Princeton Papyri Online

Click to download “A Descriptive Inventory of Princeton Papyri Collections.”

Nearly 250 ancient papyrus texts and documents have just been added to the Princeton University Digital Library (PUDL) as part of the current initiative, “Treasures of the Manuscripts Division,” and many will be added in the future. Princeton’s papyri date from approximately 1250 BCE to 900 CE. Best known are Princeton’s literary, early Christian, and sub-literary papyri. Among authors represented are Aristophanes, Demosthenes, Euripides, Herodotus, Hippocrates, Homer, Isocrates, Theocritus, and Xenophon. A much larger number are Greek documentary papyri, including census and tax registers, military lists, land convey-ances, business records, petitions, private letters, and other sources of historical and paleographic interest from Ptolemaic (332-30 BCE), Roman (30 BCE-300 CE), and Byzantine Egypt (300-650 CE). Nearly all were discovered from the 1890s to the 1920s, buried or recovered from mummy cartonnage in and around the ancient Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus and the Fayum towns. The Princeton collections also include papyri in Egyptian languages (Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, Demotic, and Coptic); Arabic papyri from the Islamic period (from 640 CE); and a smaller number of Latin papyri from Roman Egypt and Ravenna. Additional papyri are in The Scheide Library and Cotsen Children’s Library.

The Princeton collections of papyri were acquired from different sources. Princeton acquired 90 papyri from 1901 to 1922 through the Graeco-Roman Branch of the Egypt Exploration Society, which was established in 1897 for the stated purpose of “the discovery and publication of remains of classical antiquity and early Christianity in Egypt.” The bulk of Princeton’s papyri were acquired in the 1920s, either directly or indirectly through the British Museum. Many were received from 1921 to 1928 through Princeton’s participation in a five-member consortium that included Princeton and other universities (Columbia, Cornell, Michigan, University of California at Berkeley, the University of Geneva). Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897, partially underwrote Princeton’s purchases. and then between 1924 and 1930 independently purchased approximately 750 Egyptian papyri through the British Museum for his own manuscript collection, which was first deposited in the Library for scholarly use and publication, then formally donated in 1942 with the rest of the Garrett Collection.

Digitization of papyri builds on Princeton’s early involvement between 1996 and 1999 in the Advanced Papyrological Information System Project (APIS), a collaborative cataloging-and-digitzation project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). A selection of Princeton’s papyri were put online in the Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts and in the APIS database, which has since become part of , which also aggregates materials from other online resources. Emphasis in Princeton’s current digitization effort is on published papyri (“P.Princeton”) in older editions: Allan Chester Johnson, Henry Bartlett van Hoesen, et al., eds., Papyri in the Princeton University Collections, 3 vols.; and papyri in B. P. Grenfell, A. S. Hunt, et al., eds., The Oyxrhynchus Papyri; Fayûm Towns and Their Papyri; and The Hibeh Papyri. Also included are other Princeton papyri anticipated for publication in a fourth volume of Papyri in the Princeton University Collections. This volume will be an outgrowth of the Summer Institute in Papyrology, Princeton (July 7-August 8, 2014), co-directed by the papyrologists Jean-Luc Fournet (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris) and Nikolaos Gonis (University College, London), and organized by Professor AnneMarie Luijendijk (Princeton University, Department of Religion). Also to be digitized are all of the Pharaonic papyri in the Manuscripts Division, including five ancient rolls that were unrolled in the Library’s Preservation Office during the APIS project.

For detailed holdings information about Princeton’s holdings, consult the “Preliminary Checklist of the Princeton University Collections of Papyri,” which is accessible as part of the Princeton University Library Papyrus Home Page; or contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at

Demosthenes, De corona, 167-169
1st century B.C.E.

The Seymour Family and American Theater History

The William Seymour Family Papers (TC011) were donated to the Princeton University Library in 1936 to be the nucleus of the Library’s Theater Collection, originally called the William Seymour Theater Collection. William Seymour (1855-1933) was a prominent American theatrical stage manager, director, and actor, whose seventy-year career is documented in the papers. Seymour was born into an Irish-American theatrical family, the only child of well-known actors James Seymour (1823-64) and Lydia Griffith Seymour (1830-97), who by 1858 were engaged at the Varieties Theatre in New Orleans under the management of Lawrence Barrett. It was there that Seymour began his acting career, notably playing Hendrick to Joseph Jefferson’s Rip Van Winkle. Seymour continued to work as an actor for the next several years while gradually moving into stage management. Beginning in 1869, he worked at Edwin Booth’s Theatre; and in autumn 1871 moved to Boston’s Old Globe Theatre, where he played alongside Edwin Forrest. He became a touring actor and stage manager, first with Lawrence Barrett’s acting troupe from 1872 to 1875, and then as assistant stage manager under A.M. Palmer at Union Square Theatre in New York City from 1875 to 1877. Seymour was then engaged by John McCullough for his stock company at the California Theatre in San Francisco from 1877 until 1879 when he returned to Boston to serve as stage manager for Richard M. Field’s Boston Museum. Remaining there for almost a decade, he gradually took on the responsibilities of an artistic director, occasionally also acting in productions.

