Versailles on Paper: A Graphic Panorama of the Palace and Gardens of Louis XIV

Robert Nanteuil. Louis XIV, 1666. Engraving. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of John Douglas Gordon, Class of 1905.

Robert Nanteuil. Louis XIV, 1666. Engraving. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of John Douglas Gordon, Class of 1905.


Opening Lecture: Dr. Ian Thompson,author of The Sun King’s Garden and Reader in Landscape Architecture at Newcastle University, at 3:00 p.m. on 14 February 2015 in 101 McCormick Hall, sponsored by the Department of French & Italian and the Friends of the Princeton University Library.

For the companion online exhibition, see :

This exhibition documents the contemporary representation of Versailles through a multifaceted array of prints, books, maps, medals, and manuscripts. It highlights in particular those elements that today survive only on paper: ephemeral festivals; short-lived creatures (courtiers, animals, flowers); fragile groves and fountains too costly to maintain; and once celebrated masterpieces of art and architecture that were irrevocably destroyed or altered. The ‘paper Versailles’ is quite different from the one that millions of tourists visit every year and affords many unusual and surprising glimpses into a largely lost world. All the books and prints on display were created in the 17th and 18th centuries. With only a few exceptions, they were selected from the holdings of Firestone and Marquand Libraries, acquired over the past 140 years. A large number of these items came as gifts; therefore, this exhibition also honors the curators, alumni, and friends of the Princeton University Library who have built its remarkable collections.

12. February 2015 by Rare Books and Special Collections
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Teaching the Untouchable: Rare Books Education in Elementary School Classrooms


“Hands-on with Vellum”

Rare books and elementary school classrooms…can the two mix? The answer is yes, absolutely. For seven years, Dana Sheridan, Education & Outreach Coordinator, has had tremendous success bringing collections education to New Jersey schools. To date, over 14,000 children have participated in Cotsen in the Classroom, a hands-on, staff-facilitated, collections education program that features items from the Cotsen Children’s Library.  For more about the program, including “five tips for your rare books program,” see the November 2014 issue of College and Research Library News: “Teaching the Untouchable.”

13. November 2014 by Rare Books and Special Collections
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Attention Students: Submit Your Essay to Win the 2014-2015 Elmer Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize!

Are you an avid collector of books, manuscripts, or other materials found in libraries? If so, consider submitting an essay about your collection for a chance to win the Elmer Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize!

Image: (c) Jane and Louise Wilson, Oddments Room II (Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle), 2008. C-print, Edition of 4. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

Image: (c) Jane and Louise Wilson, Oddments Room II (Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle), 2008. C-print, Edition of 4. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

Endowed from the estate of Elmer Adler, who for many years encouraged the collecting of books by Princeton undergraduates, this prize is awarded annually to an undergraduate student, or students, who, in the opinion of a committee of judges, have shown the most thought and ingenuity in assembling a thematically coherent collection of books, manuscripts, or other material normally collected by libraries. Please note that the rarity or monetary value of the student’s collection is not as important as the creativity and persistence shown in collecting and the fidelity of the collection to the goals described in a personal essay.

The personal essay is about a collection owned by the student. It should describe the thematic or artifactual nature of the collection and discuss with some specificity the unifying characteristics that have prompted the student to think of certain items as a collection. It should also convey a strong sense of the student’s motivations for collecting and what their particular collection means to them personally. The history of the collection, including collecting goals, acquisition methods, and milestones are of particular interest, as is a critical look at how the goals may have evolved over time and an outlook on the future development of the collection. Essays are judged in equal measures on the strength of the collection and the strength of the writing.

Winners will receive their prizes at the annual winter dinner of the Friends of the Princeton University Library, which they are expected to attend. The first-prize essay will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Princeton University Library Chronicle. In addition, the first-prize essay has the honor of representing Princeton University in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest organized by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. Please note that per the ABAA’s contest rules, the winning essay will be entered exactly as submitted to the Adler Prize contest, without possibility of revision.

