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Digital Man: The Story of Ken Olsen (Sept. 2022 - July 2023)

Digital Man: The Story of Ken Olsen

Curated by Sarah Larlee St.Germain

Color photograph of Ken Olsen looking into the camera.

Ken Olsen the Man

As an inventor, scientist, and entrepreneur, Ken Olsen is one of the true pioneers of the computing industry.
Bill Gates

Kenneth “Ken” Harry Olsen (1926-2011) was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1926. While fixing radios in his basement during his early years, he gained a reputation as a “neighborhood Edison.” After graduating from high school, Olsen enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and served until 1946 as a radio technician. In 1950, he graduated from MIT with a B.S. in electrical engineering and then received an M.S. in electrical engineering, again from MIT, in 1952. 

After graduating with his B.S., Olsen headed to Finland in pursuit of love. He married Eeva-Liisa Aulikki Valve, whom he’d met previously, on December 12, 1952 in Lahti, Finland. Together they welcomed three children, daughter Ava and sons Glenn and James.

On top of his involvement in the tech world, Olsen was devoted to his faith, serving as a deacon and as the director of religious education in the 1950s and 1960s at Park Street Church. He was also a philanthropist and outdoorsman. The Olsen we know was shaped by his experiences, hobbies, and attitudes outside of the tech world. In this exhibit you will get acquainted with Ken Olsen the man, Ken Olsen the tech guru, and learn how his legacy has played out at Gordon and in the world.

A black and white photo of a group of men in white Navy uniforms and hats.

Navy Group Photo

A group photo, taken July 26, 1944, of Co 1498 – C.H. Metcalf – SP.(A)2/c CO. COMD’R at the U.S. Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. Olsen is pictured in the back row, seventh from the left.

A black and white photo of 3 men in dark colored Navy uniforms and white hats.

Olsen & Navy Friends

An undated photo of Olsen (middle) with friends. Based on the uniforms, this was probably taken while he was in the Navy.

Photo of a dark colored, likely dark blue, hat. On the ribbon of the brim is written

U.S. Navy Hat

Olsen served in the Navy from 1944-1946 as a radio technician. This hat belonged to Olsen while he served in the Navy.

Notice of Classification

Olsen’s Notice of Classification card. The only date listed is from June 19, 1946, presumably when he left the Navy. The Notice of Classification card was a part of the draft process. The Class number of 1-C meant that Olsen was a “Member of the Armed Forces of the United States, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, or the Public Health Service.” The DISC meant that he was honorably discharged from military service.

Ken Olsen and Aulikki Valve's engagement announcement - newspaper clipping with a photo of a young Aulikki Valve.

Engagement Announcement (1950)

Newsclipping of an engagement announcement made by the Rev. and Mrs. Kauko Valve of their daughter Aulikki to Ken Olsen in 1950.

Black and white photo Ken Olsen (left) in a dark colored suit and his soon to be wife, Aulikki Valve (right) standing next to him in a white dress suit with a small headband or hat with a veil. They are standing near pews in, presumably, a church.

Olsen Wedding Photo

Photo of Olsen and his wife, Eeva-Liisa Aulikki Valve, at their wedding on December 12, 1952. The wedding was held in Lahti, Finland where Valve lived. Valve’s father, who was a pastor, married them. Eeva-Liisa went mainly by the name Aulikki.

Photo of two pages of Olsen's flight log book. It shows information on his flights inlcuding date, description, and record of maintenance.

Flight Log

Apart from his computer pioneering and his career as a Navy radio engineer, Olsen was also a pilot. This is a sample page from his October 1969 – July 1972 flight log. There are three other logs held in the collection. Occasionally, Olsen would take part in local search and rescues and note it in his log books.

Black and white photo of Ken Olsen standing next to the Digital logo sign outside of the Digital Equipment Corporation building in Maynard, MA.

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)

He is infinitely Digital. His story and the story of his company cannot be separated.
Glenn Rifkin & George Harrar

After working at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, which worked on designing and building computers for air defense application, Olsen and colleague Harlan Anderson founded Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) with only $70,000 in capital in 1957. DEC found its home in an old mill building in Maynard, MA, but soon had employees in 97 countries. By 1988, DEC became an $11 billion company, the second largest computer company just behind IBM, the 38th largest industrial company in the Fortune 500 and the 13th most profitable.

With patents for saturable switches, diode transformer gate circuits, line printer buffers, and an improvised version of magnetic core memory, Olsen led the revolution of the mini-computer with machines like the PDP-8, PDP-11, VAX, and VT100. After having served as president and CEO of DEC for 35 years, he resigned in 1992.

Upon resigning from DEC, Olsen could not stay away from the tech world and founded Advanced Modular Solutions, Inc. in 1995. He served as the company chair until it ceased operations in 1999.

A grey ID card with the Digital logo in white boxes. Underneath the logo is a color photo of an older Ken Olsen. In a white box underneath Olsen's photo is written

Olsen's 000001 Badge

Employee ID badge belonging to Ken Olsen. As he was the CEO and founder, he was considered the first employee thus making him employee number 1, as seen on his badge.

An American and Dutch flag pin. The American flag is located on the left and the Dutch flag on the right with the Digital logo in the middle.

American/Dutch Flag Pin

DEC quickly became an international company with offices in France, Sweden, Norway, China, Turkey, and more! This pin includes an American flag next to a Dutch flag and has the Digital logo on it.

Magnetic Core

Magnetic core memory was the predominant form of random-access computer memory from about 1955 – 1975. Each little "donut" (iron ferrite torus or ring) is called a "core" and stores one bit (0 or 1). The bit is stored as a direction of magnetization (that is, magnetized one direction means 0, and the other direction means 1). The wires running through the cores are used to select which ones to access, and to either read or write their contents. Olsen holds a patent for magnetic core memory.

Signal Core

This round, silicon wafer was most likely used to help test and understand circuit design and manufacturing for the process that made the wafer. It was built and then used to measure how the wafer worked. Information garnered from testing it would then be used to improve both the design and manufacturing subsequent "real" (useful in products) chips with the same wafer (chip) fabrication process.

