Scheide Gifts to the Manuscripts Division

The historic bequest by William H. Scheide (1914-2014), Class of 1936, of the Scheide Library to Princeton has been praised by President Christopher L. Eisgruber as “a defining collection for Firestone Library and Princeton University.” The bequest, including some 2,500 rare books and manuscripts, was the largest single gift to Princeton University in appraised value. But as most people know, Bill Scheide was a generous supporter of libraries beyond his own. We can see this in his gifts to the Manuscripts Division, which are briefly described below. Like the Scheide Library itself, Bill Scheide’s gifts will continue to provide research and instructional opportunities for generations of Princeton faculty and students, as well as visiting researchers.

The John Hinsdale Scheide Collection (C0704). This collection of 7,935 items was amassed in the years 1890-1941 by William T. Scheide (1847-1907) and later by his son John Hinsdale Scheide (1875-1942), Class of 1896–Bill Scheide’s grandfather and father–and originally housed at the family home in Titusville, Pennsylvania. The collection was put on deposit at the Princeton Univesity Library in 1938 and donated by Bill Scheide in 1947. More than half of the items are medieval and Renaissance Italian notarial documents. William T. Scheide acquired most of the contents of the Italian materials in boxes 1-155 from the Florentine publisher and antiquarian book dealer Leo S. Olschki. The collection includes most of the archives of the Benedictine (later Silvestrine) Abbey of S. Vittore delle Chiuse, founded in the late 10th century in the hills overlooking the Italian city of Fabriano, in what is now the province of Marche. John Hinsdale Scheide was far more interested in French and English documents, and bought a great deal from the London dealer Maggs Bros. and at auction. The principal part was acquired at a 1938 auction at Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York. The Slade Collection was described at the time as “about 2500 Chirographical Specimens from the XIIth to XIXth Century” from the collection of Lawrence Slade, who was the son-in-law of the eminent collector Robert Hoe, and had purchased most of them from the Parisian dealer Charavay in the 1920s. The largest number of these documents are part of the family paperrs of the D’Olive family of Toulouse from the 16th century until the French Revolution. For more information about the Scheide Collection, consult the finding aid.

John Hinsdale Scheide Collection of Three Centuries of French History (C0710). This collection contains 386 letters and documents of royalty, nobility, statesmen, and other celebrities of France, from the reign of Louis XII to the commencement of the French Revolution. Famous names in French history represented in the collection include Louis XII, François I, Henri II, Catherine de’ Medici, Charles IX, Henri III, the Duc de Guise, Henri IV, Clement VIII, Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIV and his wife Marie Thérèse, Marquise de Maintenon, Jean Baptiste Rousseau, Marquise de Sévigné, Cardinal Mazarin, Louis XV and his wife and daughters, Madame de Pompadour, the Comtesse du Barry, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, Jacques Necker, the Comte de Mirabeau, and the Marquis de Lafayette. For more information, consult the finding aid.

Princeton Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (C0931). Scheide was the donor of three manuscripts added to this open collection between 1960 and 1964. Princeton MS. 98, Leonardo Frescobaldi (1324-1405), Viaggio del santissimo sepulcro di Christo, 1493; Princeton MS. 102, Kyrie Eleison with Prosulae, 13th century; Princeton MS. 103, Antiphonary leaf, 14th century. For descriptions, see Don C. Skemer, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library (2013), vol. 2.

Heinrich Nikolaus Gerber (1702-1775), Musical commonplace book (C0199, no. 423). Gerber was a student of Johann Sebastian Bach at Leipzig and court organist at Sondershausen, 1731-75. He composed music for the clavier, organ, and harp. According to the biographical account by his son, Gerber returned to his home in 1727 and set down many of the things he had learned at Leipzig, as well as his own compositions. Scheide donated the manuscript in 1960.

Interested researchers should contact Public Services, at

Ferrara 2
Alfonso I d’Este, duke of Ferrara (1476-1534),
Illuminated commission for Giovanni Antonio Gozadino,
22 January 1507. (Scheide Documents, box 14, no. 252).

Alan Turing and Princeton

Few modern mathematicians have ever achieved the public renown of Alan M. Turing (1912-54), a pioneer in the fields of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Turing was a graduate student at Princeton University from 1936 to 1938, studying under Professor Alonzo Church (1903-95), Class of 1924, who taught at Princeton from 1929 to 1967 and was the editor of the Journal of Symbolic Logic from 1936 to 1979. After Turing received his PhD in 1938, he returned to the University of Cambridge. A slightly revised version of his dissertation, “Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals,” was published in the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, series 2, vol. 45 (1939). In the same year, Turing was recruited to work at the British Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, located some fifty miles northwest of London. There he played an important role in World War II code breaking efforts. His signal contributions to breaking the Nazi Enigma code greatly aided the Allied war effort, especially the Battle of the Atlantic, and probably shortened the war in Europe by several years. The movie “The Imitation Game” (2014), starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, had brought wider public appreciation of his work at Bletchley Park.

