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