Inside take on a Folger, Bodleian, and Ransom Center exhibition on the creation and afterlife of the King James Bible on the 400th anniversary of its publication.

Archive for May, 2012

A Curator Looks at 400

Steven Galbraith. Photo by Ryan Jenq.

Steven Galbraith. Photo by Ryan Jenq.

Thinking about the one-year anniversary of Manifold Greatness takes me back to August 2009 and a balcony overlooking the ocean at Bethany Beach, DE. Miles from the Folger, my mind was more in Margaritaville than Jacobean England, but I owed Hannibal Hamlin a phone call regarding the King James Bible. A few days earlier we had met with my Folger colleagues regarding plans for the KJV’s 400th anniversary. We agreed to co-curate a Folger exhibition in 2011, but as ideas flew around the room, the scope of the exhibition grew and grew. There was talk of partnerships, grants, websites, and traveling exhibitions.

In some ways this is the most exciting moment in the life of an exhibition: the moment when you think as creatively as you can, without yet worrying about what might not be possible. The KJV anniversary was clearly going to be a bigger project than we had first imagined. I think that I can speak for both Hannibal and myself in admitting that although it was exciting, it was also pretty overwhelming. We agreed to talk everything through in a few days. I left the library for the beach.

Fast forward to this past fall. Like Hannibal, who recently shared his reflections on the one-year anniversary of the exhibition, I was inspired by our meeting last fall with representatives from the exhibition’s host sites. As I stood before this amazing group of people and heard their plans for their exhibitions, it really dawned on me that the exhibition on which we all had been working was really about to launch. With the Folger Shakespeare Library, the NEH, and all of these dynamic librarians, curators, and educators putting their efforts behind the exhibition, I knew things could only go well.

A year in and I am thrilled by the reach of Manifold Greatness. So far the exhibition has traveled to eighteen sites (counting the larger exhibitions at the Folger, the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin).  The Folger exhibition broke previous attendance records and the turnout at the exhibition sites has been very impressive. We are so thankful for all the support. The blog itself has been visited 30,948 times. Thank you for reading!

I couldn’t have seen any of this three years ago from my perch looking out over the ocean. When I did phone Hannibal we talked at length about how fun it was going to be to work together and agreed that we wouldn’t let things get too overwhelming. We were right on one count!  But from my vantage point the future looked pretty promising.

Steven Galbraith, Curator of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology, is co-curator of the Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


Pioneering Spirits

Bible. Holman’s Edition, published by M.C. Lilley & Co. in Columbus, OH.
On loan from the Winfield Masonic Lodge #110 the Free and Accepted Masons of Kansas. Image courtesy of Winfield Public Library.

The Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Winfield Public Library displayed two rarely-seen pulpit Bibles, and these items drew considerable attention over the course of the exhibition. The Bibles are associated with two prominent men—Colonel Henry C. Loomis and John Peter “J.P.” Baden—who shaped the early history of Winfield, KS.

Bible. Holman’s Edition, published by M.C. Lilley & Co. in Columbus, OH.
On loan from the Winfield Masonic Lodge #110 the Free and Accepted Masons of Kansas. Image courtesy of Winfield Public Library.

Soldier, Pioneer, and Gentleman: Colonel Henry C. Loomis 

Born in Cattaraugus County, NY in 1834, Henry Loomis grew up in a farming family and inherited an interest in military life from his grandfather, a veteran of the Revolutionary War.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Loomis served in Company C., 64th N.Y. Infantry and was commissioned as a first lieutenant.  At the Battle of Fair Oaks in June 1862, Lt. Loomis received severe wounds while leading his company in a charge against Confederates soldiers.

Loomis was ordered home to convalesce, and during his recovery, he helped recruit and organize the 154th N.Y. Infantry. He eventually received a commission as a Lieutenant Colonel before leaving the Army and heading West.

As he traveled westward in search of new opportunities, Loomis heard of a perspective opening of the Osage Indian Reservation in the new state of Kansas. Loomis found the valley near the Walnut River near present-day Winfield attractive, and paid the Osage chief $5.00 to stay on his squatter’s claim of 160 acres. Winfield now occupies 100 acres out of the original 160 settled by Henry Loomis.

As one of the founders of the town, Loomis has been first and foremost in every enterprise that would build up and improve Winfield.  Loomis helped organize the county, served as its first county clerk, became a member of the first board of trade, helped secure railroad lines through Cowley County, and served two terms as mayor in 1896. Loomis was made a Master Mason in 1862 and remained a member for forty-three years, advancing to the thirty-third or highest degree.   He died in Winfield and is buried in the town’s Union-Graham Cemetery. His copy of the King James Bible, along with a photograph of Loomis in his Templar uniform, was displayed.

