“We Must and Can be Independent”: La Hija del Caribe and Puerto Rican Liberation

Written by Carly Miller, Special Collections Intern
Since the arrival of Spanish explorers in the late fifteenth century, a defining characteristic of Puerto Rico has been colonialism. In one form or another, this tiny island has been subjugated by a larger power. After four centuries of Spanish rule came to an end in the late 1800s, Puerto Rico fell under U.S. control as a territory, a status that continues to the present day. As a result of this perpetual intrusion by foreign nations, a parallel theme throughout the island’s history has been the fight for independence.

Trina Padilla de Sanz was no stranger to this liberation movement. Although she wore many hats during her lifetime, it was her Puerto Rican pride that was most inextricably linked to her identity. Her devotion to her homeland, or “La Patria,” permeated all aspects of her life. Her nickname, “La Hija del Caribe,” was not only tribute to her father, but an acknowledgement of her cultural pride as well.

La Hija championed Puerto Rican independence and preservation of its culture and customs using the most effective weapon at her disposal, her pen. Throughout her lifetime she wrote harsh critiques of American influence in Puerto Rico, believing fervently in Puerto Rico’s right to self-govern. In an inquiry entitled “Apuntes sobre Puerto Rico,” La Hija boldly addressed the hypocrisy of a nation, predicated on the idea of democracy, denying another nation its independence.

“…y si Estados Unidos no quiere verse ante los pueblos del mundo como una irrisoria República, tiene que dar a Puerto Rico su Independencia…un derecho que nadie puede negar.”


“…and if the United States does not want to see itself in front of the nations of the world as a laughable Republic, it has to give Puerto Rico its Independence…a right that nobody can deny.”

With this sharp declaration, Padilla de Sanz demonstrated that she did not passively observe with her pen, rather she actively fought for change with it. She was firm, vocal, and unwavering in her defense of Puerto Rico.

Part of her pro-independence stance included extolling Puerto Rican culture and language. She regularly called on her fellow compatriots to fight to preserve the Spanish language, understanding a language’s role in preserving a culture’s identity. She believed that cultures that let themselves be completely absorbed by stronger powers would simply cease to exist. She was quick to highlight the many accomplishments produced by Puerto Ricans in literature, the sciences, and the arts.

In addition to her writings, La Hija rebelled against foreign influence in other ways. Her granddaughter, Yolanda Fernández Sanz, recalled a time in which Padilla de Sanz, ignoring the law against displaying the Puerto Rican flag, hung it defiantly from her balcony. Although it was an illegal act, no one challenged La Hija (Fernández Sanz 158).

La Hija’s fight for independence was an unyielding constant throughout her life. Shortly before passing, she made the request to be buried with the Puerto Rican flag. Even in death, her devotion and loyalty to her treasured Puerto Rico was unequivocally on display.

The Trina Padilla de Sanz collection is now available for research at The Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center.  Click here to view this collection’s finding aid.


Works Cited

Fernández Sanz, Yolanda. Trina Padilla de Sanz: La Hija del Caribe. Madrid: Talleres Gráficos Peñalara, 1996. Print.

Padilla de Sanz, Trina. “Apuntes sobre Puerto Rico.” Arecibo, 1945. Print.


A First Glimpse at the Trina Padilla de Sanz Papers

Written by Carly Miller, Special Collections Intern

It would be impossible to discuss Puerto Rican literature without mentioning the distinguished poet, Trina Padilla de Sanz. Born in 1864 in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, Padilla de Sanz was the daughter of the poet, medic, and political activist José Gualberto Padilla, also known as “El Caribe.” Following in her father’s literary footsteps, Padilla de Sanz developed an impressive career in poetry, editing her father’s works as well as publishing her own collections. Writing under the moniker “La Hija del Caribe,” many of her poems were laced with powerful imagery of nature to celebrate the beauty of life, while her style reflected a harmonious and musical touch.

During her lifetime, La Hija’s passions extended beyond poetry. She was also a gifted pianist, a beloved and dedicated piano teacher, a writer, a suffragist, a social activist, and a crusader for Puerto Rican independence and cultural preservation. She was a regular contributor to many publications, writing essays on an array of topics including Puerto Rican politics, women’s rights, education, religion, the plight of the poor, and the defense of the Spanish language. In an era when expectations for women revolved around the domestic sphere, Padilla de Sanz was a woman ahead of her time, voicing her strong opinions without apology.

