David K. Lewis and Analytical Philosophy

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce that the correspondence, manuscripts, and other papers of the philosopher David K. Lewis (1941-2001) have been donated to the Princeton University Library by his widow Stephanie Lewis and are now available for study in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. The finding aid for the David K. Lewis Papers (C1520) is available online. Lewis is widely regarded as one of the most important analytic philosophers of the twentieth century. He is the author of Convention (1969), Counterfactuals (1973), On the Plurality of Worlds (1986), Parts of Classes (1991), and over 110 articles. He also published five volumes of collected articles: Philosophical Papers I (1983), Philosophical Papers II (1986), Papers in Philosophical Logic (1998), Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology (1999), and Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy (2000). Lewis’s work was highly influential and affected most areas of analytic philosophy. He made significant contributions to philosophy of mind, philosophical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, epistemology, and metaphysics. His impact and influence was due not merely to the doctrines he defended, but also to the way he framed the philosophical debates in which he engaged. Lewis’s work continues to be widely discussed and remains a central part of contemporary philosophy.

Lewis was a graduate student in philosophy at Harvard University (PhD, 1967), where he studied under Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) and met Stephanie Robinson, Lewis’s future wife and the present donor of the papers. They met in a philosophy of science course taught by J.J.C. Smart, who at the time was visiting Harvard from Australia. In 1966, Lewis accepted an Assistant Professorship at UCLA. In 1970, Lewis became an Associate Professor at Princeton University. He was named Stuart Professor of Philosophy in 1995, and three years later was appointed Class of 1943 University Professor of Philosophy. Lewis and his wife made annual summer trips to Australia from 1971 until his death. Australia became a second home to Lewis, and he became an integral part of the philosophical culture of Australia. Along with the Australian philosopher D. M. Armstrong, Lewis played an important role in reviving metaphysics in the latter half of the twentieth century.

The David K. Lewis Papers include his extensive correspondence with other philosophers and scholars. There are approximately sixteen thousand pages of Lewis’s correspondence, both incoming and outgoing. There is significant volume of correspondence with David Armstrong, J.J.C. Smart, Frank Jackson, Willard Van Orman Quine, Hugh Mellor, Max Cresswell, Allen Hazen, and John Bigelow; as well as smaller amounts of correspondence with R. B. Braithwaite, Peter van Inwagen, Paul Benacerraf, William Alston, Iris Murdoch, Jonathan Bennett, Anthony Appiah, J. Peter Burgess, Paul Churchland, D. C. Dennett, Gareth Evans, Philippa Foot, Margaret Gilbert, Sally Haslanger, Jaakko Hintikka, David Kaplan, Saul A. Kripke, Colin McGinn, Thomas Nagel, Derek Parfit, Steven Pinker, Alvin Plantinga, and many others. Lewis’s letters are often very detailed, as he maintained ongoing conversations regarding many philosophical topics with his colleagues through regular correspondence. Lewis’s writings include drafts of published articles and books, often along with publishing correspondence, reviews, and notes related to each publication. A smaller amount of reviews and unpublished or posthumously published writings are also present, as well as some of Lewis’s undergraduate and graduate student writings, course materials, and notes, including notes from graduate seminars with Donald Williams and others at Harvard and elsewhere, and research files and reports from Lewis’s time as a researcher at the Hudson Institute in the 1960s.

Two research projects now underway make extensive use of the David K. Lewis Papers. The first project is organized by Professor Peter Anstey of the University of Sydney and Stephanie Lewis. They aim to publish the correspondence between Lewis and Armstrong. The second project is The Age of Metaphysical Revolution: David Lewis and His Place in the History of Analytic Philosophy, which is headed by Professor Helen Beebee of the University of Manchester and is funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project includes Professor Fraser MacBride of the University of Glasgow as co-investigator, and two postdoctoral researchers: Anthony Fisher, University of Manchester, who provided the biographical information for this blog-post; and Frederique Janssen-Lauret, University of Glasgow. The latter project has the goal of publishing several volumes of Lewis’s correspondence and unpublished papers, as well as a monograph on Lewis and his place in the history of analytic philosophy.

The Manuscripts Division also holds the extensive papers of the eminent mathematical logicians Kurt Gödel (1906-78), C0282, on deposit from the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; and Alonzo Church (1903-95), C0948, Department of Mathematics. The division also has manuscripts and selected other papers of Princeton philosophy professors Charles Woodruff Shields (1825-1904), C0343; George Tapney Whitney (1871-1938), C0448); and Walter Kaufmann (1921-80), C0469. For information about the David K. Lewis Papers, consult the finding aid. For more information about the holdings of the Manuscripts Division, contact Public Services at rbsc@princeton.edu

David K. Lewis in Cambridge, June 2001,
where he received an honorary D. Litt.
degree from the University of Cambridge.
© Hugh Mellor

A Founding Father in Revolutionary Paris

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the acquisition of a letter book of James Monroe (1758-1831), the most recent addition to its substantial Franco-American holdings. Monroe kept the letter book during the first part of his term as American Minister to France, 1794-96. The volume includes 112 letters, probably in the hand of Monroe’s secretary and fellow Virginian Fulwar Skipwith (1765-1838). Many letters have minor textual differences from published versions, including a dozen with previously unrecorded corrections and revisions in Monroe’s own hand, such as his Circular to Consuls and Agents, 25 September 1794 (see below). Eighteen of the letters are unknown and unpublished, including six about American repayment of a loan from the Dutch financiers Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard. Monroe was posted to Paris at the height of the French Revolution, only days after the Reign of Terror had ended with the execution of Maximilien Robespierre, Louis-Antoine de Saint-Just, and others. On Sunday, 10 August 1794, Monroe penned his first official letter as U.S. Minister to France, sending political news to Secretary of State Edmund Randolph, a fellow Virginian.