Circuit Board

A circuit board, which appears to be a memory board, with integrated circuit memory chips (the array of black chips). There are also interface chips (gold, near the connector edges on the bottom) and various other control and support chips around the edges, plus lots of resistors and capacitors to help it all work electronically.

PDP-8

The PDP-8 was the first commercially successful minicomputer, triggering the minicomputer industry, and cost only $18,000. At the time, it was a bargain! It ended up selling 50,000 units and launched DEC into the big leagues. 

PDP-8/1 Panel

Front panel from the PDP 8/1 machine.

PDP-11

Introduced in 1970, the PDP-11 sold for $10,800. This machine and its succession of follow-up models sold 250,000 units.

VT100

A VT100 terminal from the Olsen Collection. Typically, the keyboard would rest under the lip of the terminal, but this case isn’t wide enough for them to fit that way, so the keyboard is located on top of the terminal. The elegant styling and design drove it to become an industry standard and it was soon followed by VT200 and VT300 terminals.

A large grey early laptop. The top part of the open computer shows a small black screen in the middle of the top. Half of the bottom is taken up by a full keyboard including a full number pad. The right, top half of the bottom of the computer has an inset mousepad.

DECpc333

The DECpc 333 Portable computer, manufactured by DEC from 1991-2004, came complete with Microsoft Windows and an integrated mousepad. It also was able to be placed into a framework that turned it from a portable computer to a network computer. The DECpc 333 boasted a luxurious 4 MB of memory and a 60 MB hard drive as well as a 33 MHz 386 processor with cache memory. It only weighed 11 pounds and the battery lasted for 3 hours!

VAX

VAX (Virtual Address Extension) debuted in 1977 and was a breakthrough architecture that allowed DEC to create a family of computers that could grow expansively into the 1990s.

A group of unidentified students use the PDP-12 in Gordon College's Computer Room in 1970.

PDP-12 in Use at Gordon College

A group of unidentified students use the PDP-12 in Gordon College's Computer Room in 1970.

Mr. Snyder and Dave Cossey (right) work on a PDP-12 at Barrington in 1970.

PDP-12 in Use at Barrington

Mr. Snyder and Dave Cossey (right) work on a PDP-12 at Barrington in 1970.

Dr. Marion Bean with students working around a PDP-12 in Barrington's Computer Lab in 1976. 

PDP-12 in Use at Barrington

Dr. Marion Bean with students working around a PDP-12 in Barrington's Computer Lab in 1976. 

An unidentified student using the PDP-12 developed by DEC in Barrington College's Computer Lab in 1976. 

PDP-12 in Use at Barrington

An unidentified student using the PDP-12, which was developed by DEC in 1969, in Barrington College's Computer Lab in 1976. 

Image of Ken Olsen Science Center. The photo was taken across Coy Pond and shows the back of the building.

Ken Olsen's Legacy

The Christian and the scientist should always seek the truth.
Ken Olsen

The legacy of Ken Olsen has a special place at Gordon College. In 2003, Olsen and his wife, through his philanthropic Stratford Foundation, donated a large sum of money to fund the Ken Olsen Science Center. It is the first, and only building, Olsen allowed to be named after himself.

Bill Gates wrote, in 2006, “He was also a major influence in my life and his influence is still important at Microsoft through all the engineers who trained at Digital and have come here to make great software products.” Olsen’s entrepreneurship in the tech world is still felt to this day.

Friend and fellow Gordon Board member, Tom Phillips, explained how Olsen “was a major philanthropist who did his giving quietly, never seeking recognition of thanks.” This is evident in the numerous plaques, awards, and mementos given to Olsen over his career from outdoor groups to Gordon College.

Olsen was also interested in the preservation of computer history. The first exhibits of the Digital Computer Museum were displayed in the lobby of DEC in 1975. Later, the Computer Museum opened its doors in 1984 and was located on Museum Wharf in Boston. After it closed in 1999, the collection was incorporated into the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA which opened in 2002.

Image of a letter written on Microsoft letterhead. It is addressed to then president R. Judson Carlberg and is signed by Bill Gates. Text of letter is written in description.

Bill Gates Letter

Letter to President R. Jud Carlberg from Bill Gates from April 17, 2006. In response to a letter sent by Gordon College asking Gates or the Gates Foundation to donate a large gift to the Ken Olsen Science Center for the “Heart of Discovery” campaign, Bill Gates sent this letter to then president R. Jud Carlberg. While the request for a gift was not in line with the foundation’s goals, Gates still sent a personal letter outlining how influential Olsen had been in his own life and career.

Text of letter: 

April 17, 2006

R. Judson Carlberg
President
Gordon College
255 Grapevine Road
Wenham, MA 01984

Dear President Carlberg:

An inventor, scientist and entrepreneur, Ken Olsen is one of the true pioneers of computing. He was also a major influence on my life. My interest in software was inspired by the DEC computer I first used as a 13-year-old at the Lakeside School. Later, Paul Allen and I used the PDP-10 to create the first version of the BASIC language software for the personal computer. We also enjoyed working with Ken's company as it helped us create the personal computer industry. 

Ken's influence is still important at Microsoft through all of the engineers who trained at Digital and have come here to make great software products. The passion and discipline that these engineers learned at DEC are the qalities that we also admire and reward.

It's a pleasure to honor Ken for his contributions to the field of computing and his role in helping to create the computer industry.

Sincerely,
[Bill Gates signature]
Bill Gates
Chakirman and Chief Software Architect

Ken Olsen Science Center (KOSC) Groundbreaking (June 2006)

Photo of groundbreaking ceremony of the Ken Olsen Science Center (KOSC) on June 17, 2006. Pictured (L-R): Richard Stout (then chair of Division of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computer Science), George Marsh (Payette Associates principal) Aulikki Olsen, Ken Olsen, President R. Judson Carlberg, Kurt Keilhacker (then Board of Trustees Chair), Chris Keeley (Bowdoin Construction Corporation Vice President), Peter Bennett (Trustee and previous Board Chair)

A blue plastic hard hat with two round stickers on the front. The first sticker has Ken Olsen Science Center written at the top with Gordon College, Bowdoin Construction Corp., and Contractor listed beneath. The second sticker is Gordon's blue and white shield logo.