Turing’s remained in touch with his mentor, as we see in the Alonzo Church Papers (C0948). They exchanged letters about current mathematical research interests and publications. One of Turing’s autograph letters to Church, probably from 1940, had a Bletchley Park return address. The letter includes a reference to the work of the celebrated mathematical logician Kurt Gödel (1906-78), Institute of Advanced Study, whose papers (C0282) are also housed in the Manuscripts Division.(sSee image below.) But Alonzo Church’s correspondence with Turing ends during the 1940s, well before his death in 1954. In a horrible twist of fate, Turing was criminally prosecuted for homosexual acts and cruelly forced to submit to chemical castration, as a result of which he probably committed suicide. Two years later, his mother Sara Turing (1881-1976) wrote to Princeton for details about his graduate work. She occasionally exchanged letters with Alonzo Church, mostly in connection with researching a biography of her son and with possible publication of a volume of his collected papers. In a letter of 6 August 1956, Sara Turing expressed her belief that her son’s death by cyanide poisoning was an accident. She wrote: “I am very sure that Alan’s death was through some tragic accident. He was very absent-minded when engrossed in any project and the experiment evidently associated with his death … was still going on after it and had been going on for weeks before. Moreover letters ready for post accepting invitations were on his table and he was full of plans scientific and social.”

Alonzo Church retained copies of his responses to Sara Turing. While offering no vivid anecdotes about Alan Turing, Church did give considerable advice about her publishing plans and even suggestions of names of people. On 6 October 1956, Church mentioned John von Neumann and Kurt Gödel as people who might offer more information about her son’s work with “computing machinery.” The final item in the two folders of correspondence with Sara Turing is a printed change-of-address post card, announcing tersely that after 2 September 1974 she would be living at the Stonycrest Nursing Home, in Surrey.

For more information about Alan Turing and Princeton, see W. Barksdale Maynard’s article, “Daybreak of the Digital Age,” in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, 4 April 2012.

Turing ALS 1940
Alan Turing, Letter to Alonzo Church

Preserving Ancient Books

Curators have various options when trying to provide research or instructional access to original materials that are in poor physical condition. At times, condition problems are a result of the “inherent vice,” such as the acidity of the ink, pigments, or writing support. Problems can also result from centuries of use and abuse, water and insect damage, and other environmental factors. Curators have to make treatment decisions in consultation with the professional staff of the Library’s Preservation Office when collections are is such compromised condition that they cannot be consulted safely in the reading room, seen by visiting classes, or exhibited without some form of intervention. Conservation treatment is just one aspect of the responsible custody of rare and unique materials—part of the Library’s behind-the-scenes work to collect, preserve, and provide access.

We can see this in the Manuscripts Division’s extraordinary holdings of nearly ten thousand bound manuscripts in the Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and other languages of the Islamic world, dating from the eighth to nineteenth centuries. So many of these manuscripts are in poor condition and disbound that the Curator of Manuscripts must decide which ones are important enough as texts and artifacts to be recommended for time-intensive conservation treatments. A case in point is an Arabic manuscript of 730 AH/1330 CE, containing Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Tūsī (1201-1274), Kitāb Taḥrīr Uqlīdus. It is designated Islamic Manuscripts, no. L153, and was part of the 1942 gift of Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897, one of Princeton’s premier manuscript collectors.

It is a relatively early scribal copy of Tūsī’s redaction of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, and merited attention because of its age and poor condition, as well as the strong academic research interest in Arabic science and transmission of ancient learning. Indeed, the manuscript had been recently used for a Princeton graduate seminar (June 2014) on Arabic paleography and codicology, taught by François Deroche, an eminent authority on Islamic manuscripts. The text block suffered from water damage and subsequent mold growth primarily on the rear leaves. There were worm holes and damage throughout the textblock from insect infestation. The last three signatures were detached (and possibly out of order), and the sewing was compromised and broken throughout. There were minor leather losses to the spine, board edges and corners of the case. Moreover, there was evidence of prior (heavy) repairs along the inner hinges and throughout the text block along the signature spine folds.

Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, referred the manuscript for conservation assessment and treatment to Mick LeTourneaux, Rare Books Conservator (Preservation Office). The correct order of the leaves first had to be established with the assistance of James Weinberger, Near Eastern Bibliographer (Collection Development). LeTourneaux then pulled the textblock down to individual leaves in order to clean the gutter margins, remove the heavyweight repairs where possible, and mend the signature folds, paper losses, and reinforce mold weakened areas with Japanese kozo tissue and wheat starch paste. The textblock was resewn employing a two-station link-stitch and the spine was lined with airplane linen extending from the joints to create hinges. The case spine and board corners were reinforced with dyed tissue and the board edges were consolidated with paste. The textblock was hung back into the case via the linen hinges which were melded into the joints with colored kozo strips. A drop-spine box was fabricated to house the manuscript. Conservation treatment took a total of 42 hours, including a custom drop-spine box, and will enable safe consultation of the manuscript, now and in the years to come.
Euclid before
Euclid after
Euclid manuscript, before (above); after (below)

Helen Frankenthaler and Sonya Rudikoff: Letters from a Friendship

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the recent donation of the papers of Sonya Rudikoff (1927-97), a Princeton-based writer, literary critic, and independent scholar of Victorian literature. Rudikoff’s papers include personal and professional correspondence, unpublished fiction writings and lectures, notebooks, and diaries from her undergraduate years at Bennington College. The papers were a gift of Rudikoff’s children: John Gutman, Class of 1983; and Elizabeth C. Gutman, Class of 1985. For twenty years, Rudikoff served as an advisory editor and frequent contributor of literature and art reviews for The Hudson Review, whose extensive archives (C1091) are also in the Manuscripts Division and contain her correspondence with the magazine. Rudikoff also contributed essays and reviews to many other major publications throughout her career and was the author of Ancestral Houses: Virginia Woolf and the Aristocracy, posthumously published in 1999.

Most important for research is Rudikoff’s extensive correspondence with her close friend Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), the acclaimed second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter. Included are more than 500 letters and postcards from Frankenthaler to Rudikoff, 1950-97. They met at Bennington College, Vermont, in the late 1940s and became close friends based on common interests in art and its history. After graduation, the two shared a New York City studio apartment in 1950. There Frankenthaler introduced Rudikoff to Robert Gutman (1926-2007), whom she would later marry. The couple eventually settled in Princeton, where Robert Gutman became a professor of sociology and architecture at Rutgers University. He and later taught at Princeton University’s School of Architecture. Following Rudikoff’s departure from New York, Frankenthaler sent frequent and detailed correspondence, ranging from postcards during her European travels to long letters about her art career and personal life.

During the early 1950s, Frankenthaler had a close relationship with the influential art critic Clement Greenberg (1909-94), who introduced her to many major figures in the art world and encouraged her to be represented by the Tibor de Nagy Gallery. She had her first solo show there in 1951, and a year later her painting Mountains and Sea helped launch her career. Frankenthaler’s letters detail her thoughts about her early paintings and gallery shows, as well as the vibrant New York art scene in the 1950s and 1960s. Throughout the correspondence, Frankenthaler expresses her view on contemporary art, exhibitions visited, and other subjects. Her letters often contain thoughtful descriptions of her own work processes and studio spaces, her reasons for selecting certain paintings for exhibitions, and her reactions to reviews and publicity surrounding her work.

In 1958, Frankenthaler married the Abstract Expressionist painter Robert Motherwell (1915-91), who is also represented in the correspondence by a few brief letters he and his daughters sent to Rudikoff in the mid-1960s. After Frankenthaler’s marriage to Motherwell, the couple traveled widely together and resided between New York City, Connecticut, and Cape Cod, where they worked in different studios, often throwing extravagant parties for many well-known artists, critics, and writers. Frankenthaler’s letters from this period often describe her impressions of friends, acquaintances, and party guests, including Jackson Pollock, Hans Hofmann, David Smith, Shirley Jackson, Jean Dubuffet, Kenneth Burke, Vladimir Nabokov, Saul Bellow, Peggy Guggenheim, Ralph Ellison, Lionel Trilling, and Stanley Kunitz. Coincidentally, the Manuscripts Division also holds the Stanley Kunitz Papers (C0837).

