself was fruitless, that does not mean it was worthless.

– Evan Thompson, JLPP Intern

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