Colonial American Law Books

Erik Berner turns this week to some surprising pre-Revolutionary War law books in the collection of the St. Ignatius College Library.

Charter Granted by Their Majesties King William and Queen Mary to the Inhabitants of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New England (Boston: 1726, B. Green).

Images in Flickr Archive.

Samuel Peters, Blue Laws of New Haven Colony (Hartford: 1838, Case).

The remaining eighteen books in the secular legislation section all deal ostensibly with American law. It is not surprising that most of the books in this section were American titles. The late nineteenth century was a time when education, particularly the type offered at St. Ignatius College, was largely an effort to help assimilate and “Americanize” the poor and immigrants into “civilized” American life. As I discovered in my research on the development of legal education, the law was mostly a local practice at this time. If a young man had higher legal ambitions, he would hope to become a part of the Washington legal community or a politician; international law was not often practiced outside of politics.

It was difficult to juggle so many titles while doing research, so I broke them into rough categories which has shaped how I organize my remaining posts. My categorization encompasses: pre-revolutionary (or colonial) law, laws and statutes (the actual text of post-revolutionary law), reference and commentary (interpretation and explication of the law), and, lastly, books expressly intended for academic purposes. In this post, I start with the earliest American law books on the college library shelves.

The copy of the 1726 Charter survives in Loyola’s Special Collections today.

There are two titles that address colonial law in British North America before the American Revolution. The first is a Charter Granted by Their Majesties King William and Queen Mary to the Inhabitants of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New England (1726). The other is the Blue Laws of New Haven Colony (1838) by Samuel Peters. The latter is a difficult book, as will be discussed, consisting not of real laws, but fake ones.

The Charter is short, simply granting the colonists of Massachusetts Bay the right to form a colony, and is bound with the much longer Acts and Bylaws of the colony. Published in 1726 in Boston, the purpose or audience of the book is hard to glean. Though at first it was my guess that the two texts were bound together by the librarians at St Ignatius College (or their Loyola successors) after acquisition, similar printings of the Charter, in digital surrogate, suggest that the Acts and Bylaws may have been bound together with the Charter from the start. At any rate, the two that I have viewed bound them together and the connection makes sense; why not have all your official documents pertaining to the laws of the Massachusetts Bay Colony bound together in one handy volume?

Signature of a previous owner of the 1726 Charter.

The Acts and Bylaws contains an almost obsessively detailed table of contents which one can easily reference any number of legal topics, leading me to conjecture that it may have been used for the sort of legal education common at the time or for individual reference. It seems that this is useful for its historicity and common law precedent to later US law, and one can see why it would be kept by the Jesuits. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was, after all, one of the earliest permanent European settlements in the present United States and its elaborate statutes and cases still serve as common law foundation for the country’s laws today. (This particular colony could, perhaps, be of even more specific interest to religious scholars for its associations with religious courts, and witchcraft persecution, but I cannot say whether the founding Jesuits of St Ignatius found such topics as intriguing as I do).

A curious work of fake colonial laws.

Though no longer held in Loyola’s collection, a copy of the 1838 edition of the Blue Laws of New Haven Colony is available as a digital surrogate on the Internet Archive. This edition was printed by Case, Tiffany and Co. in Hartford, Connecticut. (An internet search turns up little about the publishing house, besides it being founded in Hartford sometime in the 1840’s and having its beginnings in printing mail-order Bibles.) The digital edition, in tandem with background information from my research, almost caused me to move the book to a different category. In reality, it was not a book of colonial law at all, but was written as propaganda in England. Yet I ultimately included it in the colonial category for its subject matter and because it, apparently, was long confused with a real book of law on the Continent and in England.

I originally expected the Blue Laws to be simply a codex of law, or a charter like that granted to the Massachusetts Bay colonists. I was quite wrong. This is actually a work of fictional law created by an Anglican priest named Samuel Peters in London in 1781. Peters had been expelled from the Connecticut Colony for his opposition to the American Revolution and chose to write a scathing diatribe against the “backwards colonials” and their strange sectarian Protestantism. The pamphlet claims to lay down the barbaric and religiously austere laws of the Colonists to shock a Loyal Tory readership. According to Peters, colonists basically must follow a strictly Puritan guideline for life, or risk banishment, imprisonment, fines, or execution. Adultery merited execution, and priests of different sects of Christianity were to be banished or imprisoned. These guidelines go right down to the stipulation that all men must have their hair cut around a cap! It is quite entertaining reading, to be completely honest, but I cannot imagine what use it held for the Jesuits. (I pray that this use was not as a basis for constructing their own disciplinary codes…) It is conceivable, given that my research has indicated that this was sometimes confused with real law in Europe, that the European-born Jesuits might have been misled, but it is probably just as likely that they were aware of the nature of the text and kept it for other purposes.

Beads, Medals, (and also) Books: What Jesuits Sold in 1849

The following is the next installment in Dan Snow’s exploration of the data from 1849 in the Jesuit book trade ledger he has been studying with Bianca Barcenas and Kyle Roberts over the past academic year. Here he shares some preliminary results from transcribing the sakes data.

Since January, I have been examining the orders that appear over the course of a five-month period (May-September 1849) in the book trade ledger held in the St. Louis University Archives that we’ve been working on over the past year. Last week, I finished transcribing the orders made by various priests, institutions, and lay persons throughout the Mississippi Valley. In total, there were 119 orders over this period.

May 24 orders 301 items
June 32 orders 306 items
July 18 orders 311 items
August 29 orders 326 items
September 16 orders 150 items

I created a spreadsheet to capture this data. On each new line I recorded each item – books, medals, beads, pictures – listed as sold, along with (if listed) its quantity and price. For example, the order on the top of page 472 begins with Rev. Father Siegrist purchasing “20 Gebetbuch 1 doz. Crosses” (Gebetbuch is German for “prayer book”). To represent this I made two lines on my spreadsheet, the first for Gebetbuch and the second for the crosses. After my first pass, the total number of items listed across all the transactions is 1,394. (This number could change pending review.) That is not to say only 1,394 items were bought – a purchaser may have bought one copy of “True Piety” but eight copies of “Key to Heaven.” A future stage of my work will involve calculating, as best as I can (with the incomplete information recorded), the quantity of items sold.

A page from Dan’s spreadsheet showing some of the information he gathered about each item in the part of the ledger he analyzed, including a standardized name, quantity, and cost.

Doubtless few people count transcribing among their favorite activities and the repetitiveness of the task doesn’t do much to elicit enjoyment. That being said, I did find the past few weeks of transcribing to be useful. When I first looked over the nineteenth-century handwriting I set out to transcribe, I felt a bit anxious. I’ve never been great at reading handwriting and the ledger seemed to be an insurmountable challenge. The first week was difficult: I misread titles, struggled to decipher each line, and skipped countless works. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I did not realize at first that each line usually held more than one title. With that breakthrough, the amount of work ahead of me increased but I began to develop a greater understanding of what I was looking at. I became much more familiar with the handwriting I was seeing – though certain letters still held me up – and with the titles listed. I could start to recognize the various shorthand abbreviations for “catechism” and could pick out German works with greater accuracy.

Over the course of the process, the amount of time I was spending transcribing each line dropped dramatically and my accuracy improved. Abbreviations continued to complicate the matter as often times the ledger’s author listed titles in shorthand by writing “Gel. Sey J. C.” for a work like Gelobt Sei Jesus Christus. For many works, these abbreviations can be easily tied to their full title. For works abbreviated as “Cath. Chr.”, one may encounter many books which began with “Catholic Christian.” These abbreviated titles then complicate our understanding of the market. There were still many items that I could not recognize and there were still plenty of errors, but the vast majority I was able to transcribe with a high degree of certainty. (About 1,291 of the 1,394 have been transcribed with great confidence.) I struggled with fitting the non-standard format of the ledger into a spreadsheet that would accurately represent a series of abbreviations and a numbers system that was incomplete at best. I still need to make some alterations to my system of recording, but it is a gratifying experience to look back over the hundreds of items I have transcribed and be confident in what I had written.

Title page of Alton Park published by Eugene Cummiskey, a frequent wholesaler to the Jesuits (Source: Internet Archive)

Nonetheless, a simple transcription was never the end goal of my work this semester and I am happy to be moving on to the next step. Now that nearly all of the titles in the orders have been transcribed, I can begin analyzing what was bought. The first thing I need to do is make a list of unique items. As I mentioned, there are repetitions of different works among the 1,394 listings. For example, Alton Park, a didactic novel by Mary Winter, appears three times on my spreadsheet: in transactions 50, 63, and 80. In my new spreadsheet, I will list Alton Park only once, but will also note that it was listed in three transactions, that it sold at least three copies, and that it was listed as costing $1.50 in one of those transactions. By doing the same for the rest of the listings, I’ll be able to know just how extensive the Jesuit offerings were, but also be able to calculate what were the most frequently purchased items.

