The Languages of Special Collections

There is a babel of languages in Special Collections.

Here at the Special Collections Research Center at George Mason University Libraries, a quick catalog search shows archival materials or rare books in the following languages:

A book of Lutheran devotional exercises

Tagliches Hand-Buch, Call Number BV 4834 .S7 1846. This volume is a book of Lutheran devotional exercises in German

  • English
  • German
  • French
  • Russian
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Greek
  • Arabic
  • Hebrew

In the Archives alone, untranslated material abounds. Whether it’s the Gustav Klemp German WWI Collection of untranslated German materials, the Michael La Vean French Documents Collection of French Revolution era documents, or the Kukryniksy Russian Cariacture Collection of Russian posters, these untranslated primary source materials present a unique opportunity for scholars, students, and researchers at George Mason.

Highlighted here are a few examples of rare books and archival materials in the many languages represented in the Special Collections Research Center.

Biblia Sacra spine

  • Biblia Sacra, printed in 1692 (Call Number: BR 75 1692)

“Biblia Sacra” is the Latin title for the Vulgate (Latin translation of the Christian Bible).

The Latin Bible faced challenges throughout the sixteenth century, as reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale and other figures of the Reformation questioned whether a Bible in the vernacular would be more accessible.

Translated into Latin in the fourth century by St. Jerome, the Vulgate was affirmed as the official Latin Bible of the Catholic Church during the Council of Trent (1545-1563).

This edition of the Vulgate was published in 1692.

  • The Parson’s Guide, or the Law of Tithes: Where is Shewed, who must pay tithes, and to whom, and of what things, when and how they must be paid, and how they may be recovered at this day, and how a man may be discharged of payment thereof, by W.S., Esq. (Call Number: KD 8747.Z9 S54 1654)

Bound with the SCRC copy of “The Parson’s Guide” are extensive manuscript annotations on the text that follows.

Manuscript annotations bound with The Parson's Guide

  • Tagliches Hand-Buch, in guten und bosen Tagen : das ist : Aufmunterungen, Gebete und Gesange, 1) fur Gesunde ; 2) fur Betrubte ; 3) fur Kranke ; 4) fur Sterbende ; wie auch Spruche, Seufzer und Gebete, den Sterbenden vorzusprechen, nebst den Fest-Andachten ; viel schone Buss-, Beicht-, Communion- und Wettergebete, Morgen- und Abend-Andachten auf alle Tage in der Woche, Trost- und Erquickungs-Gebete, sammt Ges2017-01-23 13.56angen, und Kriegs-, Theurungs-, Pest- und Friedens-Gebete, bei allen Angelegenheiten nutzlich zu gebrauchen,  und mit Kupfern gezieret ; Gebeten fur Schwangere, Gebahrende und fur Unfruchtbare ; als der funfte und sechste Theil dieses Handbuchs, compiled by Johann Starck (Call Number BV4834 .S7 1846)

Published in 1846, the above book is a book of German Lutheran prayers and devotional exercises.

  • The Michael La Vean Collection of French Documents, C0078
Receipt for a debt, C0078

Receipt for a debt, Michael La Vean Collection of French Documents, C0078, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries

Finally, from our Manuscript Collections comes this document from the Michael La Vean Collection of French Documents, C0078. Written on February 9, 1790, this documents is the receipt of a debt of 2,806 livres paid.

This collection contains many other documents dating to the French Revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. For rare books, search the library catalog, limiting your search to Fenwick Special Collections.

You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.

Holiday Break

An update on our holiday hours:

The Special Collections Research Center will be closed Thursday, December 22nd through Wednesday, January 4th, 2017 for the semester break. The Special Collections Research Center will open again on Thursday, January 5th at 10:00 am. Emails sent over the holiday break will not receive a reply until Thursday, January 5th, 2017, at the earliest.

Between January 5, 2017 and the start of the Spring semester on January 23, 2017, our hours will be 10:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. You can find our regular hours on our homepage.

We wish everyone a very happy holiday!

-The SCRC Staff

Marking the Hours

Music

Music for celebrating the Divine Office from the Directoriuvm Chori: Ad Vsvm Omnivm Ecclesiavm Cathedralium & CollegiatarumRare Books Collection, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries, M2153.2 .C36 1665

Sunday, November 27th marks the beginning of Advent in the Western Christian tradition. The season of Advent starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas and is preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day. It also marks the beginning of the liturgical year in the Catholic Church.

In the Special Collections Research Center, we have some examples that allow us to see the ways in which people historically celebrated the Christian liturgical year.

Vellum Leaf from a Missal printed in 1493

Vellum Leaf from a Missal printed in 1493, Rare Books Collection, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries, BX2015 .A2 1493

In medieval Christian Europe, public worship and the liturgical year revolved around the Mass or the Divine Office.

The Mass can be defined as the rituals, hymns, and readings that evolved around the celebration of the Eucharist.