Monroe served with distinction during the Revolutionary War. He crossed the Delaware River with General George Washington on Christmas Day 1776 and a week later was seriously wounded at the Battle of Trenton (2 January 1777). We remember Monroe today for his lifetime of public service, including a term as Senator from Virginia to the U.S. Congress (1790-94); multiple terms as governor of Virginia; Secretary of State (1811-17) and Secretary of War (1814-15) under President James Madison (Princeton Class of 1771); and finally the fifth American President (1817-25). Although a slaveholder, Monroe supported African colonization for free African Americans in the geographical area that eventually became Liberia, for which reason its capital was named Monrovia in his honor. In the Early Republic, he played a major role in U.S. territorial expansion and foreign policy and is best remembered for his promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine (1823).

The Monroe letter book is a large volume with 324 numbered pages. A stationer’s label on front paste down identifies the shop as “À L’Espérance,” located on Rue Neuve des Petits-Champs, facing the French Ministry of Finance. There one could buy quills, ink, paper, sealing wax, and other writing materials, as well as blank volumes like the present letter book. It was a difficult time for Monroe and for Franco-American relations. He found his own position in France undermined by the American adoption of Jay’s Treaty, which the French Directory viewed with suspicion. Among Monroe’s other challenges were the intrigues of “Citizen” Edmond Charles Genêt (1763-1834), the French minister to the United States. Monroe defended his conduct as Minister to France in A View of the Conduct of the Executive in the Foreign Affairs of the United States, Connected with the Mission to the French Republic, during the years 1794, 5, & 6 (Philadelphia: Printed by and for Benjamin Franklin Bache, 1797).

One of Monroe’s principal diplomatic initiatives was securing freedom for American prisoners, the most famous being Thomas Paine (1737-1809), author of Common Sense and The American Crisis. A letter of 1 November 1794 to the French Committee of General Surety was part of Monroe’s successful effort to secure the Paine’s release from Luxembourg prison in Paris, where he worked on The Age of Reason. American citizenship was presented as a reason for Paine’s release. Indeed, he owned a house in Bordentown, New Jersey, and a farm in New Rochelle, New York. Monroe wrote, “The citizens of the United States can never look back to the era of their own revolution without recollecting among the names of their most distinguished patriots that of Thomas Payne. The services that he rendered them in their struggle for liberty have made an impression of gratitude which will never be erased, whilst they continue to merit the character of a just and generous people.”

The oldest of the Manuscripts Division’s substantial Franco-American holdings is the correspondence of Raymond de Fourquevaux (1508-1574), French ambassador to Spain, concerning colonization of Florida and the West Indies, 1565-71. This is part of the extensive Americana collection of André De Coppet, Class of 1915 (C0063), who was also the donor of the extensive archives of Eugène de Beauharnais (1781-1824), Napoleon’s step-son and French viceroy in Italy, 1805-14 (C0645). The best-known collection is that of Louis-Alexander Berthier (1753-1815), containing more than a hundred hand-colored, manuscript maps, one of which includes Nassau Hall (C0022). Berthier was an officer on General Rochambeau’s staff and traced the historic overland march of the French and American forces from Philipsburg, New York, to Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, and then their return march to Boston in 1782. Accompanying these maps is Berthier’s journal in French. Donated by Harry C. Black, Class of 1909, the Berthier maps and journals have been digitized and are available online.

The Manuscripts Division also holds other individual manuscripts and small collections, such as Joachim du Perron, comte de Revel (1756-1814),”Brouillon du journal de ma campagne sur le Languedoc,” 1780-82; Charles Henri d’Estaing (1729-94), “Relation de la compagne navale … en Amérique,” 1778-89; [Comtes de Forbach de Deux-Ponts], “Suite de journal des campagnes 1780, 1781, 1782: dans l’Amérique septentrionale,” 1782; Henri Jean Baptiste de Pontevès-Gien, comte de Pontevès-Gien (1738-90), a journal kept by him as commander of the French naval vessel l’Illustre, 1788-90; Louis-Guillaume Otto, comte de Mosloy, letters to the marquis de Moustier, 1789-91; and Charles Balthazar Julien Frevret de Saint-Mémin (1770-1852), “Gagne-pain d’un exilé aux États-Unis d’Amérique de 1793 à 1814.” Also dating from this period is a portion of the correspondence of John Lewis [Jean-Louis] Guillemard, 1787-1844, an English aristocrat of French Huguenot ancestry, who lived in Philadelphia in the late 1790s and corresponded with his family and friends about American politics and foreign relations, the British Empire, and the French Revolution (C1492).

Holdings for the nineteenth century include the recently acquired manuscripts of French journalist Frédéric Gaillardet (1808-82), including a partial draft of L’Aristocratie en Amérique and other materials relating to his travels and observations in Louisiana, Mississippi, and other southern states, as well as in Canada and Cuba, 1837-48 (C01519). French interest in the peoples of North America can also be seen in the photographs of Northern Plains Indians in the “Collection Anthropologique” of Prince Roland Bonaparte (C1177). Relevant holdings on Franco-American historical subjects can be found in the Gilbert Chinard Papers (C0671) and Gilbert Chinard Collection of French Historical Material (C0428). The latter includes letters written by the French Consul to Maryland, 1788-1797; and three untitled and undated 18th-century manuscript documents concerning French governance of Louisiana, its cession to Spain in 1762, and subsequent administration by Spain. Chinard was a Franco-American scholar who was Pyne Professor of French at Princeton University, 1937-50, and was also associated with the Institut Français de Washington.

