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


Saints In Print – An Example From Our Rare Book Collection

The commemoration of All Saint’s Day (also known in some quarters as “All Hallows’ Day,” “Hallowmas,” “Feast Of All Saints,” or “Solemnity of All Saints”) recognizes the lives and legacy of saints and martyrs in history and is celebrated not only in the United States, but globally.  It is a Christian-based holiday that is observed every year on November 1st among Western Churches and the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Rite Churches.  The traditional rituals found to be connected with All Saints’ Day include personal reflection and formal remembrance combined with a religious service to honor those who are recognized for their exceptional piety.  Their tales are often recounted in print form and available to future generations to discover.

In our Rare Book Collection, a number of texts on individual saints dating back to the 15th century which are worth reading in a wide-range of languages including Latin, French, German, and others.  Among our earliest American published volumes is the work entitled – Christ In His Church: Her Dogmas and Her Saints, With Moral Reflections, Critical Illustrations, and Explanatory Notes (New York: Thomas Kelly, 1875) by noted author Henry Rutter.  He provided the context of how the work of saints was instrumental in the overall work of devotion to the Catholic Church with a particular emphasis on female deities including St. Brigid, St. Margaret, St. Cecily, St. Lucy and others.  This volume is a prime example of a mid-19th century devotional text that highlights the contributions of saints with their influence on Church teachings.     

For more information there are many books, articles, and other resources including the Internet where more information can be found regarding the sainthood and the holiday of All Saints’ Day.  The following a few starting works, but not limited to these examples, for those who want to learn more can connect to the following link –*%22&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWNvb2tpZSxpcCxzc28mdHlwZT0wJnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d

Individual saints can also be researched by name and as part of a collective narrative on the history and contributions of those whose legacy endures to this day.

For more information please feel free to contact us at (973) 275-2378 or via e-mail at: