Jesuits and the Book Trade

The following post is written by junior Brendan Courtois, one of this semester’s interns and a 2015-16 Ramonat Scholar. It is the first in a series about an important ledger that reveals the previously unappreciated role played by Jesuits in supplying the communities of the upper Missouri and Mississippi Valleys with Catholic books in the mid-nineteenth century. Unlocking the secrets of this volume is one of the initiatives of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project this academic year.

As a history and finance major it seems appropriate that the first document I’ve been looking at this semester is a ledger from the Jesuits’ Missouri Vice Province now in the collections of the Archives of St. Louis University (Missouri did not become a full Province until 1863). For a little context: the volume is catalogued as “Library. Financial Records. 1847-49” in the SLU Archives’ finding aid. It actually documents book trade transactions for much of the 1840s and has separate sections for a “Cash book,” “Ledger,” “Bill book,” “Sales book,” and “Expense book.” The sales section reaches back to April 1842, but I haven’t found a specific reason why.

Table of Contents for Book Trade Volume in the Archives of St. Louis University

Table of contents for book trade volume in the Archives of St. Louis University

These sections act differently than their modern equivalents:

  • The Cash section seems only to deal with cash outflows. A modern cash flow sheet would account for cash inflows and outflows;
  • The Ledger seems to be a record of books purchased, which would line up with a modern ledger (other than the style of book-keeping, which will be discussed later);
  • The Bills are grouped under the individual they were given to, as opposed to the modern concept of tying bills to the work that created them;
  • The Sales section is a record of sales, which would be grouped with a ledger in a modern context;
  • The Expenses section operates similarly to the Bills section in this volume, and in a modern context they should be grouped together. Hopefully with more examination I’ll be able to understand the reason behind the separation.

The volume uses single-entry bookkeeping, and keeps track of the individual or business exchanging assets with the Vice Province. Single-entry bookkeeping is recording the financial effect of an entry, but does not tie it to any other asset. Double-entry bookkeeping is tying each entry with another asset to better see its financial effect. The fact that single-entry bookkeeping is used is not unusual, as standards for bookkeeping from professional accounting societies start around the mid-nineteenth century. However, single-entry bookkeeping makes interpreting a document of this size a challenge.

I’ve been looking through this volume for the past couple weeks in an attempt to understand what it can tell us about the financial operation of the Jesuits in the Missouri Vice Province. I know that the Jesuits kept track of the people they interacted with well. Every person has been named and a cost assigned to the transaction. In the sales section each month’s total sales are added up, but I haven’t found the added total anywhere else in the document.

Examples of the listings from the Sales section of the volume.

Examples of the listings from the Sales section of the volume.

At this point in my investigation it makes little sense to speculate, but I do have some specific questions I would like to answer about it over the coming weeks. First, why does this document exist? The records fill up 480 pages, which seem to be a lot of transactions for a short span of time. Second, what conclusion are the numbers leading to? Sales are added up monthly, but other sections are added up by client. The totaled numbers don’t seem to go anywhere in the volume to indicate a profit or loss from operation. Third, can these records be compared to the others kept by the Vice Province at the time? Are all the records similar to this volume or are they adding up numbers to record financial well being?

These are the initial questions I seek to uncover about this document and about the operations of the Missouri Vice Province as a whole during this period of time. I will dive into the document more thoroughly in the coming weeks to answer these questions. Stay tuned!

What Is in a Book?

Originally posted on Ramonat Seminar 2015:

In week two, the Ramonat Scholars looked at various books from Loyola’s original college library that had been identified by the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project. To prepare them for these sources, the students were given a seminal essay by Robert Darnton, now University Librarian at the Harvard University Libraries, on “What is the History of Books?” and had a choice of several titles on a reserve shelf in Loyola’s University Archives and Special Collections.

Books Some of the books from the original St Ignatius College Library. Image from Claire Blankenship’s blog post.