In 1882, Seymour married a member of Boston Museum’s company, May Marian Caroline Davenport (1856-1927) ,with whom he had several children. May also came from a theatrical family. She was the daughter of the prominent tragedian E. L. (Edward Loomis) Davenport (1814-77) and sister to Fanny Davenport (1850-98), one of the reigning American actresses of the day. After leaving the Boston Museum, Seymour worked as manager to several producing organizations, including Abbey, Schoeffel & Grau (1889-1897), working principally at the new Tremont Theatre, Boston (1897-98) and for Maurice Grau from 1900 to 1901 at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York—that is, the Old Met, located at 1411 Broadway, between 39th and 40th streets. From about 1897 to 1900, Seymour also worked as an independent producer-manager with E. H. Sothern, Julia Marlowe, and Maude Adams. Seymour’s longest and most well-known association was with Charles Frohman and the Empire Theatre in New York where he worked as general stage director from 1902 to 1915. Seymour’s remaining active years in the theater were spent directing, managing, and acting in shows for various organizations and producers, such as George C. Tyler.

Contemporary accounts of the well-publicized donation of Seymour’s massive collection by his children to Princeton in 1936 note that the collection included a significant number of files of correspondence, photographs, and other personal material as well as about eight hundred bound volumes, three thousand play scripts and prompt books, many heavily annotated, several thousand playbills, and a large number of programs, clippings, magazines, production notebooks, musical scores, and various stage mementos. The collection would have included even more materials; however, papers, artwork, and objects related to New York City theatrical productions were presented to the Museum of the City of New York as Seymour’s oldest daughter, May Davenport Seymour, was the curator of its Theater Collection. Moreover, since this collection was acquired almost eighty years ago, many materials—particularly particularly photographs, playbills, play scripts, artwork, and objects—have been dispersed and integrated into form-based collections within the former Theater Collection; the Rare Book Division, such as the 19th-century Playbooks Collection (TC023), currently described in the Princeton University Library catalog; and the Graphic Arts Collection.

As it now stands, the William Seymour Family Papers (TC011) consists primarily of Seymour’s correspondence with various prominent actors, directors, stage managers, and producers of the period, and numerous production-related materials, such as playscripts and prompt books, notes, diaries, scene sketches, sheet music, ephemera and memorabilia among others. The scope is principally Seymour’s connections with the New York, Boston, and New Orleans stage, though other cities are also represented. Other materials include some family correspondence; articles and essays that Seymour authored about his career and about the theater; newspaper clippings; and a few personal documents. Among Seymour and Davenport family members who were active in the theater, Fanny Davenport (1850-98) is probably the most important. Correspondence, production materials, ephemera, and newspaper clippings document her career. Researchers interested in Fanny Davenport will likely also be interested in viewing the Fanny Davenport Collection (TC108).

The William Seymour Family Papers (TC011) is one of numerous theater and film-related collections that were incorporated into the Manuscripts Division. Strengths of these collections include 19th-century British and 20th-century American theater, as well as popular entertainment, such as the circus, minstrel shows, and movies. Click here to see a comprehensive list of these collections. For information about using the William Seymour Family Papers (TC011), researchers can consult the online finding aid or contact

William Seymour

Fanny Davenport
Fanny Davenport

Media Preservation Project for Archives of PEN American Center

The Library congratulates PEN American Center on its successful $300,000 grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Humanities Collections and Reference Resources, in support of PEN’s two-year project, “Digital Archive of Free Expression.” Approved in March, this project aims to preserve and digitize approximately 1,200 hours of PEN American Center audio/video media, including nearly all of the media in the PEN archives at Princeton (C0760) and a significant portion of that still held by PEN itself. For the past twenty years, the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, has served as the archival repository for PEN American Center, which was founded in 1922, with offices in New York City. PEN American Center ( is the largest and most influential of 144 PEN Centers worldwide. It is dedicated to freedom of expression and a belief that the free exchange of information and ideas is a universal human right and essential to a free and open society. The PEN archives contain 282 cartons and boxes of historical materials, 1922-2008, and are complemented by PEN-related holdings in the papers of Edmund Keeley, Mario Vargas Llosa, and other authors, editors, and translators in the Manuscripts Division.

