Archives News: Conservation and Digitization of 17th Century Illuminated Manuscript Qur’an

Page from the Qur'an with intricate designThe Archives & Special Collections Center in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Committee recently had conservation work and digitization performed on a 17th century illuminated manuscript Qur’an from the rare book collection. The Qur’an was originally brought from Lebanon by Edwin D. Hardin, who was a missionary stationed at the American University of Beirut from approximately 1900 to 1915. It first came to Seton Hall in 2003 when it was featured in a Walsh Gallery exhibition entitled The Beauty of Sacred Texts: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies. The lender, Mr. Peter Kennedy, had intended to gift the volume to the University and in 2016 donated the Qur’an to the Archives & Special Collections Center.

Qur'an's binding before conservation
Before conservation
Qur'an's binding after conservation
After conservation
Marginal decoration with handwritten annotation
Marginal decoration with handwritten annotation

The Qur’an was sent out for conservation in order to stabilize it for digitization and handling. The volume had undergone some previous repairs and was re-bound sometime during the 18th or 19th century. The envelope flap, which extends from the back cover of the volume and folds up to cover its fore edge, was very weak at the hinges and became detached during the conservator’s examination. The binding was also failing, causing some leaves to loosen and begin to detach. We sent the volume to Etherington Conservation Services in North Carolina, where conservators reattached and reinforced the envelope flap, repaired minor damage to the covers, re-sewed the binding, and re-covered the spine. While the binding was removed, they scanned the pages to create a digital copy of the book.

 

 

Decoration within the text
Decoration within the text

As a result of this work, this historic Qur’an is stable enough for handling and display, and the digital images can be made available online. This will allow researchers to view the Qur’an’s beautifully illuminated pages and intricate marginal decorations without putting stress on the volume. It will also open up many possibilities for research projects, such as a potential project to decipher and translate the annotations that appear throughout the volume. The digital collection is coming soon!

Page with marginal decoration and decoration within the text

 

Archives News: Conservation of Pope Paul V Papal Bull

The Archives and Special Collections Center recently had conservation work performed on an early 17th century Papal Bull issued by Pope Paul V, who was Pope from 1605 until his death in 1621. The Papal Bull is a large vellum document with a lead seal attached by a cord. It was donated to the Archives by Dr. Herbert Kraft, a Professor Emeritus of anthropology at Seton Hall and director of the Seton Hall University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Pope Paul V was born Camilo Borghese in Rome in 1550. He studied jurisprudence at Perugia and Padua and became a renowned canon lawyer. He was made a cardinal in 1596 by Pope Clement VIII and was elected as Pope Leo XI’s successor in May 1605. Pope Paul V was most famous for persecuting Galileo for his defense of the heliocentric theory of Copernicus. He also canonized St. Charles Boromeo, Frances of Rome and Albert de Louvain and beatified Ignatius Loyola, Philip Neri, Teresa of Avila and Francis Xavier.

Before treatment - folded vellum obscuring text and decoration
Before treatment – folded vellum obscuring text and decoration

 

Prior to its conservation, the Papal Bull was folded several times and remained in a folded condition for so long that it was impossible to unfold without risking damage to the document. Conservators at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia were able to use a process of humidification, which is the controlled introduction of moisture, to increase the suppleness of the vellum and to allow the document to be unfolded and safely flattened. Once the document was flattened, they cleaned its surface with soft polyurethane sponges and mended a small hole in the vellum. Finally, the document and seal were housed in a custom-made mat designed to support the heavy lead seal and framed for easy displaying.

Flattening the document revealed intricate text and decoration
‘After treatment – flattening the document revealed intricate text and decoration

 

Before treatment - hole in velllum
Before treatment – hole in velllum
After treatment - hole repaired with mulberry paper and dilute gelatin
After treatment – hole repaired with mulberry paper and dilute gelatin

 

Conserving the Papal Bull revealed its text and intricate design. However, the beautiful, ornate script presented a challenge for translators. We consulted Dr. Michael Mascio in Seton Hall’s Classics Department for assistance with translating the document. He was unable to decipher the script, and conferred with a few colleagues around the country who also were unable to decipher it. On his recommendation we contacted a specialist in this area of script analysis, the Reverend Doctor Federico Gallo of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Italy. Rev. Dr. Gallo was able to work on the text during the summer months to provide us with a translation from the archaic Latin script to modern Latin. Dr. Michael Mascio is now working with Dr. Frederick Booth, also in Classics, to translate the modern Latin to English.