Prize amounts:

First prize: $2000
Second prize: $1500
Third prize: $1000

The deadline for submission is Tuesday, December 2, 2014. Essays should be submitted via e-mail, in a Microsoft Word attachment, to Faith Charlton: They should be between 9-10 pages long, 12pt, double-spaced, with a 1-inch margin, and include a separate cover sheet with your name, class year, residential address, email address, and phone number. In addition to the essay, each entry should include a selected bibliography of no more than 3 pages detailing the items in the collection. Please note that essays submitted in file formats other than Microsoft Word, submitted without cover sheet, or submitted without a bibliography will not be forwarded to the judges. For inquiries, please contact Faith Charlton,

Recent Adler Prize Winning Essays:

Rory Fitzpatrick, ’16. “The Search for the Shape of the Universe, One Book at a Time.” (forthcoming)

Natasha Japanwala ’14. “Conversation Among the Ruins: Collecting Books By and About Sylvia Plath.” PULC 74:2 (winter)

Mary Thierry ’12. “Mirror, Mirror: American Daguerrean Portraits.” PULC 73:3 (spring)

Chloe Ferguson ’13. “The Farther Shore: Collection, Memory, and the East Asian Literary Tradition.” PULC 73:3 (spring)

Lindsey Breuer ’11. “If Only I Could Apparate, My Harry Potter Collection Would Truly Appreciate.” PULC 73:3 (spring)

04. November 2014 by Rare Books and Special Collections
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“Nova Caesarea: A Cartographic Record of the Garden State, 1666-1888” Celebrates New Jersey’s 350th


Nova Caesarea: A Cartographic Record of the Garden State, 1666-1888” opens in the Main Gallery of Firestone Library, Princeton University, on Saturday, August 16. Commemorating the 350th anniversary (1664-2014) of the naming of New Jersey, this exhibition introduces viewers to the maps that charted the state’s development from unexplored colonial territory to the first scientifically surveyed state in the Union. Coastal charts, manuscript road maps, and early state maps provide a historical background to the major focus of the exhibition: the state’s first wall maps and county atlases. The large scale of these maps allowed mapmakers to include the names and locations of nineteenth-century farmers and merchants, hence personalizing local history.

Five landmark maps of New Jersey will appear together for the first time: Dutchman Pieter Goos’s 1666 nautical chart, the earliest printed map/chart of the territory that became New Jersey; Englishman William Faden’s 1777 map of “The Province of New Jersey, Divided into East and West, Commonly Called the Jerseys,” the most popular early map of the future state, which settled the boundary between New Jersey and New York; New Jersey cartographer William Watson’s 1812 map (one of three known institutional  copies), the first wall map of the state and the first to show all of its townships; Trenton surveyor Thomas Gordon’s 1828 wall map, the first large detailed and “official” state map; and the mammoth 1860 wall map of state geologist William Kitchell, compiled by Griffith Morgan Hopkins Jr., the largest map of New Jersey published in the nineteenth century, which attempted to show all the roads in the state.

Included in the exhibition are the first wall maps and atlases of a number of New Jersey counties, as well as two other cartographic rarities: the first wall map (1847) of the city of Newark (one of three known institutional copies) and Thomas Gordon’s “Map of Bergen Meadows” (1836), the first map of New Jersey’s Meadowlands (one of two known institutional copies). Accompanying many of the maps and atlases, for the purpose of historical comparison, are recent photographs of buildings and landscapes illustrated in them.

Early surveying guides and instruments provide an introduction to the methodology that led to the 1888 Atlas of New Jersey, the first published topographical survey of a U.S. state. Of particular interest is a mid-nineteenth-century surveyor’s wheel, or waywiser, which resembles a wheelbarrow. Using this tool, a surveyor could walk a route over a dirt road or field and easily measure the distance traveled. The revolutions of the large wheel turn dials in the wooden box that provide readings in feet, rods, furlongs, and miles. The circumference of the wheel is 8.25 feet; hence, two revolutions equal one rod (16.5 feet), forty rods make a furlong, and eight furlongs add up to one mile.

A substantial, heavily illustrated, and beautifully designed volume accompanies the exhibition and expands upon its cartographic subject (380 pp., full color, 11” x 14”). It is available in two editions. Copies of the regular pictorial hardcover edition ($100) include a large pocket map. The 350 copies of the special edition ($250), also containing the pocket map, have been signed and numbered by the author and designer; clothbound, each volume is housed in a custom slipcase with a separate folder of enlarged copies of the first wall maps of all New Jersey counties. Both editions can be purchased in the Special Collections office (end of gallery) during business hours; order forms are available in the gallery.

“Nova Caesarea” will run through January 25, 2015. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; closed holidays. Exhibition tours with curator John Delaney will be offered at 3 p.m. on August 24, October 26, and December 14. The exhibition and its associated events are free and open to the public.

The “official” opening will take place on Sunday, October 5, with an illustrated talk by Dr. Maxine Lurie, professor emeritus, Seton Hall University, at 3 pm. in 101 McCormick Hall. And a substantial website is under development. Information on both of those developments will be forthcoming.

