After 1453: Greek Manuscripts in the Ottoman Empire and Beyond

In recent decades, the Manuscripts Division has acquired more than 130 post-Byzantine Greek manuscripts, dating from the Fall of Constantinople (1453) until Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire (1832). A number of these later Greek manuscripts are from adjacent areas, such as Wallachia and the Venetian-ruled islands of the Eastern Mediterranean. Princeton also has manuscripts produced by Greek scholars and scribes in Renaissance Italy after the fall of Byzantium. The Library has acquired these manuscripts in part by gift and in part by purchase, with matching funds from the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund.

Recent additions to the open series Princeton Greek Manuscripts include a Iatrosophion (Ἰατροσόφιον), meaning “medical wisdom” (C0879, no. 131). Such compendia for daily medical practice had existed in the Byzantine Empire and continued to be used through the end of the nineteenth century. Princeton’s Iatrosophion, measuring 15.5 x 10.5 cm, is comprised of approximately seventy sections, written by at least five different hands. The volume may be a composite volume cobbled together from small portable paper notebooks of similar trim size. Unidentified local medical practitioners and folk healers on the island of Crete were the compilers and users of the contents of the Iatrosophion, between the late sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. This volume contains extracts from Greek medical treatises and materia medica, along with folk remedies, astrological medicine, lists of good-luck and bad-luck days for blood-letting, invocations of angels and demons, amuletic texts, charms, spells, and prognostications. Here and there, one sees magical script, Cabalistic symbols, Zodiacal signs, and pseudo-Solomonic seals. Particularly attractive are the watercolors of medicinal plants illustrating sections on herbal remedies. The plant illustrated in the manuscript image below is probably Dittany of Crete (Origanum dictamnus), an herb used since antiquity because it was believed to have medicinal value in treating dysentery, rheumatism, and other ailments. The manuscript was in such poor condition when acquired, it was almost unusable. Fortunately, it has now been skillfully conserved and rebound by Mick LeTourneaux, Rare Books Conservator, in the Library’s Collections Conservation Unit.

There are several other Greek medical and magical compilations in Princeton Greek Manuscripts (C0879), including Constantine Rhizotes’s medical commonplace book of ca. 1617 (no. 17) and an abridged Greek translation of a seventeenth-century Italian treatise on women’s health and gynecology (no. 124). Those that date before 1600 are cataloged in Princeton Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (C0938). Most post-1453 Greek manuscripts in Princeton’s collections are text manuscripts. But some are illuminated, illustrated, or are in finely executed contemporary Greek bindings. This growing collection includes theology, philosophy, chronicles, treatises on rhetoric, compilations of canon law (Nomokanon), commentaries on classical and Patristic texts; Greek Orthodox service books and anthologies of liturgical music written in post-Byzantine and Chrysantine music notation; illustrated guide books (Proskynetaria) for travelers and pilgrims visiting the Christian sacred sites in the Holy Land; collections of hymns, prayers, and poetry; and other subjects. All attest to the continuity and vitality of religious life, Hellenic learning, classroom education, traditional beliefs, and book arts among the Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians of the Ottoman Empire and beyond.

Nearly all of these post-Byzantine Greek manuscripts have been separately cataloged and can be searched in the Library’s online catalog. For more information, contact Public Services at

Iatrosophion (C0879, no. 131)

Remains of a Lost World

A Sabaean inscription on a red sandstone block offers a fleeting glimpse of life in the southwestern part of the Roman Province of Arabia in the fifth or sixth century, before the rise of Islam. Today, religious strife and military conflict involving Saudi and Houthi rebel forces make international headlines. But then, the area was relatively peaceful, with a substantial Christian and Jewish population. Great personal wealth was possible through the incense and spice trade. Caravans transported frankincense, myrrh, and other valuable South Arabian and African commodities, from Shabwah in Hadhramaut (now a part of Yemen), to the ancient city of Petra (now in Jordan). Though incomplete and broken (see below), the inscription has been identified as a Christian dedication for a fortified house or tower. It is incised in Sabaean, a pre-Islamic Semitic language spoken and written in the ancient kingdom of Saba (the Biblical Sheba), now Yemen. This South Arabian language is chiefly known from such inscriptions.