As a crusader for social justice, La Hija believed in fighting for change with her pen. In the poem below entitled “Ana Roque de Duprey,” she honors her recently deceased friend, the accomplished suffragist Ana Roque de Duprey. Although Roque de Duprey fought for decades for the women’s suffrage movement, she died without ever voting in her native Puerto Rico. As La Hija eloquently states:

“Y al no poder votar aquí en su suelo,

se fué a la Democracia de los astros

para dejar su voto en la urna del cielo…”


“And upon not being able to vote here in her land,

she went to the Democracy of the stars

in order to leave her vote in the urn of the heavens…”

In just a few lines, she captures the essence of her friend and the supreme injustice of the exclusion of women from the voting process. Women’s suffrage was a long struggle, one that La Hija fought for with immense passion and dedication.

Padilla de Sanz expands upon the particular injustice suffered by Roque de Duprey at the end of her life in a note below the poem:

“…ya octogenaria, cuando éste se instituyó en la isla, salió ella a votar por primera vez y, aunque murió con la ilusión de haber votado, su voto fue anulado por ciertos tecnicismos…”


“…now an octogenarian [Roque de Duprey], when this [women’s suffrage] was instituted on the island, she went out to vote for the first time and, although she died with the illusion of having voted, her vote was voided for certain technicalities…”

While it may be a blessing that Roque de Duprey departed this life thinking she achieved her lifelong goal of casting a ballot, the bitterness that La Hija feels for her friend is glaringly evident. It is not only a tribute to her friend’s suffering, but also reflects the struggle that women faced even after reaching major milestones in their movement.

Padilla de Sanz possessed an unparalleled passion for life, finding beauty and joy in every day despite various hardships. Well into her old age, she continued writing, playing and teaching piano, engaging with her community of Arecibo, and spending time with her cherished children and grandchildren. La Hija died at the age of 93 in Arecibo in 1957, leaving behind an impressive legacy, which cemented La Hija’s place among the most significant literary figures of the twentieth century.

The Trina Padilla de Sanz collection is now available for research at The Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center.  Click here to view this collection’s finding aid.

Angling and Hunting Explored through Rare Books opens 6 May 2015

The Msgr. William Noé Field Archives and Special Collections Center, Walsh Library ground floor houses rare books that deal in particular subject areas. This is a small collection dealing with outdoor activities of fishing and hunting. These books are special in many ways from the beautiful leather bindings in some cases, to the signatures of the authors in others.

To begin with two beautiful leather volumes, both on fishing, we have The Compleat Angler by Izaak Watson, an 1876 fac-simile reprint of the first edition published in 1653. The preface says that “This was a book not to be placed in the safe companionship of worthy but unread books…” Rather, it was well used in stream and pond, necessitating this fac-simile reprinting. This volume is printed on “paper of the same shade”, and bound in the same brown leather with “red and blue sprinkling.” It is open to the Angler’s Song on pages 216 and 217. They are the reverse of each other so that one could sing from one side, and another from the other “with the book between them while standing face to face.”

angling song

The other leather bound book, Salmon Fishing on the Grand Cascapedia by Edmund W. Davis, number 7 of 100, was printed for private distribution in 1904 on Imperial Japan paper and sports an emerald silk fly leaf and gold embossed tooling inside the cover board.

Woodcock Shooting by Edmund Davis, number 99 of 100, was printed for private distribution in 1908. It features numerous photographs of peaceful-looking woods where the woodcock can be found, and more numerous shots of bird dogs as well as a lovely engraving of a Woodcock and Young.

The remaining books in this tiny special collection are limited editions dealing with hunting. Three are by Theodore Roosevelt, and two are signed by him.

Books displayed in angling and hunting exhibit

His Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter, 1905, recounts hunting cougar, bear, antelope and other wildlife in Colorado, the Rockies and along the Mississippi and Little Missouri rivers between 1901and 1905. A future conservationist whose letter to John Burroughs opens this book, he carefully notes the ranges of these animals and their reduced numbers from the latter part of the 19th Century when he spent 2 years ranching and hunting in S. Dakota to recover from the deaths of his wife and mother on the same day in 1884. The volume is open to a photo of T.R. with his signature on this limited edition, number 222 of 260.

Theodore Roosevelt, Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter

African Game Trails, An Account of the Wanderings of an American Hunter-Naturalist by Theodore Roosevelt is number 399 of 500 published in 1910. Volume II of African Game Trails is open to a photograph with the legend in T.R.’s own hand, “My boma when I camped alone.” Boma is a term used to describe a livestock enclosure, stockade, small fort or a district government office used in many parts of the African Great Lakes region.