In terms of frequency, the most commonly appearing item (again, not counting the number sold but frequency of purchase) was not a book: 87 times over five months “beads” appeared in the ledger (91 counting “small beads” and “crosses and beads”). Beads could refer to a number of things and the term was likely used as an umbrella term for rosaries and other devotional elements. Beads could also be ordered in large quantities; while the vast majority do not have a listed quantity, the ones that do vary from 12 up to 72. After beads comes another non-literary item: medals. Medals could represent a number of things ranging from small pendants of the Madonna and child to various saintly images reproduced for communions or confirmations. Medals were divided into three categories, including “medals” (21), “gold medals” (22), and “silver medals” (28), along with two “silver and gold medal” orders. Medals frequently varied in the amount ordered: again, many had no listed quantity, but could number under ten or in the dozens.

Title page for an 1836 copy published in
Montreal (Source: Internet Archive)

The third most common item was a German prayer book entitled Gelobt Sei Jesus Christus which appeared 35 times. That a German work would appear so frequently reflects a broader demand for German books within the ledger. While the majority of books were predominantly English, German works were not uncommon (out of the 353 unique titles, 45 were German works). French works were also common, but less so than German books. The most frequently appearing French work was “Ange Conducteur” – Jacques Coret’s L’ange conducteur dans la dévotion chrétienneat 12 appearances. Coret, a Belgian Jesuit, first published L’ange conducteur as a devotional prayer book in 1681 in Paris. It would be reprinted numerous times throughout the Catholic world in the next century and a half, with an 1836 edition being published in Montreal. This is a work that would have appealed to French-speaking clergy, students, and laity. Yet German settlement was rising at a much faster rate than French. During the 1840s and into the 1850s, German settlement in Missouri and in the United States generally was on the rise, and this fact is reflected in the books ordered in the 1849 account.

 The next two common works were each devotional manuals: the “Ursuline Manual” at 32 appearances and “St. Vincent’s Manual” at 30. “Pictures” – likely images of devotional scenes, saints, Christ, Mary, etc. – appeared 28 times, reflecting the popularity of devotional objects in mid-century Catholicism. While the great majority of items in the ledger are books, the frequency at which non-book items like “pictures,” “beads, and “medals” – along with crosses at 22 appearances and crucifixes at 18 – reflects a devotional world that would thrive through the century.

Moving forward with this project, I will be working on understanding the unique titles being sold in 1849 and trying to trace when they were bought by the Jesuits. Using the import data for 1848 and 1849, I should be able to track the origins of books that were sold throughout the Mississippi and Missouri Valleys between May and September of 1849. This step will offer a broader look at the market for Catholic goods and will help show where the books being exported were coming from. This connection is a vital step to understanding the book trade and piecing together this literary world.

Continental Books in an American Law Collection

Continental works of law are the subject of Erik Berner’s latest installment on the works of secular legislation in the St. Ignatius College Library.

“Code civil de la republique francais.”

Francois Guizot, Democracy in France (New York/Philadelphia: 1849, Appleton).

Theodore Olivier, Traite elementaire d’economie politique (Tournai: 1861, Casterman).

Joseph A. Rogron, Code de commerce explique (Brussels: 1846).

Emer de Vattel, The Law of Nations (Dublin: 1792, L. White).

Images in Flickr Archive.

Moving across the Channel to the Continental books, I was confronted with the most challenging part of my research thus far. There are five books in the Continental category and Loyola no longer holds four of them: a mysterious entry called simply “Code civil de la republique francais” with no other information provided, an English language version of Francois Guizot’s 1849 treatise Democracy in France, an 1861 edition of Theodore Olivier’s Traite elementaire d’economie politique, and an 1846 edition of Joseph Adrien Rogron’s Code de commerce explique. The only work still extant in Loyola’s collection is a 1792 copy of Emer de Vattel’s The Law of Nations currently held in Loyola Special Collections.

To start with the most mysterious, the “Code civil de la republique francais” cannot be found in the library today. All I can do is conjecture on its identity based on my research.  My working assumption is that this was a copy of the French Civil Code of 1804, better known as the Napoleonic Code. This code is noteworthy for abolishing hereditary privileges in France and serving as the precedent for much of modern European law.  With no information on the physical book itself, no real conjecture can be made as to how it was acquired, from whom, or for what purpose, but a copy of the Napoleonic Code is something that the most basic legal collection should have and is therefore, not at all surprising if we ignore the lingering question of why the Jesuits wished to compile a legal collection in the first place.

Copy of Guizot's Democracy in France from the Internet Archive.

Copy of Guizot’s Democracy in France from the Internet Archive.

Though Loyola no longer has its copy, a digital surrogate of the same edition of Francois Guizot’s Democracy in France listed in the original library catalog is available on the Internet Archive. This is a curious book, more political treatise than law (though these sorts of political works seem to be grouped in with the legislation section in the original catalog, as indicated by the presence of de Toqueville’s Democracy in America). With no prior knowledge of the book or author, I went into my research expecting to find something similar to de Tocqueville’s work, but touting the benefits of the newly established Second Republic. (The Republic was declared in 1848 while the book was published the following year.) To use a colloquialism…boy was I wrong!  The author, Francois Guizot was, in fact, the Prime Minister under King Louis Philippe, the very king deposed by the creation of the Second Republic! During the reign of Louis Philippe, known as the “July Monarchy”, Guizot had been perhaps the strongest advocate of a conservative version of English-style Constitutional monarchy that severely limited suffrage. He made his reasons quite explicit in the preface to this book. Guizot claimed that “The more [he] reflect[s] upon [the situation of France], the more [he] is convinced that the evil which lies at the root of all [France’s] evils, which undermines and destroys her government and her liberties…is the idolatry of democracy.” He then proceeds to launch into a diatribe that can basically be summed up as “the masses are asses” on why he believes a more elite leadership is necessary to better guide a country, rather than leaving things up to the people. This is in direct contrast with de Tocqueville, in fact, and makes for quite interesting reading, though I am still struggling with why the Jesuits would wish to include it in the law collection.

The copy in the Internet Archive was published the same year the work was written, making it possibly a first edition in English, though I cannot find any indication of whether this was the original language do the piece or if it is a translation from the French. It was printed by an American mid-priced mass publisher, Appleton, which was most famous for producing science and medical texts, including the first US printings of Charles Darwin’s works.

Hathitrust copy of Olivier's Traite

Hathitrust copy of Olivier’s Traite elementaire de l’economie politique

In a similar situation to that of Democracy in France, I was able to overcome Loyola’s lack of an extant copy of Theodore Olivier’s Traite elementaire de l’economie politique by researching an online copy of the same edition available on Perusing this 1861 edition published in Tournai by Casterman put my high school French skills to the test, and I certainly came up short many times. The preface indicates that it was written for a family audience. Spouting about the need to teach women and children the ways that capitalist society works at home, because they will not learn it dans l’ecole gives this basic text on the workings of capitalist economics its framework. (I can only imagine a sly wink when Olivier says it is intended for poor, stupid families…men were probably learning a lot they didn’t know reading it too, and one can imagine this book being used in a self-help fashion, for basic personal reference, or even in a haphazard, pre-1870 legal education.) The book’s three parts outline in a basic and mostly legible manner (even with my four-year education in the French language) how Olivier believes capitalism is the most rational way to conduct economics, based on science. Whether his arguments hold up or not I cannot say, but it could certainly prove useful for quick reference to a Jesuit enthralled in some study of economics and I can see why it would have a place at the library.

Sadly, I was unable to find either the original copy at Loyola or a digital surrogate of the 1846 Brussels edition of Joseph Adrien Rogron’s Code de Commerce Explique. So I worked with a digital copy of an edition printed ten years earlier in Paris. It can almost be seen in the same light as a subcategory of English and American books that I have termed “Self-Help” law books for the property owner or civil citizen to gain an understanding of the law, for business or personal reasons. The preface claims that the work explains the Commerce Code of France, both its spirit and letter, in an understandable way. Again, it is less clear why the Jesuits would have held a book intended to help a citizen successfully make his way through the business world of France.

Surviving 1792 copy of Vattel's The Law of Nations in Loyola's collection.

Surviving 1792 copy of Vattel’s The Law of Nations in Loyola’s collection.