Karl S. Twitchell, an American mining engineer active in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, purchased the inscription in June 1943 at Dhat al-Ukhdud, Najran, a key place along the ancient caravan route trade, and donated it to the Princeton University Library three years later. It was initially in Princeton’s Epigraphical Museum, founded in 1933 and housed in the old chemistry laboratory. Professor Philip K. Hitti, Department of Near Eastern Studies, facilitated the inscription’s initial study in 1945 by the British Arabist Harry St. John Bridger Philby, who was coincidentally the father of Kim Philby, the British MI-6 intelligence officer and notorious Soviet double agent. Ten years later, after the inscription had moved to the Manuscripts Division, Albert Jamme modified the elder Philby’s preliminary reading of the inscription. According to Jamme, it says that A[l]hat Ta’lubān and a second person built the tower with the help of God (“The Merciful. He [who] is in heaven”).

For more information about the inscription, see the articles by Harry St. John Bridger Philby, “Three New Inscriptions from Hadhramaut,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, no. 2 (October 1945), p. 133; and Albert Jamme, “South-Arabian Antiquities in the U.S.A.,” Bibliotheca Orientalis, vol. 12, no. 5/6 (September-November 1955), p. 152.

Sabaean inscription. Islamic Manuscripts, Third Series, no. 317e

Cambridge Edition of Fitzgerald Holograph

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s holograph of The Great Gatsby, the author’s full-length manuscript draft of his celebrated third novel, has been published by Cambridge University Press in a scholarly edition: The Great Gatsby: An Edition of the Manuscript, Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald (2018), co-edited by James L. W. West III, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University (who is general editor of the series); and Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library. The edition includes a reading text of the holograph, as well as West’s introduction, Skemer’s bibliographical commentary, and many illustrations. Close reading of the handwritten text and a thorough analysis of physical evidence reveals much about the author’s working methods, chronology of composition, and revision and restructuring of his classic novel. In this most creative period in his life, Fitzgerald found the literary inspiration and self-discipline to produce a masterpiece that now sells hundreds of thousands of copies each year, almost a century after its first publication. Skemer’s commentary also traces the manuscript’s survival and explains how key Princeton faculty and librarians worked so tirelessly with the Fitzgerald estate to gather the author’s voluminous papers and provide a permanent home for them in the Library’s Manuscripts Division, beginning in 1943. The Cambridge edition will allow critics, teachers, and students of literature to study The Great Gatsby as a fluid text. Here published for the first time is Fitzgerald’s manuscript text of 1924, begun in Great Neck, Long Island, and completed on the French Riviera, months before he would revise his text still further in the Trimalchio galleys. The novel evolved steadily from the author’s original conception (1922) to its final published form (1925).

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald is a multi-volume edition of Fitzgerald’s collected works. The Cambridge edition was launched in the late 1980s under the general editorship of Matthew J. Bruccoli, with the approval of the Fitzgerald Literary Trust. The edition is based on the comprehensive collection of Fitzgerald’s manuscripts, typescripts, proofs, correspondence, and other papers in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Princeton also holds the archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, Fitzgerald’s publisher, including the author’s extensive correspondence with his legendary editor Maxwell Perkins. Each volume of the Cambridge edition includes an introduction, authoritative texts, lists of emendations and variants, illustrations, and historical annotations. Bruccoli edited the first two volumes: The Great Gatsby (1991) and the retitled The Love of the Last Tycoon: A Western (1993). James L. W. West III succeeded Bruccoli as general editor in 1994 and continues in that position. The edition will include eighteen volumes when complete, including all five novels, about 165 short stories, and works of nonfiction, drama, and poetry. The present book is the seventeenth volume in the Cambridge edition; the eighteenth and final volume, a variorum edition of The Great Gatsby, is being prepared for publication (2019).

For more information about this and other volumes, go to the Cambridge University Press website. Digital images of the holograph and other Fitzgerald manuscripts are available online in the Digital Princeton University Library (DPUL).

Brazilian Acquisitions Honor Stanley J. Stein and Barbara Hadley Stein

The Princeton University Library and Program in Latin American Studies, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, are pleased to announce the acquisition of historical manuscripts about African slavery and the plantation economy in colonial and imperial Brazil. The materials were acquired in honor of Stanley J. Stein, Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor in Spanish Civilization and Culture, Emeritus; and his wife Barbara Hadley Stein (1916-2005), who was also a specialist on Latin American history and served for many years as the Library’s Bibliographer for Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. Professor Stein joined the History Department faculty in 1953 and authored many books on Latin American economic and social history, including Vassouras: A Brazilian Coffee County, 1850-1900: The Roles of Planter and Slave in a Plantation Society (1957); The Brazilian Cotton Manufacture: Textile Enterprise in an Underdeveloped Area, 1850-1950 (1957); Silver, Trade, and War: Spain and America in the Making of Early Modern Europe (2000); Apogee of Empire: Spain and New Spain in the Age of Charles III, 1759-1789 (2003); and Edge of Crisis: War and Trade in the Spanish Atlantic, 1789-1808 (2009). Several of his books have been translated into Spanish. The Steins worked together on several books, including The Colonial Heritage of Latin America: Essays on Economic Dependence In Perspective (1970), and were honored for their innovative studies.

This substantial archival collection just acquired in the Steins’ honor is in two parts: (Part I) A collection of 78 miscellaneous legal and other documents (1758-1888) pertaining to the history of the history of slavery in Brazil as a Portuguese colony and later as the Empire of Brazil, until the abolition of slavery in 1887. This group of documents provides insight into the slave trade, plantation economy, and lives of Afro-Brazilian slaves and their families, as for example in an 1823 petition of Maximiana Maria, a free woman of color (see image below). (Part II) Two bound volumes of transcribed financial accounts (1797-1810) of Luis Gomes Ribeiro, a member of the aristocratic Ribeiro de Avellar family, owners of the slave plantation (fazenda) of Pau Grande and its manor house, in the rural parish of Paty do Alferes, about 100 kilometers northwest of Rio de Janeiro, first producing only sugarcane but later expanding to other foodstuffs; and 144 letters (1831-58) written by Domingos Alves da Silva Porto, manager of Avellar & Companhia, an agricultural export business in Rio de Janeiro, to Joaquim Ribeiro de Avellar (1791-1863), first barão do Capivari, a Brazilian nobleman and owner of the same plantation.

Coincidentally, Professor Stein studied the plantation economy and society of Vassouras, located forty kilometers to the west, in his doctoral dissertation (1951), which became his first published book. In 2005, Stein donated a photograph album containing 111 photographs of Vassouras taken by him during his doctoral research (C0938, no. 78q). Other holdings of the Manuscripts Division on the economic and social history of Brazil before 1900 include the Codex Diamond, a manuscript register pertaining to diamond mining in Tejuco, Minas Gerais, 1781-95, with information about buying and renting slaves (C0938, no. 639); Gongo Soco Gold Mine, also in Minas Gerais, a ledger for 1840-44, with information about slave labor (C0938, no. 409q); and the Elma Sant’Ana Collection of the Mucker Papers, concerning a community of German immigrants in southern Brazil, 1840-77 (C1566). In addition, efforts to monitor transatlantic slave trade are documented in the Papers of George W. Storer (C1433), who served in the U.S. Navy for more than a half century, including his years as a captain and then commander-in-chief of the Brazil Squadron, 1837-50, which, in part, had the goal of preventing American ships from transporting African slaves. There is also a manuscript journal of a voyage from Norfolk to Rio De Janiero on board the Brig Don Juan, 1847, kept by H. V. Weakley (C0938, no. 583). Several of these manuscripts were purchased with support from a Library fund endowed by Kenneth Maxwell, also a student of Brazilian history. For more information, contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at

Fernando Acosta Rodriguez shows Brazilian Acquisition to Stanley J. Stein, May 10, 2018.

Petition of a free woman of color, 1823

René Char and the French Resistance

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the acquisition of papers (C1599) of the celebrated French poet René Char (1907-88), documenting his role in the Resistance (La Résistance) against Nazi occupation of France and the collaborationist Vichy régime. Char was the author of more than 30 volumes of poetry, criticism, plays, memoirs, and other works. He was a native of the Provençal town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, located east of Avignon in the Département du Vaucluse, southeastern France. During his long and distinguished writing career, he had close literary friendships and artistic collaborations with Louis Aragon, André Breton, Albert Camus, Paul Éluard, Georges Braque, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Luis Buñuel, and others. Pierre Boulez’s musical setting of Char’s 1934 Le Marteau sans maître (“Hammer Without a Master”) was first performed in 1955. Among the translators of Char’s poetry into English are W. S. Merwin (Princeton Class of 1948) and William Carlos Williams. When Char died in 1988, Prime Minister Jacques Chirac called him “the greatest French poet of the 20th century.”