For more information about the James Monroe letter book, contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at dcskemer@princeton.edu Concerning manuscript and archival holdings relating to Franco-American historical, diplomatic, and cultural relations, search the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections finding aids website

Monroe letter book
James Monroe’s Letter Book (detail)

T. A. Barron: Author and Conservationist

The Princeton University Library is delighted to announce that the award-winning American author and conservationist Thomas A. Barron ’74 has donated his literary papers to the Library. The T. A. Barron Papers (C1522) are in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Barron is the author of more than thirty books, including many well-known mythic-quest and fantasy novels, published in series such as The Great Tree of Avalon, which is a New York Times bestselling trilogy; The Atlantis Saga; The Adventures of Kate trilogy; and The Merlin Saga, currently being adapted for film by Disney.

Barron’s writing has been compared to that of authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Madeleine L’Engle. Barron has said of his writing, “My first priority is to craft enjoyable stories. Beyond that, I hope to create characters, plots, and themes that raise the big questions of life. Good fantasy isn’t an escape from reality, but rather an alternate, deeper view of reality.”

The T. A. Barron Papers include more than twenty linear feet of files about this popular author’s life and work. His papers provide full documentation for his novels, children’s books, nature books, and other published work since 1990, including outlines, concept summaries, original maps, and editorial correspondence; handwritten drafts, usually on legal pads, as well as corrected typescripts and proofs, and bound galleys; hardback and paperback editions; translations into German, Chinese, French, Spanish, Japanese, and other languages; audio books by Listening Library; and publishers’ promotional materials. In addition, the papers include articles, speeches, interviews, videos, unpublished writings, fan mail, and correspondence with other authors.

The papers are a welcome addition to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, which already has strong holdings in the area of children’s and young adult literature, especially printed books and original artwork in the Cotsen Children’s Library. The Manuscripts Division holds the archives of many other authors, including several who also wrote for young audiences, such as Mary Mapes Dodge, best known for the novel Hans Brinker, or, The Silver Skates (1866) and as editor of St. Nicholas magazine; and Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886) and The Secret Garden (1911).

Barron’s youth was on a ranch near Colorado Springs, Colorado, close to Pikes Peak. As a Princeton undergraduate, he majored in history and politics and wrote his senior thesis on U.S. Presidential elections. He was awarded the prestigious Pyne Prize as well as the Class of 1901 Medal. In addition, Barron was named a Rhodes Scholar, which enabled him to attend Balliol College at Oxford University. After extensive travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa, he went on to receive JD and MBA degrees from Harvard University. Barron had a successful business career in New York City but then in 1989 decided to focus on writing, his passion since childhood. Since returning to Colorado in 1990 with his wife Currie and family, he has been a full-time author and conservationist. His first published novel was Heartlight (1990), the first volume in The Adventures of Kate trilogy, published by Philomel Books and Puffin Books, imprints of Penguin Books USA.

Barron has received many writing honors and awards, such as the de Grummond Medallion (2011) for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature.” He has also written the nonfiction book The Hero’s Trail, which profiles diverse young people who have shown exceptional courage, perseverance, and compassion. In addition, he has written several illustrated children’s books including Where Is Grandpa? and High as a Hawk: A Brave Girl’s Historic Climb. His conservationist’s reverence for the natural world is present in much of his writing, including his two nature books about Rocky Mountains wilderness.

The Barrons have provided generous support to the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), which made possible creation of the Thomas A. and Currie C. Barron Visiting Professorship in Humanities and the Environment; the Barron Family Fund for Innovations in Environmental Studies, which supports efforts by students and faculty to make connections between humanities and the environment; the T. A. Barron Prize for Environmental Leadership, awarded annually to a student who shows extraordinary leadership in environmental issues in any field; and the Henry David Thoreau Freshman Seminar in Environmental Writing. Barron is a former Princeton charter trustee and alumni trustee, and serves on PEI’s advisory board. He has also been very active with conservation organizations such as EarthJustice, The Nature Conservancy, and The Wilderness Society, which honored him with the Robert Marshall Award (1997), its highest award to a citizen conservationist. In 2000, he founded the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which honors outstanding young people from diverse backgrounds who have made significant positive impacts on their communities and the environment.

The T. A. Barron Papers are now available for research. A finding aid is available. For information about using the Barron Papers and other collection, please contact Public Services, rbsc@princeton.edu

Barron portrait
T. A. Barron. Photo by Aimee Giese.

Barron Great Tree of Avalon
Courtesy of Penguin Publishing

JTS Geniza Collection on Deposit at Princeton

The Princeton University Library is very pleased to announce that The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS), located in New York City, has placed its renowned Geniza Collection on deposit in the Library. The collection will be housed at Princeton until fall 2019 in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, and will accessible for scholarly purposes. It will then return to the new Rare Book Room of an entirely rebuilt JTS Library. The Geniza Collection contains some 40,000 handwritten text leaves and documents, chiefly on paper and fragmentary. These have been conserved and mounted in 1024 bound volumes. The individual items are written in Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, and Judeo-Persian (the latter two terms respectively referring to Arabic or Persian written in Hebrew script). The JTS Geniza Collection represents a substantial portion of some 300,000 items “discovered” in the late nineteenth century in the Cairo Geniza (a Hebrew word meaning “storeroom”) of the Ben Ezra Synagogue, in the old city of Cairo (Al-Fusṭāṭ). The Cairo Geniza fragments were consigned to the storeroom over the course of a millennium because damaged or worn-out religious texts and unneeded old documents could not be thrown away if they contained the name of God.

