Special Collections Showcase May 2024

Special Collections Showcase May 2024

By Emma Sarconi and Deborah Schlein

Once a month, five objects from across Special Collections’ vast holdings will be on display in the lobby of Firestone Library for two hours for anyone to come and see. Here are the objects featured in our May 2024 showcase:

Object 1: [Book of Hours (Use of Rome) with inclusion of Primer.] (46825 ManuscriptsQ)

Books of Hours are some of the most iconic Middle Ages and Medieval texts. Highly decorative, these guides to prayer began to appear in Europe as early as the thirteenth century. This one from the 1490s was produced in the central French commune of Bourges. The pages are peppered with beautiful miniatures and stunning illumination, including historiated initials and gilding. What makes it a truly special book, however, is the inclusion of a primer at the back – a section to help teach a child to read. It is incredibly rare to have this kind of teaching material bound in the same volume as religious text and indicates that this book may have been made specifically for a child’s use as well as an adult’s. 

You can find more information about this book in Will Noel’s post featuring it.

Object 2: “Oklahoma’s Poor Rich Indians” (2006-2879N)

Cover of "Oklahoma's Poor Rich Indians"

Long before David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon, Yankton-Dakota writer and activist Zitkala-Ša wrote “Oklahoma’s Poor Rich Indians.” Zitkala-Ša was one of the most influential Indigenous rights activists of her day and spent her life fighting for both legal rights and cultural protection for tribes across the present-day United States. This tract, published in 1923 by the Philadelphia-based Indian Rights Association, details how several American corporations worked systemically through coercion, robbery, and even murder to defraud Indigenous peoples of their wealth, particularly the Osage. Eventually, this evidence among other documentation presented would lead Congress to pass the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (also known as the Indian New Deal), which aimed to give tribes more autonomy over managing their own lands and governments. 

Object 3: Heart Mt. Wyo. 1945 / by J. Miyauchi (GA 2023.00139)

Born in Japan in 1888, Jishiro Miyauchi immigrated to Vancouver, B.C., in 1907. After working a variety of jobs on the railroad and in the mines, he eventually pursued his interests in music, attending the Chicago Conservatory of Music and then performing in vaudeville. He settled in Los Angeles with his wife, but during the War they were both sent to the Heart Mountain concentration camp in northwest Wyoming. According to Densho Encyclopedia, there, he focused on painting, sharing a studio space with other interned artists such as Hideo Date, Jack Yamaski and Gompers Saijo. He created his own paint colors using coal dust, rice paste, and natural pigments found around the camp.

Painting of a mountainous area with barracks

Object 4: Livro de leḳṭurah. El primero (17504 Euro 19) 

Section written by Dr. Deborah Schlein, Near Eastern Studies Librarian

This primer was printed in Ladino (Spanish words and grammar, Hebrew script) in 1887 (5648) in Istanbul (under the Ottoman Empire). Ladino is the language of Jews who fled the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 after they were exiled for not converting to Catholicism under Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. It is a language written in Hebrew script using Spanish words and grammar. This book was a primer meant for children and was printed in Ladino under the auspices of the Ottoman Ministry of Education and Culture among 741 numbered copies paid for by the American Bible Company. Additionally, it was printed in Hasköy, Beyoğlu in Istanbul, where many Jews lived, at the Printing House of the Mission of the Church of Scotland. In the 19th century, the Church of Scotland specifically sent missionaries to convert Jews in Istanbul.

Hebrew text with a drawing of penguin

Object 5: Princeton University Class Records for the class of 1974 (AC130, Box 274)

Happy 40th reunion to the class of 1974! Here we have a folder of material from the Princeton University Class Records on their class. Held at Mudd Library, the Class Records consist of a diverse set of materials documenting the history and activities of Princeton University classes during their time as undergraduates and alumni. There is material here from the fifth reunion, a calendar (used!) for the year 1974, ephemera, and even a poll taken five years after graduation about their lives, attitudes and opinions. 

An assortment of buttons, a calendar, and other ephemera related to the Class of 1974

The Special Collections Showcase will return in September with a new round of objects! Remember that Special Collections is open to the public – anyone can make a researcher account and view material in our Reading Room. See the Reading Room guidelines for more information.