J.P. Baden Memorial Bible. Levant morocco- bound pulpit King James Bible presented to J.P. Baden Memorial Lutheran Church as a memorial to J. P Baden by his wife on January 28, 1906. On loan from Trinity Lutheran church in Winfield, KS. Image courtesy Winfield Public Library.

Enterprising Industrialist and Founder of St. Johns College: J.P. Baden

John Peter Baden was born 1851 in Elsdorf, Germany.  At the age of 15, he sailed on the Richard Reihe and landed in New York City in 1866.  He went to live with his brother in Hannibal, MO to learn the English language and to become a United States citizen.  After working and saving money, J.P., as he came to be know, traveled to Kansas and opened a business in Winfield in 1879.

As a young entrepreneur, Baden operated a packing plant that became one of the largest in the West and handled the bulk of poultry, game, eggs, butter and produce of southern Kansas, Oklahoma, and what was then a part of the Indian Territory. He also owned an ice plant and cold storage facility, and a roller mill and elevator for processing grain. His business ventures proved very successful, as Baden possessed notable talent in making money while simultaneously leading a modest lifestyle.  He poured his profits back into trade, stimulating business and giving work to the unemployed.

J.P. Baden and his wife, Adelaide, brought the first Lutheran church services to Winfield and also established St. John’s College.  The college was founded in 1893 and was the first Evangelical Lutheran College of higher education to admit women. It operated for over a century before closing in 1986. The City of Winfield later purchased the St. John’s College site and renamed it Baden Square.  The Winfield Public Library now occupies one of the buildings on Baden Square, and it seems fitting to display a Bible owned by the college’s founder on the very site that he played such a role in creating.

Sue Birney is the Adult Special Services Librarian at Winfield Public Library in Winfield, KS.


Manifold Greatness at Whitworth University: A Community Effort

A display of family Bibles and certificates for recording births, deaths, and marriages. Courtesy Whitworth University.

A display of Bibles, including one owned by George Whitworth, the founder of Whitworth University, and certificates for recording births, deaths, and marriages. Courtesy Whitworth University.

As Whitworth University Library prepares to pack up the Manifold Greatness exhibit, we have the opportunity to reflect on the community support we have received. Our community partners, and the people who visited the exhibition, have truly made Manifold Greatness at Whitworth University a success!

The Spokane County Library district , which partnered with Whitworth to promote the Manifold Greatness exhibition, hosted programs related to the Bible and Culture at two of their branch libraries. A speaker from Whitworth University asked for audience input about the Biblical themes portrayed in advertising. Audiences were surprised to learn that in some Jewish traditions, Cain is considered the son of Eve and the serpent (the serpent seed), rather than the son of Adam and Eve. This interpretation comes into play in an advertisement for Smirnoff Green Apple Twist, in which the serpent (a female) appears to be seducing Adam.

Gonzaga University Library’s Special Collections contributed items for the Manifold Greatness exhibit room. One such item is a Franklin Mint reproduction of the Thompson Medallic Bible, a group of 60 sterling silver medals depicting famous artists’ rendering of Biblical stories on one side and accompanying scripture (text from the King James Bible) on the other side.

Reproduction of the Thompson Medallic Bible. Image courtesy of Whitworth University.

The Spokane Public Library’s Northwest History Room hosted a display entitled “Early Religious Texts,” showcasing a collection of rare Bibles, psalm books, and other religious tools and texts.  The collection includes a 1475 transcript of Peter Lombard’s Four Books of Sentences, complete with chains to ensure it would not be stolen. The Four Books of Sentences was a classic theology textbook in medieval universities.

Whitworth University Library’s Special Collections displayed a Bible used by traveling salespeople to show customers the many customizable features available to them. There are sample covers and sample leather colors in addition to the illustrations, concordances, and other features included in the Bible. The Bible contains a ledger in which the salesperson can keep an accounting of the names of people who ordered a Bible and how much they agreed to pay. One of the sample covers matches the cover of a Bible owned by George Whitworth, the founder of Whitworth University.

We have been fortunate to have church groups (some who traveled more than 100 miles!), school groups, and retirement community groups view the exhibit and attend programs. This, of course, is in addition to the campus community, including faculty, staff, and students. The exhibition’s schedule gives Whitworth University an additional opportunity to reach a wider audience on the eve of  Commencement with families of graduating students, alumni groups, and trustees also on campus. The exhibit is richer as a result of the community involvement and support we have received. Thank you to all who have contributed and spread the word about Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible at Whitworth University!