Over a century ago, western scholars began using the Cairo Geniza to study the religious, social, economic, and cultural life of Jews in Egypt from the Umayyad Caliphate until the nineteenth century. The Geniza fragment seen below is from the oldest extant Passover Haggadah (ca. 1000 CE), inexpertly written with a spelling error that reflects the influence of oral tradition. Someone also practiced writing the alphabet on the right side. Found among the preponderance of religious texts are legal and economic documents that offer unparalleled insight into the everyday lives of Jews in medieval Egypt and beyond, in a sense like the documentary papyri of Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic Egypt, as well as Arabic paper documents of Egyptian Muslims during the Middle Ages. A significant portion of the Manuscripts Division’s holdings of documents from ancient and medieval Egypt have been digitized in the Princeton University Digital Library (PUDL) in the Princeton Papyri Collections and Michaelides Collection of Letters and Documents (1106-1497).

Princeton scholars have long been interested in Geniza studies. The historian S. D. Goitein (1900-85) began working with Geniza documents in 1948, and in 1970 he was appointed to the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. There he completed his monumental 6-volume work, A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza (1967-1993). Since 1985, Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies has been the home of the Princeton Geniza Lab, beginning under Professor Mark R. Cohen, Near Eastern Studies, with Goitein’s working files and copies of Geniza documents. The Geniza Lab is a collaborative space devoted to making Cairo Geniza documents accessible to the scholarly world and the general public. It hosts the Princeton Geniza Project, a searchable database of Geniza texts transcribed from the originals. Since fall 2015, the Geniza Lab has been headed by Professor Marina Rustow, Khedouri A. Zilka Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East, and Professor of Near Eastern Studies and History. She is also a MacArthur Fellow (2015). Others who will be using the JTS Geniza Collection in the next few years include Professor Eve Krakowski, Near Eastern Studies, as well as graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

The JTS Geniza Collection is the world’s second largest such collection, after the Cambridge University Library’s Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection. Smaller numbers of Cairo Geniza fragments are found in more than sixty other libraries and private collections worldwide. Recent digital initiatives have been used to reunite the dispersed Cairo Geniza holdings. The JTS Geniza Collection has been largely digitized with funding support from the Friedberg Geniza Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is now almost entirely available online through The Friedberg Genizah Project. Prior to visiting the Princeton University Library, researchers can find digital images, make preliminary identifications, and obtain other pertinent information by accessing the Friedberg site and following the link to the Cairo Geniza. Users must register to use the Friedberg site. Researchers wishing to visit the Princeton University Library in order to consult the original items in the JTS Geniza Collection should first determine the specific volume and folio numbers of the items in which they are interested. This will allow them to select the exact volume(s) in the JTS Geniza Collection (JTS001) finding aid. Then researchers must register as readers in order to use the Library. No fee is required either to access the Friedberg site or register as a Princeton reader.

For visiting hours and registration information, please go to the website of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. For information about using the JTS Geniza Collection, contact rbsc@princeton.edu For information about the Geniza Collection, including cataloging, photoduplication, and publication, please contact David C. Kraemer at DAKRAEMER@jtsa.edu, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian at the JTS Library and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics.

JTS Geniza for blog-post
Reproduced courtesy of the Jewish
Theological Seminary of America.

Lives in Letters: The Correspondence of Professor Joseph Frank

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of a significant group of correspondence and related papers of the American literary scholar Joseph Frank (1918-2013). He is best known for his five-volume biography of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which he began in the early 1970s and completed in 2002. The collection consists of Frank’s personal and professional correspondence dating from the 1940s through the early 2000s, though primarily from the 1950s through the 1980s. Correspondents include Hannah Arendt, Elizabeth Bishop, Yves Bonnefoy, Pierre Bourdieu, Ralph Ellison, Carlos Fuentes, Irving Howe, James Laughlin, Richard W. B. Lewis, Mary McCarthy, Allen Tate, and many other poets, writers, artists, and academics. A small amount of family correspondence, personal documents, and printed materials, including inscribed reprints and chapbooks, are also present. The collection is the generous gift of Joseph Frank’s daughter Isabelle Frank and complements the Manuscripts Division’s extensive holdings of 20th-century literary correspondence.

Born in New York City as Joseph Nathaniel Glassman, Frank adopted his stepfather’s surname when his mother, Jennifer Garlick, remarried following his father’s early death. Although he never formally earned a bachelor’s degree, Frank studied briefly at New York University and the University of Wisconsin. Prior to beginning his Dostoyevsky biography, he published essays and criticism in literary journals, including “Spatial Form in Modern Literature,” which appeared in The Sewanee Review in 1945 and set the stage for his career as a critic and lecturer on 20th century literature. After working at the Bureau of National Affairs in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s, Frank left for Paris on a Fulbright scholarship in 1950, where he met his wife, the mathematician Marguerite Straus Frank. He earned his PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago in 1960 and taught at the University of Wisconsin and Rutgers University before arriving at Princeton. Frank was named the Class of 1926 Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, where he taught from 1966 until 1985, and he taught afterward at Stanford University until his retirement. At Princeton, Frank also served as the Director of the Gauss Seminars in Criticism, which brought many international critics, artists, poets, and scholars to the university for lectures and discussions exploring the theory and practice of criticism in the humanities and sciences.