Emer de Vattel’s Droit de Gens, or Law of Nations is apparently one of the most influential political treatises of the Enlightenment Era that I had never heard of. It seems to be a synthesis of the philosophies of Christian Wolff and Gottfried Liebniz, who attempted to rationalize scientifically, in the spirit of the Enlightenment, the so-called natural laws governing how nations should act, both independently and in relation to each other. Originally written in French in 1758 ,the book is addressed, in a manner similar to Niccolo Machiavelli’s Prince, as if written for an audience of rulers or would-be rulers. The political philosophy is written as if for ruling, not for practical or educational purpose of a commoner, and the preface specifically addressed “ministers.” It was translated into English first in 1760 and continued to be reprinted as it enjoyed wide popularity. This book has been massively influential on modern international diplomacy and has been cited by many contemporary leaders, especially the Founding Fathers of the United States. Ben Franklin thanked Charles Dumas for donating a copy to the Philadelphia library saying, “It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising State make it necessary to frequently consult the Law of Nations” and that the book “[had] been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress.” Another anecdote about the book in relation to the Founding Fathers is the story of how George Washington’s family lost a copy he had checked out from the New York Society Library upon his death. They replaced it, but the caretakers found it at Mount Vernon 221 years later and returned it to the library in 2010.

Loyola’s English-language copy of the Law of Nations is an interesting edition for a Jesuit College to own. It was published in Dublin in 1792 and is held today in Loyola Special Collections. It was likely used for personal reference by a studious priest. Interestingly, this is a reprinting of the Dublin Edition of 1787, only five years earlier, that has been singled out and noted among the various editions of this work for being particularly lean. Whereas the first English edition from 1760, and most subsequent editions, contained extensive explanatory notes from the editor, and a 1773 French edition added posthumous notes from Vattel himself, this edition contains nothing but the bare text and a short preface from Vattel. It seems likely that the Jesuits would seek this out for a legal/political philosophy collection, but to obtain a copy without the notations seems to exclude the possibility that it was specifically intended for intensive scholarship. Or it might have been the only edition they had the means, through purchase or gift, to acquire.

In reflecting upon the Continental books in the secular legislation collection, I almost changed the name of the category to “French.” They all originate in French-language writing and, except in the case of Vattel’s work, deal directly with France itself. Since some of them are translated into English and were printed in a variety of locations outside of France, I felt that this was inadequate. Many of these works had a strong influence outside of France as well. I am not at all surprised that these important French works would be included included in the collections of a Jesuit College in America. French, English, and Roman law are often seen as the precedents for American law. I am rather surprised that the particular priests that founded St. Ignatius, mostly Belgian, Dutch, and German, did not have more works from outside of France, however. This might be evidence of a conscientious focus on the College as an American one and a resistance to old world nostalgia. Until the so-called “New Deal for white ethnics” of the greater New Deal attempted to include Catholics, Jews, and other non-WASP whites into “mainstream” American society, the trend was to discourage expression of Old World ethnicity and encourage incorporation into the English-speaking Protestant society. This is pertinent to Loyola’s role in its early years, a trend that seems to permeate the collecting for the library as well.

British Books in an American Law Collection

Erik Berner returns with his next installment on secular legislation books in the original St. Ignatius College library collection. In this post he looks at British books in the collection, including some early and rare copies of the Magna Carta.

Magna Carta (London: Robert Redman,1529)

Images in Flickr Archive

Magna Carta (London: Thomas Wight,1602)

Images in Flickr Archive

John Gifford, The English Lawyer (London: 1828)

Jean Louis de Lolme, The Constitution of England (London: 1871)

One of the ways in which I have grouped the books listed in the Secular Legislation section of the original library catalog is by region. I have separated them into three applicable regions: British, Continental (Europe), and American (further subdivided into the colonial and national periods). The British grouping contains four works. Two of these works, copies of the Magna Carta from 1539 and 1602 respectively, are the oldest items in the catalog, and are both still held by the Loyola libraries. The other two — The English Lawyer by John Gifford, and The Constitution of England by Jean-Louis de Lolme — are no longer extant in Loyola’s collections. A digital copy is available of an edition of Gifford’s book printed five years earlier (1823), but with similar publishing details. Researching the de Lolme book touched off an interesting saga. The original library catalog lists an 1871 edition, but we have reason to believe that it might have actually been a 1781 edition, a possibility that will be discussed in detail later in this post.

A charter granted to the rebellious noble barons in 1215 by the unpopular King John, the Magna Carta is often held up as a precursor to the Constitution of the United States and as a great originator of individual rights law for the people. This is not entirely accurate. In actuality, much as the Constitution of the United States was originally intended for a bourgeois citizenry (read: white, male, property owners), the Magna Carta, when issued by King John, was never actually intended to grant habeas corpus to John Commonman in Common Village, Commonshire, so to speak. It was intended to create a balance between the potentially despotic authority of the King and the rights that men of property, nobility, and privilege felt that they should have and exert against said authority. This, much as the general governing agreement between King William of Orange and the Parliament upon his installation on the throne, was intended to preserve the English Monarchy from rebellion, while giving those with money and title some power (and avoid such Cromwellian catastrophe as occurred in England in the century before the ascendancy of William).

Titles page of the 1529 Magna Carta, still in Loyola's collections today.

Titles page of the 1529 Magna Carta, still in Loyola’s collections today.

Both copies of the Magna Carta listed in the catalog are still extant in Loyola Special Collections, in octavos of contrasting condition. The older, at first glance, seems in rough state. The spine is ripped and cracking, and some pages are just barely holding to it. Nevertheless, the pages themselves, and the print, are gorgeous and legible, at least in the sense of their appearance. Legibility in regards to language is an entirely different story. Though the first copy is specifically titled The Magna Carta in French, it is, in fact, largely in abbreviated Latin. (This is, according to the Smithsonian Institute, how an “original” copy would have been written: charters were transcribed in abbreviated Latin after the contents of the Magna Carta were agreed upon to facilitate faster delivery to the corners of the Kingdom). It seems too large to be just the text of the Magna Carta itself, and though I cannot read the Latin, and struggled with some of the Old French, I suspect that much of the contents are either texts pertaining to the many re-issuances by subsequent kings, or else other statutes entirely. Further research in Special Collections will be necessary to conclude this, as this book was very difficult to delve into, due to its condition. It was printed in 1529 in London by a publisher named Robert Redman. He, it seems, was the second “King’s Printer”. After the creation of the printing press, this became a position first held by Richard Pynson, and subsequently taken over by Redman under Henry VIII. The lack of any explanatory sections, particularly any in the English language, in the book, and the fact that the printer was royally affiliated, suggest to me that this was printed for legal, or personal knowledge use, of somebody in the Courts. How and why Loyola came to own it is a very interesting question.

Title page of the 1602 Magna Carta in Loyola's collections today.

Title page of the 1602 Magna Carta in Loyola’s collections today.

The second copy of the Magna Carta is in much better condition, though it may have been rebound at a later point. The binding, specifically, is one of the most interesting things about it, which I will get to in a moment. First, one must discuss the contents. The publisher of this book, Thomas Wight, is highly relevant to my project. He is known for being “one of the first publishers of English Law books,” according to Wikipedia. He lays out that purpose in no uncertain terms in his note “To the Reader” at the beginning of his edition of the Magna Carta. He explains that he has decided to compile both the Magna Carta, as well as other relevant English legal statutes into an edition “to bee had, perfect and readie, not onely by all Studentes of the law for their priuate Studies, readings, ootes, bolts, cafes, and other exercise, but also by the practice of the same for their dayly affaires and causes.” No guesswork is needed about the purpose of this book: printed in 1602, it was intended for personal reference of noblemen that learned law in the classic “Inns of Court” manner in the 17th century, in which law students attended court proceedings and were expected to take in the happenings and “learn independently” rather than taking on formal academic coursework for the law (a development that would not arise until later, see my previous post). He seemingly did not wish to change a single word of any of the statutes, as they alternate between Latin and Norman French (which would, at various times, have been the languages of use for laws by the Court in England). This also indicates that he simply put them down as is, creating a common law amalgamation of English precedents to be referred to by the law student. The age of this copy and how Loyola acquired it makes it of particular interest, but the binding also adds some mystery. Stamped on the leatherbound cover, on both the front and back is a golden initial: RB. Who was RB? For conjecture on this, as well as fascinating information on the publishing context of these charters, see Michael Albani’s post on the topic on the JLPP blog.

Title page of a copy of Gifford's English Lawyer from 1823, five years earlier than Loyola's original copy.

Title page of a copy of Gifford’s English Lawyer from 1823, five years earlier than Loyola’s original copy.