Archaic Latin script
This archaic Latin script proved difficult even for experts to decipher and translate.

Highlights from the Catholic Right Ephemera collection: Fiat newspapers

The Archives and Special Collections Center recently acquired a small collection of Catholic Right Ephemera. Among these materials is an incomplete run of the rare Irish newspaper Fiat. Fiat was the monthly newspaper of the Maria Duce movement, which was a small ultraconservative Catholic group founded in Ireland in 1945. The group’s founder Fr. Denis Fahey was an Irish Catholic priest who was born in the village of Golden, County Tipperary, Ireland in 1883. He entered the novitiate of the Holy Ghost Fathers at the age of 17 and studied in France and Rome before returning to Ireland in 1912, where he was appointed professor of philosophy at the Senior Scholasticate of the Irish Province of the Holy Ghost Fathers at Kimmage, Dublin. Fahey is best known for his writings, which were widely distributed and controversial. He was forcefully opposed to anything he perceived as an attempt to go against God’s divine plan. Fahey was especially critical of naturalism, a philosophical viewpoint that proposes that only natural forces are at work in the world, discounting the spiritual or divine. This put him in conflict with systems that he felt promoted naturalism, including communism, Freemasonry, and Rabbinic Judaism.

Front page of Fiat newspaper showing Father Fahey obituary

The Maria Duce movement grew out of a study circle held by Fr. Fahey. There was some secrecy surrounding the group so exact membership numbers are not known, but it is estimated that at its peak it probably did not exceed one hundred members. One of the most notable activities of the Maria Duce organization was its campaign to amend Article 44 of the Irish Constitution of 1937, which recognized the “special position” of the Catholic Church in Ireland, but also recognized Jewish congregations and several Protestant groups. In his writings Fahey called for stronger recognition of the Catholic Church by the Irish Constitution, and objected to the fact that Article 44 placed it on the same level as other religions. From 1949 to 1951 Maria Duce members circulated petitions calling for the article to be amended to reflect the Catholic Church as the “one true church” of Ireland. However, the campaign was largely unsuccessful because it was not able to secure the backing of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin. The movement lost momentum after the failed campaign and Fahey’s death in 1954. In 1955 Archbishop McQuaid ordered the group to change its name as an indication that it did not have official church support. The group continued publishing Fiat into the 1970s under the name Fírinne, and eventually dissolved.

Front page of Fiat newspapre showing the headline "Revolt Against God"

For more information about the Fiat newspapers or the Catholic Right Ephemera collection, visit the Archives or contact us at archives@shu.edu or (973)-761-9476.

References:

DELANEY, EDNA. (2011). Anti-Communism in Mid-Twentieth-Century Ireland. The English Historical Review, vol. 126, no. 521, 2011, pp. 878–903.

DELANEY, EDNA. (2001). Political Catholicism in Post-war Ireland: The Revd Denis Fahey and Maria Duce, 1945-54. The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 52(3), 487-511.

Adopt a Book: Charles Moore’s A full inquiry into the subject of suicide, 1790

The Archives and Special Collections Center is launching a new Adopt a Book program! This program gives donors the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of specific items from our collection that interest them. Each month, we will feature a different adoptable book here on our blog. To learn more about the program, or to make a donation, please visit our Adopt a Book page.

A full inquiry into the subject of suicide. To which are added (as being closely connected with the subject) two treatises on duelling and gaming by Charles Moore

Charles Moore (1743-1811) was a rector and vicar of the Church of England. He was born in London in 1743, and during his career he worked in churches throughout England. In 1792 he was appointed to the College of Six Preachers of Canterbury Cathedral, a distinguished group of priests who were called upon to preach both at the Cathedral and in their own parishes.

