New collection of old letters

Bird Correspondence CollectionDuring the summer of 2013 an Archives Student Assistant processed a donation of letters. Over 900 handwritten letters between IWU alumna Florence Ralph (’30) and Marion T. Bird are contained in this collection. The letters cover a wide range of topics from faith to politics, school activities, local events, family and more — all the details young people might share during a long courtship in a tumultuous time in American history.

The donation of the handwritten documents came from the descendents of Florence and Marion and also included scanned pdfs of all the letters that family member P. L. Embley created. Researchers are welcome to use the letters in the archives or in the online collection we created with the scanned images. Mrs. Embley also selected and scanned photographs from the family albums held by the children and grandchildren of Florence and Marion Bird.

We appreciate the efforts the family has gone through to make these documents available to researchers everywhere. The letters in this collection have not been transcribed at this time. Readers are welcome to contribute transcriptions they create or additional subject headings they identify to archives@iwu.edu.

Selected mysteries, part one

Special Collections houses a number of mysteries some enterprising researcher may be able to mine for treasures. Here are a few items and what little information we have about them:

Five photo albums from the 19th Century, some with people identifed, some not, and only one with clues about the people’s relationship to IWU.

Barry Lennon Farm Records, 1842-52

Correspondence and photos from World War I soldiers

Correspondence from several World War II servicemen to Nell (Carmichael) Livingston

Notes, reports and ephemera of Henry Filip, physicist at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in the 1970s

A journal with some ledger-type of entries (1842-45) but mostly a beautiful, albeit dense handwriting. The name that appears the most is Thomas Storm Hubbard. Interestingly, on one page where he writes his names several times there also appears, in large letters, the word “Fearlessness.”

Religion collections

As can be expected, given IWU’s origins, special collections holds an array of books related to Methodist Church governance, history and liturgy. Sermons and insights into the religious and philosophical leanings of IWU presidents, many of whom were also Methodist ministers, are available in the archives. Samplings of other religions represented in special collections are below.

Additionally, we hold one manuscript collection of former Bloomington Wesley Methodist Church minister and mystery writer Charles Merrill Smith. Our collection holds photographs, book manuscripts, publicity material, correspondence and more. Smith was also an IWU Board of Trustee’s member from 1958-1968.

A selection of more traditional religious texts in the collection follows. Many are in languages students on campus are studying, and the varying publication dates offer opportunities for exposure to different type-faces. These books could be great for developing reading skills in languages over time!

[al-Qurơān]. Manuscript of undetermined date, written in Naskh letters within gold leave border and occasional floral illumination. (Call no.: BP100 1000z)

Lombardica hystoria. An incomplete incunable also known as Legenda aurea regarding the lives of saints. (Call no. BX4654 .J3 1496)

The life of Mahomet : together with The Alcoran at large / translated out of Arabick into French, by the Sieur De Ryer, Lord of Malezair, and Resident for the French King at Alexandria : now faithfully English’d. (Call no.: BP75 .L57 1718)

Directorio para informaciones de los pretendientes de el santo habito de N. seraphico P.S. Francisco. (Call no: F1381 .C37 1737)

Evangelische Deutsche Original-Bibel : das ist, die gantze heilige Schrift. Polyglot Bible in German fractur, Hebrew and Greek. (Call no.: BS701 1740)

Biblia Hebraica. (BS715 1753)

Vollständiges marburger Gesang-Buch. (Call no: BV410 .V65 1774)

The whole book of Psalms collected into English metre. “This Sternhold and Hopkins version of the psalter was given a first class treatment, with its green morocco binding with gilt decoration, marbled endpapers, gilt edges, and, most important, a fore-edge painting. Such paintings were expensive additions to books printed between the 1780s and the 1830s. A watercolor, applied to the edges of the pages as they were fanned, was evident only when the book was open. This scene shows an English cathedral.” (Call no.: BX5145 .S74 1787)

Codex sinaiticus petropolitanus. Two facsimile volumes of the Greek New Testamaent held at the Imperial Library of St. Petersburg. (Call nos.: BS64 .S32 1911 and BS64 .S3 1922)

Codex juris Canonici (Call no.: BX1935 .C31917)

And some texts mentioned in the last blog post. Click on the images for a larger picture and available descriptions:

Medieval manuscript Bible Leaf from a Medieval manuscript Bible.

We have 10 matted Medieval manuscript leaves with accompanying descriptions like this one: Medieval manuscript leaf

pali mss Untitled Buddhist manuscript in Pali

This is a Burmese text with gilded edges, decorated front cover; written in ink on hand-made paper; accordion folded. The physical description is [247] p. ; 1072 cm., folded to 16 x 39 cm. And that’s everything we know about it!