In addition to describing her own paintings, Frankenthaler’s letters also often include her thoughts on her friends’ artwork, including that of Robert Motherwell, as well as her fluctuating relationship with the New York art world. Throughout her life, Frankenthaler also wrote regarding her political views, thoughts on aging, international travels, literature, health issues, psychoanalysis, and personal relationships, including her 1994 marriage to investment banker Stephen DuBrul. While Frankenthaler’s letters in the 1980s and 1990s are increasingly personal in nature, they offer frequent reflections on her career in earlier years, as well as document her later artwork, exhibitions, and lectures.

Researchers interested in learning more about Sonya Rudikoff’s papers, including Helen Frankenthaler’s letters, should consult the finding aid For information about using the papers, contact . The Helen Frankenthaler correspondence is stored onsite, but other papers are offsite. Please consult with the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections about having offsite materials recalled to Firestone Library, a process that normally takes 48–72 hours notice.

Photograph of Helen Frankenthaler (left),
in conversation with Sonya Rudikoff (center).
She is seated next to her husband Robert Gutman,
whose hand is touching Stephen M. DuBrul,
Frankenthaler’s second husband.

Human Clarity, White Light, Depth

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the recent gift of manuscripts, correspondence, and other papers of Charles William White (b. 1906), an American author who wrote under the pseudonym Max White. Not well known today, White was active from the 1930s to 1950s. His most interesting files, dating from 1958, pertain to a proposed “real” autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1877–1967). The well-known Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) was actually the work of Gertrude Stein (1874–1946), who authored this memoir as though it had been written by Toklas. White was to have assisted Toklas in writing a new autobiography told in her own voice. The correspondence provides a glimpse of the friendship and working relationship of White and Toklas up until the dissolution of the book contract. It is interesting that Stein herself thought highly of White as an author. In an undated letter to the author about one of his manuscripts, she said, “I think it will be a successful book, of course that is another matter but I think it will, it has some of the human clarity of a writer whom I think…very great…it is clear and it is complete it has white light and it has depth, and it is darn good.…”

White was a friend of the painter Alice Neel (1900–84) and moved in the same artistic circles in Greenwich Village during the 1930s. He spent much of his later life in Europe, chiefly in Paris. Not well known today, White specialized in historical novels about artists: Anna Becker (1937); Tiger, Tiger (1940); In Blazing Light (1946), about the turbulent life of the Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746–1828); The Midnight Gardener: A Novel about Baudelaire (1948), and The Man Who Carved Women from Wood (1949). Several of his books were published by Harper & Bros., New York, whose archives in the Manuscripts Division (C0103) contain author files for White. The papers also include manuscripts, typescripts, and copies of White’s The Matchless Pleasure, The Ballad of the Dead Sailor, Mr. Gaffajoli’s Looking Glass, and other unpublished novels and plays, chiefly dating from the 1950s to 1970s.

The Charles William White Papers (C1484) are the gift of Thomas Colchie, Class of 1964. He is a New York literary agent, editor, and translator, who specializes in the work of contemporary Latin American authors. For a full description of the papers, consult the finding aid

Max White by Alice Neel
Alice Neel, Oil portrait of Max White, 1935
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Early New Jerseyana in the Manuscripts Division

The Princeton University Library has very significant manuscript and archival holdings pertaining to New Jersey, though state and local history has never been a collecting focus of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. The Library briefly considered such a focus in 1896, when the College of New Jersey was renamed Princeton University as part of a conscious effort to become one of the nation’s leading research universities. The Princeton trustee and benefactor Moses Taylor Pyne (1855-1921), Class of 1877, envisioned an alcove or section for New Jerseyana in the proposed Pyne Library, the Collegiate Gothic library that is now East Pyne. Pyne’s interest is perhaps not surprising, since he was an amateur genealogist and manuscript collector. Pyne convinced his mother to provide financial support for the construction of Pyne Library, which served, along with the older facility at Chancellor Green (1876), as the campus library until the completion of Firestone Library (1948). At the planning stage, Moses Taylor Pyne was in discussion with the New Jersey Historical Society, founded in 1845, about the possibility of moving its collections of manuscripts, archives, maps, printed books, and other historical research materials from its woefully inadequate facilities in Newark to the new library in Princeton. William Nelson, the Society’s long-time Corresponding Secretary, organized a postcard poll of its members. But the relocation proposal was voted down handily because most of the membership was based in Newark and its environs.