Finally we have Hunting with the Eskimos by Harry Whitney, a signed limited edition number 141 of 150 from 1910. It boasts many black and white photographs of Eskimo, whaling and hunting musk ox and walrus, and of sled dogs, and is open to a plate of a painting of Aurora Borealis, Smith Sound, Greenland by F. W. Stokes.

This exhibit can be viewed from the hallway between the Walsh Gallery and Msgr. William Noé Field Archives and Special Collections Center during any hour the Library is open. It will run through May 20, 2015.

St. Patrick – Study Aids At Seton Hall

March is a month closely associated with Irish history by way of honoring the patron saint (who shares this designation with Brigit/Brigid and Columba) and apostle of Ireland Patrick (Pádraig), the first bishop of Armagh and Primate of Éire who lived during the 5th century A.D.  In popular and latter-day culture, the legacy of Patrick is often drawn to oft-repeated tales of his driving snakes out of Ireland, teaching the symbolism of the Holy Trinity through use of a shamrock, his walking stick growing into a tree, and the plethora of parades staged throughout the world in his honor.  By extension, Irish culture and heritage is widely recognized with the feast day of March 17th for Patrick being a source of celebration “with the wearing of the green” each year.  His popularity is secure and icons dedicated to his memory abound to the present day.

St. PatrickDelving beneath iconic depictions (many of which are modern enhancements, i.e. the wearing of a miter, holding of a crosier and the robes of high ecclesiastical office, etc.) which are most familiar, the life story of Patrick was actually one of hardship and dedication when reading various accounts of his adventures.  In brief terms, Patrick was born into poverty and enslaved as a youth.  He was able to escape his master as a young adult, make his way back to his native Britain, adopt Christianity, and migrate to the Europe continent for further study.  Patrick ultimately made his way to Ireland as a missionary where he achieved success in his work with, and on behalf of, the people he befriended and administered to during his lifetime.                 St. Patrick portrait   patrick-text

Researching the life, words, and example of Patrick has been made easier and more accessible through the works of a number of scholars from historians, theologians, philosophers, poets, artists, and others who have an interest in his legacy.  Please feel free to follow the link to learn more about Patrick (and other Saints of Ireland from Abbán moccu Corbmaic to Tigernach of Clones and many others of note) through the Archives & Special Collections Center and University Libraries information resource links.  Here are some introductory works to help you on your journey of discovery…

Irish Studies Library Guide

St. Patrick

Saints of Ireland

Homage to Patrick also exists on a hometown basis as numerous statues and structures exist in many places around the globe.  Included are those on the campus of Seton Hall University and the Archdiocese of Newark.  Most notably is the Pro-Cathedral of St. Patrick located in Newark which has a long and notable history as documented by Seton Hall faculty member Monsignor Robert Wister, Hist.Eccl.D. who wrote a detailed account of this parish and its place in local and national religious history…

St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral, Newark, New Jersey: An Historical Reflection, 1850-2000

St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral…An Artistic and Symbolic Description

St. Patrick's Pro Cathedral      St. Patrick's Cathedral, Newark NJ

Whether searching for memorials dedicated to Patrick, or for materials on the man himself, we are happy to assist with your project needs and offer additional leads alike.  In the meantime, continued success on your respective searches and Lá Fhéile Pádraig faoi mhaise duit!

Book repair and conservation

As like any library, the Archives and Special Collection Center has a number of books in need of repair and conservation. Below are some examples:

This 1787 edition of Notes on the state of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson is currently held together by black book tape and needs to be rebound. The book’s text block (book pages and inner binding) are intact but no longer attached to its front and back covers, the included map of Virginia and neighboring states also has some minor damage. This edition is one of the rare volumes published by Jefferson during his lifetime.

Notes on the State of Virginia, spine with book tape

Notes on the State of Virginia, opened to title page

This rare 1578 volume by Ignazio Danti is one of the first Italian works that centers on astromony and the use of the astrolabe. The highly damaged cover and spin are made from vellum and needs to be conserved or replaced. The book has also survived previous water damage and the staining is visible throughout.

Ignazio Danti cover

Ignazio Danti title page

Another prevalent issue in rare book collections is ‘red rot,’ which is the degradation process of leather. If stored in the improper conditions the leather can degrade and weaken, producing a powder-like residue which transfers to other books, crumbles onto shelving and generally gets everywhere. The damage is irreversible, but can be somewhat stabilized through conservation. This example is an 1860 edition of the History of the religious Society of Friends by Samuel Janney.