The PEN archives include about 30 boxes of audiovisual materials at Princeton, containing approximately 500 reel-to-reel audiotapes, film, video cassettes, audio cassettes, and other formats that date from 1966 to 1994. The archives document award ceremonies, conferences, dinners and receptions, panels and symposia, press conferences, programs, and radio and television programs. Among those who have taken part in the World Voices Festivals and whose voices are captured in PEN’s collection are Margaret Atwood, Martin Amis, Vladimir Sorokin, Umberto Eco, Annie Proulx, Ian McEwan, Mario Vargas Llosa, Michael Ondaatje, and Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison, Wole Soyinka, and Orhan Pamuk. Of particular interest are addresses, interviews, and conversations involving important authors, such as Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, Salman Rushdie, Grace Paley, Margaret Mead, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, Heinrich Böll, and Chinua Achebe. Captured here are the candid thoughts of authors in public discourse, speaking spontaneously or in lively discussions, on subjects of vital interest to authors.

People are often surprised to learn that tape recordings, floppy disks, and other forms of modern information technology are far more endangered than writing materials that are thousands of years old. Software and hardware obsolescence are major problems for born-digital files, and audiovisual materials are at great risk due to the impermanence and physical deterioration of the media, complicated by a lack of playback equipment and technical documentation. Content can be unrecoverable without professional reformatting, which is costly. Some years ago, the Preservation Office surveyed archival collection containing media and found that the Manuscripts Division has hundreds of such collections. Old media needs to be remastered before it can be safely used.

The Library experimented several years ago with outsourcing preservation of a small sampling of PEN media. But given the large quantity of media in the PEN Archives, external support was needed for staff and contractual services. The present NEH-supported project is an outgrowth of conversations between PEN American Center and the Princeton University Library, as well as a pilot project for PEN funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Once remastered, the Library will house copies of the digitized files and the original source materials already in the collection, as well as others in PEN’s possession that are part of the overall digitization project. As part of the project, an archivist will analyze the intellectual content of the media in order to produce searchable metadata to improve access.

The Library will store the original media, after professional remastering at the Media Preserve, in the Library’s media vaults at its ReCAP storage facility; incorporate links to the online digital files and metadata PEN compiled during the digitization project into the Library’s online finding aid for the PEN Archives, as well as into online discovery tools; offer archival and technical expertise and advice as needed to PEN American Center. Princeton will be able to use these archival digital copies and derivatives for scholarly dissemination, including from patron photoduplication orders to website content. The principal goal of the initial project is for the digital files to reside on PEN’s proposed website and be made accessible via links through Princeton’s finding aid and other online resources, when possible. Princeton is committed to strengthening and building upon this partnership and collaboration with PEN American Center and invites PEN to continue to send to the Princeton University Library all PEN archival records of enduring value.

A detailed finding aid for the Archives of PEN American Center is available online. For more information, contact Public Services at

PEN mnedia.

PEN American Center media.

Robert Fagles and the Art of Translation

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the recent donation of the papers of Professor Robert Fagles (1933-2008), a distinguished scholar, teacher, and poet, best known for his acclaimed translations of ancient Greek and Latin classics. The papers were the generous gift of his wife, Lynne Fagles, and were combined with his Greek drama translation files, donated to the Library in 1986. Fagles joined the faculty of the Department of English in 1960 and later became Arthur Marks ’19 Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, until his retirement in 2002. He directed the Program in Comparative Literature from 1966, until it became a university department in 1975, and then served as its chair until 1994. The papers consist of his professional and publishing correspondence, along with manuscript and typescript drafts, corrected proofs and galleys, notes, revisions, and other files regarding all of his English translations of major ancient Greek and Latin texts, including Homer’s Iliad (1990) and Odyssey (1999), Virgil’s Aeneid (2006), Aeschylus’s Oresteia (1975), and Sophocles’s Three Theban Plays (1982). Also represented are his early translations of works by the Greek poets Bacchylides and Pindar, as well as his 1978 collection of original poetry, titled I, Vincent, a series of poems intended as translations of the paintings of Vincent van Gogh.