Char was a Surrealist poet of 33 when he joined the French Resistance in 1940. Under his nom de guerre Capitaine Alexandre (see photographic image below), Char lead a maquis rural guerrilla unit in the French Alps (Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur). Resistance fighters engaged in armed warfare and sabotage, provided military intelligence to Allied forces, rescued soldiers and airmen from behind the lines, published underground newspapers, and performed other patriotic acts of defiance. Char commanded maquisards in a military sector along the Durance, a tributary of the Rhône River. The sector was an Allied parachute drop zone for arms and ammunition and for the landing of British Westland Lysander airplanes on clandestine missions. He offered valuable assistance in the Allied preparation for the landing in Provence in 1944. For his heroic war service, Char was awarded the French Medal of the Resistance and the Croix de Guerre, as well as being named to the National Order of the Legion of Honor.

His wartime experiences provided inspiration for poetic expression and especially for Feuillets d’Hypnos (1946), based on notes he kept in 1943-44. Sandra Bermann, Cotsen Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Comparative Literature, Princeton University, who studies the poetry Char wrote during this period, has observed, “Feuillets d’Hypnos brings before us the lived history of the French resistance, joining traumatic memory with hopes for a future of freedom and human dialogue. Closely intertwined with Char’s own actions as captain on the maquis, the collection of prose poems offers a rare engagement with historical experience in poetic form, both a tragic affirmation of life and, in its own right, a means of resistance…..But what makes Char’s text such a telling example is that it is not only a historical inscription that allows the past to ‘survive,’ but also an ‘original’ in its own right, a highly self-conscious poetic text capable of generating a literary afterlife of its own.” (Sandra Bermann, “Translating History,” in Sandra Bermann and Michael G. Wood, eds., Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation [2005]).

René Char’s French Resistance files cover both his World War II service and the post-war decades. The files include more than 500 original documents and scores of letters addressed to Capitaine Alexandre; more than 60 autograph letters and documents by Char himself; approximately 650 letters, telegrams, and postcards from companions in the Resistance, often written under their noms de guerre; and miscellaneous notes, texts, photos, and other materials. The correspondence includes many letters from French writers and journalists, such as Émile Bouvier (1886-1973), André Rousseaux (1896-1973), and Georges Roux (1914-1999). Marie-Claude Char, the poet’s wife, organized the files and added relevant materials after his death. The files are now being rehoused and described; they will be available for research use in a few months. For more information, contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at

Char as Capitaine Alexandre.
Courtesy of Marie-Claude Char

Papers of an Irish Rebel: Brendan Behan (1923-64)

The Manuscripts Division is very pleased to announce the recent acquisition of the Papers of Brendan Behan (C1596). He was one of Ireland’s most important 20th-century authors. Behan grew up in Dublin during the Great Depression and became an Irish Republican and rebel. In later life, he enjoyed spending time in New York, which he called “my Lourdes, where I go for spiritual refreshment.” His life was cut tragically short at age forty-one, largely because of alcoholism. Preserved by his wife Beatrice Behan, the papers include three boxes (about 1500 pages) of writing in English and Irish (Gaelic). While the papers are modest in volume relative to most modern literary archives, they still constitute the principal collection of manuscript materials available for the study of Behan’s life and work, from his formative years in a borstal (reform school for juvenile delinquents) and prisons, to his involvement with the Irish Republican Army and its junior branch (Fianna Éireann). The papers, rarely available before for research, provide insight into Behan’s literary career and working methods of writing and revision. Included are unpublished materials that complement published editions of his plays, prose works, and letters.

Michael G. Wood, Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Emeritus, notes: “During his much-reported lifetime, Brendan Behan’s gifts as a writer were often obscured by stories of his misbehaviour as the eternal bad boy of Irish legend—or rather of legends about the Irish. Behan died in 1964, and time has clarified the situation considerably. One critic said The Quare Fellow (1954) was the finest play to come out of Ireland since O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars; and The Hostage (1958), written in Irish and translated by Behan himself, was in many ways an even greater dramatic success. Borstal Boy (also 1958), Behan’s memoir of his life in a borstal, remains the classic account of what it is like to find a community in a world of exclusion. The collection the Library has acquired, with its wealth of previously unavailable notebooks and other works, will allow scholars of Irish literature and language, and all those interested in the long historical moment of Anglo-Irish conflict, to explore these topics in unusual and extensive depth.”

Brendan Behan’s papers are in the form of autograph notebooks, manuscripts, and corrected typescripts, which are complemented by unrevised typescripts, selected correspondence, and ephemera. Among the major discoveries in Behan’s papers is a small orange notebook (see image below) containing autobiographical writings from 1948 at Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, possibly preparatory for Borstal Boy; his papers also include two corrected typescripts of Borstal Boy, which (though published in 1958) was banned in Ireland until 1970. The survival of these drafts was unexpected since Behan asked his editors to destroy any manuscript copies of the pre-edited version. Also in the papers are preliminary notes, drafts, or completed manuscripts of various works: Casad an tsugain eile [”The Twisting of Another Rope”], autograph manuscript draft in Irish for the first act of a play, ca. 1946, later published in English as The Quare Fellow; and his first play, An bhean cíosa (The Landlady), ca. 1943, 1946. Other notebooks contain notes in English and some Spanish relating to his writing, character development, and other wide-ranging topics; and an autograph notebook, with notes for an essay in English on the Irish people. Separate manuscript leaves contain commentary, poetry, street ballads, and autobiographical recollections, in English and Irish.

The Manuscripts Division already had Brendan Behan materials thanks to the generosity of Leonard L. Milberg, Princeton Class of 1953. The Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Collection of Manuscripts, Correspondence, and Photographs (C0962), includes an untitled typescript of a radio play, An Evening with Brendan Behan, in which the author plays himself (1962). The Milberg Collection also contains selected correspondence and manuscripts of other Irish authors, such as Maria Edgeworth, Sean O’Casey, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney. Other holdings relating to modern Irish authors include James Joyce-related materials in the papers of Sylvia Beach (C0108); selected papers and literary agency files for Irish-American author Frank Harris; correspondence of writers Sylvia and Robert Lynd, dating from 1905 to 1937 (C1554); papers of poet Theodore Holmes, Princeton Class of 1951 (C0805); and the recently acquired papers of poet John Ennis (C1563). These are complemented by the printed holdings of Rare Books for Brendan Behan and other Irish authors.

The finding aid for the Papers of Brendan Behan is online. For assistance from Public Services, contact

Brendan Behan, Notebook, ca. 1948. In Irish, “leabhar cleachta” means lesson book.

Seeing Makes One Think

On 30 August 1655, Caspar Schmalkalden of Gotha (1616-1673) penned the Dutch proverb “Aensien doet gedenken” in the Liber amicorum of Johann Günther Kirchberger (1628-1674), his brother-in-law. The meaning of the proverb was clear. Experiencing the wider world provides food for thought. Schmalkalden was a German-born soldier in service to the Dutch and had spent the previous twenty years years traveling and working in South America (chiefly Brazil and Chile) and the East Indies, Taiwan, and Japan. At age thirty-nine, after his world travels, he returned to his native Gotha (Thuringia), a small city located about 20 kilometers west of Erfurt, and on 30 January 1655 married Susanna Christina Kirchberger, the sister of Johann Günther Kirchberger. Later that year, he filled a page near the end of the latter’s Liber amicorum (C0938, no. 755), a recent addition to the Manuscripts Division. In addition to the Dutch proverb and personal sentiments in Latin, Schmalkalden added a line drawing of two Chinese scholars in academic garb and a Chinese inscription phonetically spelling out the name Caspar and the word servant, as in the old English valediction, “Your obedient servant.” See image below. Schmalkalden had probably learned how to write his name in Chinese during his years on Taiwan (1648-1650), then under Dutch control. He also illustrated his travel journals, several of which have been published, with drawings and watercolors of the places he visited and people he met or observed. (Thanks to Minjie Chen, Project Cataloger, East Asian Collections, for deciphering the inscription.)

Northern European university students, especially from Germany and the Low Countries, from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, kept small bound albums in which their classmates, friends, neighbors, and people they met in their travels contributed personal sentiments, pithy sayings, brief quotations, verses, emblematic drawings, coats of arms, and other illustrations. Each volume was called a Liber amicorum or Album amicorum, meaning “album of friends.” The recently acquired Kirchberger Liber amicorum is actually a double-album, still in a contemporary dos-à-dos binding. The first half was kept by Anton Günther Kirchberger (1588-1652?), beginning around age twenty, but adding a full-page autobiographical introduction in later years; and the second half was kept by his son Johann Günther Kirchberger, including Schmalkalden’s entry. There are more than five hundred entries from people in Augsburg, Erfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Giessen, Hamburg, Jena, Tübingen, Magdeburg, and other places, 1608-1660s, with innumerable colored coats of arms, allegorical and costume illustrations, and even a landscape.

In addition to the Kirchberger double-album, the Manuscripts Division has five other Libri amicorum: Georg Brandstetter of Vienna, chiefly kept at the University of Perugia, 1595-1598 (Princeton MS. 251); Johann Stade, 1589-1614, with references to Regensburg, Eberstein, and Hallegg (C0199, no. 603); Georg Gottlob von Dobschütz, Oberlausitz (Saxony), 1651-1667 (C0199, no. 602); and the Winter family, Dresden, 1789-1795 (C0199, no. 604). Libri amicorum provide insight into academic student life, social networks, emblem books, heraldry, costume, readership, and other subjects.