Gifford’s The English Lawyer, as its subtitle suggests, falls into the “every man his own lawyer” category of self-help law books we have discussed, which were popular around the time of the book’s creation. It was originally published in 1820 and St Ignatius College had an edition from 1828 according to the original library catalog. The nature and contents of Loyola’s copy, as gleaned from an 1823 online edition, would indicate that this was not necessarily the type of book that would have been used in an apprenticeship or Inns of Court law program (though due to the rather unstructured nature of pre-professionalized law schooling, any book that a student found useful could obviously have been referenced). Instead, this seems to be intended for the “common gentleman” to use for personal reference when partaking in the responsibilities of running a nineteenth-century household.

As stated, the online edition found was not the same one originally owned by the Jesuits. Nevertheless, being printed only five years earlier, the book, I suspect, is not substantially different and that the basic themes and contents are the same. The book focused mostly on the types of things that a gentleman would need to know to go about his daily duties and responsibilities. The book gives a thorough presentation and explication of all manner of English property, tax, inheritance, and family law. These are topics that any noble or bourgeois citizen of the time would be expected to at least be passingly familiar with, not necessarily things that would be confined to the realm of those studying to be lawyers, reinforcing my previous assertion that this book was most likely not intended for law students. It is hard, obviously, to come up with too much solid information about the physical edition that the Jesuits owned. An attempt at conjecture was made, but not even the name of the publisher remains. Some deeper research will be necessary to come up with any concrete ideas about why the Jesuits would have acquired this book, or from where.

An earlier (1853) edition of de Lolme's Constitution of England.

An earlier (1853) edition of de Lolme’s Constitution of England.

The last of the UK books, and the second of the missing ones, is an edition of Jean-Louise de Lolme’s The Constitution of England. Jean-Louise de Lolme was, like many of the greatest legal commentators (think de Tocqueville), not originally from the country about which he wrote. Born in Geneva, de Lolme studied for the bar (presumably in the inns of court fashion described above) and originally wrote theoretical treatises. One of these in particular, about the nature of the rights of human beings (An Examination of the Three Parts of Rights) angered the authorities in Geneva enough that de Lolme went into exile in England. From here, he was able to take an outsider’s perspective of the English legal system, a system which, through its maintenance of balance between different classes, impressed him greatly. He decided to write about it in a proscriptive manner in the French language, presumably with the hopes of influencing French speaking people on the continent to strive for a system more like Britain’s. The book was first published in French in 1771. An English translation was made in 1775 in London by T. Spilsbury. It went through another English-language edition two years later before being printed by its most familiar English language publisher, John Murray, who reprinted it multiple times in subsequent years.

De Lolme’s book belongs to the category of legal commentary more than anything else. The book is not a law book in the sense that it presents statutes or precedents. Rather de Lolme analyzes the English system of government, constitution, and, particularly, its “unwritten constitution” (what we would call the body of common law dictating the precedents the English followed). Though critical of certain aspects of the English system (particularly the feeling that the Parliament exerted too much influence over other branches of government), de Lolme, ultimately, holds the English model of balancing what he terms “the one, the few, and the many” or “monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy” to create what he feels is the most perfect of all the current systems. He gives his own prescriptions of how this balance might be improved and his suggestions on how its analysis could benefit the rest of the world. Indeed, at least some people in the rest of the world listened, though not perhaps the ones he had hoped would. Originally written in French, the cautious moderation of de Lolme’s politics, in the end, would not win out of the “direct democracy” ideals of his chief intellectual rival, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, when it came to political influences on the French Revolution. Some English were listening, however, particularly those on the other side of the Atlantic wishing to throw off the yoke of British monarchy. Many of the founding fathers of the United States cited de Lolme’s work as influential, and, indeed, one can see the debt the US Constitution owes to de Lolme’s idealized explication of the English one.

Again, it is hard to know why or from where the Jesuits may have acquired their copy of de Lolme’s work. It appears to have been very popular and required for any collection on politics. The original library catalog lists and 1871 edition, but the library’s copy does not exist and no digital surrogates of (or, indeed, publishing information about) an 1871 edition can be found online. On the one hand, there is an 1870 edition published by Murray in London and this might be a reprint of that. On the other hand, there might have been an error in transcribing the year by the librarian who created the catalog. It might have been an edition published in 1781 (a potential matter of simply switching two numbers by mistake). Both were published by the Murray publishing house, which still exists. It was founded in the eighteenth century by John Murray I, but it was under his son in the nineteenth century that it became, to quote Wikipedia, “one of the most important and influential [publishing houses] in Britain.” Whether given as a gift to the Jesuit collection or sought out specifically for purchase, this book is not a surprising work in the original law collection

In fact, if one looks at the legal books the Jesuits did not have (as well as the fact that they seemed uninterested in founding a “law school” when compiling their library), one begins to wonder if some of these books might have simply been collected in an ad hoc manner. Though some of these UK law texts are certainly considered essential, perhaps the most essential (certainly one of the most famous and oft-cited) English legal text of all is missing; William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. Throughout my research, both on the theoretical works that influenced the founding fathers, as well as the books commonly used in a self-teaching or inns of court style legal education, Blackstone’s Commentaries, seem to appear every time. Though the Jesuits may have specifically sought out copies of the Magna Carta or de Lolme, by leaving Blackstone out, it seems unlikely that there was a conscious effort being made to collect the canon of English legal texts.

Rebuilding the Market: The Jesuits and the Mississippi Book Trade

Loyola Master’s in History student Dan Snow is working this semester on sales of Catholic books in the Midwest through the unique lens of a ledger documenting the book trade run by the Jesuits in St. Louis between 1842 and 1849. Dan has been awarded a competitive Research Experience for Master’s Programs (REM) Fellowship to support his work by the Graduate School at Loyola University Chicago. Dan will be blogging throughout the semester about his work.

For the last few semesters, I have been exploring an 1840s Jesuit book trade ledger from St. Louis. Prof. Roberts and I believe that this ledger offers valuable insight into the state of Catholic publishing and the advance of Catholic institutions westward during the mid-nineteenth century, and we have spent much time analyzing it. Over the course of the coming year, I will be working on the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project in greater detail than I have before and during this time I hope to build on what I have done over past months to better understand this microcosm of the American Catholic world.

Last semester, I primarily worked on transcribing the Jesuits’ sales between May and September 1849, the very last segment in the book trade ledger. The ledger can be a difficult document to navigate, filled with inconsistencies, shorthand descriptions, and other issues. Avoiding these, one can begin to understand what the Jesuits’ market looked like at mid-century. There were a total of 118 sales in this period. As of this writing, I have identified 47 unique purchasers for this period and 23 others who I have yet to identify. The majority of these purchases came from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, with many being from the city proper or from surrounding communities.

A map of 47 of the 1849 purchases showing their relative locations, largely centered around St. Louis.

A map of 47 of the 1849 purchases showing their relative locations,
largely centered around St. Louis.

Rock Building at Saint Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, MO (Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections)

Rock Building at Saint Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, MO
(Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections)

The 1849 orders can be segmented into a number of categories: religious orders (male); priests affiliated with the Archdiocese; parish priests in St. Louis; parish priests outside St. Louis; religious orders (female), and the laity. The two male religious orders were the Congregation of the Mission (St. Vincent de Paul’s group, known as the Vincentians) and the Society of Jesus (St. Ignatius Loyola’s Jesuits).  Both the Jesuits and the Vincentians had a major presence west of the Mississippi at mid-century: in 1829 the Jesuits took over running St. Louis University (founded in 1818) and maintained a sizeable seminary at Florissant, while the Vincentians ran a seminary at Perryville and a second seminary further south in Cape Girardeau. Additionally, priests of the two orders ran a number of parishes throughout the St. Louis area.

The Diocese of St. Louis was established in 1826 by Pope Leo XII and promoted to an Archdiocese in 1847 under Pius IX. It oversaw a vast area on the American frontier. Though it was established on French roots and had a proud history in the city of St. Louis itself, the Archdiocese was also responsible for a number of frontier missions and churches along the Missouri River into modern Kansas. The Archdiocese is worth separating from the churches under its control because its mission was very distinct from the respective parishes it oversaw. It would not be fair to compare the orders of St. Louis Cathedral (where books may have been distributed from to various institutions in the Archdiocese) to a parish church in Old Mines, Missouri which bought books solely for its own benefit. The purchases of the city’s archbishop, Peter Richard Kenrick, and his subordinates at the cathedral are frequent throughout the ledger. However, in 1849 Bishop Kenrick does not appear.