Contractor's Hard Hat

Contractor’s hard hat from the building of the Ken Olsen Science Center (KOSC). The groundbreaking ceremony took place in June 2006 and the building opened in August 2008.

A Salute to Ken Olsen Event Photo

This photo shows (L-R) Win Hindle (retired senior Vice President of DEC), Ken Olsen, Ann Jenkins (Ken’s secretary and personal assistant), and Stan Olsen (Ken’s brother and an executive at DEC) in front of the large clock tower cake.

Clocktower Cake

The photo to the left shows the cake that was served at the “A Salute to Ken Olsen” event that was held for the groundbreaking of KOSC. It was made to look like the clock tower on the top of the DEC mill building in Maynard, MA. It is also a replica of the cake that would be at certain DEC events, but unlike that cake, the bottom layer is the only edible part. The rest of the cake, including the tower, is made of cardboard covered in frosting.

A canoe oar that has a hand-painted landscape scene of a lake or pond surrounded by woods.

Maine Conservancy Oar

This oar was given to the Stratford Foundation, the foundation created by Ken Olsen, in 1999 form the Maine Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. The dedication reads, with punctuation added, “The Stratford Foundation. In recognition of your dedication and commitment to conservation. St. John River Project. For Maine Forever, 1999.”

A photo showing Ken Olsen standing up in a canoe with a canoe paddle, which says Olsen, in his hands on a lake or pond. He is wearing a green colored fishing hat, a red flannel, and brown colored pants.

Outdoorsmen Olsen

Photo of Ken Olsen from the Fortune Magazine story naming him 'America's Most Succesful Entreprenuer' in 1986. 

Text panel listing awards Olsen has won and Boards he's sat on. They are listed in the text below.

Awards & Boards

Over the years, Olsen has won a number of awards including:

  • "America's Most Successful Enrepreneur" by Fortune Magazine (1986)
  • Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Engineering Leadership Recognition Award (1987)
  • National Inventor's Hall of Fame (1990)
  • IEEE Founders medal (1993)
  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation (1993)
  • Computer History Museum Hall of Fame (1996)

Olsen also was a part of a number of Boards including:

  • Gordon College (1961-1993)
  • Polaroid Corporation
  • Ford Motor Company
  • MIT Corporation (Life Member)
  • Computer Science and Engineering Board of the National Academy of Sciences
  • President's Science Advisory Committee Member

A bronze/gold colored medal. It has

Founders Medal (1982)

The Founders Award was established to honor an outstanding member or international member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) who has upheld the ideals and principles of the NAE through professional, educational, and personal achievement and accomplishment. Olsen received this award on November 3, 1982.

Fortune Magazine Cover of Ken Olsen. He is posed in a close up photo of his smiling face and his chin is resting on the back of his entwined hands. He is wearing a tan fishing hat and a red flannel shirt.

Fortune Magazine Cover (October 27, 1986)

In 1986, Fortune magazine named Ken Olsen ‘Americas most successful entrepreneur.’ The cover highlights Olsen’s love of the outdoors as he was an avid outdoorsman. The article within also depicts Olsen in his fishing hat and red flannel standing in a canoe on the edge of a body of water. According to Rifkin & Harrar’s book, The Ultimate Entrepreneur, there is a story of Olsen showing up to DEC on a weekend morning in his flannel shirt. The employee that spotted him supposedly mistook him for the janitor! While this story is likely untrue, it goes to show how Olsen was just a down-to-earth man.

Silver colored metal plaque attached to a wooden background. It mentions the patent number for magnetic core memory in the upper left column and then explains the National Inventors Hall of Fame. At the top of the right hand column is an etching of Ken Olsen's profile and underneath it is an explanation of magnetic core memory.

National Inventors Hall of Fame (1990)

Olsen was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990 for his pioneering of small computers. Before computers had RAM, a computer read, wrote, and stored data through Magnetic Core Memory, which Olsen helped to create while he was a student at MIT. Olsen held four patents for MCM that helped make his ‘minicomputers’ a success. The patent number for the magnetic core memory is listed at the top of the plaque.

Photo of the National Medal of Technology. It is a bronze/gold color and has the name of the medal written along the top. There is an engraved image of a man holding out his hand with something in his hand shaped like a

National Medal of Technology (1993)

The National Medal of Technology is considered the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement. Olsen received the medal on September 30, 1993.

Photo from a Boston Globe article showing President Bill Clinton shaking hands with Ken Olsen as he receives the National Medal of Technology.

President Clinton Congratulates Olsen (1993)

A photo taken from a Boston Globe article (Oct. 1, 1993) showing President Bill Clinton shaking hands with Ken Olsen as he congratulates Olsen on receiving the National Medal of Technology.

Newspaper article explaining when and why Olsen received the National Medal of Technology.

Olsen honored for technology contributions, Article in Boston Globe (1993)

Newspaper article outlining why Ken Olsen received the National Medal of Technology. President Bill Clinton is pictured shaking Olsen’s hand as he awards him the medal.

Washington Award (1994)

The Washington Award is given to engineers whose professional attainments have preeminently advanced the welfare of human kind. Olsen received this award in 1994 for “his development of Digital Equipment Corporation into the world’s leading manufacturer of network computer systems and equipment.”

A bronze colored medal with the words

Computer Pioneer Medal (1995)

The Computer Pioneer Award was established by the IEEE Computer Society in 1981 to recognize and honor those whose efforts resulted in the creation and continued vitality of the computer industry. Olsen received this award in 1995 for his work with minicomputers.

Image of a off-white certificate from Gordon College to Ken Olsen awarding him an honorary doctorate. At the bottom of the certificate is a gold embossed Gordon logo.