Some Princetonians still had an interested in local history, especially Ernest Cushing Richardson (1860-1939), University Librarian, who from 1903 to 1924 served as Secretary of the Princeton Historical Association, which was responsible for several publications based on some of Princeton’s Revolutionary Era manuscript holdings. Publications included Fred Lewis Pattee’s edition of the poems of Philip Freneau, Class of 1771 (published 1900-1934); and John Rogers Williams’s edition of the journals of Philip Vickers Fithian, Class of 1772 (1902-1907). But by 1896, the University Library was already pursuing a broader international collecting focus, guided by faculty research interests and underwritten by generous alumni and collectors. It was surely no accident that the Library’s first Curator of Manuscripts, appointed in 1913, was the classicist and papyrologist, Henry Bartlett Van Hoesen (1885-1965).

Nonetheless, the Middle Atlantic roots of many Princeton faculty and students, combined with the generosity of devoted alumni, resulted in the acquisition of original archival materials relating to the Garden State, even though the Library never focused on state and local history like the New Jersey Historical Society, New Jersey State Library, New Jersey State Archives, Rutgers University Library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives, or other institutions. Princeton families, faculty, and alumni have been chiefly responsible for the New Jersey-related holdings of the Manuscripts Division and Seeley G. Mudd Library (including University Archives and Public Policy Papers). A keyword search of “New Jersey” in the Princeton University Library’s Finding Aids website quickly turns up 8,307 hits, of which 668 are collections that include the words “New Jersey” in the title or brief description; 376 are in the Manuscripts Division, and 292 are at Mudd Library, in Public Policy Papers and University Archives.

The Manuscripts Division holds several substantial collections of miscellaneous New Jersey documents dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, including William Nelson’s own manuscript collection. Among the earliest documents is a Lenape deed of 1674 pertaining to Tinton Falls, near the Morris family manor, signed with the mark of three Taponemese chiefs. Papers of early landowners and their legal representatives include James Alexander (ca. 1661-1756), the New York lawyer whose many clients included John Peter Zenger in the landmark freedom-of-the-press case (1733-34), and the East Jersey Proprietors in connection with the East Jersey Land Riots and Elizabethtown Bill in Chancery (1745). Also held are selected papers of prominent Princetonians and their families, including early graduates, such as Richard Stockton “The Signer,” Class of 1748, and a future U.S. President, James Madison, Class of 1771; and three early Princeton University presidents (John Witherspoon, Ashbel Green, and Samuel Stanhope Smith).

Among the best holdings for the Revolutionary Era are the Louis-Alexandre Berthier Collection of maps (with accompanying journals), documenting the historic march of Rochambeau’s army from Rhode Island to Virginia in 1781, passing through New Jersey and showing the encampment at Princeton (August 31-September 1) and the Collège (that is, Nassau Hall), the gift of Harry C. Black, Class of 1909; and the letters written by Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Confederation Congress, to his wife Hannah, in Philadelphia, while the Congress was convened at Nassau Hall, June-October 1783. Selected papers are held of various New Jerseyans in public life (Elias Boudinot and William Churchill Houston, delegates to the Continental Congress; U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr, Jr.; N.J. governors William Paterson and Garret D. Wall. Particularly rich are the papers of U.S. Senator and N.J. Governor Samuel Southard (1787-1842), who served as a member of the N.J. Supreme Court, Attorney General, and Governor, as well as U.S. Senator from 1832 to 1842 and leader of the Whig Party. His papers are a rich source of New Jersey and American political history and are as much used as other holdings of the Manuscripts Division, including the papers of the American jurist and U.S. Secretary of State Edward Livingston, Class of 1781; diplomat Richard Rush, Class of 1797; papers of the political journalist Francis Preston Lee and other members of the Blair-Lee family of Virginia; and Delafield family of New York. The Manuscripts Division holds some papers of Civil War generals Philip Kearney and George B. McClellan, as well as those of many officers and soldiers. Among early Princeton faculty, represented are scientists Arnold Guyot and Joseph Henry. There are also papers of a few faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary (Samuel Miller and Charles Hodges). Also worth mentioning are the papers of the archeologist Charles Conrad Abbott (1843-1919), a pioneer in the study of Native Americans in the Delaware Valley.

For information about New Jerseyana holdings, go to the Finding Aids website at or contact Public Services at

Lenape marks and seals
Lenape marks and seals on 1674 deed

The Papers of Toni Morrison Come to Princeton

Princeton University is pleased to announce that the Papers of Toni Morrison, celebrated American author and Nobel Laureate, have found their permanent home in the Princeton University Library. President Christopher L. Eisgruber made the announcement on Friday, October 17, in Princeton’s Richardson Auditorium, during the conference Coming Back: Reconnecting Princeton’s Black Alumni. “Toni Morrison’s place among the giants of American literature is firmly entrenched, and I am overjoyed that we are adding her papers to the Princeton University Library’s collections,” said Princeton President Eisgruber. “This extraordinary resource will provide scholars and students with unprecedented insights into Professor Morrison’s remarkable life and her magnificent, influential literary works. We at Princeton are fortunate that Professor Morrison brought her brilliant talents as a writer and teacher to our campus 25 years ago, and we are deeply honored to house her papers and to help preserve her inspiring legacy.”