The parish priests of the city of St. Louis are given their own category to separate them from the parish priests outside the city. While St. Louis was not a major population center on par with New York or Philadelphia, it could have seemed as such when compared to the frontier settlements many priests found themselves in. in 1850, St. Louis had around 77,000 citizens and was the largest city for hundreds of miles, serving as a hive of economic, cultural, and political activity. Compared to the recently incorporated city of Chicago, St. Louis was a metropolis. The Mississippi brought goods to the city from New Orleans and the city buzzed with new people and products. Immigrants settled in great numbers in the city, although many – especially Germans – were passing through on their way to frontier settlements. On the whole, the conditions of a priest in the city were incomparable to the conditions of a priest outside. While the location of churches “outside St. Louis” varied greatly and life at each one could involve varying degrees of difficulty, some separation from the city is necessary.

The priests who lived outside of St. Louis occupied a unique place in the American frontier. Building their churches to serve a growing number of Catholic settlers, their parishes becoming the cornerstones of new towns. Most were centered near St. Louis, in communities like Old Mines or Potosi. Some lived in establishments so new that they lacked names, like the “German Settlement” in St. Genevieve County served by Rev. Joseph Blaarer. From their seminary at Florissant, the Jesuits sent missionaries into the West. Men like Father John Schoenmakers, who ran a mission in Osage County, Kansas, found themselves on the very forefront of the push across the plains. These priests, their experiences, and their needs were substantially different than their counterparts in the city.

Priests were not the only ones buying books in 1849. Women religious were essential providers of education, healthcare, and welfare in many American cities during the nineteenth century and St. Louis was no different. In 1849, four individual nuns placed orders with the Jesuits, as did a number of religious orders including the Ursuline Sisters and the Sisters of the Visitation. Women religious operated very differently than their male counterparts. While priests were involved in many social programs, the limited clerical capabilities of Catholic nuns often saw them deploy their skills and talents more frequently in such programs such as education and healthcare.  As a result, the works that they ordered varied greatly from their counterparts in groups like the Society of Jesus.

The last segment of the 1849 order list is the hardest to identify. Laity – the non-clerical, ordinary Catholics who filled the pews of a Sunday Mass – were and still are crucial in the Church. Of the 23 or so purchasers who remain unknown in the 1849 ledger, at least twelve are laity. Their lack of a clear institutional affiliation makes identification difficult. One can have little hope of finding a “Mrs. Jones” who placed an order in September 1849, and yet the presence of non-religious individuals is an important part of this story. Their orders show how Catholicism was being transmitted outside the hierarchy of the Church, and how the laity were playing a part in the move of both Christianity and these specific books westward. With luck, some of these individuals can be identified at some point, but even examining their purchases offers some insight into their involvement in the larger movement.

It may be hard to track down the Mrs. Jones who placed this order.

It may be hard to track down the Mrs. Jones who placed this order.

So who were the most active purchasers during this period?  Between May and September 1849, the top three purchasers were neither Vincentians nor Jesuits despite their large presence in the market. Rev. Simon Siegrist, a parish priest from St. Louis, had the most orders (six), followed by Rev. Simon Paris, the rector of St. Louis Cathedral (five) and Sr. Olympia (four). The presence of Father Siegrist at the top of the list is surprising as he was not seemingly high in the Archdiocese’s hierarchy nor was he a member of any order. Siegrist did order several German works, and it is likely that he served the city’s growing immigrant German population. Hopefully over the course of the coming semester I can uncover more about what he was purchasing and what his role in St. Louis might have been.

Father Paris’s presence as the second most prolific purchaser is not surprising, however. As the rector of the Archdiocesan seat, he occupied a high position within St. Louis Catholic life and likely administered over a number of programs.

Rounding out the top three was a woman, a nun named Sister Olympia who placed four orders in 1849. Her high number of orders reflects the work of a woman in education (in May 1849, for example, she ordered fifty catechisms).  As a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, Sister Olympia worked at St. Vincent’s Free School in St. Louis where she could put her catechisms to use teaching the city’s growing Catholic youth.

In all, 1849 is a great year for analysis, one that has been well-identified in terms of purchasers (relative to the other years studied, it has a much small percentage of unidentified purchasers). With a good understanding of who the individuals making purchases were and where they were located, we can begin to look at what they were buying. Bianca has done amazing work analyzing the works purchased in 1846, noting that nearly 350 unique items were purchased in that year. 1849 has fewer purchases than 1846, but I anticipate that it has as much variation in the titles sold.

A typical page from the ledger, showing orders in June 1849 from Father Siegrist, Father Dahmen, and Sister Genevieve.

A typical page from the ledger, showing orders in June 1849 from Father Siegrist, Father Dahmen, and Sister Genevieve.

Over the next few weeks, I will begin marking each item ordered in 1849, organizing them by order number to keep track of who was buying what. By the end, I should be left with a list that shows each respective book ordered, the number of transactions that included a specific book, the number of copies sold in each transaction, and the price charged per copy in each order. Creating this list will open a number of different paths for further analysis, including comparing the prices the Jesuits charged their respective customers and which books were most widely bought. However, I am most excited to use the list of titles to begin investigating what these books said about mid-century Catholicism. I hope to conduct research on the titles, producing at a minimum a few sentences on each work in order to understand what these pioneer priests and Catholics were reading. My work for the last few months has been building towards this study and I am excited to begin working on it.

Roman Law in a Jesuit College Library

This week, Erik Berner posts the first in his series of studies of the books in the Secular Legislation section of the c.1878 St. Ignatius College Library catalog. Here he explores two works that long predate the late nineteenth-century school.  

Justinian, Corpus Juris Civilis  2 vol. (Geneva: Jacob Stoer, 1624) 

Images in Flickr Archive

Justinian, Corpus Juris Civilis (Altenburg/Liepzig: J.L. Richterum & H. Lanckisianos, 1721)

Images in Flickr Archive

Title page of the first volume of the 1624 edition still held by Loyola.

Title page of the first volume of the 1624 edition still in the collections of Loyola’s libraries.

The ancient Corpus Juris Civilis or “Body of Civil Law” of Justinian (483-565) is a fine starting point for a collection of legal works at a Jesuit college. Two editions of Justinian’s Civil Law are listed in the c.1878 St. Ignatius College library catalog: one from 1624 and another from 1721. Both still exist and are held in University Special Collections in Cudahy Library. The 1624 edition, printed in Geneva, is a reprinting of a 1583 edition recognized by scholars as one of the most influential. The 1583 edition was first printed by the French jurist and law professor at University of Geneva, Dionysus Godefroy, after the text’s rediscovery. Like most Latin learning, Justinian’s Code had been to lost to European thinkers since it’s 6th century compilation, but was reintroduced through translations during the Renaissance Period (despite Europe’s concurrent Dark Age, the period from the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of European Empires is considered a Golden Age of Islamic culture and learning, during which Muslim scholars studied and circulated Ancient Western texts and ideas, translated into Arabic).

Initially taught at the University in Bologna and circulated among Italian merchants, Godefroy’s Geneva edition is recognized as the first proper Western European edition, and was, in fact, the first to print these laws under the title Corpus Juris Civilis. Reading the Preface, written by Godefroy himself (or at least claiming to be), was a true challenge of my very intermediate French skills from high school, but I was able to glean the scholarly intent of the edition. It was intended “pour cours de droit civil” (for classes in civil law), presumably, and not surprisingly, at the University in Geneva where Godefroy taught. The title page left me with a few questions about publication and previous ownership, claiming to be “ex typographia Iacobi Stoer”. Searches on Google, World Cat, and Open Library turn up publications under Stoer’s name, all from the 17th century, such as a French dictionary and a “General Inventory of the History of France”, but no peripheral information.

Jesuits in at least two different provinces - one in Europe, the other in North America - have owned the 1624 Corpus.

Jesuits in at least two different provinces – one in Europe, the other in North America – have owned the 1624 Corpus.

Title page of the 1721 Corpus still in the collections of Loyola's libraries today.

Title page of the 1721 Corpus also in the collections of Loyola’s libraries today.

The second copy was printed in 1721 in Altenburg, a town in Saxony (now Germany) by “Joh. Ludov. Richterum et Heredes Lanckisianos” (about whom, the only links a google search turned up were about this very edition of the Corpus Juris Civilis). They were not the original printers of this edition. Instead, they were reprinting one that originated a year earlier in Liepzig. This edition is specifically intended for scholarly use; it’s full title is Corpus Juris Civilis Academicum: in suas partes distributum, usuique moderno ita accommodatum, ut nunc studiosorum quivis, etiam tyro, uno quasi intuitu, omnes leges digestorum et codicis, omnesque titulos institutionum invenire possit. From the Latin, this roughly means that it is adapted for modern usage so that all students may learn from it. This would have been used in an inns of court type legal education. The “inns of court” refers to the practice, prevalent before the development of formal law schools, of prospective barristers sitting in on actual court proceedings to learn in an unstructured manner about the law. It is annotated for these purposes, though the Latin and Old French are hard to understand for me. In this particular copy is the handwritten name “Christophorro Henrico,” a google search of which turns up nothing. It is likely the name of a previous owner.