For other information, contact John Delaney, Curator of Historic Maps, 609-258-6156 (

15. August 2014 by Rare Books and Special Collections
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Mellon Grant Awarded to Explore “The Archaeology of Reading”


Livy, T. Liuii Patauini Romanae historiae principis decades tres  (Basil: Ioannes Heruagios, 1555), Princeton University Library.

Livy, T. Liuii Patauini Romanae historiae principis decades tres
(Basil: Ioannes Heruagios, 1555), Princeton University Library.

The Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries*, in partnership with University College London’s Centre for Editing Lives and Letters (CELL), and the Princeton University Library, have been awarded a $488,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to implement “The Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe.” This new digital humanities research initiative will explore historical reading practices through the lens of manuscript annotations preserved in early printed books.

The Principal Investigator for this international research project is Dr. Earle Havens, the William Kurrelmeyer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Sheridan Libraries, who will work closely with two of the world’s leading scholars of the history of reading, co-Principal Investigators Professor Lisa Jardine, Director of CELL at University College London; and Professor Anthony Grafton of the Department of History at Princeton.

“We are extremely grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their support of research into this fascinating but underexplored part of history,” said Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums. “Renaissance readers left us a wealth of material to investigate. This kind of deep discovery work would not be possible without the combined expertise of an international team of humanists and technologists bringing a broad range of expertise together, and we look forward to sharing what they uncover with the world.”

The project builds upon several decades of humanistic research that has focused upon the Printing Revolution of the sixteenth century, and the widespread practice by active readers of leaving often dense, interpretive manuscript annotations in the margins, and between the lines, of the books they read.  This diverse evidence of annotation provides a considerable range of unique and largely untapped research materials, which reveal that readers—much as users of the internet today—adapted quickly to the technology of print: interacting intimately, dynamically, socially, and even virtually with texts.

The revealing intimacy of these research materials is palpable, as Professor Grafton observes: “Reading these marginal notes gives us the chance to stand by the desks of Renaissance scholars and look over their shoulders while they work at their trade. We can watch them read and respond to a vast range of books, tracing their thoughts and glimpsing the ways in which they used their scholarship to advise kings, ambassadors, and archbishops.”

This body of primary source material is among the largest, least accessible, and most underutilized of original manuscript sources from the early modern period, due to the fact that they are almost entirely uncatalogued, or undercatalogued, by major research collections throughout the world.

“There are so many parallels between our project, and the digital world of information that we live in today,” Dr. Havens observes. “These notes reveal a largely unvarnished history of personal reading within the early modern historical moment. They also embody an active tradition of physically mapping and personalizing knowledge upon the printed page. The added practice of referencing and cross-referencing other works in these marginal annotations also allows us, like those early readers, to engage with the presence of ‘virtual libraries’ within the space of a single book.”

The history of reading remains a rich area for research, as scholars seek to better understand these reading habits and strategies, though it has remained a particularly daunting task when conducted in a purely analog context, particularly with books that literally contain thousands of notes. “This is an exciting moment!” says Professor Jardine. “We have been aware for some time of the unique importance of the copious annotations to be found in early modern books—marginal notes in ancient and modern languages tagged to printed passages, and cross-referenced to other notes and other books—but documenting and sharing them has largely defeated scholars.  Only now with resources being developed within the digital humanities will we at last be able to do so.”

By treating marginal annotations as large sets of data that can be mined and analyzed systematically in an electronic environment, the project team will create a corpus of important and representative annotated texts with searchable transcriptions and translations in order to begin to compare and fully analyze early modern reading by a number of dedicated Renaissance readers and annotators.

Over the next several years, The Archaeology of Reading team will integrate the digital humanities expertise of CELL and of the Sheridan Libraries’ Digital Research and Curation Center, as well as the collections of the Princeton University Library and other major repositories in the US, the UK, and Europe. The initial phase of the project will focus on the transcription and translation of a select number of heavily annotated books, and the allied adaptation of the open-access Shared Canvas viewer to maximize user interaction with these complex, composite early modern texts through a publicly available website.

* The Sheridan Libraries encompass the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, the Brody Learning Commons, the Albert D. Hutzler Reading Room in Gilman Hall, the John Work Garrett Library at Evergreen Museum & Library, and the George Peabody Library at Mt. Vernon Place in Baltimore. Together these collections provide the major research library resources for Johns Hopkins University. The libraries were rededicated in 1998 to reflect the extraordinary generosity of Mr. and Mrs. R. Champlin Sheridan.                        



15. July 2014 by Rare Books and Special Collections
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