Honorary Doctorate from Gordon College

In 1972, Ken Olsen was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Science from Gordon College for his success in innovating the small computer industry. His work made the idea of small, personal computers a reality and is revered as a pioneer in the success of this industry.

 

Text of above certificate:

Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts

is pleased to honor

KENNETH H. OLSEN

Founder and President of Digital Equipment Coporation, Maynard, Massachusetts. 

A man of vision and creative leadership, he pioneered the idea of small computers at a time when industry experts are advised against it, and today Digital Equipment Corporation dominates the small computer market.

An individualist, with clear goals and objectives, he has conducted his personal and business life on the basis of carefully fashioned principles in spite of the pressures of majority opinion. He is a man of strong Christian conviction.

An active Churchman, he has served as a trustee and deacon of Park Street Church in Boston where his major interest has been in Christian Education.

He is a member of the corporation of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his alma mater, and serves on a variety of committees of the United States Government.

His role in the growth and development of Gordon College has been phenomenal. As a member of the Board of Trustees he has served on the Executive Committee and as Chairman of the Development Committee. His leadership and support of the College has been indispensable in enabling it to realize those goals of Christian higher education to which he personally is committed.

He is a Christian gentleman, a man of diligence, good humor, determination, and humility, with a sincere desire to live his life in a way pleasing to God.

We honor ourselves this tenth day of June, nineteen hundred and seventy-two, by presenting for the degree

DOCTOR OF SCIENCE
honoris causa

KENNETH H. OLSEN

Doctoral Hood

A doctoral hood most likely given to Ken Olsen by Gordon College, based no the blue and white colors, when he received an honorary Doctor of Science from the College in 1972.

Article from the Boston Globe titled

Gordon Receives Ken Olsen Archives

In 2007, Ken Olsen donated his collection of personal computers, papers, books, and various other belongings to Gordon College. Olsen had a personal investment in Christian education and liked that Gordon taught science in a way that was centered around faith.

Book cover of

Learn More!

Learn more about Olsen's life and about DEC by checking out the resources listed below. 

Books & Interviews

Videos

Other Collections

La Imprenta en la Nueva España (Mar. 2022 - July 2023)

An engraving of an example of a printing press

La Imprenta en la Nueva España

Curated by Damon DiMauro

The Bay Psalm Book, issued in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640, has been much heralded as the first book printed in the North American colonies. It was not by any means, however, the first book printed in the New World. For over a hundred years, emissaries of the Spanish Crown and Church had been at work producing catechisms, devotional works, missionary narratives, sermons, grammars, dictionaries, travel literature, maps, natural histories, etc.

In 1539, the Archbishop of Mexico City, Juan Zumárraga, obtained permission from Charles the V, King of Spain, to have a printing press sent from Europe to New Spain. Seville-based publisher Juan Cromberger provided Italian printer Giovanni Paoli—better known under his Spanish name Juan Pablos—with the necessary equipment and materials to set up a print shop in Mexico City. Pablos immediately set about publishing Viceregal- and Church-related documents. He would eventually oversee the printing of at least 37 books between 1539 and his death in 1560.

The earliest work issued from Juan Pablos’ press dates from 1539. Written by Archbishop Juan de Zumárraga himself, both in Spanish and in the indigenous language of Nahuatl, it was entitled Breve y más compendiosa doctrina Christiana en lengua Mexicana y Castellana. In 1559, nine years after Zumárraga’s death, the Mexican church, for mysterious reasons, briefly banned the work. The hint of heresy perhaps explains why no copies are known to have survived to this day. Throughout the centuries, the Doctrina breve has taken on the status of a literary Holy Grail, as researchers, bibliophiles, and antiquarians have attempted to track down an extant copy.

As print culture developed in New Spain, Catholic teaching did not remain the only focal point. Works on indigenous languages, histories, and customs also began to be published and widely disseminated. One which stands out preeminently is Alonso de Molina’s Vocabulario en lengua Castellana y Mexicana, a bilingual dictionary of Spanish and Nahuatl, edited by Juan Pablos in 1555. A Spanish native, Molina had emigrated to Mexico with his parents in 1522 and had learned the native tongue at a young age while playing with monolingual Nahuatl-speaking children in the streets of the former Aztec capital. He later served as an interpreter for early Spanish missionaries. Molina’s masterwork, originally titled Aquí comiença un vocabulario en la lengua Castellana y Mexicana, constitutes the first dictionary of any kind to be printed in the New World. Gordon College owns a copy of this editio princeps, which has been described as “one of the world’s rarest books.” Gordon College also owns the definitive edition of Molina’s work (1571), which added a Nahuatl-to-Spanish section that the original did not include. It was edited by Antonio de Espinosa, the first type cutter and founder in the Americas, and it is generally considered a typographical tour de force.

Another highlight belonging to Gordon College is Manuel Perez’ Cathecismo romano, traducido en castellano, y mexicano (1723). It has pride of place as the first Spanish translation of the Roman Catechism, since the Inquisition, after the Council of Trent (1545-63), had pronounced any and all vernacular versions prohibited. Perez’ work is also noteworthy in terms of the history of translation studies. To communicate Christian concepts, he eschews his own Eurocentric perspective and adopts that of his recipients, thus rejecting Latin and Spanish loan words, while instead adapting existing Nahuatl words for new uses or having recourse to circumlocutions and neologisms.

These rare items are here now on display, with other examples of early Latin-American works from the Vining Collection.

Image: Engraving of a printing press

Painting of Juan Zumárraga, Archbishiop of Mexico

Juan Zumárraga (1468-1548)

Image: Painting of Juan Zumárraga (1468-1548), Archbishop of Mexico.

Black and white photo of E.P. Vining

The Vining Collection

The summer of 2021 marked the 100th anniversary of the gift of the Vining Collection. It was bequeathed as a memorial to Edward Payson Vining (1847-1920), who himself had been, according to the institution’s 1921 catalogue, “sympathetic with the scholarly work and evangelical loyalty of Gordon College.” The collection consists of some 7,000 books, manuscripts, and letters, ranging from the 12th century to the early 20th century. It boasts over 900 Bibles in 140 languages. It is also rich in Shakespeareana, Early Americana, geography, travel literature, ethnology, and especially philology—with vast holdings in indigenous languages.