On a scale from poor to expert, my Latin skills could be labeled…nonexistent.   Therefore my only knowledge of the contents of these books comes from internet research; the Corpus Juris Civilis was Justinian’s attempt to compile all the previous law he found useful, by previous emperors and himself, and any further laws that he wished to enact, covering in minutiae every detail of Roman life, into one place and make it the one and only law book that anybody in the Empire would ever need to reference for anything; in fact, referral to any other was forbidden by imperial decree. It is obvious why this set of laws, then, would have such a lasting impact, perhaps being the most influential set of laws until the Napoleonic Code, a body of laws also found on the library’s shelves which I will discuss in a few weeks.

Some great marginalia in Loyola's copy of the 1721 Corpus.

Some great marginalia in Loyola’s copy of the 1721 Corpus.

New this semester: What law books are on the original library shelves?

Welcome back to the Spring 2017 semester! Recent graduate Erik Berner will be sharing the outcome of his investigation of the titles in the Secular Legislation section of the Legislation division of the original library catalog over the coming weeks. His introductory post follows. Check back regularly in the coming weeks for posts on the specific titles in this division.

Listing of the Legislation Division from the index of the original St. Ignatius College library catalog.

Listing of the Legislation Division from the index of the original St. Ignatius College library catalog.

Last spring I explored whether the Jesuits at St. Ignatius College (precursor to Loyola University Chicago) might have been trying to found a law school at the end of the nineteenth century. Nearly forty years elapsed between the founding of the St Ignatius College and the founding of its law school. The college’s original library catalog provided potential evidence of whether the Jesuits intended to educate students for the law earlier, as I explored in my posts here and here.

In the end, I concluded it was unlikely that the Jesuit founders of St. Ignatius gathered the books in the secular law section of their library with the express intent of founding a law school. Nevertheless, they managed to assemble an impressive collection, whether by seeking out books with a specific intent or taking what was available to them. The Harvard method of institutionalized, formal, legal education at the university level had only just been begun by Joseph Story the year this catalog was compiled. Up to this point, most legal education was undertaken through apprenticeships with established lawyers. The St. Ignatius collection contained many of the essential texts for a legal education at the time, but its lack of certain seminal texts, such as Blackstone’s Commentaries, led me to conclude the collection was for the reference of the Jesuits more than for a comprehensive legal education of their students.

In the original c.1878 catalog, the Legislation Division contained 68 titles: 30 in Secular Legislation and 38 in Ecclesiastical Legislation. I focused on the Secular Legislation collection. The books can be divided into seven distinct segments: Ancient Law, British Law, Continental European Law, US Law (subdivided into Colonial and Post-Colonial), General Laws and Statutes (text of the law), Personal Reference/Commentary (texts about the law, intended for general readership), and Academic (texts about the law, expressly intended for scholarly/academic use). Though some of these books have disappeared, many are still in circulation, or held in the Special Collections, of Loyola university libraries today. I have created an annotated bibliography of each section by researching extant texts (and using digital surrogates of lost texts), as well as looking at the the authors, publishers, background information, and influence of the works themselves on the country and legal education. I will be publishing the segments over the coming weeks, giving readers of the JLPP blog some idea of the nature of these books, both as texts and as physical objects, and their potential purpose within the St. Ignatius Collection.

What is the future of CatholicDH?

The following comments were offered by Kyle Roberts, Director of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project, and faculty member at Loyola University Chicago on the Presidential Roundtable, “The Future of Catholic History: What Do Graduate Students Want to Know?” at the American Catholic Historical Association Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 7th, at 10:30 am in Denver.  

The Future of Catholic Digital Humanities

I’ve been asked to speak today for a few minutes about the future of Catholic Digital Humanities (#CatholicDH), a topic that I’ve had the chance to watch develop over the last few years from my position as a digital humanist and historian of religion at Loyola University Chicago. As the Director of Loyola’s Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities (CTSDH) for the past six months, I’ve become even more acutely aware of the opportunities – and challenges – that come with doing CatholicDH.

What do I mean by “Catholic Digital Humanities”?

At the CTSDH we tend to think of the digital humanities in terms of the way popularized by Kathleen Fitzpatrick: that the digital humanities represent the application of computational methods to longstanding questions of humanistic interest, as well as the application of humanistic approaches to thinking about how the digital is changing society. Put simply: digital approaches/methodologies for understanding the humanities / humanistic approaches to understanding the digital age.

Catholic historians can lay claim to one of, if not the, first important humanities computing projects: Father Roberto Busa’s Index Thomisticus. Busa was an Italian Jesuit priest who convinced Thomas Watson at IBM to partner with him in the creation of a massive computerized concordance of the works of Aquinas. My former colleague at Loyola, Steve Jones, came out with a new book on Busa just last year: Roberto Busa, S.J., and the Emergence of Humanities Computing: The Priest and the Punched Cards (Routledge). It is well worth a read, not only for the vision of Busa but also his acknowledgement of the work of dozens of women who punched the cards for his analysis. (The invisible labor of DH is nothing new!)

Fifty years later, the digital humanities have proliferated into many different approaches. Under the broad DH umbrella, we find digital archives, databases, digitization, fabrication (3-D printing), knowledge sites, electronic literature, gaming, mapping and GIS, mobile applications and augmented reality, network analysis, scholarly communication, social media, textual analysis, text encoding, and more. (There is a good new textbook by Crompton, Lane, and Siemens URL) if you need an introduction to many of these approaches.) This diversity reflects the reality that the digital humanities isn’t so much a field or a discipline but a set of methodologies that can be used by practitioners in a range of different fields and disciplines. DH nicely lends itself to multidisciplinary work.

What are scholars of Catholicism doing in the digital humanities?

Not surprisingly, their work is broad. The greatest amount of CatholicDH work has taken place in the archives in Catholic colleges, universities, dioceses, religious orders, and institutions. There was a great panel at ACHA on Friday afternoon, January 6, entitled “Digitization of Archives and Its Impact on Scholarly Research” which nicely revealed not only the extent of this work, but also many of the issues facing different types of Catholic organizations in digitizing their materials. A list of different sites prepared by Fernanda Perrone of Rutgers for that panel is at the end of this post.

There are a smaller number of CatholicDH projects that use different applications, methodologies, and platforms to tackle research questions in American and European Catholic history. Some interesting projects (by no means exhaustive) include:

Catholic material is also incorporated into sites that focus on the larger American religious experience. Interesting projects here include (again, not a comprehensive list):

What is important with this second list is that it encourages us to think about Catholics in comparative historical perspective. As we know, few Catholics in North America had the privilege of living in isolation from folks of other faiths – Native American, Protestant, folk. Studying them in isolation misses the reality of their experience.

Some have made the argument that scholars of religious history in general have lagged behind their colleagues in embracing the digital humanities (Reed, 2016). I don’t think this is an unfair assessment. I’d push it further and argue that within this group, scholars of Catholicism have lagged behind scholars of other religious groups. Looking at the extensive list of DH sites in religion in Chris Cantwell and Hussain Rashid’s 2015 report to the Social Science Research Council reveals that only 10 out of 160 (6%) are explicitly on Catholic topics. This is surprising given that 30/160 are on Jewish topics and 25/160 are on topics related to Islam. Why is this?

Those of us interested in #CatholicDH need to reflect on why it is that the work in our field has taken the shape it has. Is it a reflection of interest? expertise? infrastructure? resources? (or the lack thereof?) I don’t think the current lack of more interpretive projects in Catholic DH is necessarily a bad thing. It gives scholars interested in taking on DH projects the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from other types of projects that have come before. What might #CatholicDH potentially have to learn from #JewishDH or #MuslimDH? Furthermore, the applications and platforms for doing this kind of work are much more powerful and generally easier to use. Our students are becoming increasingly valuable collaborative partners in this work, themselves the products of a generation of makers and social media users.

So, should graduate students be involving themselves in the digital humanities?

Yes. There are many ways to be involved. If you have the chance, take a class on DH. Most people I know in DH taught themselves. We didn’t have the luxury of classes on the topic. More graduate students now do. Take one. Learn the basic principles. Play around with different applications. You don’t realize it now, but you have more time in graduate school than you will ever again to play around. Enjoy it.