A full inquiry into the subject of suicide

A full inquiry into the subject of suicide is Moore’s most significant scholarly work. It was written as a response to Hume’s 1783 Essay on Suicide. While Hume argues that suicide can be justified and even preferable in some cases, Moore contends that any form of suicide is morally wrong and an affront to God. He includes an extensive literature review that is a great resource on attitudes towards suicide in the 18th century. He also wrote two treatises on dueling and gaming and their relation to suicide, which are included at the end of the volume.

Front cover of A full inquiry into the subject of suicide
Front cover of A full inquiry into the subject of suicide

The Archives and Special Collections Center holds a rare copy of A full inquiry into the subject of suicide. While the work was originally published as a two volume set, the Archives’ copy contains both volumes and the two treatises on dueling and gaming bound together as one. This copy is in need of conservation treatment to clean and repair its leather spine, reattach its back cover and some of its leaves, and mend damaged areas on its covers. You can help support the conservation of this important work! Any donation toward preservation of this rare volume would be gratefully accepted. To donate, please visit our Adopt a Book page.

Announcing ArchivesSpace!

The Msgr. William Noè Field Archives & Special Collections Center at Walsh Library is excited to announce the launch of its new searchable archival database, ArchivesSpace.

ArchivesSpace searchable database

Researchers can now use ArchivesSpace to discover what the Center has in its holdings. Digital archival content will be available through ArchivesSpace in the coming months.

Begin your ArchivesSpace search!

Browse our digital collections!

Archives News: Conservation of Notes on the State of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson

The Archives and Special Collections Center recently had conservation work performed on some important pieces from the collection. One of these is a 1787 edition of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia. This edition was the first English-language edition of the text that was made widely available. (Its very first printing in 1785 was a small run of only 200 copies, which Jefferson distributed himself to friends and colleagues.) Notes on the State of Virginia was the only one of Jefferson’s books to be published in his lifetime, under his supervision. The copy held by the Archives and Special Collections Center still contains the fold-out maps and tables, which were frequently removed from this type of work in the past and are rarely found intact.

Notes on the State of Virginia before treatment, showing the fold out map settled at a slight angle and damage to the leaves, especially near the bottom of the spine.
Notes on the State of Virginia before treatment, showing the fold out map settled at a slight angle and damage to the leaves, especially near the bottom of the spine.
Notes on the State of Virginia after treatment, showing the leaves and cover attachment mended and the map re-attached to sit correctly in the volume.
Notes on the State of Virginia after treatment, showing the leaves and cover attachment mended and the map re-attached to sit correctly in the volume.

While the book is overall well-preserved, at 230 years old it was in need of some conservation treatment in order to make it stable enough for handling and display. In particular, the leather covers were desiccated and especially worn around the corners. The covers had detached from the text block, and were reattached at some point in the past with black cloth tape. These types of repairs can often do more damage than good, and in this case the tape had discolored the leather on the spine and left adhesive residue. The large map at the front of the volume had a tear running from its attachment to the text block to its first vertical fold, and many of the pages had small tears, creases, and surface staining. To address these issues, we took the volume to the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadelphia.

Damage caused by the use of adhesive tape to reattach the book's covers.
Damage caused by the use of adhesive tape to reattach the book’s covers.

Conservators at CCAHA used a variety of techniques to correct the condition issues while preserving as much of the original binding as possible. The desiccated leather was consolidated—a technique in which a solution is used to penetrate the leather and adhere the leather fibers together. The black tape was removed from the book’s spine along with the spine leather, which was too damaged to salvage. The spine was then cleaned and re-covered with new leather dyed to match the existing covers. New endbands, additional sewing supports at the top and bottom of the spine, were also added to match the style of the old ones. They surface-cleaned accumulated dirt from the pages and mended the tear in the fold-out map. The covers were humidified and flattened, then re-attached to the text block. A custom clamshell-type box was created for the book, using archival materials.

Before treatment: abraded covers and amateur tape repair.
Before treatment: abraded covers and amateur tape repair.
After treatment: leather consolidated and spine repaired, with the leather toned to match the new material to the original covers.
After treatment: leather consolidated and spine repaired, with the leather toned to match the new material to the original covers.