In contrast, the Divine Office is a set of prayers recited at specific hours of the day. The Divine Office is primarily composed of the biblical Psalms with supplemental hymns and readings. In the Middle Ages, singing the Divine Office was the responsibility of monks and nuns. According to John Cassian (d. 435), “The whole purpose of the monk and indeed the perfection of his heart amount to this–total and uninterrupted dedication to prayer.”(1)

The medieval Divine Office was composed of eight “Offices” or “hours.”

In the Middle Ages, each of these forms of worship (Mass & Divine Office) was celebrated using a different type of book:

  • Lectionary: used by priests, it contains the Scriptural readings for use in Mass
  • Breviary: used by monks, the Breviary was a service book containing the texts necessary to celebrate the Divine Office
  • Missal: used by priests, the missal is a service book containing texts (prayers and instructions) necessary for the performance of the Mass.
  • Gradual: used by priests, it contains the musical portions of the Mass, and omits the spoken parts
  • Antiphoner: used by monks, this book would have been large enough for a monastic choir to see it, and contains sung portions of the Divine Office.

One can see how the emergence of the printing press began to change these medieval books with one of the volumes from our Rare Books collection, the Directorivm chori : ad vsvm omnivm ecclesiarvm cathedralium & collegiatarumThe Directorivm Chori is the first post-Tridentine chant book published in Rome, and it contains the basic elements for singing the Divine Office, including the principal Psalms, hymns, verses, lessons and prayers. Unlike medieval antiphoners, however, the Directorivm Chori is small, meant to be held and viewed by one person–not an entire choir.

To search the rare books collection for more interesting items from our collection, search the Mason Catalog, click on “Set Limit” and limit by the location “Fenwick Special Collections.”

  1. John Cassian, Conferences. Trans. Colm Luibheid. (New York: Paulist Press, 1985) 101

 


E-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have any questions. Appointments are not necessary to view collections.

Fairies and Fairy Tales

The Special Collections Research Center is celebrating Halloween by exploring some of the fairy tales, folklore and fables in our Rare Books Collection.

As it turns out–the stacks are full of magic!

Fairy popping out of a book in Special Collections

Fairy popping out of a book in Special Collections: Fairies and Magical Creatures by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda, GR 549 .R45 2008

Fairies jump out from the pages of our rare book collection. In the pop-up volume shown here, Fairies and Magical Creatures, the authors Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda discuss the history and nature of fairies. According to the authors, the origins of fairy is in dispute. They write: “Whether fallen angels, the offspring of forgotten gods, or the very spirit of nature, fairies are said to share our world but are usually hidden from view.”

When researching fairies, it is important to remember that all fairies are not the same. Different geographic regions have different traditional stories of their fairy and nature spirits.

Cover art and Table of Contents from The Blue Flower by Henry Van Dyke.

Cover art and Table of Contents from The Blue Flower by Henry Van Dyke, PS 3117 .B6 1902

 

So, the terrible and beautiful aristocratic sidhe described by Irish poet W.B. Yeats are as different from the woodland nymphs of Ovid as they are different from William Shakespeare’s courtly Titania and Oberon. Despite their differences, these fairies share space in the stacks of the Special Collections Research Center.

Frontispiece from W.B. Yeats' The Celtic Twilight

A poem from W.B. Yeats’ The Celtic Twilight, PR 5904 .C4 1902

In the mythology of the British Isles, there are two different types of fairies: solitary fairies, who are mischievous loners, and trooping fairies, the aristocrats of the Fairy World who appear in amazing, long processions, such as in the fairy tale Tam Lin. Reinhart and Sabuda further specify that “solitary fairies are uncivilized loners who roam the woodlands, letting whim dictate whether they will help or hinder humankind. By contrast, their gregarious cousins, the trooping fairies, live according to fairy laws and etiquette.”
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The cast of characters from Purcell's Fairy Queen, based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

The cast of characters from Purcell’s The Fairy-Queen: An Opera, based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ML 50.2 .F145 P92 1692

Fairy Tales from other geographic regions can be found in Special Collections. This includes a German volume of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Kinder- und Hausmarchen or Children’s and Household Tales. This volume includes the classics, “The Frog King or Iron Heinrich,” “The Three Spinning Women,” and “Cinderella” or Aschenputtel. The fairies in Grimm’s Fairy Tales are known for their violence. Throughout the different editions, there have been changes made so that the stories are more suitable for children.

The Brothers Grimm, Kinder und Marchen

The Brothers Grimm, Kinder -und Hausmarchen, PT 2281 .G6 1920. Below: illustration from “Der Froschkonig oder der eisnerne Heinrich”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To search the rare books collection for more fairy tales , search the Mason Catalog, click on “Set Limit” and limit by the location “Fenwick Special Collections.”


E-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have any questions. Appointments are not necessary to view collections.