To mark this important announcement, the Library is mounting an exhibit of selected manuscripts, corrected proofs, and first editions of Toni Morrison’s novels, which will be on view in Firestone Library’s Eighteenth-Century Window, near the lobby, on October 18–19 (Saturday-Sunday), 9:00 AM–5:00 PM; then October 20–November 24 during regular exhibition hours: 9:00–5:00 (Monday-Friday) and 12:00–5:00 (Saturday-Sunday). Morrison’s papers will be among the most important collections in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, which has extensive holdings of modern literary and publishing archives. In the next year, priority will be given to the arrangement, description, cataloging, preservation, and selective digitization of the papers, in order to make them available for research consultation.

Among Toni Morrison’s many literary awards and honors over the past five decades are the National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon (1977), and Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for Beloved (1988), which the New York Times described as “the best work of American fiction of the last 25 years.” Morrison gave the Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities (1996), established by the National Endowment for the Humanities. International honors include Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1993) and Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (2010). When she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1993), the jury noted that the author, “in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” On 29 May 2012, President Barak Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award.

Toni Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in 1931 and acquired her love of books, reading, and storytelling in her native city of Lorain, Ohio. She was educated at Howard University (B.A., 1953) and Cornell University (M.A. in American Literature, 1955). Morrison held the Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities at Princeton University from 1989 until her retirement in 2006. “Here at Princeton,” she noted in an interview in the Paris Review (1993), “they really do value undergraduates, which is nice because a lot of universities value only the graduate school or the professional research schools. I love Princeton’s notion. I would have loved that for my own children.” At Princeton, Morrison created and developed the Princeton Atelier (1994), bringing together undergraduates in inter¬disciplinary collaborations with acclaimed creative artists and performers, such as Gabriel García Márquez, Yo Yo Ma, Peter Sellars, and the American Ballet Theatre. Before joining the Princeton faculty, Morrison held the Albert Schweitzer Chair at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Previously, she was a senior editor at Random House, editing works of such authors as Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, Gayl Jones, and Muhammad Ali. Morrison also taught at Howard University, Yale University, Bard College, Rutgers University, and other schools.

The Papers of Toni Morrison contain approximately 180 linear feet of research materials that document the author’s life, work, and writing methods. The papers have been gathered from many locations over time, beginning with manuscripts and other original materials that the Library’s Preservation Office recovered and conserved after the tragic fire in 1993 at the author’s home in Rockland County, New York. Most important are manuscripts, drafts, proofs, and related files pertaining to Morrison’s novels on the African American experience: The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), Paradise (1997), Love (2003), A Mercy (2008), and Home (2012). The working materials provide additional evidence of the author’s approach to the physical act of writing.

Also included are similar materials for the author’s play Dreaming Emmett, children’s books, short fiction, song lyrics, an opera libretto, lectures, and non-fiction writing, as well as extensive literary and professional correspondence, fan mail, diaries and appointment books, photographs, audiobooks, videotapes, juvenilia, memorabilia, course materials, annotated student papers, academic office files, and press clippings. Complementing the papers are printed editions of Morrison’s published works and translations into more than twenty languages. Additional manuscripts and papers will be added over time, beginning with the manuscript of Morrison’s forthcoming novel.

For more information about the Papers of Toni Morrison, which will not be available until cataloging and selective digitization are done, please email Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at For questions about the author, please email her Administrative Assistant, Rene Boatman, at

Morrison for BLOG Timothy Greenfield-Saunders
Toni Morris. Photograph
by Timothy Greenfield-Saunders