Much of Frank’s correspondence with noted literary critics and scholars is the result of his involvement with the Gauss Seminars. He also maintained close personal friendships with several major poets and authors, as reflected by significant groups of letters from the French poet Yves Bonnefoy, the American poet Allen Tate, and others. A particularly rich group of 25 letters from the American poet Elizabeth Bishop is also present, dating to the 1950s and early 1960s when Bishop was living in Brazil with her partner, Lota de Macedo Soares. Bishop discusses the intimate details of her daily life, her reading and writing habits, and her general impressions of living as an American expatriate in Brazil. A typescript of Bishop’s poem “View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress” is also included as an enclosure with an October 29, 1950, letter to Frank. The letter indicates that she wrote the poem the day before, and this draft appears in the same form in which the poem was published the following year in The New Yorker on July 7, 1951.

Also notable is a three-page letter (23 November 1964) from the celebrated African American novelist Ralph Ellison, who explains the obscurity of the “pink hospital scene” in his novel Invisible Man by describing how he cut out a 225-page section from the middle of book. Incoming letters such as these indicate that Frank was a close reader and valued critic of works by contemporary authors he knew, and his correspondence with them often contains authors’ responses to Frank’s comments and questions on their work.

Researchers interested in learning more about the Joseph Frank Correspondence (C1515) should consult the finding aid. For information about using the papers, contact rbsc@princeton.edu
joseph_frank (2)

Seals of Authenticity

The Manuscript Division has had several discoveries as a result of the relocation of on-site collections from myriad Firestone Library storage locations to newly constructed, state-of-the-art vaults. In the process of planning and moving, staff members have occasionally found stray items or collections that had been stored away long ago and forgotten. A case in point are two small collections of Papal lead seals (bullae) donated to the Library between 1898 and 1918. The donors of the two collections were no less than two of the Library’s storied early administrators: Ernest Cushing Richardson (1860-1939), University Librarian and later Director of the Princeton University Library, 1890-1925; and Junius Spencer Morgan (1867-1932), Class of 1888, the Library’s Associate Librarian, 1898-1909. Both were private collectors and donors to the Library. Unfortunately, when these two collections arrived, the seals were merely accessioned as “museum objects” and stored away otherwise uncataloged. At the time, the future Department of Rare Books and Special Collections was a small holdings unit in Pyne Library, the central Princeton campus library before Firestone Library opened its doors in the late 1940s. Henry Bartlett Van Hoesen (1885-1965), who became the Library’s first Curator of Manuscripts in 1913, worked most closely with Princeton’s growing papyri collections and had other administrative duties and teaching responsibilities in the Classics Department.

Among the more than two dozen Papal lead seals recently rediscovered, none still attached to documents, is a 500 year-old bulla of Pope Leo X (r. 1513-21). It was among those donated by Junius Spencer Morgan in 1898. Pope Leo X was born Giovanni Romolo de’ Medici. He was the son of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449-1492), the Florentine statesman and Renaissance patron of the arts. Leo X is better known today for commissioning works by Raphael (who painted his portrait) and by Michelangelo, than for having excommunicated Martin Luther and conferred on King Henry VIII of England the title “Defender of the Faith.” The lead seal is approximately 40 mm in diameter and weighs about 45 grams. On the seal’s obverse, reproduced below, we see the bearded faces of the Apostles Paul and Peter, a traditional design. They are portrayed in high relief, and they are identified in accompanying inscriptions (S[anctus] PA[lus]; S[anctus] PE[trus]). Pope Leo X’s name and title are on the reverse. Papal seals of this sort guaranteed the authenticity and integrity of official documents or letters to which they were attached by means of a silk cord, traces of which are still evident on Leo X’s bulla.

The Manuscripts Division has significant holdings of ancient, medieval, and modern seals, seal matrices, and seal impressions. In addition, collections of historical documents often include examples of individual document with intact pendant seals or impressed wax seals. The earliest seal collections are several hundred stone cylinder and stamp seals from the ancient Mesopotamia, used to seal clay tablets written in cuneiform. Some of the clay tablets bear the impressions made by such stone seals. The John Hinsdale Scheide Collection, donated by the late William H. Scheide (Class of 1936), includes some English, French, and Papal documents with intact seals. Seals are also found in documentary collections assembled and donated by Thomas Shields Clarke, Charles Carroll Marden, Albert T. Reyburn, Chalfant Robinson, and Ernest Cushing Richardson. Over the past two decades, Bruce C. Willsie, Class of 1986, has assembled a fine British sigillography collection, including medieval and modern English royal charters with wax pendant seals, as well as seal matrices and wax seals without accompanying documents. He continues to add to the collection. Finally, the Manuscripts Division recently created a Byzantine seal collection with six lead seals donated by Michael Padgett.

For more information, please contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts: dcskemer@princeton.edu
Bulla Leo X front
Bulla Leo X back
Bulla of Pope Leo X

Persian Lacquer Bindings

The Peck Shahnamah, on display in the exhibition “Princeton’s Great Persian Book of Kings,” at the Princeton University Art Museum (October 3, 2015-January 24, 2016), is among the most treasured books in the Manuscripts Division. But the Manuscripts Division holds five additional illuminated Shahnamah manuscripts and hundreds of other Persian and Mughal illustrated manuscripts and miniatures, among nearly ten thousand Islamic manuscripts. Approximately two-thirds of these were part of the 1942 donation of Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897. One aspect of Persian book arts that has not previously received much attention, at least with regard to Princeton’s extensive collections of Islamic manuscripts, is the Persian lacquer binding. The Manuscripts Division holds dozens of examples, several of which are featured in a recent article by Lindsey Hobbs, Collections Conservator, Preservation Office: “Persian Lacquer Bindings,” The New Bookbinder: Journal of Designer Bookbinders, vol. 35 (2015), pp. 49-56.