For more information, contact

Caspar Schmalkalden, Drawing and inscriptions (C0938, no. 755).

Voices of the Americas

As a result of an ongoing digital preservation project to assess and digitize legacy audio recordings in the Manuscripts Division, visitors to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections can now hear the voices of many of Latin America’s most celebrated modern authors, including five Nobel laureates in Literature, Miguel Angel Asturias (1967), Pablo Neruda (1971), Octavio Paz (1990), Gabriel García Márquez (1982), and Mario Vargas Llosa (2010). Among the other authors represented in the digitized media are Jorge Amado, Reinaldo Arenas, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Carlos Fuentes, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Emir Rodríguez Monegal, and others. Audio-visual media from the papers of Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, and other Latin American literary collections are being surveyed for future digitization.

The recordings of interviews, literary readings, and conference presentations are found dispersed among the Manuscripts Division’s rich holdings on Latin American authors and intellectuals since the Boom. The pilot project that identified and preserved the content of approximately 230 audio cassettes and open-reel audio tapes was managed by Elvia Arroyo-Ramírez. Magnetic tape and other analog media have a limited life-span because of the natural degradation of the medium, changes in recording formats, and the obsolescence of listening and viewing equipment. These problems long prevented access to the original recordings, which had to be professionally digitized, backed up for long-term storage, and loaded onto laptops in the Reading Room for access.

Below is a list of what is currently available for listening in the Reading Room of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (in Firestone Library, C-Floor), during regular visiting hours, Monday-Friday, 9:00 am to 4:45 pm:

• Rita Guibert Collection of Latin American Authors (C1502). The Argentine-American writer Rita Guibert (1916-2007) made most of these recordings for her book Seven Voices: Seven Latin American Writers Talk to Rita Guibert (1973), with additional interviews on other occasions. Authors include Miguel A. Asturias, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Manuel Puig, and Mario Vargas Llosa.

•Thomas Colchie ’64 Collection on Jorge Amado (C1450). Recorded interviews (1984-91) by Thomas Colchie (Class of 1964), with Jorge Amado, as well as with other people about the Brazilian author’s life and work.

• Gabriela Mora Collection on Elena Garro (C0994). Recorded interviews and readings (1974, 1979).

• Emir Rodríguez Monegal Papers (C0652). Numerous recorded interviews, lectures, and conference presentations (1956-84). Authors include Maria Bonatti (about Borges), Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, Juan Carlos Onetti, Octavio Paz, Manuel Puig, Severo Sarduy, and Mario Vargas Llosa.

• Juan García Ponce Papers (C0977). Recordings (1970-2002) of conferences and readings by this Mexican author, including Tajimara.

• Dolores Koch Collection on Reinaldo Arenas (C0984). Includes a recording of two songs, with Reinaldo Arenas and Dr. Olivier Ameisen (1988).

• Juan Gelman Papers (C1511). Includes a recording, “Bonifaz.”

• François Wahl Collection on Severo Sarduy (C1470). Interviews, radio programming, interviews, and music, 1976-95, collected by Cuban author Severo Sarduy and French editor François Wahl.

• Ann Tashi Slater Collection of Cuban Writings (C0799). Interview by Ann Tashi Slater (Class of 1984), with Reinaldo Arenas (1984).

• Ricardo Piglia Papers (C1513). An interview with the author (undated).

Additional recordings of Latin American authors are available in the archives of PEN American Center, which are also in the Manuscripts Division. They are primarily available through PEN’s online media archives, offering more than 1,500 hours of audio and video. PEN digitized the analog media as part of a multi-year project, in cooperation with the Manuscript Division, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Mario Vargas Llosa, Pablo Neruda, and other Latin American authors have participated in PEN public programs as speakers or panelists at conferences, such as “Role of the Latin American Writer” (1966); “An Inquiry into the Role of Latin American Writers: The Politics of Torture” (1979/80); and “An Inquiry into the Role of Latin American Writers: Habeas Corpus and Los Desaparecidos” (1979/80).