Now that the volume has undergone treatment, the book can be handled and displayed without fear of causing further damage to the volume. Since care was taken to match the original materials and style, the repairs made to the binding keep the original character of the volume while greatly improving the book’s stability. With these measures, we will be able to have this treasure of American history in our collection for the next 230 years!

Adopt a Book: I fioretti di S. Francesco

The Archives and Special Collections Center is launching a new Adopt a Book program! This program gives donors the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of specific items from our collection that interest them. Each month, we will feature a different adoptable book here on our blog. To learn more about the program, or to make a donation, please visit our Adopt a Book page.

I fioretti di S. Francesco, Il can del sole, Le considerazioni svlle stimmate by Duilio Cambellotti, 1926

I fioretti di S. Francesco translates to Little Flowers of St. Francis. It is a collection of readings about St. Francis, compiled by an unknown author in the 14th century. The Archives and Special Collections Center holds a 1926 copy of Little Flowers that is one of a limited run of the text which features illustrations and covers created by Italian Art Nouveau artist Duilio Cambellotti. The distinctive wooden front cover is milled to give it a curving shape, and is inset with metal decoration. Striking, brightly colored illustrations depict scenes from the text.

Wooden front cover with metal inset design.
Wooden front cover with metal inset design.

Duilio Cambellotti was born in Rome in 1876. He originally studied accounting, but soon turned to the arts. He became involved in many aspects of the arts, including painting, sculpture, theater, and design, and was influential in the Italian Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. Cambellotti was especially well known for his Art Nouveau style illustrations and his furniture design.

Illustration depicting St. Francis surrounded by animals and nature.
Illustration depicting St. Francis surrounded by animals and nature.

The Archives’ copy of I fioretti is in need of conservation work to repair damage to the spine resulting from stress on the heavy wooden cover, and mending of minor tears and losses to the leaves of the volume. You can help support the conservation of this important work! Any donation toward preservation of this rare volume would be gratefully accepted. To donate, please visit our Adopt a Book page.

The Leab Legacy at the Archives & Special Collections Center

The staff of the Archives and Special Collections Center were saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Emeritus Daniel J. Leab. Dr. Leab had a great impact on the University, devoting thirty years to Seton Hall’s History Department and serving as founder and director of the University’s Multi-Cultural Program.

Daniel J. Leab, By Aboudaqn (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Daniel J. Leab via Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Leab was a strong supporter of the Library and the Archives. In 2015 he donated a collection of his research materials to the Archives and Special Collections Center. The collection consists of books, publications, and photocopied material relating to his varied research interests, which included the Cold War, American communism, the American Labor movement, the history of the FBI and the CIA, and the history of film. Notable in the collection is a nearly complete run of House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) reports, including reports on the controversial Hollywood investigations.

Dr. Leab’s contributions to the Archives are just one way that his legacy will live on at Seton Hall. To learn more, view the list of books and the finding aid for the collection.

Adopt a Book this Giving Tuesday!

This Giving Tuesday, consider making a gift to support the conservation of rare books in our collections. Our new Adopt a Book program gives donors the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of specific items from the collection that interest them. Adopting a book is a great way to honor a loved one or commemorate an occasion while supporting the preservation of rare materials for generations to come. To learn more about the program or to make a donation, please visit our Adopt a Book page.

Primo volume dell’vso et fabbrica dell’astrolabio, et de planisferio by Ignazio Danti, 1578

Ignazio Danti (1536-1586) was an Italian priest, astronomer, mathematician, and cosmographer. Born to a wealthy family in Perugia, Italy, he grew up surrounded by artists and scholars. His father and grandfather were both architects and engineers, and his older brother Vincenzo Danti became a famous sculptor.

Raised in an environment that fostered his love of science and mathematics, Danti went on to make significant contributions to those fields. At the age of 18, he entered the Dominican Order and began studying philosophy and theology, but also continued learning about mathematics, astronomy, and cartography.

danti_illustration_cropped_blog
Illustration from Primo volume dell’vso et fabbrica dell’astrolabio, et de planisferio

In 1562, he moved from Perugia to a monastery in Florence and began to work on many scientific and cosmographic projects. He painted maps and globes, created architectural plans for various buildings, and published over a dozen scientific treatises. These include Trattato del’uso e della fabbrica dell’astrolabio which was the first Italian work on the astrolabe, an early scientific instrument that enabled astronomers to calculate the position of the Sun and prominent stars with respect to both the horizon and the meridian.

danti-cover_cropped_blog
Front cover of Primo volume dell’vso et fabbrica dell’astrolabio, et de planisferio, showing losses and water damage.