Persian lacquer bindings first developed in the fifteenth century and reached their height of popularity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These bindings most commonly feature elaborate floral designs, like the upper cover of the Qur’an illustrated below. But examples at Princeton also feature animals, birds, braid patterns, mandalas, ringlets, rosettes, and fleurons. Their inclusion was the result of the influence of cultural contact as Islam spread east and west from the seventh century. The first step in producing a lacquer binding, typically, is to prepare the pasteboard covers for painting by applying a layer of gesso; that is, a white mixture of a binder and chalk, gypsum, pigment, or a combination of these ingredients. After this application comes an initial coat of varnish. Water-based paint is used to create a painting or design, which is coated with several additional layers of varnish. The surfaces are then smoothed and polished. In some cases powdered mother-of-pearl, gold particles, or other inlay materials are added to the varnish before drying. There are also lavish early examples that combine decorated leather with lacquer painting. The result is a brilliant sheen that gives Persian lacquer bindings a distinctive character.

One of the more notable examples at Princeton dates to 1520 CE. The Dīvān-i Hāfiz, a well-known anthology of Persian classical poetry, features a symmetrical array of flowers, birds, and animal heads surrounding a central eight-pointed star. The cover design reveals inspiration from the Far East, possibly a vestige of the Mongol invasions from earlier centuries. The book has orange leather doublures, highly decorated with gilt. The richly illuminated text is written in Nasta’līq, a calligraphic script often used for deluxe Persian manuscripts, and contains six full-page miniatures. While the manuscript was likely resewn and given a new spine at some point in its history, this is one of very few examples of lacquer bindings that seems likely to have retained its original covers.

For more about Persian lacquer bindings, see Lindsey Hobbs’s article in The New Bookbinder, a journal in the Firestone Library’s circulating collections. There are Voyager bibliographic records for each of the manuscripts illustrated in her article. For information about Islamic holdings in the Manuscripts Division, contact Public Services.
Persian lacquered Qur'an
Qur’an (upper cover),
Islamic Manuscripts,
New Series, no. 1984,
Manuscripts Division.

Voyage of the Hindenburg, 1936

Thanks to a recent gift from author John McPhee, Class of 1953, Ferris Professor of Journalism, the Manuscripts Division has added to its holdings a 16-mm black-and-white film made during a voyage of the German airship LZ 129 Hindenburg, June 23-June 26, 1936. Professor Jean Labatut (1899-1986), School of Architecture, used his Bell & Howell Filmo-121 home-movie camera when he was a passenger aboard the Hindenburg, flying under the command of Dr. Hugo Eckener. Labatut edited the film back in Princeton and added opening screen text about the flight, which took two and a half days (Tuesday-Thursday) and was officially clocked at 61 hours, 5 minutes. The eastbound flight began at the Naval Air Station, in Lakehurst, New Jersey, located 34 miles southeast of Princeton by car, and ended in the German city of Frankfurt am Main. This was the Hindenburg’s sixth flight between the two locations. Labatut’s ultimate destination was the American School of Fine Arts, in Fontainebleau, France, where he taught each summer. Among the 56 other passengers on Labatut’s flight were the French aeronaut Charles Dollfus, who had the expertise to guide Labatut around the airship and help with difficult camera shots. Also aboard was the German boxer and heavyweight champion Max Schmeling, who had just defeated Joe Louis at New York’s Yankee Stadium and still had a black-eye from the fight (June 19, 1936). Little did anyone know that less than a year after this flight, the 804-foot, hydrogen-filled airship, which had only been in service since March 1936, would explode in flames at the Naval Air Station, with 36 fatalities (May 6, 1937). This disaster largely spelled the end of the lighter-than-air passenger travel.

Labatut gave the film to John McPhee more than forty years ago, when the author was researching his book The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed (New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973), about the experimental Aereon aircraft developed in New Jersey during the 1960s and ’70s. McPhee has presented the film to the Library with a digitally remastered version, which has a run time of 12 minutes, 44 seconds. Click to view. In describing Labatut’s trip (pp. 106-118), McPhee notes, “A month or so before, Labatut, on sheer impulse, had walked into the travel department of the Princeton Bank & Trust Co. and asked them to get in touch with the German Zeppelin Transport Company and seek passage for him on the Hindenburg.” His ticket (Zeppelin-Fahrschein, no. 4996) cost $400, which is the equivalent of as much as $7,000 in today’s money. In the film, we see what the Hindenburg sees as it flies along coastal New Jersey, passes over New York City and the bright lights of Park Avenue, then over the Hudson River, with a view of the RMS Queen Mary, the flagship of the Cunard Line, which had its maiden voyage on May 26, 1936. The airship flies northeast by way of Canada, over the rugged landscape of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland; then across the North Atlantic, with fleeting glimpses of Greenland and Iceland; and finally reaches Europe, where the film ends. Along the way, Labatut delights in seeing and capturing views from the Hindenburg, especially the airship’s shadow as it passes over land and open water. Labatut also offers interior views of the airship’s control gondola, elegant dining facilities, and passengers (including Max Schmeling). McPhee concludes, “That voyage, to Labatut, was the sum of the art of flying, expressed in its mild speed, its aerostatic firmness, and its proximity to the earth.” The Hindenburg film has been added to the Jean Labatut Papers (C0709), which already contained documents, notes, photographs, sketches, and printed matter relating to the flight, among which there is a complete passenger list (box 59, folder 2).

