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 March 2014. 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



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