Resign yourself to the fact that you will not be able to learn every DH application. Pick one or a few that are most interesting to you and relevant to your scholarship. Your curiosity will make you want to know about lots of different approaches, but you’ll eventually settle into one or a few to specialize in.

If you have a chance to participate in someone else’s project, do. We’re all collaborators now. Write a blog post, transcribe some documents, help build a database, try to break a beta version. DHers tend to always be looking for partners. I know I am. This is a great way to build skills, but also to become better familiar with the emerging standards for doing DH work.

Incorporate digital skills into your teaching. Start now. Your undergraduate students want these skills and you’ll be doing yourself a favor on the job market to be able to talk about how you can teach with DH. Remember that while online teaching is valuable, it isn’t the same as digital humanities (although many people who know nothing about DH conflate the two).

A question that comes up frequently: should I do a DH dissertation? Think about what you need to explore the question that you are researching. Does a certain form of computational analysis have the potential to open up your source material in new ways? Think more about how you can use the digital methodology to help you write the traditional dissertation – you get the best of both worlds. Digital mapping, database building, textual analysis can all be very helpful. The thing to remember is that creating a data set can take a really long time. Too often people spend all their energy on the data and run out of time to do the full analysis. Don’t be that person. You have the rest of your life to make the archive of all that you found – and it might take you that long to create it

The hardest part can be getting started. It’s time consuming. There aren’t always accessible people at our institutions willing to help us. The terminology alone can be daunting. What is the cloud? Why do I need to care about a server? To that end I’d like to end by sharing a new consortium that is just now coming into being. It is the brainchild of Sally O’Driscoll, professor of English at Fairfield University, and her colleagues. The consortium is called Jesuit Digital: Access, Scholarship and the Humanities (with the acronym J-DASH). In Sally’s words:

This project proposes to create a digital humanities consortium of faculty, library, and staff at small comprehensive universities and colleges in the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). The project has two primary components: (1) a portal (a resource-sharing website) to advance digital humanities collaborations across our campuses; (2) a three-day workshop, bringing together AJCU stakeholders to jointly produce a vision statement and goals for the consortium, and a template for strategic planning on individual campuses. The consortium will foster a collaborative network of colleagues interested in exploring ways to promote and make visible digital humanities on and among campuses, and to spark innovation.

This is exactly what I hope the future of Catholic Digital Humanities will be: faculty, archivists, and students coming together to share their expertise and resources, to work collaboratively on exciting new projects, and to increase access to primary source material about Catholic History and scholarship about it.

Some helpful overview articles on religion and the Digital Humanities:

Cantwell, Christopher, and Hussain Rashid. “Religion, Media, and the Digital Turn.” Social Science Research Council, 2015.

Reed, Ashley. “Digital Humanities and the Study and Teaching of North American Religions.” Religion Compass 10, no. 12 (December 1, 2016): 307–16.

Roberts, Kyle. “Digital Future of Jesuit Studies.” Catholic Library World 85, no. 4 (June 2015).

Pasquier, Michael. “American Religion and Digital Humanities.” Religion in American History, (2010).

Getting started:

Crompton, Constance, Richard J Lane, and Raymond George Siemens. Doing Digital Humanities: Practice, Training, Research, 2016.

From the Friday afternoon panel, “Digitization of Archives and Its Impact on Scholarly Research”

Fernanda Perrone, Archivist at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey had three helpful handouts from her presentation on digitized materials on women religious from the . They are reproduced below:

Digital Collections on Women Religious

Women’s Religious Community-Based Digital Projects

Other Digital Projects

Join us at ACHA in Denver this Weekend!


The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project is on the road this weekend in Denver at the annual meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association. The pull program of the conference can be found here.

Come join us on Saturday, January 7th from 3:30 to 5 pm in Sheraton Denver Downtown, Room: Governor’s Square 11, for the panel:

Books and Boundaries: Catholic Textual Encounters in Nineteenth-Century America

Scholars have long focused on Protestants, especially in the nineteenth-century American Midwest, as the people of the printed word, from their founding of Bible and tract societies to the catalyzing power of Beecher’s A Plea for the West (1835). Catholics, however, equally availed themselves of print. This panel explores not only the crucial importance of print to growing American Catholic communities but also some of the complications that the larger marketplace of print created for them.

The distribution of Catholic books through gift and sale reinforced the scattered members of Catholics, both clerical and lay. The specific texts distributed complicate any simple understanding of political/cultural/social identity in this period. They remind us of the transnational, hybrid identities of Atlantic World Catholics, balancing allegiances to the state, homeland, and the global Catholic Church. This panel emerges, in part, from the work of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project and seeks to reframe our understanding of religious community building through the mobility of texts. It does so by looking at such topics at the spread of ultramontane texts, the transnational distribution of mass-produced Catholic books and devotional images, and heterodox and obscene literature in a Jesuit college library.

Pio Nono on Paper: Transnational Connections in American Catholic Publishing, 1846-1878 Michael Albani, Michigan State University

Between 1846 and 1878, Pius IX reigned as the longest serving elected pope in the history of the Catholic Church. A defining element of his papacy was his embrace of ultramontanism, the ideology that the global church should be centered in Rome with the pope commanding both infallibility and spiritual supremacy. Much has been written about the effects of ultramontanism on nineteenth-century European Catholics, but comparatively less work has been done to assess the impact the intellectual and spiritual principles of Pius IX may have had on American Catholics, particularly on their print culture and parochial education.

My paper will explore emerging transnational connections in nineteenth-century American Catholic publishing when printers across the United States reacted to more reactionary religious ideals crossing the Atlantic from Rome. I will, furthermore, determine how writings inspired by Pius IX may have influenced Catholic education by using a single Midwestern institution, St. Ignatius College (precursor of Loyola University Chicago), as a case study. In approximately 1878, St. Ignatius College’s librarian compiled a catalogue of all the books on the library’s shelves, over 2,500 of which were published during Pius IX’s papacy. Even though only a fraction of those books survive, utilizing the surviving catalogue and digital resources developed by the Jesuits Libraries Provenance Project will help determine what texts originated from American Catholic publishers and how many of them fell in line with or deviated from ultramontane thought.

Wares for a Catholic Market: The Expansion of the Swiss Publishing House Benziger from Europe to the United States in the Nineteenth Century – Heinz Nauer (University of Lucerne, Switzerland)

Over the course of the nineteenth century, a multitude of Catholic publishing houses emerged in Europe. The role of these companies in the history of modern Catholicism is widely forgotten. This is rather astonishing, since from the 1830s onwards, Catholic publishers participated in the process of “Catholic mobilization” in many ways. Some of these publishing companies even became economically successful multinational enterprises with branches not only in several European countries, but also in North and South America. Especially in the United States, they served a growing market for religious wares such as prayer books, popular magazines, and devotional statues and pictures.

Based on the example of the Swiss publishing house of the Benziger Brothers, my paper examines the expansion of the Catholic publishing sector from Europe to the United States during the nineteenth century. The Benziger Company had its roots in Einsiedeln, a village and popular pilgrimage site situated in a pre-alpine region of central Switzerland. At the height of its production in the 1880s, Benziger produced more than one million prayer books and several million devotional pictures per year in its factories in Einsiedeln. A considerable percentage of these wares were exported to the US. The Benziger Brothers made their first commercial contacts with the American market in the 1830s. The first branch in New York, however, was not established before 1853. Other branches in Cincinnati (1860), St. Louis (1875), Chicago (1886) and San Francisco (1929) followed it.

This paper asks: along which networks did this remarkable expansion over the Atlantic take place? Which strategies did the publishers pursue in order to adjust their products to the needs of Catholic American society? Based on the extensive historical sources in the Benziger Brothers’ corporate archive, I will begin to answer these important questions.

The Heresy Saga: Heterodox Theology and Obscene Literature in the 1870s St. Ignatius College Library Collection – Gustav Roman and Roman Krasnitsky, Loyola University Chicago

Our topic explores the restricted section of late nineteenth-century library history: the literature and theological works of papal-proclaimed obscenity and heresy, and how those works were treated inside the library of the Jesuit-run St. Ignatius College in Chicago. Looking at first the broader historical context of papal censorship in the nineteenth century, our research cross-examines the works of alleged mind-poisoning heresy and vulgarity from their the point of the famous “Index” of banned literature, to the ways in which the banned titles were actually treated within the library. Based on the extreme reactions toward any literature of questionable descent, our work tracks a series of titles and the questions their inclusion—or various circulating peculiarities—present in the context of a Catholic-run, American institution. We question aspects of possible Jesuit resistance toward censorship, the library and university history of the era, the functions of papal encyclical distribution, and the many mysteries that come with the archival research and textual analysis.