Jean Labatut was a French-born architect and educator, who played a major role in the development of School of Architecture during his 39-year Princeton teaching career. He was the founder of the Bureau of Urban Research (1941), designer of the Princeton Architectural Laboratory (1949), and the long-time Director of Graduate Studies in Architecture at Princeton University (1928-1967). Labatut’s papers measure 62.5 linear feet of archival materials, including correspondence with architects, landscape architects,designers, and urban planners, including Buckminster Fuller, Arthur C. Holden, Victor Laloux, Albert Leclerc, LeCorbusier, Auguste Perret, and Robert Venturi. Notable is Labatut’s extensive correspondence (1956-1973) with the French philosopher Jacques Maritain, who taught at Princeton from 1948 to 1952 and continued living in town until 1960 The subject files contain correspondence, documents, notes, sketches, plans and blueprints, photographs, and printed matter related to Labatut’s many projects, including a monument to José Martí (Havana, Cuba). Worthy of special mention are gouache paintings, blueprints, and other materials relating to Labatut’s designs for a dazzling fireworks show at the New York World’s Fair (1939-1940).

For more information about the Jean Labatut Papers, consult the finding aid or contact RBSC Public Services.


Hemingway at Princeton

The Manuscripts Division serves as a resource for many ongoing editorial and publication projects related to the letters and writings of major authors and historical figures. One of the most important such projects is the Cambridge Edition of the Letters of Ernest Hemingway, under the general editorship of Professor Sandra Spanier, Pennsylvania State University, Department of English. The project is making considerable use of the extensive Hemingway holdings in the Manuscripts Division. The Letters of Ernest Hemingway was conceived as a comprehensive edition of the complete letters of one of the premier American authors of the twentieth century. Three of seventeen volumes are now in print. Some six thousand letters by the author will eventually be published, approximately 85 percent of which have not be previously published. Many of those already published were in Ernest Hemingway, Selected Letters, 1917-1961, a 1981 edition by the Hemingway specialist Carlos Baker (1909-1987), who was a Princeton professor of English (1938-1953) and then Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature (1953-1977). The current project is authorized by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation/Society and the Hemingway Foreign Rights Trust, which respectively hold the U.S. and international rights to the letters. Ernest Hemingway’s son Patrick originally conceived of a complete scholarly edition of his father’s letters.

While Hemingway’s own papers are at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, in Boston, most of the author’s outgoing letters are preserved in other libraries and archives, among which the Princeton University Library is one of the principal repositories. All of the Hemingway letters at Princeton are in the Manuscripts Division, the largest number being in the author files of the Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, including letters from, by, and about the author, as well as contracts, publicity files, photographs, copies of original manuscripts, and other materials. The volume of Scribner’s holdings on Hemingway is not surprising since he was one of the publisher’s most successful authors—as well as a Scribner family friend—and remains a consistent seller among the legacy titles kept in print under Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint, more than a half century after the author’s death. The Scribner’s author files include extensive correspondence relating to the publication of The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), The Old Man and the Sea (1952), and many other Scribner’s titles.

According to Sandra Spanier, “Of the nearly 6,000 extant Hemingway letters we have located, about 1300 (21.6 percent) are in Princeton’s collections. In volume 3 of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway (1926-April 1929), the percentage of Princeton University Library letters is even higher: 131 of the 345 letters in the volume (38 percent) are from Princeton. This volume marks the beginning of Hemingway’s lifelong professional and personal relationship with Maxwell Perkins, who is the most frequently represented correspondent in the volume, the recipient of 74 letters during this period. Princeton letters will also be heavily represented in volume 4 (April 1929-February 1932), planned for publication in 2017, which will also include about the same percentage of Princeton letters as volume 3.”

The Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons contains a nearly unbroken stream of Hemingway letters, beginning in 1925, when the young author was living in Paris, until what might be considered Hemingway’s “last letter” (dated 18 April [1961] but possibly continued after that date), to Charles Scribner, Jr. (1921-1995). This letter relates to the author’s “Paris Book,” a memoir of the Lost Generation, which would be published posthumously as A Moveable Feast (1965). Hemingway never sent the letter, which remained on his desk in Ketchum, Idaho, at the time of his suicide (2 July 1961). On 27 July 1963, Mary Hemingway, the author’s widow, mailed the letter to Scribner’s editor Harry Brague, with the author’s three-page handwritten list of possible titles for the memoir. Hemingway decided on “The Eye and the Ear,” which turned into a tentative title, “The Early Eye and the Ear (How Paris Was in the Early Days).” But Mary Hemingway preferred another title, A Moveable Feast, which she took not from the author’s 1961 list, but from his own words: “If you were lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

In addition to the Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, there is Hemingway correspondence in the Patrick Hemingway Papers (C0066), Hemingway/Lanham Correspondence (C0067), Ernest Hemingway Collection (C0068), C. T. Lanham Papers on Ernest Hemingway (C0305), Carlos Baker Collection of Ernest Hemingway (C0365), Ernest Hemingway and Milford J. Baker Correspondence (C0699), Walter Houk Collection of Ernest Hemingway (C1390), William Dodge Horne collection of Ernest Hemingway (C1435), and others, as well as in the papers of other authors and friends, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald (C0187) and Sylvia Beach (C0108). The Houk Collection is the subject of an earlier blog-post. A search of the Princeton University Library Finding Aids site identifies 1138 records under Ernest Hemingway’s name.