History of the religious Society of Friends by Samuel Janney

If you are interested in helping the University preserve these irreplaceable works, please consider donating to the Friends of the Archive Fund, contact Director Kate Dodds for more information.

Seton Hall’s Madison Roots

With the advent of programs like Who Do You Think You Are produced by Lisa Kudrow and Henry Louis Gates’ Finding Your Roots on PBS, genealogy research has become even more popular than before, particularly with more and more resources available online. Did you ever wonder about the genealogical history of Seton Hall?
It may seem when one looks at the campus today as if the college was always here in South Orange. In fact, according to a history of Seton Hall College written in 1895 by then President Rev. William F. Marshall, printed in that year’s catalogue, “When James Roosevelt Bayley [Mother Seton’s nephew] was appointed Bishop of the newly erected See of Newark, New Jersey, October 30th, 1853, he found the diocese poorly supplied with priests and with no Catholic institutions of any kind… save a few scattered churches and chapels.” He decided to establish a college for the education of both secular students and theological students training to be future priests. He and Rev. Bernard J. McQuaid who would one day become both a bishop himself, and the first president of Seton Hall College searched to find a proper location for the college. They settled upon Madame Chegary’s Young Ladies’ Academy in Madison. Madame was relocating her school to New York City, vacating the white frame building that can be seen in a drawing on a sizable map from 1857 that hangs just inside the entrance to the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives and Special Collections Center in the Walsh Library.

Map of Madison, New Jersey
Map of Madison, New Jersey

The inset drawing seen below of the building amid trees with a horse and carriage in the foreground notes the date Sept. 1856 when the first class of students began their studies – all five of them including Leo G. Thebaud, Louis and Alfred Boisaubin of Madison, John Moore of New York City and Peter Meehan of Hoboken.

drawing of Seton Hall College, Madison, Sept. 1856
drawing of Seton Hall College, Madison, Sept. 1856

Rev. Marshall tells us, “Before the end of the month twenty additional names were registered,” clearly showing that this new college was filling a need. Bishop Bayley named the college for his aunt, now St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who preceded him in converting from the Protestant Episcopal Church to Catholicism, and who was the founder not only of the Sisters of Charity, but also of Catholic education in this country.
Bishop Bayley found traveling to his newly established college from Newark by horse and carriage too time consuming, and by 1859 the college had outgrown the small, white building in Madison. Returning from unsuccessful scouting for a new location along the South Orange and Newark Turnpike, Bishop Bayley spied a white marble villa on his right. A Catholic real estate dealer of Valisburg was commissioned to make the purchase of the Elphinstone Manor which stood where Presidents Hall does now.SHU 1860 Formal transfer was effected on 2 April 1860, and Seton Hall College moved from Madison to South Orange. The College of St. Elizabeth now occupies the site of the original Seton Hall College where the white frame building still stands.
To see the map of Madison, please drop in during our hours, M-F, 9-5. We are the Archive for Seton Hall University and for the Archdiocese of Newark, and have an extensive collection of manuscripts, photographs, rare books and artifacts. If you have a paper or project which requires primary source material on the history of Seton Hall University or the Archdiocese, or you wish to research your family history using local Church records, please make an appointment to come in to confer with our staff and use some of the materials we conserve. Contact archives@shu.edu   or 973-761-9476.

Annual Accountability – Almanacs in Action

Have you ever imagined living in another time and place?  Finding out more about daily routines in the course of recorded history through the words of historians who chronicle the story of human experience are invaluable to the present day reader.  Another useful aid is a publication(s) from the actual time period which documents the doings of a person, place, or object first hand.  With this in mind, and more specifically, materials that allow for personal reference from an annual perspective such as directories, yearbooks, and most notably almanacs provide the researcher with useful data to learn from by word and number alike.

An “almanac” (or “almanack” or “almanach” as they are sometimes referred to) by definition is an annual publication that provides weather forecasts, tide rates, astronomical data, and other relevant information in tabular form.  Modern day almanacs have evolved to include various statistical and descriptive information such as economics, government, religion, and political results among other subject areas that touch not only upon local communities, but national and world issues in brief line item and/or summary form.  The earliest known almanac published in the “modern sense” was the Almanac of Azarqueil written in 1088 by Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm, al-Zarqālī in Toledo, al-Andalus.  There have been several subsequent examples from here as found in different countries, languages, and specializations.