The Scholars’ blog posts reveal the richness of history of the book studies: no two people look at a book in the same way. Each uncovers different elements of the stories these surviving texts have to share:

  • By looking through several books from the original St Ignatius College library, Bianca thought not only about how the content but…

View original 238 more words

Horace on His Head: An Error in the St. Ignatius College Library

Many bibliophiles would agree that there is nothing quite like cracking open a new book and marveling over its perfectly printed pages. Printing, however, is a process overseen by humans. It is bound to encounter error every now and again. In some instances, printing errors can be quite profitable. An 1885 edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with the word “saw” swapped with “was” could earn a collector up to $18,600! Sometimes, though, the value of a printing error cannot simply be measured monetarily. Take the obvious one recently discovered in our 1767 copy of The Works of Horace in English Verse:

The Works of Horace - Loyola University Chicago Copy

This copy is currently held in the Special Collections of the Elizabeth M. Cudahy Memorial Library.

Classicists are most assuredly familiar with Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the Roman lyric poet known to anglophones as Horace. His ancient works were frequently translated into English throughout the eighteenth century, and several poetical and prose interpretations found new homes in the nineteenth-century library at St. Ignatius College. Samuel Johnson celebrated the transliterating prowess of Rev. Philip Francis in particular as the finest of his generation. He said succinctly, “The lyrical part of Horace never can be perfectly translated;…Francis has done it the best.” Chicago’s Jesuit educators must have concurred to some degree. In the coming week, we will be featuring not one, but two editions of Francis’s work noted in Loyola University Chicago’s first library catalogue. The subject of the present posting, though, is a blank verse version of Horace by William Duncombe.

William Duncombe

Portrait of William Duncombe by Joseph Highmore (1721)

Courtesy of the British Library

Courtesy of the British Library

Duncombe’s first recorded translation of Horace dates back to 1715, but it was not until 1757 that he began releasing his most comprehensive English collection. The 1767 publication in our possession is a second edition of this vernacular compilation. The publishing information reveals that Duncombe did not undertake this update alone. He called upon the assistance of his only son, John Duncombe, a notable British author in his own right.

While the new four-volume set advertised having “Many Imitations, now first published,” its most distinct aesthetic additions were illustrations for each title page. We have amassed samples of the second volume from several other institutions such as the British Library (left) and the University of Michigan (below). Notice anything? Their opening images are right-side up! This demonstrates that our copy’s printing error – the upside down image – was not ubiquitous to the run of the publication. It is likely that Fleet Street printers caught their initial mistake early enough to properly reposition the image’s engraving for subsequent reproductions. However, this did not seem to prevent already erroneous editions from escaping into the market, giving Loyola University Chicago a true literary treasure.

The Works of Horace - University of Michigan Copy

Courtesy of the University of Michigan

It is also compelling to consider that English-speaking consumers had a second new translation of Horace to choose from in 1767. Christopher Smart completed his own four-volume series that year which he specifically targeted to students. Like Duncombe, Smart was well experienced in translating Horace. He penned a prose compilation in 1756 that classicist Allen R. Benham claimed was the most widely used translation of Horace in that era. Still, Benham harshly criticized this work as “frankly a ‘pony’ or ‘trot,’ a help to school boys struggling with their Horace.” Was Smart’s 1767 revision just as juvenile? Dr. Leah Orr argues not. She attests that Smart was similarly dissatisfied with his earlier interpretation and attempted to both improve upon his original work and Christianize Horace’s Latin text in his later publication. Nevertheless, St. Ignatius College’s librarians opted to order Duncombe’s translation rather than Smart’s. Perhaps the former offered a greater quality and aesthetic appeal that Jesuit educators were seeking at the time.

– Michael J. Albani, Provenance Project Coordinator

Upcoming Conference Opportunities

Conferences offer a fantastic way to share your scholarship and to keep up-to-date with the work of others who share your interests.  There are two upcoming conferences sure to be of interest to followers of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project.  Below is a description of each conference, the deadline for submitting a paper proposal, and the date of the conference.  Members of the Provenance Project team will be at both and look forward to seeing you there!