The Archives and Special Collections Center holds a rare copy of Primo volume dell’vso et fabbrica dell’astrolabio, an expansion of Danti’s first work on the astrolabe. This important work is an early example of instruction in the use of scientific instruments in Italian, and it provided an important resource for Italian astronomers. This copy is in need of conservation treatment to clean and repair its leaves, replace its badly damaged cover, and reinforce its binding. You can help support the conservation of this important work! Any donation toward preservation of this rare volume would be gratefully accepted. To donate, please visit our Adopt a Book page.

Adopt a Book: Roma Sotterranea: opera postuma by Antonio Bosio

The Archives and Special Collections Center is launching a new Adopt a Book program! This program gives donors the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of specific items from our collection that interest them. Each month, we will feature a different adoptable book here on our blog. To learn more about the program, or to make a donation, please visit our Adopt a Book page.

Roma sotterranea: opera postuma

The vast catacombs of Rome provide a critical link to the past. Because they were shielded from the elements and remained nearly untouched for centuries, they have yielded spectacular examples of early Christian art, insight into the culture and burial practices of Rome, and stunning architectural elements. These catacombs were nearly lost to history, but were accidentally rediscovered in 1578 by laborers working in a field on the outskirts of Rome.

Shortly after the rediscovery, a number of scholars took interest in the catacombs and made explorations of them. However, none of these early explorers saw fit to fully document and publish their findings, leaving only scattered notes and oblique references to the catacombs as their legacy. One man, Antonio Bosio, is responsible for initiating serious and thorough archaeological study of the catacombs, earning him the nickname “Columbus of the Catacombs.”

roma-sotteranea_illustration_blog

Antonio Bosio was born in Malta in 1575, and spent most of his life in Rome. He became interested in the catacombs at an early age, and read any text which he thought might give him some insight into the subject, including ancient records in Greek and Latin, ecclesiastical histories, lives of the saints, and theological treatises.

His determination to learn about the catacombs extended far beyond the study of books and manuscripts, and led Bosio to explore the underground structures himself—an undertaking that was often difficult and even dangerous. On one of his first exploratory trips, Bosio was so enthralled by the monuments before him that he had soon progressed so far through the twisting passageways that he could not remember the way back. He had lingered longer than expected, and his lights began to burn out. Eventually, he was able to feel his way back to the entrance and avoid joining the martyrs in their final resting place. That experience did not deter him in the slightest in his pursuit of knowledge of the catacombs, and he made many more investigatory trips in his lifetime. (Although thereafter he made sure to carry an ample supply of lights, food, and water on his expeditions.)

Bosio continued his work for 36 years. He devoted his life to it, and was one of the first to apply systematic methods of the newly forming science of archaeology to the study of the catacombs. In 1629, Bosio died at the age of 54 without finishing his work and bringing it to print. For a short time, it seemed that Bosio’s life’s work might never see publication. However, the Knights of Malta, to whom he had left his estate, recognized the importance of his research and entrusted Oratorian Giovanni Severani with editing and compiling the work. It was finally published in 1632, three years after Bosio’s death, in a large folio volume titled Roma sotterranea: opera postuma di Antonio Bosio.

Bosio dedicated his life to discovery, scholarship, and above all advancing our understanding of the archaeology of ancient Rome. While Bosio never saw his work come to fruition, it still lives on over three centuries later. No archaeological study of the catacombs can commence without paying homage to Bosio.

roma-sotteranea cover

The Archives and Special Collections Center holds a rare 1632 edition of Roma sotterranea. The book is showing its age (384!) and is badly in need of conservation treatment to ensure its preservation for years to come. You can help support the conservation of this important work! Any donation toward preservation of this rare volume would be gratefully accepted. To donate, please visit our Adopt a Book page.