The Gentleman and Citizen's Almanack

One example of an international almanac found in our collection can be located in our rare book collection if you look back 280 years ago at a far different world than the one of today.  This volume entitled:  The Gentleman and Citizen’s Almanack, For the Year of Our Lord (Dublin: S. Powell, for John Watson, Bookseller to be sold at his shop on Merchants Key, near the Old Bridge, 1734) is a tome that provides a look at 18th century life in Ireland.  This book provides a traditional format with the following array of categories found in the index:  “Tide Table, Table of Twilight,” “Table of Coin and Gold Weights,” “Table for a Company Foot,” “Table of the Price of Goods,” “Table fo the Weight of Bread,” “Masters and Wardens Quarterly Assemblies,” “Roads of Ireland,” “Fairs of Ireland,” and others.  The attached illustrations provide further details on how the consumers of that day and contemporary readers can relate alike can relate to the facts and figures found here including postal service and its value for communication links before cell phones and twitter for example.

Almanac page

This particular publication provides an every day look at life in an Ireland that goes beyond the essay  alone.  This and other Irish “almanacks” from 1732-1838 and other books on the Irish experience both reference and beyond can be found here in the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center.

For more information contact Alan Delozier, University Archivist at:  Alan.Delozier@shu.edu, or (973) 275-2378.




What about Digital Preservation?

October is American Archives MonthHere in the Archives, most of our material is paper-based. We have more than 4600 linear feet of archives and manuscript materials in our Vault, amounting to millions of pieces of paper, strips of film, objects, and other tangible things available for research.

What about all the things that can’t be touched? More and more electronic materials are appearing in the collections we take in, and are being created by the organizations whose records we preserve. At Seton Hall, there are records of historical significance in emails, databases, websites, shared and co-edited documents, spreadsheets, twitter feeds, and cell phones. Archives exist to collect the materials that uniquely document their organization, and in the 21st century, a lot of those documents do not exist on paper.

Many times, people assume that once something is in saved on the computer or posted on the internet, it’s forever. At least, it always seems that way when there’s an embarrassing photo out there. But in fact, if you’ve ever lost some work to an ill-timed battery failure or the fall of a laptop, been frustrated by a dead hyperlink or a 404 Not Found error, or just plain been completely unable to find that file that you KNOW you saved, you also know that plenty of electronic records are lost all the time. If you’ve tried to open a document or photo in the wrong program or operating system, or found an old floppy disc with a label like “Important Papers,” you also know that even being able to find an electronic record doesn’t mean you can actually use it.

Digital Archives Media
Digital Archives Media

So what are we doing in the Archives to make sure that the important records of our time will be saved for the historians and students of the future?

Digital preservation is the term often used in libraries and archives to refer to saving these materials. In an archive, just as we are very particular about the order of papers in boxes and folders, the types of folders and boxes we use to store those papers, and the way those materials are described, we are also very careful about digital preservation practices. Archival digital preservation is about a lot more than getting extra cloud storage to store more files; it’s about doing the best we can to make sure the files we’re saving now will still be readable and still look pretty much the same to the person who wants to use them in fifty years. We collect metadata, information about the files and records we’re saving, that describes not only the content, but the programs used to create and use the content, as well as checksums, information that can be used to see if a file has become corrupted over time. Steps can be taken to update files to newer formats so they can be used in updated software, called migration, or software can be maintained or replicated so files can be used as they were when they were created, called emulation. Websites and versions of websites can be saved and accessed offline, and some programs even exist to save and search across social media platforms.

Digital Archives Equipment
Digital Archives Equipment

In the Archives and Special Collections Center, we are still planning out our program to collect and save some of these records. It’s a big job that requires many different programs and people working together, and nobody has all the answers just yet.

So what can you do? Whether your papers and files ever end up in an archive or not, there are some simple things you can do to keep track of your electronic records and make sure you can find what you need when you need it.

  • Come up with a simple way of naming and organizing your documents, pictures, and emails that makes sense to you, then write it down and keep it somewhere easily accessible (which means not in the same place you’re storing your files!).
  • Before you upgrade to a new computer or new phone, make a back-up copy of your important files and save them somewhere else, then make sure you can open everything in the new system.
  • Schedule a regular time to clean out and sort your email inbox.
  • Try to store things in more than one physical location, such as BOTH your computer and phone, as well as a cloud storage service.
  • Take a look at what the experts have to say! The Library of Congress has an excellent set of resources to help you save your own and your family’s stuff, and the folks in the POWRR program have gathered resources to help you save your social media life.