Bluest Eye for BLOG
Toni Morrison’s early draft
of The Bluest Eye

Ethiopic Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library

Among the latest additions to “Treasures of the Manuscripts Division” in the Princeton University Digital Library is Garrett Ethiopic Manuscript No. 42: The Book of Enoch (Mäṣḥafä Henok), which is part of the Robert Garrett Collection of Ethiopic Manuscripts, 1600s-1900s (C0744.03), the gift of Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897. Click for access. The Ethiopic Book of Enoch (or 1 Enoch) is a complete translation into Ge’ez, the sacred and liturgical Afro-Asiatic language of Ethiopian Christians, of an ancient Jewish religious text, which claims to have been written by Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church regards the pseudepigraphic text as canonical. The present manuscript was one of those used in R. H. Charles, ed., The Book of Enoch, Translated from Professor Dillmann’s Ethiopic Text… (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893). For conservation reasons, the manuscript was recently rebound by Mick LeTourneaux (Princeton University Library, Preservation Office) in an Ethiopic-style binding, replacing a nineteenth-century European binding that bears the ownership stamp of H. C. Reichardt, probably identifiable as Henry Christian Reichardt (d. 1897), a missionary for the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews. Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Princeton Class of 1897, acquired the Enoch manuscript shortly after Reichardt’s death.

The Princeton University Library is fortunate to have one of the largest collections of Ethiopic manuscripts outside Ethiopia, including nearly 180 codices and more than 500 magic scrolls, as they are called. Garrett was the principal collector. He acquired the bulk of his Ethiopic manuscripts from the eminent German philologist Enno Littmann, who (with Garrett’s financial backing) led a Princeton expedition to Tigray in 1905. The following year, Littmann led a German expedition to Aksum. In the 70 years since the Garrett donation, Ethiopic manuscript holdings have continued to grow by gift and purchase. In recent years, Bruce C. Willsie, Princeton Class of 1986, has been the principal donor of Ethiopic manuscripts, especially magic scrolls. Nearly all of the Ethiopian manuscripts at Princeton are in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections; plus one each in the Scheide Library and Cotsen Library, and an additional one in the Princeton University Art Museum.

Since King Ezana of Aksum embraced Christianity in the 4th century, Ethiopia’s history has been intertwined with that of its Church, and manuscripts have played a vital role in this history, along with other forms of artistic expression, such as processional and hand crosses, folding and pendant icons, and church murals. Despite a host of foreign influences over some 1,600 years, the style of religious art remains distinctively Ethiopian, with a Christian iconography to match. Manuscript production and illumination can be traced through the medieval centuries. Yet extant manuscripts, especially in North America, date predominantly from the 18th and 19th centuries. Text manuscripts include Gospel Books (such as Garrett Ethiopic MS 1, 2nd half of the 17th century), Psalters, homilies, liturgy, chant, saints’ lives and miracles, theology, law, and compilations of texts related to divination and popular magic. Nearly all of the manuscripts are in Ge’ez. Manuscripts are written in carbon-black ink on parchment, then bound with unsupported link-stitch in an archaized style reminiscent of early Coptic Christian or Byzantine manuscripts, looking much older than they are. There are also several manuscripts illuminated in the Second (or late) Gondar style, which emerged in the old imperial capital of Gondar in northern Ethiopia from the 1720s and 1730s.

Far less elegant, but no less interesting as expressions of Ethiopian spirituality and traditional beliefs, are the magic scrolls. These are textual amulets, copied on parchment by unordained clerics called debtera using written exemplars. Magic scrolls are concatenations of prayers, incantations, charms, invocations of divine names and helpful saints, and other brief apotropaic texts, written on narrow strips of parchment in roll format. These words and images offered protection against disease, death in childbirth, demonic possession, and malevolent spirits. The name of the person for whom they were prepared is often indicated. Contributing to their protective and healing power were painted images of guardian angels with drawn swords, magic squares and eight-pointed stars, the net of Solomon to capture demons, and other figurative illustrations and designs. Magic scrolls were generally rolled up and kept in small leather suspension capsules, so that they could be worn protectively around the neck and over the heart.

Over the past ten years, the Manuscripts Division has been able to catalog its Ethiopic manuscripts as a result of generous financial support from the David A. Gardner Class of 1969 Magic Project. The bulk of cataloging has been prepared by Professor David L. Appleyard, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London; and a portion by Kesis Melaku Terefe, with assistance of Professor Wendy Belcher, in Princeton’s Department of Comparative Literature. There is now a 450-page online catalog Ethiopic Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library. Potential researchers should contact Public Services staff of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, at