Vining had made his fortune as a “railroad man,” serving for many years as freight manager of the Union Pacific Railroad and later as general manager of the San Francisco street-railway system. His career took him far and wide, putting him literally on the map, for the town of Vining, Kansas was named in his honor. After his retirement in his early 50s, he devoted the remainder of his life to book collecting and research. Vining authored an eclectic array of scholarly studies and had working knowledge of some fifty languages. In his most ambitious foray into philology and ethnology—an 800-paged monograph titled An Inglorious Columbus (1885)—he contended that Buddhist monks from Afghanistan had first discovered America in the 5th Century. As a scholar, Vining is mainly remembered for his work on Shakespeare. He was a founding member of the New York Shakespeare Society and edited the Hamlet volume of the organization’s republication of the Bard’s collected works (1888). In The Mystery of Hamlet (1881), his most significant contribution to the field, Vining advanced the unorthodox theory that the dithering “prince” was in fact a woman who posed as a man to preserve the succession of the Danish throne. His hypothesis shaped Danish actress Asta Nielsen’s 1920 version of Hamlet for the silver screen and also earned him a fleeting mention in James Joyces’ Ulysses (Ch. IX). Vining was an autodidact and never attended college. He did, however, receive an honorary A.M. from Yale University in 1886 and was granted an LL.D. degree from William Jewell College in 1908. He was also a trustee at the University of Chicago (1886-88).

Image: Edward Payson Vining

Black and white photo of Charles Otis

Charles Otis

In 1919, well into his seventh decade, Edward Payson Vining sought to donate his library of rare books to the Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston. The minister at the time, Cortland Myers, declined, citing lack of space and suggesting the books “should be somewhere of real usefulness.” The following year, Vining was struck by an electric car while crossing the street in Brookline and died less than two months later, leaving the collection without a home. As former Gordon President Nathan Wood later wrote, “An unplanned episode occurred out of the clear blue sky when Charles Otis of New York telephoned and asked if Gordon wanted the Vining Library.” Otis was Vining’s son-in-law and the publisher of the Wall Street Journal. In accepting the bequest, the college saw itself as the “custodian” for “the benefit of scholars at large as well as those within its own walls,” so that “Generations of scholars for the ministry and mission field [might] multiply the influence of the Christian scholarship of Edward Payson Vining.” At the same time, Otis became a trustee and dedicated himself to the school for the remaining twenty-five years of his life. According to Wood, a main feature of Otis’ devotion to the “Gordon College of Theology and Missions was that his ‘tithing’, which he interpreted as a tenth of the gross, not the net, income of the business.” This “led to steady giving to the School of some thousands of dollars a year, which as he said ‘didn’t cost him anything, because they were there, waiting to be assigned.’” On more than one occasion, when the institution was in financial straits, Otis came to the rescue with his largess.  

Image: Photo of Charles Otis

Sample pages from Vocabulario en lengua castellana y Mexicana (1555)

Vocabulario en lengua castellana y Mexicana (1555)

First edition of Alonso de Molina’s Vocabulario en lengua castellana y Mexicana, published in Mexico City by Juan Pablos in 1555, the first dictionary to be published in the New World. It has been described as “one of the world’s rarest books.”

Image: Example pages of Vocabulario en lengua castellana y Mexicana (Vining PM 4066 .M7)

Example pages from Vocabvlario en lengva Castellana y Mexicana (1571)

Vocabvlario en lengva Castellana y Mexicana (1571)

First edition of Alonso de Molina’s Vocabvlario en lengva Castellana y Mexicana, published in Mexico City by Antonio de Espinosa in 1571, which included the Nahuatl-to-Spanish section that the original did not have. Espinosa originally worked for Juan Pablos as a type cutter and founder (the first in the Americas), but in 1558 he founded his own press. His second edition of Molina's Vocabulario has been described as a tour de force, as it exhibits his vast typographical resources. Most folio volumes printed in New Spain were gathered in single sheets, but this edition is a folio “in eights,” in other words, four nested sheets per gathering.

Image: Example pages from Vocabvlario en lengva Castellana y Mexicana (Vining PM 4066 .M72 1571)

Example pages from Manual para administrar a los indios del idioma cahita los santos sacramentos

Manual para administrar a los indios del idioma cahita los santos sacramentos (1740)

First edition of Manual para administrar a los indios del idioma cahita los santos sacramentos, on the administration of the Holy Sacraments, printed in Mexico City in 1740 and attributed to the Jesuit Father Diego Pablo González. The Cáhita were a group of indigenous peoples that inhabited the northwest coast of Mexico. They spoke about 18 closely related dialects of the Cáhita language. When first encountered by the Spaniards in 1533, they numbered some 115,000. Despite initial resistance to the Spanish conquest, by the 17th century they had largely been converted to Christianity.

Image: Example pages from Manual para administrar a los indios del idioma cahita los santos sacramentos (Vining PM 3561 .Z71 1740)

Example pages from Cathecismo romano, traducido en castellano, y mexicano

Cathecismo romano, traducido en castellano, y mexicano (1723)

First and only edition of Manuel Perez’ bilingual Cathecismo romano, traducido en castellano, y mexicano (1723), boasting the first Spanish translation of the Roman Catechism after the Council of Trent. The work is also important in the history of translation, given Perez’ innovative—non-Eurocentric—approach in making use of circumlocutions, neologisms, and other adapted Nahuatl words.

Image: Example pages from Cathecismo romano, traducido en castellano, y mexicano (Vining PM 4068.8 .P52 1723)

Example pages from Arte de la lengua mexicana con la declaración de los adverbios della

Arte de la lengua mexicana con la declaración de los adverbios della (1645)

Horacio Carochi’s Arte de la lengua mexicana con la declaración de los adverbios della (1645) is a grammar of the Nahuatl language. The Florentine Jesuit’s classic work is deemed by linguists today to be the most excellent of the early extant grammars of the Nahuatl language. He had keen insight into the Nahuatl language and was the first grammarian to propose an accurate transcription of difficult phenomena in Nahuatl phonology, to wit vowel length and the saltillo (glottal stop). Carochi was proficient in Otomi as well, for which he also wrote a grammar, though it is now lost.