Other panels of interest:

  • Digitization of Archives and Its Impact on Scholarly Research. Friday, 1:30-3:00 pm, Sheraton Downtown, Room: Governor’s Square 17
  • Catechism, Missals, and Papal Pronouncements. Friday, 3:30-5 pm, Sheraton Downtown, Room: Governor’s Square 17
  • Frontier Catholicism Across Three Centuries. Saturday, 8:30-10 am, Sheraton Downtown, Room: Governor’s Square 16
  • Presidential Roundtable: The Future of Catholic History: What do Graduate Students Want to Know? Saturday, 10:30-12 pm, Sheraton Downtown, Room: Governor’s Square 16.
  • Catholicism and Americanism in the 19th Century: New Perspectives on an Old Debate. Saturday, 3:30 – 5 pm, Sheraton Downtown, Room: Governor’s Square 16.

See you in Denver!

UPDATE: The panel went great. Here are our fine presenters before it began:

From left to right: Heinz Nauer (Lucerne), Gustav Roman (Loyola), Roman Krasnitsky (Loyola), and Michael Albani (Michigan State University).

From left to right: Heinz Nauer (Lucerne), Gustav Roman (Loyola), Roman Krasnitsky (Loyola), and Michael Albani (Michigan State University).

Unlocking the Secrets of a Book Trade Ledger: Fall Semester Recap

This post reflects on the JLPP team’s work on the 1840s book trade ledger from the Missouri Province this semester. It pulls liberally from intern Bianca Barcenas’s reflections on the process in her internship blog Mapping Catholics with the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project.

This past fall semester, three members of the JLPP team – junior Bianca Barcenas, Master’s student Dan Snow, and Prof. Kyle Roberts – turned their attention to an in-depth study of the purchases in the book trade ledger maintained by the Jesuits in St. Louis between 1842 and 1849. The original ledger is in the collections of the archives of St. Louis University, but the JLPP team was able to work with a high-quality scan of the rich document.

Dan Snow and Brendan Courtois (and fellow Ramonat Scholar Andrew Kelly) in front of the poster on their work analyzing the book trade ledger.

Dan Snow and Brendan Courtois (and fellow Ramonat Scholar Andrew Kelly) in front of the poster on their work analyzing the book trade ledger.

Both Dan and Bianca had worked on the JLPP before. Dan researched some of the more interesting vendors recorded in the ledger’s “Bill Book” section last academic year and worked with Brendan Courtois on a big picture analysis of the ledger as a financial document. Bianca spent the summer detecting the contours of Mississippi and Missouri Valley Catholicism over time through a comparative study of statistical data in the 1841 and 1851 issues of the Metropolitan Catholic Almanac (MCA). As her post from August revealed, the center of Midwestern Catholicism began to shift over the 1840s from St. Louis to Chicago and Milwaukee, as the number of parishes rapidly expanded and three new dioceses came into being. Bianca’s summer research set the stage for a formal internship in the fall semester while Dan contributed the free time he had between graduate seminars.

The semester began with each team member rolling up her or his sleeves and transcribing several months or one year of purchases from the ledger. There are over 375 pages of transactions, so it would have been impossible for the three to try to do them all in a semester’s time. Bianca had the largest data set with January to December 1846, Dan worked on May to September 1849 (the last transactions in the ledger) and Prof. Roberts explored May 1842 to April 1843 (the first transactions). In order to understand the information recorded, it first had to be transcribed and organized. This meant making an Excel spreadsheet that recorded aspects of each transaction related to the consumer: the page on which it is listed; the day, month, and year of the purchase; the prefix and last name of the purchaser; and finally any notes about the transaction. (Later in the semester the team began to add information about what each person or institution purchased.)

Bianca's Excel spreadsheet of purchasers.

Bianca’s Excel spreadsheet of purchasers.

As her spreadsheet eventually grew to 380 transactions, Bianca found that her summertime work on the 1841 MCA offered a handy resource for making sense of nineteenth-century handwriting. Even as this early stage, names familiar from the MCA five years earlier appeared. Common names, however, made it difficult to discern whether the listed was Fr. Martins of St. Louis, Vincennes, or New Orleans.

With a preliminary spreadsheet of transactions in hand, the third, fourth, and fifth weeks of the semester were spent determining how many unique purchasers were represented. For example, 124 different clergy and laity made Bianca’s 380 transactions. Variant spellings and abbreviations of names added another layer of complexity. Was Sister Olympia the same as Sister Olimpia? Was Mr. Coppes also Mr. Copes?

A very helpful source available digitally!

A very helpful source available online!

Identifying clergy was made easier by the rich listings in the MCA and, for Jesuits, the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, both available digitally. (There are some gaps in the online holdings of the MCA, but Loyola’s Special Collections has a complete run for the decade.) The laity, however, proved a greater challenge. Most were difficult to identify with any degree of certainty. By the end of this phase of the project, team members decided to swap their spreadsheets to see if they could identify people that the others had missed. Each also selected a certain segment of consumers across the period – Bianca looking at institutions and women religious, Dan at parish priests, and Prof. Roberts at the laity – to analyze.

While the rest of the team played catch-up cleaning their data and analyzing their purchasers, Bianca began to explore what institutions and women religious were purchasing across this period. What quickly became clear is that more than just books were being sold. Medals, beads, pictures, and crucifixes turned out to be popular sellers, a reminder of the importance of material culture to Catholicism. Curious about some of the titles that she repeatedly came across, Bianca looked at the history of three works in particular: Historical Sketches of O’Connell and his Friends, about the great nineteenth-century Irish proponent of Catholic emancipation; An Exposition of the Doctrine of the Catholic Church in Matters of Controversyby the popular seventeenth-century French orator and polemicist Jacques-Benigne Bossuet; and The Poor Man’s Catechism by John Mannock.

One of Bishop Peter Richard Kenrick's many transactions with the Jesuit booksellers.

One of Bishop Peter Richard Kenrick’s many transactions with the Jesuit booksellers.

By the mid-point of the semester, the team was ready to start aggregating and visualizing their transcribed and cleaned-up data. A new set of spreadsheets was created listing the names of unique purchasers, their locations at different points in time, and the frequency of their purchases. Most purchasers are only listed in one or two transactions a year. But a handful were very active patrons. Bishop Peter Richard Kenrick (1806-1896), for example, had 34 different transactions in May 1842-April 1843 and another 19 in 1846. Using the functionality of Google Fusion Tables, team members were able to create charts and maps to begin to identify patterns. One seemed to suggest a shift from clergy serving large swaths of scattered rural Catholics across a broad circuit at the start of the decade to their settlement in single parishes by the end. Bianca became particularly interested in thinking about movement and change over the first half of this period. After isolating a list of unique purchasers from 1846 whose location could be ascertained in 1841, she mapped both to see their geographic spread. Even with this limited dataset, her maps reveal the broad expanse of the trade, centered in St. Louis, but stretching east to Kentucky, west to Kansas, north to Chicago and south to New Orleans.

1841 Distribution Map

1841 Distribution Map


1846 Distribution Map

Throughout, the team sought to identify multiple variables about the unique purchasers. This included not only whether they were clergy or laity and their locations at the time of their purchase. The team also researched the order (if any) to which the clergy and women religious belonged. With the exception of the occasional (but inconsistent) “S.J.” after a Jesuit’s listing in the ledger, this information was very rarely recorded. But the Metropolitan Catholic Almanac often does reveal this, so Bianca went to work gathering this information.

By the end of the semester, all of the team members had a good handle on their purchasers and could begin thinking about the books they bought. Bianca made the greatest progress in the latter inquiry. She resumed the work she had been doing at mid-semester. She used the history of one person’s purchases to craft a preliminary narrative about that consumer in 1846. () Then, in her final post, she undertook an aggregate analysis of sales over the first four months of 1846. Two things jump out from her work. First, the broad range of works being sold. She identified over 348 unique titles, a number that astounded the entire team. Second, she discovered that the best sellers were, less surprisingly, devotional works like Gother’s Sincere Christian’s Guide (22 purchases), The Key of Heaven (23), and the Ursuline Manual (23), but also, more surprising, beads (31) and pictures (39). Charting their purchase over time suggested some seasonal patterns to boot.

Detecting seasonal pattens in the bestsellers of early 1846.

Detecting seasonal pattens in the bestsellers of early 1846.

In the spring 2017 semester, Bianca is off to study at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center and is passing the baton to Dan, who will expand his study of the sales of particular books and what their significance might be to Catholics in the antebellum Midwest in a directed study. Stay tuned for more discoveries!

Visit Bianca's blog to learn more about her other passion: the theater!

Visit Bianca’s blog to learn more about her other passion: the theater!