Book of Enoch
The Book of Enoch
Manuscript, mid-19th century

The Vitality of Manuscript Study

The art historian Professor Kathryn A. Smith (New York University) had praised the recently published Manuscripta Illuminata: Approaches to Understanding Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts, edited by Colum Hourihane (Princeton: Index of Christian Art and the Department of Art and Archaeology, in association with Penn State University Press, 2014). She does so in a book review, “Let There Be Light: Essays Promoting Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts,” in The Art Newspaper (October 2014), no. 261, a London-based monthly. Manuscripta Illuminata is the sixteenth volume in the Index of Christian Art’s Occasional Papers. The volume’s thirteen articles began as papers given at a well-attended October 2013 conference, which was organized by the Index of Christian Art in conjunction with the publication of Don C. Skemer, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library (Princeton: Department of Art and Archaeology and the Princeton University Library, in association with Princeton University Press, 2013). In the past year, more than a hundred American and European research libraries have purchased the two-volume catalogue in the past year, which is available from Princeton University Press. Professor Smith describes Manuscripta Illuminata as “an engaging addition to the scholarship on the illuminated book and its place in medieval and early modern artistic, religious and intellectual history….Among the rewards of Manuscripta Illuminata is the opportunity it affords to learn more about Princeton’s rich holdings of western European material.” The book review reproduces a miniature of the Entry into Jerusalem, from a thirteenth-century English Psalter (Garrett MS. 35, fol 5v) in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. “Generously illustrated in (nearly) full colour,” Smith concludes, “Manuscripta Illuminata attests to the vitality of manuscript study and its centrality to cultural history.”

Manuscripta illuminata cover

Japanese Scrolls Digitized

The Princeton University Digital Library has digitized three illustrated Japanese scrolls dating from the seventeenth century (C0744.08, Garrett Japanese Manuscripts, no. 1). The set of scrolls contain an anonymous story about the Sagami River, with 18 magnificent illustrations. The scrolls appear to have been produced in Kyoto in the 1660s, most likely commissioned by a warlord of the Daimyo class. The calligrapher was probably Asakura Jūken (fl. ca. 1660-80), of Kyoto. Japanese block-printed books served as models for the paintings. The narrative begins with the building of a bridge across the Sagami River, in the prefectures of Kanagawa and Yamanashi on Honshu, the main island of Japan. The scrolls include scenes from the Heike period of the 12th-century, featuring Yoshitsune, Yoritomo, Kajiwara, and the Battle of Ichinotani (1184). Each roll is made up of a series of paper sheets, 3-feet wide. On the back of the scrolls one can see the 17th-century Japanese silk covering at the beginning and gold decoration of the paper over the length of the scroll. The scrolls are in a contemporary black-lacquer box and are individually wound around spindles with lathe-turned ivory ends. Professor Ishikawa Tōru, Keio University, examined the scrolls and provided additional information about their production.

The scrolls are now online in the Princeton University Digital Library, as part of “Treasures of the Manuscripts Division”: The scrolls benefit from software designed for increased speed and zoom capacity for displaying large tiled images and creating a “slippy” deep-zoom experience in web browsers. Access to the original is restricted for conservation reasons. The scrolls came to the Princeton University Library in 1942 as part of the collection of Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897. He probably acquired the Japanese scrolls from a British antiquarian dealer in the 1920s, who provided a detailed description, now accompanying the digitized scrolls in the Princeton University Digital Library. Garrett had only one other Japanese manuscript, a near-contemporary Sanjūrokkasen album of ca. 1660 in a concertina binding. This ca. 1660 album contains 36 portraits of Japanese poets, each accompanied by one of their poems: C0744.08 (Garrett Japanese Manuscripts, no. 2).

After graduating from Princeton in 1897, Garrett returned home to Baltimore, became a Princeton trustee in 1905, and embarked on a half century of manuscript collecting. The high point of his extraordinary collecting life was the 1920s, followed by years of less activity during and after the Great Depression. Garrett acquired many manuscripts at the major auction houses, from leading European and American antiquarian dealers, and by private purchase. Garrett’s goal was to acquire representative examples of every known script and language in order to illustrate five millennia of the history of writing. Robert Garrett began collecting in the 1890s, guided to some extent by the scope of Joseph Balthazar Silvestre, Universal Paleography; or, Facsimiles of Writing of All Nations and Periods, Accompanied by an Historical and Descriptive Text and Introduction by Champollion-Figeac and Aimé Champollion; translated from the French, and edited, with corrections and notes by Frederic Maddan (London: H. G. Bohn, 1849), 2 vols. Garrett would recall a half century later, “I was really off on my manuscript journey, determined to find examples of as many of the scripts illustrated in that publication as possible. I was not able to do the job systematically nor completely but by the time my efforts ended I had something like thirty-five different scripts, and naturally many more than that number of languages.”

For more information about the Garrett Collection and “Treasures of the Manuscripts Division,” contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at

Japanese scroll detail for blogpost