Second Annual Jesuit Research Student Symposium

The Jesuit Archives: Central United States, Saint Louis University College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Louis University Department of History, and Saint Louis University Libraries will host a joint research symposium 10-11 November 2015 to explore the history of Jesuits and race.

Undergraduate and Graduate students from all disciplines are warmly invited to submit a proposal for a twenty-minute presentation.

Proposal abstracts should be no more than 250 words, and are due to the selection committee by 3 August 2015. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. David P. Miros, Jesuit Archives, at, or Dr. Silvana R. Siddali, History Department, at More information, the symposium flyer, and abstract submission form are available here.

Encounters Between Jesuits and Protestants in the Americas

The 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (1517) and the shifting Christian landscape of the Americas today provide an opportunity to reflect on the historical relationship between Protestants and Jesuits in the Americas. This international conference at Boston College on June 14-18, 2017 is partnered with two other conferences—at the Ricci Institute in Macau (November 9-11, 2016) and at the Jesuit Historical Institute in Nairobi, Kenya (June 28–July 1, 2016)—in an effort to better understand the historical encounters between Jesuits and Protestants around the globe.

The Jesuits, one of the most influential missionary orders, have been at the center of a flourishing body of scholarly literature. The relationship between the Society of Jesus and Protestants in the Americas, however, has not been sufficiently studied. Did Jesuits and Protestants interact in the American setting, and how? Did the encounter with Protestantism and the Reformation affect the Jesuit approach to Native American peoples? In the Americas, the ambitious colonies of expansive European empires confronted each other through colliding religious visions, programs, and propaganda. The image of the Jesuit, so prominent in European confessional conflict, similarly inspired Catholics and provoked Protestants throughout the Americas. The patterns set by the Reformations have continued during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Following the restoration of the Society of Jesus in the nineteenth century, its members participated in missionary and educational projects throughout North America and the heavily Protestant United States. In the late twentieth century, Evangelical and Pentecostal missionaries have led a sweeping Protestant revival throughout Catholic Latin America, changing a religious landscape that had endured for half a millennium. Supported by the monarchies of Spain and Portugal, the Jesuits were instrumental in bringing Catholicism, and with it, European art, sciences, and culture to the Americas. Protestant and Jesuit interactions in the Americas are part of a larger study of comparative European colonialism as Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, and English empires staked claims to the Americas within a one-hundred-year period. Europeans did not intend to separate Christianity from military might, political savviness, and economic necessity (or extravagance).

How did Calvinists, Jesuits, and Puritans approach the conversion of indigenous peoples? Did Protestant models of evangelization draw on Jesuit practices or vice versa? Do inter-religious relationships in the twenty-first century reflect the conflicts of the past 500 years? The questions to be asked of Jesuit and Protestant encounters in the Americas from the sixteenth century to the present are many; the answers, however, are few. To participate in this discussion, email a short (200-250 words) abstract of a proposed paper to the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies ( before 31 May 2016, and if accepted, the full paper before 31 December 2016. Please indicate “2017 Symposium” in the subject line. The abstract and conference presentation should be in standard academic English. Selected papers will be published either in a dedicated volume or in the Journal of Jesuit Studies (Brill).  For more information, follow the link here.

Independence Day

Collection of Loyola Special Collections and University Archives.

Collection of Loyola Special Collections and University Archives.

In order to understand the members of the nineteenth-century St Ignatius College community, we have to appreciate their hybrid identities. Some, such as Pierre Jean De-Smet, literally straddled two worlds. He made multiple trips across the Atlantic on fundraising missions to support his pioneering work spreading the gospel to Native Peoples of the Rocky Mountains. Most Jesuits were born elsewhere, but had no chance to return to the lands of their nativity. Most students were the children of immigrants and reminded of the Old World in the homes in which they grew up. Chicago Catholics declared their submission to the Pope nearly five thousand miles away. But they also joined organizations like the Lincoln Law Club, pictured above, where they demonstrated their allegiance to their nation.