Amy C. Rice is an Instructor/ Coordinator of Technical Services & Systems at Harriet Cheney Cowles Memorial Library at Whitworth University.


The Sauer Bible

"Biblia, Das ist: Die Heilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, Nach der Deutschen Übersetzung D. Martin Luther". Courtesy Rochester Institute of Technology.

Whenever a librarian or curator begins working at a new library, he or she is given the overwhelming, though gratifying, challenge of getting to know the collection. When I was in library school, my advisor John Ellison gave me sound advice that when I start any new job to spend time afterhours and during breaks just browsing the stacks until I felt comfortable in my new surroundings. I’ve since made this a habit.

When I first arrived at RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection last September, a great many books called to me from the shelves, but one book in particular really beckoned.  Here’s what I saw:

“Biblia, Das ist: Die Heilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, Nach der Deutschen Übersetzung D. Martin Luther”. Courtesy Rochester Institute of Technology.

 I happen to love books that are missing their binding material.  Though they can be a challenge to handle, they are great examples to use when teaching bookbinding and the anatomy of books.  From a distance, the book looked early to me, perhaps sixteenth-century.  When I opened it, however, I quickly realized it was a later German Bible.  Its title page was missing (a common ailment in early Bibles), so I moved forward to the beginning of the New Testament, which often has its own title page. 

Two things jumped off the New Testament title page: “Saur” and “1743.” 

“Biblia, Das ist: Die Heilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, Nach der Deutschen Übersetzung D. Martin Luther”. Courtesy Rochester Institute of Technology.

 How exciting!  This book was a copy of the first edition of “The Sauer Bible.” In an earlier post,  Hannibal Hamlin mentioned John Eliot’s missionary Bible translated into the Native American language Massachusett and Robert Aitken’s “Revolutionary” Bible produced during the American Revolutionary War.”

Printed in 1663 and 1782, respectively, these were the first and third Bibles printed in the United States.  Both appeared in the Folger’s Manifold Greatness exhibition. The Sauer Bible could have as well.  Historically, it rests between Eliot’s Massachusett Bible and Aitken’s “Revolutionary” Bible, as the second Bible printed in the United States and the first Bible printed in America in a European language.

The Sauer Bible takes its name from Christoph Sauer, a German immigrant and printer in Germantown, PA who in 1743 sought to publish a Luther Bible in German for the waves of immigrants that were making their homes in Pennsylvania.

When in the fall of 2013, the Cary Collection attempts its own Bible exhibition, this copy of the Sauer Bible will certainly be featured as an important artifact in the history of the Bible in America.  For more on this topic, I would recommend Hannibal Hamlin’s essay “The King James Bible in America” from the Manifold Greatness exhibition catalog.

Steven Galbraith, Curator of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology, is co-curator of the Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


Special Collections Take Center Stage at Saint Michael’s College

Rare Bibles from the collections of Middlebury College Special Collections, the University of Vermont Special Collections and Saint Michael’s College.  Clockwise from Top left: King James Version 1629; first Bible printed in state of Vermont 1812; Luther Bible 1696; incunable Bible 1477-78, Geneva Bible 1596-97; Geneva Bible 1644.

Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT.

The exhibition of Manifold Greatness at Saint Michael’s College’s Durick Library is off to a great start.  We actually kicked of the events before the exhibit even arrived in Vermont! In March, the University of Vermont Special Collections opened up with an exhibit of their rare Bibles, including their 1613 KJB.  A bit later in the month, they hosted a panel discussion entitled “Authorized Versions: Perspectives on the King James Bible.”  In this panel discussion, three UVM faculty members offered theological, historical, and literary perspectives on the coming of the King James Bible and its place in the early modern world.  Anne Clark spoke on “Before the King James: Medieval Bibles and Their Users”; Charles F. Briggs spoke on “The Problematic Publishing Background of the Bible in English, from Wyclif through the Mid-Sixteenth Century”; and Andrew Barnaby added a bit of drama to the mix, speaking on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and the King James Bible.  This well-attended session was an excellent introduction to the King James Bible, and had us anxiously awaiting the official opening of the Manifold Greatness exhibition!  

Instead of simply hanging around waiting for the panels to arrive, we got working on the complementary exhibits we had planned.  Library staff put together several displays from our circulating collections—one featuring scholarship related to the King James Version, another focused on the Catholic Reformation and Counter Reformation,  and a third featuring some of the more interesting contemporary Bibles in our collection.  