For more information about Latin American holdings and Reading Room access, contact Public Services at

Analog media from the Carlos Fuentes Papers

A Journal of Lord Dunmore’s War, 1774

On 10 September 1774, Lord Dunmore (1730-1809) arrived at a strategic American colonial garrison town that bore his name—Fort Dunmore, formerly Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne—now Pittsburgh, where the Ohio River forms at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers. He was a Scottish peer, John Murray, Fourth Earl of Dunmore, who would be the last British royal governor of colonial Virginia, 1771-75. Soon Lord Dunmore was forced to flee to the safety of British-occupied New York, while Patrick Henry (1736-99), the great American patriot and orator, became the first governor of the state of Virginia. But on that day in 1774, Lord Dunmore was at the peak of his power, leading a brutal military campaign against the trans-Appalachian Shawnee and Mingo Indian nations. New archival evidence about Lord Dunmore’s War has just become available in the Princeton University Library: “Journal of the Expedition down the Ohio under the Command of his Excellency John Dunmore Lieutenant and Governor General of his Majesty’s Colony and Dominion of Virginia, 1774.” The anonymous 28-page manuscript narrative, covering events between 10 September and 18 November, is written in a formal scribal hand, with what would appear to be authorial corrections, as well as two final cancelled pages, possibly prepared from an earlier version of the narrative kept in the field. The journal has a distinguished provenance. It was once owned by the Marquis de Chastellux (1734-88), a major general of French expeditionary forces under the Comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807) during the American Revolution, and also the author of the two-volume Voyages de M. le Marquis de Chastellux dans l’Amérique septentrionale, dans les années 1780, 1781 et 1782 (1788).

The manuscript journal begins with Lord Dunmore’s orders and a proclamation relating to the recent murder to “two friendly Delaware Indians killed near this Fort,” described as an act of “horrid barbarity.” Properly called the Lenape, the Delaware Indians were an Algonquin-speaking indigenous people, who that had lived in what in now New Jersey and adjacent areas for many thousands of years, until British colonial settlement and military incursions, especially in the second half of the 18th century, drove them from their ancestral lands and into the Ohio River Valley. Aside from this initial incident at the fort, Lord Dunmore’s interactions with native peoples were mostly brutal and bloody. The journal treats the large numbers of Indian casualties, including non-combatants living in villages, as signal accomplishments. Combat with Shawnees in mid-October made Dunmore redouble his efforts to “pursue the necessary Steps to chastise a Stubborn and Perfidious People.” The journal provides a detailed record of Lord Dunmore’s communications with Chief Cornstalk of the Shawnees. After an exchange of prisoners, including “one Sally Kelly, who had been taken from the great Kanhawa,” the conference resumed with Dunmore’s two-page address to the Shawnee. On 29 October, a peace treaty was finally concluded with lengthy addresses by “Nimoi a Shawanese Chief, with two Hostages, several white and some negroe Prisoners.”

Acquisition of the journal was made possible by a fund endowed by Margaret P. Nuttle (1913-2009), who was a direct descendant of Patrick Henry and the mother of Philip E. Nuttle, Jr. (Princeton Class of 1963). Mrs. Nuttle’s generosity established the Barksdale-Dabney-Henry Fund to support the work of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections on early American history, especially during the time of her famous ancestor. This fund enabled the Princeton University Library to mount a very successful exhibition, “A Republic in the Wilderness: Treasures of American History from Jamestown to Appomattox” (2013), curated by Anna Chen, then Assistant Curator of Manuscripts, with the assistance of Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts. The fund has also enabled the Manuscripts Division to create a Princeton University Library Collection of Patrick Henry Materials (C1165), which grows steadily by the acquisition of autograph letters and signed documents of Patrick Henry as a Virginia attorney, landowner, and governor. Other manuscript acquisitions through the fund include a Suite de journal des campagnes 1780, 1781, 1782, dans l’Amérique septentrionale (1782), from the family of the counts of Forbach de Deux-Ponts, who led the Royal Deux-Ponts Regiments in Rochambeau’s army and distinguished themselves at the Battle of Yorktown; and the letter book (1767-76) of the Loyalist merchant Daniel Silsby and the account book of an American privateer “Junius Brutus” (1780-81).

For more information, contact Don C. Skemer,

C0938, no. 752

A Stranger in the Land of Egypt

The oldest book in Firestone Library is now online. Pharaonic Roll no. 5 is an ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, dating from the New Kingdom, probably near the end of the 18th Dynasty (1550/1292 BC) or beginning of the 19th Dynasty (1292/1189 BCE). This papyrus roll is part of the Manuscripts Division’s extensive Garrett Collection, the gift of Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897, one of the Library’s greatest collectors and benefactors. The roll contains more than two dozen spells, many fragmentary, written in black and red ink in a fine Hieroglyphic script, reading from left to right in columns, with a total length of nearly twenty linear feet and polychrome vignettes for several of the Transformation Spells, by means of which the mummy could assume other physical forms in the afterlife. Below is a vignette of a swallow perched on the mummy, lying down (spell no. 86). Other vignettes include birds and hybrid creatures atop mummies: a Gold Horus bird that resembles a falcon (no. 77); a thick-necked blue heron (no. 84); and a Ba-Bird with a human face (no. 85).