18762196843_f7ddb894da_mJesuit libraries abundantly reveal this double consciousness of nineteenth-century Roman Catholics. Their shelves are filled with works of European theology and philosophy. But the History and Literature sections had a strong number of imprints related to the United States. Over the next few days we will be highlighting some of these publications, works like Benson Lossing’s two-volume The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution; or, Illustrations, by Pen and Pencil, of the History, Biography, Scenery, Relics, and Traditions of the War for Independence (1855) and James Parton’s Life of Andrew Jackson (1860). Through these works, students at St Ignatius College learned about what it meant to be an American citizen. How they negotiated and ultimately reconciled these competing demands likely varied from person to person, but helpfully reminds us of the complex position in which they found themselves.

Check out the June 2015 issue of Catholic Library World

CLW June 2015 coverWant to learn more about the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project in particular and the digital future of Jesuit Studies in general?  Check out the June 2015 (Vol 85, No 4) issue of the Catholic Library World, the peer-reviewed journal of the Catholic Library Association.  In this issue there are six articles by Loyola faculty and students on the various digital projects launched in conjunction with the 2014 exhibition, Crossings and Dwellings: Restored Jesuits, Women Religious, American Experience, 1814-2014.  They tackle a range of different types of historical sources – maps, letters, books, and material artifacts — and use a range of open source digital platforms for making these objects and scholarship about them more accessible to scholarly and popular audiences.  Articles include:

  • Kyle Roberts, “Digital Future of Jesuit Studies”
  • Edward Englestad, “De Smet’s Map: How Digital Tools Unlocked a Hidden Story”
  • Michael Polowski, “Visualizing De Smet’s Correspondence”
  • Jessica Hagen, “Jesuit Libraries Project: Digital Approaches to Analyzing a Historical Library Catalog”
  • Evan Thompson, “Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project”
  • Hope Shannon, “New Media at the Museum”

Each author shares her or his experience with the opportunities and challenges of doing a digital project on a different type of analog historical source and some of the lessons learned.  You might find some inspiration to create your own project!

What Lies Inside

1867 Baltimore printed flyer for the Association in Honor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

1867 Baltimore printed flyer for the Association in Honor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Source: Jesuit Archives: Central United States. Rare Book Collection, Bin A.

This June, part of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project team is researching in St. Louis at the Jesuit Archives, Central United States in search of clues about the origins of books in the c.1878 St Ignatius College Library.  The Missouri Province, whose records are in the Jesuit Archives, oversaw the Chicago Jesuits until their separation into a distinct province in the 1920s.

Many of the rare books that belonged to Jesuits in the St Louis-area houses and schools are now in the collections of St. Louis University.  There are, however, a small number of rare books that are still held by the Jesuit Archives.  Most of them relate directly to the rules and structure of the Society of Jesus.  Others belonged to specific Jesuits.

The things found tucked inside these books can be just as exciting as the books themselves.  Mid-nineteenth-century Catholic ephemera does not often survive.  Two fantastic pieces, however, have been found inside works in the Archives.  The first (above) is a small flyer for the Association in Honor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, a devotional society founded in Issoudun, France in 1854. The flyer was printed in Baltimore and is dated Christmas Day, 1867.  It was tucked inside an 1839 copy of the Rules of the Society of Jesus published in Washington, DC.  The other is a card with an image of St. Catherine.  The crude engraving of St Catherine, a popular Fourth-Century Saint, suggests an early date, while the orange-colored frame might have been designed to have a variety of different saints’ images inserted into it.  While it is easy to speculate that a Jesuit in Baltimore could have had the locally-printed Rules and Sacred Heart card, it is less clear from where the St. Catherine card came. It is tucked inside an undated reprint of the 1607 edition of the Rules of the Society of Jesus. The book does, however, have the embossed stamp of St. Stanislaus Seminary, which was the primary novitiate for the Missouri Province in the mid-nineteenth century and was located just outside St. Louis.

Printed card with image of St. Catherine. Undated, but likely mid-nineteenth century.

Printed card with image of St. Catherine. Undated, but likely mid-nineteenth century. Source: Jesuit Archives: Central United States. Rare Book Collection, Bin C. 

Have you found anything interesting tucked inside an old book? Share your experience in the comments!

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