Image: Example pages from Arte de la lengua mexicana con la declaración de los adverbios della (Vining PM 4063 .C27 1645)

Example pages from Arte de la lengua general del Ynga llamada Qquechhua

Arte de la lengua general del Ynga llamada Qquechhua (1691)

Estevan Sancho de Melgar’s Arte de la lengua general del Ynga llamada Qquechhua was published at Diego de Lyra’s printing press in Lima, Peru in 1691. The author was a Lima native and an expert in the Quechua language (i.e. the lingua franca of the former Incan Empire). The variety of Quechua used in communication for ecclesiastic and administrative purposes in the Andean territories of the Spanish Empire in the late 16th century and first half of the 17th century has often been referred to as “lengua general” (“common language”). It is said Sancho de Melgar’s late 17th-century grammar already reflects a language stage appreciably different from Standard Colonial Quechua since there are regional innovations.

Image: Example pages from Arte de la lengua general del Ynga llamada Qquechhua (Vining PM 6303 .S4 1691)

Example pages from Advertencias para los confessores de los naturales (Part 1)

Advertencias para los confessores de los naturales (1600 part 1)

Friar Juan Bautista’s Advertencias para los confessores de los naturales or “Advice for the Confessors of Natives” is a handbook for Spanish missionaries. The two-volume set was published by Melchior Ocharte in 1600 at the Franciscan convent in Tlatelolco. It is marked by the biases of the times, i.e. with a less than positive view of indigenous language and culture. Bautista opines at one point that indigenous penitents are less likely to confess properly, since what he perceives to be imprecise phrasing in Nahuatl is enough to make the native confession suspect. For instance, he claims there is less precision in the Nahuatl “aço Pedro momecatitinemi” than the Spanish “Pedro está amancebado,” which both signify that Pedro cohabitates with a woman who is not his wife.

Image: Example pages from Advertencias para los confessores de los naturales (Vining PM 4068.4 .B4 1600 pt.1)

Example pages from Advertencias para los confessores de los naturales (Part 2)

Advertencias para los confessores de los naturales (1600 part 2)

Image: Example pages from Advertencias para los confessores de los naturales (Vining PM 4068.4 .B4 1600 pt.2)

Camino del cielo en lengua mexicana (1611)

Martin de León’s Camino del cielo en lengua mexicana consists of a catechism, confessional, and church calendar in Nahuatl, with Spanish on facing pages. It was published in Mexico City by Diego López Dávalos in 1611. Dávalos used the type and press inherited from his father-in-law, Antonio de Espinosa, who had arrived in Mexico City in 1551, where he worked as a type founder and die cutter for Juan Pablos. He was thus known as “the second printer in the New World.”

Image: Example pages from Camino del cielo en lengua mexicana (Vining PM 4068 .L4 1611)

Example pages from Vocabvlario de la lengva general de todo el Perv llamada lengua Qquichua, o del Inca

Vocabvlario de la lengva general de todo el Perv llamada lengua Qquichua, o del Inca (1608)

Diego González Holguín was a member of the Spanish Jesuit mission during the era of the Viceroyalty of Peru. He also made himself a scholar of Quechua languages. In 1607, he published a grammar that documented “Classical Quechua,” spoken in the contemporary Incan court. He followed up in 1608 by publishing his Vocabvlario de la lengva general de todo el Perv llamada lengua Qquichua, o del Inca, on display here, which was the first dictionary of the Cusco dialect. It was edited by Francisco del Canto, the second printer to work in Lima. He was an early collaborator of Antonio Ricardo, an Italian from Turin who had arrived on the Peruvian coast in 1581. Ricardo was thus the first printer in South America. Del Canto succeeded Ricardo when the latter was summoned to appear before the Inquisition in 1605.

Image: Example pages from Vocabvlario de la lengva general de todo el Perv llamada lengua Qquichua, o del Inca (Vining PM 6306 .G6 1608)

Example pages from Confessionario En Lengua Mexicana y Castellana

Confessionario En Lengua Mexicana y Castellana (1599)

The Franciscan Juan Bautista’s bilingual Confessional in Nahuatl and Spanish, Confessionario En Lengua Mexicana y Castellana, was a one of the first books published at the convent in Tlatelolco, on the outskirts of México. It was printed by Melchior Ocharte. He was the fifth printer in Mexico, having inherited his press from his father, Pablo Ocharte, a Frenchman who arrived in New Spain circa 1549. Pablo Ocharte married the daughter of printer Juan Pablos and later took over the operation of his press. In 1572, he was incarcerated by the Inquisition, as one of his publications was considered heretical.

Image: Example pages of Confessionario En Lengua Mexicana y Castellana (Vining PM 4068.4 .B42 1599)

Example pages from Arte de la lengua general del reyno de Chile, con un dialogo chileno-hispano muy curioso

Arte de la lengua general del reyno de Chile, con un dialogo chileno-hispano muy curioso (1765)

Catalan Jesuit Andrés Febrés was active in 18th-century Colonial Chile. He is best known for his work Arte de la lengua general del reyno de Chile, con un dialogo chileno-hispano muy curioso (1765), published in Lima, Peru. Febrés destined his manual for potential parish priests. It consists of a Mapuche “arte” (i.e. grammar), in addition to a series of model sermons, prayers, a confessional, a catechism, and, as the title reveals, “a very curious Chilean-Spanish dialogue” to aid the language student. Mapuche is an indigenous language of Chile and still widely used today.