Click to view Pharaonic Roll no. 5 in the Digital Princeton University Library (DPUL); click again on Contents and then Index to see all images; and click on individual images to navigate and magnify details.

This Book of the Dead has been the focus of scholarly interest since it was unrolled and mounted in the Library’s Preservation Office nearly two decades ago as part of the APIS (Advanced Papyrological Information System) Consortium Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, directed the APIS project at Princeton, and Ted Stanley, Paper Conservator, was in charge of papyri conservation. The consulting Egyptologist for Princeton was Leonard H. Lesko, Charles Edwin Wilbour Professor of Egyptology at Brown University. His brief descriptions of Hieroglyphic and Hieratic papyri can be found in the Descriptive Inventory of the Princeton University Collections, accessible through the Princeton University Library Papyrus HomePage. Lesko was surprised to discover that the name of the mummy in roll 5 was Semitic rather than Egyptian. Subsequent academic interest by Egyptologists has focused on this name, as well as ususual aspects of the roll’s text and vignettes.

Barbara Lüscher, University of Basel, discovered some unusual details of the textual recension and images, which had been prepared in advance by professional scribes and artists in an Egyptian workshop specializing in funerary rolls. The workshop left blank space for the deceased’s name to be added later. Lüscher identified the name inserted in the roll as a man called Jtwnjr’yh, who she described as an “acculturated foreigner of Semitic (Asiatic) origin,” perhaps living in or near the ancient city of Memphis, in Lower Egypt. This area, about fifteen miles south of the city of Cairo, was known to attract many foreigners. Meanwhile, Thomas Schneider, University of British Columbia, identified the deceased’s name as a Northwest Semitic theophoric sentence (that is, including a divine name), written in Hieroglyphics. The term Northwest Semitic refers languages of the Levant, such as the Canaanite and Aramaic dialects, as well as Ugaritic. Schneider transliterated the name as ‘adōnī-rō’ē-yāh (meaning “My lord is the shepherd of Yah”) and argued that this personal name is the oldest known historical reference to the god Yahweh as a shepherd of the region called Yah.

There had been earlier New Kingdom toponymic references to Yah, a mountainous area in the Kingdom of Edom (southern Jordan), during the reigns of Pharaohs Amenophis III (1417-1379 BCE) and Ramses II (1279–1213 BCE). But roll 5 offers the earliest evidence of a particular divinity (Yahweh) being associated with that Edomite area. Of course, Yahweh is familiar to us from the Hebrew Bible as the name of God, also rendered as the ineffable four-letter Tetragrammaton (יהוה‬ in Hebrew and YHWH in Latin script). We can infer that the deceased man was an acculturated foreigner, perhaps Caananite, who was prosperous enough, either personally or through his family, to receive a traditional Egyptian burial with a professionally produced Book of the Dead, filled with religious and magical text and colorful images to help guide and protect him in the Netherworld. Indeed, the papyrus roll did guarantee the mummy a measure of immortality, though in a way that he never could have imagined.

For in-depth reading about Pharaonic Roll no. 5, see Barbara Lüscher, Der Totenbuch–Papyrus Princeton Pharaonic Roll 5: Mit einem Beitrag von Thomas Schneider, Beiträge zum Alten Ägypten, vol. 2 (Basel: Orientverlag, 2008), 57 pp., 18 color plates; Barbara Lüscher, “Princeton Pharaonic Roll 5: An Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead for an Asiatic,” Princeton University Library Chronicle, vol. 71, no. 3 (2010), pp. 458–60; and Thomas Schneider, “The First Documented Occurence of the God Yahweh? (Book of the Dead, Princeton ‘Roll 5’),” Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions, vol. 7, no. 2 (2007), pp. 113–20. In addition to Pharaonic Roll no. 5, two other rolls (nos. 4, 10) have been studied in monographs; and the Princeton University Library has digitized four rolls for study (nos. 1, 2, 7, 8). See blog posts from 2014 and 2017.

Swallow and Mummy, Pharaonic Roll no. 5