Rare Bibles from the collections of Middlebury College Special Collections, the University of Vermont Special Collections and Saint Michael’s College. Clockwise from Top left: King James Version 1629; first Bible printed in state of Vermont 1812; Luther Bible 1696; incunable Bible 1477-78, Geneva Bible 1596-97; Geneva Bible 1644. Courtesy of Saint Michael’s College.

In our rare book cases, we have complementary exhibits of rare books from our collections and with donations from the University of Vermont Special Collections and Middlebury College.  Their wonderful additions to the display included a Rheims New Testament from 1582, a 1629 King James Version, an incunable Bible printed by Nicolaus Gotz in 1477-78, and the first Holy Bible published in the state of Vermont, published in 1812 in Windsor, VT.  Among our own collection of Catholic Reformation and Counter Reformation works, we have on display Tridentine Catechisms and a lovely Missale Romanum, a Graduale Romanum for the Tridentine Mass, that are fine examples of two of the major reforms of the Council of Trent.  One of the more interesting titles on display is Locorum Catholicorum tum sacrae scripturae, tum etiam antiquorum patrum, por orthodoxa, et vetere fide retinenda, septem, by Francisco Horantio (Orantes) printed in Venice in 1564.  This text discusses the importance of seven Deutero-canonical (or Apocryphal) books of the Bible and includes an “ardent” refutation of John Calvin’s arguments against the veneration of the Saints. 

By the time the panels themselves arrived in the library the day after Easter, the other exhibits were in place.  Saint Michael’s students were away for the long Easter weekend, so they did not have to watch us dismantle some of the most favored group study spots in the library!  Although it is a significant change from the study tables, the exhibit panels fills in the space quite nicely.  It will be sad to see Manifold Greatness close next week.

Elizabeth B. Scott is an Archivist at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT.


Manifold Greatness On the Road: One Year On

A family Bible from a workshop hosted at the University of Minnesota. Courtesy of the University of Minnesota.

A family Bible displayed at a workshop hosted at the University of Minnesota. Courtesy of the University of Minnesota.

Hard to believe the panel exhibition of Manifold Greatness has been traveling across America for a year! Like you, I’ve followed its progress, reading reports from Whitworth University (Spokane, WA), Winfield Public Library (Winfield, KS), Mobile Public Library (Mobile, AL), and Hope College (Holland, MI). And these are only the posts on the blog’s first page! I remember when Steve Galbraith and I, as co-curators of Manifold Greatness, met with representatives of all the host sites.

In September, 2011, the American Library Association hosted a daylong workshop, where Steve and I talked about the genesis and realization of the exhibition, and about what we saw as its most compelling stories. It was fascinating and moving to hear then from all the representatives, as they described the diverse array of events with which they would surround the Manifold Greatness panels. So many of these have now come to pass: lectures and colloquia on the translation of the Bible, on the influence of the King James Bible on American writers, on family Bibles, on rare book preservation, and much more. Through the wonders of communication technology, we’ve been able not only to read about these celebrations but to see photographs, and even watch a live stream of the colloquium at the University of Minnesota. It’s as if the conversation we started at the Folger is ongoing, being joined and carried on by other communities across the country.

In a way this reminds me of the spread of the King James Bible itself. I wrote in the exhibition book about Parson Weems, the almost legendary Bible salesman of the Philadelphia printer Matthew Carey. Weems hawked Bibles in the 1790s and early nineteenth century in Maryland, the Carolinas, Georgia, and his native Virginia. But he sold Bibles to Northerners, too. From New York he wrote to Collins that their publishing plans had “knock’d up just such a dust here among the Printers as would a stone if thrown smack into the center of a Hornet’s nest.” As an interesting aside, Weems was also the author of The Life of Washington , a collection of stories about America’s first president and the origin of the famous (but untrue!) anecdote of young George Washington chopping down his father’s cherry tree.

Weems was the Johnny Appleseed of Bibles, planting them wherever he and his horse rode. Weems’s efforts were later eclipsed by those of the American Bible Society, whose goal was to put a Bible (King James Version) in every household. By mid-19th century they were printing and distributing a million Bibles a year. In the twentieth century, the Gideons took on the task of putting a Bible in every hotel room. The huge dissemination of the King James Bible in America ensured its influence on American literature and culture. The influence of Manifold Greatness will be more modest, I’m sure, but like the book it explores, it will have a wide reach. The panels have already traveled to 14 states, and they will reach 13 more before they reach the end of their road in 2013.

Happy trails!

Hannibal Hamlin, associate professor of English at The Ohio State University, was co-curator of the Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


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