Image: Example pages from Arte de la lengua general del reyno de Chile, con un dialogo chileno-hispano muy curioso (Vining PM 5461 .F4)

Example pages from Arte de la Lengua Mexicana

Arte de la Lengua Mexicana (1693)

The Franciscan Antonio de Vázquez Gastelu was a professor of Nahuatl at the royal colleges of San Pedro, San Pablo, and San Juan in the city of Puebla de los Ángeles. Little is known about his life, except that he was probably of Basque origin. In his Arte de la Lengua Mexicana, first published in Puebla in 1689, he proposed to offer a grammar that would be accessible for true beginners. The royal colleges, since their founding in 1585, had given entry preference to low-income working classes, especially those of indigenous origin. The ability to speak Nahuatl, the linguam Mexicanam, was a minimal qualification. This explains in part the success of Antonio de Vázquez Gastelu’s simplified grammar, which would have four successive editions over the course of the next century. The edition displayed here is the second (1693).

Image: Example pages from Arte de la Lengua Mexicana (Vining PM 4063 . V3 1693)

Example pages from Arte novissima de lengua mexicana including a wheel-shaped acrostic of the author's name

Arte novissima de lengua mexicana (1753)

First edition of Carlos de Tapia Zenteno’s Arte novissima de lengua mexicana (1753), a grammar of the Nahuatl language spoken by the Central Mexican peoples, also known as Aztecs. Carlos de Tapia Zenteno was an ecclesiastical judge and professor of Nahuatl at the Royal University and Pontifical Seminary College. The 10th preliminary leaf contains a wheel-shaped acrostic on the author’s name.

Image: Example pages from Arte novissima de lengua mexicana (Vining PM 4063 .T2)

Example pages from Reglas de orthographia, diccionario, y arte del idioma othomi, breve instruccion para los principiantes

Reglas de orthographia (1767)

First edition of Jesuit Luis Neve y Molina’s Reglas de orthographia, diccionario, y arte del idioma othomi (1767), divided into three parts—a pronunciation guide, a dictionary, and a guide on how to become a fluent speaker and writer of the Otomi language, spoken near Mexico City. The author was the first to establish a proper system of characters for Otomi, which has been retained to this day.

Image: Example pages from Reglas de orthographia, diccionario, y arte del idioma othomi, breve instruccion para los principiantes (Vining PM 4147 .N5 1767)

Title page from

Grammatica Brasilica (1687)

Luiz Figueira’s Arte de grammatica da lingua do Brasilica, published in Lisbon by Miguel Deslandes in 1687, concerns the Tupi language. In the early colonial period, Tupi was a lingua franca throughout Brazil. Jesuit missionaries not only learned to speak Tupi, but they encouraged the indigenous peoples to keep it. They translated biblical stories into Tupi and produced some original work written in the language as well. When the Jesuits were expelled from Brazil 1759, Tupi was fell almost into oblivion, leaving only Nheengatu as its latter-day descendant with a significant number of speakers.

Image: Title page from Grammatica Brasilica (Vining PM 7173 .R5 1687)

Example pages from Promptuario manual mexicano

Promptuario manual mexicano (1759)

Father Ignacio de Paredes was the president of the College of San Gregorio and considered the most accomplished linguist of his day. His Promptuario manual mexicano (México: Imprenta de la Bibliotheca Mexicana, 1759) contains forty-six “platicas,” or conversations, and six sermons appropriate for the corresponding Sundays of Lent, the whole providing material in Nahuatl for every Sunday of the year. The frontispiece, showing St. Ignatius and two other priests of his order preaching to the New World, symbolized as a reclining woman, is signed Zapata.

Image: Example pages from Promptuario manual mexicano (Vining PM 4068.8 .P42 1759)

Example pages from Arte de la lengva moxa, con su vocabulario, y cathecismo

Arte de la lengva moxa, con su vocabulario, y cathecismo (1701)

Pedro Marbán’s Arte de la lengua moxa, con su vocabulario, y cathecismo, published in Lima, Peru in 1701, is the only work on the language of “los Moxos,” a tribe of Central Bolivia. All that is known about the author can be derived from the title in which he states that he has been a superior of the missions of the Moxos and Chiquitos Indians, in the province of Peru. This extremely rare volume is here presented in its original limp vellum.

Image: Example pages from Arte de la lengva moxa, con su vocabulario, y cathecismo (Vining PM 6576 .M3 1701 c.2)

Cover page of Historia de la conquista de Mexico poblacion, y progresso de la America Septentrional, conocida por el nombre de Nueva España 

Historia de la conquista de Mexico poblacion (1691)

Second edition of Antonio de Solís y Ribadeneyra’s Historia de la conquista de Mexico poblacion, y progresso de la America Septentrionalconocida por el nombre de Nueva España, first published in Spain in 1684 and several times reissued. Solís y Ribadeneyra (1610-1686) was both a dramatist and historian. His literary work includes poetry, drama, and prose, for which he is considered one of the last great writers of Spanish Baroque literature, and he influenced such diverse writers as Scarron, Victor Hugo, and Longfellow. Solís y Ribadeneyra’s Historia de la Conquista de Mexico covers the three years between the appointment of Cortés to command the invading force and the fall of the capital of the Aztec empire. It numbers among the classics of Spanish prose and was soon translated into French, Italian, and English. It remained the most important European source on Latin American history up through the first quarter of the 19th century.

Cover page of Historia de la conquista de Mexico poblacion, y progresso de la America Septentrional, conocida por el nombre de Nueva España (Vining F 1230 .S66)

Cover page of Historia de la Fundación y Discurso de la Provincia de Santiago de México de la Orden de Predicadores por las vidas de sus varones insignes y casos notables de Nueva España 

Historia de la Fundación (1596)

Dávila Padilla (1562–1604) was a Mexican-born priest who earned his Master of Arts from the University of Mexico at the age of 16. This is the first edition of his monumental Historia de la Fundación y Discurso de la Provincia de Santiago de México de la Orden de Predicadores por las vidas de sus varones insignes y casos notables de Nueva España. It is an invaluable work on the Dominican missions in New Spain from 1526 until 1592, as well as a chronicle of paramount importance for the history of colonial Mexico and the southern United States, since it contains one of earliest accounts to describe the Tristán de Luna y Arellano expedition to Florida. Padilla not only includes information on priests and their activities, but also discusses at length the belief system of Native Americans, their conversion to Catholicism, and their native tongues. Padilla wrote the book in the New World, and it is therefore from that perspective, showing interaction and acculturation of the two cultures as they forged together to assimilate. Padilla finished the work in 1592, it was to be printed in Mexico, but the merchant fleet did not appear with the necessary paper, so he took the manuscript to Spain. During his visit there, Padilla met Philip II, who appointed him Chronicler of the Indies.