Fagles kept extensive working files on his translations, which often include detailed notes on his vocabulary choices, his study of themes, symbols, motifs, and meter, and his allusions to philosophical concepts from modern thinkers. He worked closely on most of his translations with Bernard Knox, a respected classicist and director of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies. His working files contain drafts heavily annotated by Knox, along with correspondence between the two men regarding Fagles’s progress on his translations of Sophocles, Homer, and Virgil over the several years or sometimes decade during which he labored over each translation. The papers also include correspondence with various poets, classicists, professors, university presidents, and former students, including Louise Glück, Anne Carson, Robert Fitzgerald, Harold Shapiro, James Dickey, Joyce Carol Oates, William Meredith, Francine du Plessix Gray, Rachel Hadas, Robert Hollander, Francis Fergusson, George Steiner, Robert Goheen, Charles Tomlinson, and others.

The Robert Fagles Papers complement other holdings of the Manuscripts Division related in whole or part to the art of modern literary translation. Worthy of special mention are papers of the following authors and translators: Edmund L. Keeley, Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English, Emeritus, who translated Constantine Cafavy, George Seferis, Odysseus Elytes, Giannes Ritsos, Angelos Sikelianos, Vassilis Vassilikos, and other Modern Greek poets (C0763); Kimon Friar (1911-93) , who translated Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, among other Modern Greek works (C0713); and Stanley Kunitz, who worked with Max Hayward to translate Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Andrei Voznesenskii, and other Russian poets (C0837). Two other collections contain the translation files of Ezra Pound (1885-1972) for Greek and Japanese drama (C0301, C0658). The Manuscript Division’s extensive holdings of American publishing archives and modern Latin American literary archives also contain substantial materials relating to translation and translators.

For information about using the Robert Fagles Papers (C1499), researchers can consult the online finding aid or contact This collection is stored 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.

Corrected draft of Pindar translation

Corrected draft of Pindar translation

Roman Antiquities Manuscript Online

The Princeton University Library’s best-known Renaissance manuscript is the latest addition to “Treasures of the Manuscripts Division,” a steadily growing section of the Princeton University Digital Library (PUDL). Fully digitized for the first time, Garrett MS. 158 has as its principal text the Collectio antiquitatum or Sylloge (or Silloge) antiquitatum, compiled by the Italian Renaissance physician and antiquarian Giovanni Marcanova (ca. 1410/1418-1467). This collection of Roman inscriptions was in part derived from earlier collections of inscriptions, such as that by the humanist Ciriaco d’Ancona (1391-1450). Marcanova dedicated his collection to Malatesta Novello (1418-65), also known as Domenico Malatesta, the lord of Cesena and patron of the Biblioteca Malatestina. The manuscript is known in particular for its prefatory sequence of fifteen full-page drawings (fols. 1v-16v) of the antiquities of ancient Rome, probably produced and illustrated in Bologna in 1471 or after 1473. The somewhat fanciful drawings include Roman monuments (Tomb of Hadrian, Arch of Titus, Vatican Obelisk, Baths of Diocletian, Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue), places (Tiber River, Tarpean Rock, Monte Testaccio, Campidoglio), and scenes (market day, human sacrifice, tournament).

Garrett MS. 158 is related to several early manuscripts of Giovanni Marcanova’s text, including a 1465 manuscript in the Biblioteca Estense (cod. a. L. 5. 15 [lat. 992]), whose 18 full-page drawings and numerous illustrations were the ultimate source for the drawings in the Princeton manuscript. Some scholars have argued that Marcanova employed a scriptorium to put epigraphical inscriptions in book form, and that the scriptorium included the antiquarian and calligrapher Felice Feliciano (1433-1479) of Verona, who has been suggested as responsible for the script and drawings. But there is no conclusive evidence about the artists responsible for the drawings in the Garrett manuscript. In addition to the prefatory drawings, there are smaller drawings scattered throughout the text of the Collectio antiquitatum, including ancient monuments, sarcophagi, vases, aedicules, and stele with inscriptions. Some of these illustrations are accompanied by depictions of classical and mythological figures.

The Baltimore businessman Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897, donated the manuscript to the Library in 1942, along with his rich and extensive collection of thousands of manuscripts. For an up-to-date description of Garrett MS. 158, with lengthy provenance note and bibliography, see Don C. Skemer, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library (2012), vol. 1, pp. 368-75, plates 70-73.
Tarpeian Rock
Garrett MS. 158, fol. 10r (Tarpeian Rock).

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