And if you want to help preserve more digital history, check out the resources at the National Archives and Records Administration’s Citizen Archivist Dashboard or help identify photographs posted on the Flickr Commons.

A History of the Family of Seton during Eight Centuries

October is American Archives Month

A History of the Family of Seton during Eight Centuries is a two-volume work written by George Seton in 1896 that details the history of the Seton family back to the 10th century. Drawing on an earlier work by Sir Richard Maitland, he traces the main line of the Seton family to its origin.  A member of an old British family named Say moved to Scotland, where he adopted the surname Sayton or Seyton upon receiving a grant of land in East Lothian. The name has gone through several spelling changes since that time, including Setone, Setton, Settone, Seytoun, Seaton, Saeton, and Ceton, before Seton was finally adopted by all the principal branches of the family.

Seton Family Crest
Seton Family Crest

The first Seton whose full name could be found was Dougall de Seton, believed to be the son or grandson of the Anglo-Norman immigrant who first assumed the surname. Dougall lived during the time of Alexander I (1107-1124).

Although the family has had ties to Scottish nobility and high society through marriage since its beginning, the first Seton to become a member of the nobility himself was Sir William, the first Lord Seton.  Sir William was a distinguished knight, who also became Premier Baron of Scotland and a Lord of Parliament. He appears to have traveled as far as Jerusalem, a significant accomplishment during the mid 14th century in which he lived.

Original Seton Arms
Original Seton Arms

In 1763, seventeen-year-old William Seton, descended from a line of the family that resided in the county of Fife, Scotland, immigrated to the United States to find fortune. Within two years he established himself as a businessman in New York, importing goods from Europe and India. He was a loyalist during the Revolutionary War, but after the war remained in New York and became a citizen of the United States. His eldest son, William, followed in his father’s footsteps as a successful merchant and businessman. On the 25th of January 1794 he married Elizabeth Ann Bayley. After William Seton’s death in 1803, Elizabeth Ann Seton converted to Catholicism. She later founded the first order of the Sisters of Charity in the United States, and opened St. Joseph’s School, the first free Catholic school in the country. She was also the aunt of Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, who decided to name Seton Hall College after her when it was established in 1856. Later, she was canonized as the first American-born saint.

Elizabeth Ann Seton
Elizabeth Ann Seton
William Seton
William Seton










The Seton family can trace their history back eight centuries, how far back can your family go? The Archives has a number of great genealogy resources. One of our most-used collections is the Latter Day Saints microfilm of parish and cemetery records in the Archdiocese of Newark. These microfilms largely consist of sacramental records and cemetery records which can provide key information to genealogists studying their family history. The films, which were made in the mid-1980s by the Latter Day Saints, can be viewed in the Archives by appointment, or can be ordered from Salt Lake City to be sent to a local LDS Family History Center. For more information about Family History Centers, visit the FamilySearch website. You can also request a search to be performed by Archives staff for a $25.00/hour research fee. For more information please visit our Genealogy Resources page, and have fun exploring your family history!

From the Rare Book Collection

The Archives holds a number of pre-1800 monographs, one such work is C. Julius Solinus’ Polyhistor: Treasury of memorabilia from all over the world.
This edition (shown below) was published in Basel, Switzerland in 1538.

Front cover and fore edge  of C. Julius Solinus’ Polyhistor: Treasury of memorabilia from all over the world

Solinus was a third century Latin scholar, who compiled a number of earlier ancient texts in his Polyhistor, including works from Pliny the Elder and the cartographer Pomponius Mela. Topics covered include the geography of the ancient world and a chronology of ancient Rome.

A number of newer maps are credited to Sebastian Munster (1489-1552). Shown below is a map of Asia, while obviously lacking in details (including Japan) the map does contain a small portion of North American visible in the upper right, labeled ‘terra incognita.’ This has been called one of the earliest maps to feature the west coast of North America.

Fold-out map from C. Julius Solinus’ Polyhistor: Treasury of memorabilia from all over the world

The same map also includes a number of ships and sea monsters along the bottom edge, in what would be the Indian Ocean.

Sea monster illustration on map

To learn more about map-making and the history of cartography please consult the library collection, including these works:

The marvel of maps : art, cartography and politics in Renaissance Italy

The power of projections : how maps reflect global politics and history