Among discoveries at Princeton by Sandra Spanier and her team were at least two bits of Hemingway typescript reused in letters. When Hemingway wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald on 31 March [1927], the third page was on a sheet of paper that appears to be a discarded draft page of “Hills Like White Elephants.” Then on 11 January [1929], Hemingway wrote to Henry Strater, typing on the verso of a discarded page of the typescript of A Farewell to Arms. Both of these letters are included in The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, vol. 3 (2015).

For more information, contact Public Services.

Ernest Hemingway, Madrid, May 1937

Ernest Hemingway,
Madrid, May 1937,
Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Conservation of the Peck Shahnamah

This fall, the Princeton University Art Museum is exhibiting the Peck Shahnamah, the Manuscripts Division’s finest Persian illuminated manuscript, in the exhibition Princeton’s Great Persian Book of Kings, on view from 3 October 2015 to 24 January 2016. Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue chiefly prepared by Shreve Simpson, the guest curator, with contributions by Louise Marlow. The catalogue includes full-color reproduction of all illustrations (using new photography by Roel Muñoz, the Library’s Digital Imaging Manager, and Beth Wodnick Haas, Digital Imaging Technician).

In 1983, Clara S. Peck bequeathed her sumptuous manuscript of Firdawsi’s Shahnamah of 1589/90 (Islamic Manuscripts, Third Series, no. 310), to the Princeton University Library, in honor of her brother Fremont C. Peck, Class of 1920. Unfortunately, the manuscript had various binding and condition problems that made it difficult to use or exhibit. The Peck Shahnamah is a treasure of Safavid book illumination and was never dismembered like the Houghton Shahnamah and many other extraordinary Persian manuscripts. In consultation with the Library’s Preservation Office and several historians of Islamic art, Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, proposed undertaking the much-needed conservation treatment and using it as an opportunity to display the Peck Shahnamah’s miniatures and other illuminated leaves at the Art Museum. This exhibition would not have been possible without the accomplished professional staff of the Library’s Preservation Office.

Conservation of the Peck Shahnamah began in 2014, when Mick LeTourneaux, the Library’s Rare Book Conservator, disbound the manuscript. It was in an elegant gold-tooled, red morocco English binding of around 1780, which was tight, stiff, and highly dysfunctional, not to mention inappropriate for an Islamic manuscript. It took Mick LeTourneaux almost two weeks to document and disbind this substantial 475-folio manuscript, separate the illustrated and text leaves, and put them in separate enclosures, awaiting conservation treatment and new digitization in the Library’s Digital Studio. In the process, he discovered that the binder had used large amounts of hide glue, which leeched into the manuscript itself. In addition, the English binder had often crudely cobbled the manuscript leaves into quires and then aggressively trimmed the edges, with resulting losses to the border decoration. Subsequent paper repair, probably during the 19th century, was also noted.

In 2015, after the manuscript had been disbound, Ted Stanley, Special Collections Paper Conservator, began the arduous process of examining the paper supports and pigments in order to determine an appropriate course of conservation treatments for both the illustrated and text leaves. In Persian illuminated manuscripts of the Safavid period, pigments are often the cause of conservation problems. The most problematic pigment is verdigris (basic copper acetate), a pale-green colorant that has been used since antiquity. Verdigris is made by exposing copperplates to acetic acid, usually in the form of vapors from vinegar. The pigment is highly acidic and corrosive when applied to paper and other cellulose-based materials.

In the Peck Shahnamah, rectangular verdigris frames surrounding the illuminations and text areas have been slowly eating their way through the paper since the sixteenth century. As a result, all of the frames were either weakened or broken. In addition, verdigris pigments used in the paintings themselves also weakened the paper support. The verdigris frames had to be reinforced with heat-set tissue, and the versos of illuminations were reinforced as well as appropriate. Verdigris used as a pigment in the miniatures resulted in staining to the versos of the pages. An alkaline-based conservation agent was applied to the versos to counteract the deteriorating effects of the verdigris. Unfortunately, there were many clumsy repairs done to the manuscript long before it was bequeathed to the Princeton University Library, and some had to be left in place because of the fragility of paper supports and the solubility of the pigments that they covered.

Ted Stanley discovered an overall loss of pigment in certain areas due to the mechanical action of turning manuscript pages because of the English binding. A microscopic examination of the pigments found they suffered varying degrees of loss. Most affected was the orange colorant, which spectroscopic examination determined to be red lead (lead tetroxide). There were much smaller amounts of loss with the other pigments, such as vermilion, a bright red made from cinnabar (mercury sulfide), and deep blue (lapis lazuli). The pigments that remain appear to be stable and did not require pigment consolidation. But among the pigments found spectroscopically was orpiment (arsenic sulfide), a yellow colorant that was very stable, but stained other colors that were in contact with it. There was very minute loss of lead white (basic lead (II) carbonate) overall. Lead white also was mixed with other colors to produce lighter shades.

Ted Stanley worked on conservation of the Peck Shahnamah’s illustrated and text leaves over the course of many months, and was also responsible for matting and framing 58 illustrated leaves and bifolia for the exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum. Once the exhibition ends in January 2016, he will remove the leaves from the frames and mats so that the conservation effort can be completed. At this point, Mick LeTourneaux will begin the work of reassembling the manuscript in quires and sewing it in an appropriate Islamic-style binding. This work is expected to take several months. In the end, another treasure of Islamic civilization has been saved by the Library as part of its institutional commitment to responsible custody of extraordinary manuscript collections.

In 2012, the Library put the entire Peck Shahnamah online (including both illuminated and text pages) in the Princeton University Digital Library (PUDL), about which there is a separate blog post.
Ted Stanley working on the Peck Shahnamah.
Ted Stanley preparing conservation
treatment reports for the manuscript.