Cover page of Historia de la Fundación y Discurso de la Provincia de Santiago de México de la Orden de Predicadores por las vidas de sus varones insignes y casos notables de Nueva España (Vining F 1231 .D23)

Example pages of Vera Historia including an engraving showing anacondas attacking villagers bathing in the river

Vera Historia (1599)

Ulrich Schmidl (1510-1579) was a German Landsknecht, conquistador, explorer, and chronicler. He took part in several expeditions: to today’s Argentina (Río de la Plata), to Peru as far as the foot of the Andes, and across the Río Paraná and Río Paraguay and into today’s Paraguay, and finally into southeast Bolivia. He had kept a diary during his peregrinations and first published his adventures under the German title Wahre Geschichte einer merkwürdigen Reise… in 1557. The Vera historia here presented is a Latin version which appeared in Nuremberg in 1599. His work contains mirabilia accounts of New World animals, such as a twenty-five-foot-long anaconda which coiled around natives while they bathed in the river and swallowed them.

Image: Example pages from Vera Historia including an engraving of anacondas attacking villagers while bathing in the river (Vining E 125 .S3 S58)

Map of the Gulf of Mexico from Historia de la conquista de Mexico (1790)

Map from Historia de la conquista de Mexico (1790)

This map is found in a later edition (Madrid: A. Fernandez, 1790) of Antonio de Solis’s prose classic, Historia de la conquista de Mexico, first published in 1684.

Image: Map from Historia de la conquista de Mexico showing the Gulf of Mexico c.1790 (Vining F 1230 .S691w 1790)

Map from The history of America showing South America

Map from The history of America (1777)

This map is from the first edition of William Robertson’s The History of America (London): W. Strahan, 1777). Books I-VIII treat the history of the discovery of America and the conquest of Mexico and Peru, while Books IX-X discuss the history of Virginia and New England.

Image: Map from The history of America showing South America (Vining E 143 .R62 v.1)

Engraving from Histoire de la conquête du Mexique ou de la Nouvelle Espane showing Cortez sinking ships

Histoire de la conquête du Mexique ou de la Nouvelle Espane (1691)

The Histoire de la conquête du Mexique ou de la Nouvelle Espane, published in Paris in 1691, is a first-edition French translation of Antonio de Solís’ popular work (1684). It was translated by Samuel de Broë and it is illustrated by fourteen plates, engraved by Moïse-Jean-Baptiste Fouard. The plates represent, among other things, the island of Cuba, Cortés’ forces descending into the valley and the Battle of Otumba, a map of the city of Mexico, the temple of Mexico, as well as scenes of sacrifice and dance.

Image: Engraving from Histoire de la conquête du Mexique ou de la Nouvelle Espane showing Cortez sinking ships (Vining F 1230 .S71 1691)

A Brief Glimpse of Native American Art and the Art it Has Inspired (Aug. 2022 - Apr. 20223)

A Brief Glimpse of Native American Art and the Art it Has Inspired

Curated by Dante-Christian DiLorenzo (Archives Intern - Summer 2022)

 

This exbibit displays pieces from several different tribes. While they all share similarities, they are distinct groups with unique cultures and traditions. It is the curator’s hope that viewer’s will gain a new appreciation and interest in the topic of native tribes and their cultures.

 

Disclaimer: The following books and illustrations may use harmful and outdated terms to reference Native Americans. These materials were published in the late-1800s-early 1900s and should be viewed through the context of that time period. Where possible the curator and archival staff have avoided the overt use of potentially harmful terms. We have also tried to identify the individual tribe or nation, but some artifacts did not credit a specific Native American nation.

 

About the Vining Collection

The Vining Collection was the personal library of Edward Payson Vining (1847-1920) and was donated by his family to Gordon College in 1921. The collection consists of over 7,000 books, manuscripts, and letters, ranging from the 12th century to the early 20th century. It contains over 900 Bibles in 140 languages and is rich in Shakespeareana, Early Americana, geography, travel literature, ethnology, and especially philology - with vast holdings in indigenous languages. 

Example pages showing four black and white illustrations. On the left-hand side is an sketch of two indigenous women grinding corn. On the right hand-side are three examples of Native American pottery (two bowls and a vase). The bowls are decorated in geometric patterns while the vase is decorated with things you would see every day such as birds and wheat.

Native American Pottery

On the left-hand side of the image above, two female members of the Southwestern Pueblo tribe can be seen grinding corn. On the right-hand page are three examples of pottery. Though very far from New England, the Pueblo people were skilled stone workers and pottery sculptors and much of their works can still be seen today

Learn more about the Pueblo tribe by visiting their website.

Image: Illustrations showing women grinding corn (to the left) and examples of Pueblo pottery including what looks like bowls and a vase (to the right) from The American Continent and Its Inhabitants Before Its Discovery by Columbus (1890). (Vining E 61 .C12 1894 v.1 pt.1)

Brown cloth cover with a golden image of a Native American on the back of horse. The Native American man is wearing a headdress and holding a spear. There are mountains outlined in black in the background as well as some birds in black.

The Story of the American Indian (1887)

Image: Cover of The Story of the American Indian, 1887 (Vining E 77 .B87)

A black and white pencil sketch of an Iroquois longhouse. The long house has segmented sections and there is smoke coming from sections of the roof.

Iroquois Longhouse

Longhouses, like the one pictured here, were used by many of the Northeastern tribes. Its popularity was primarily due to its housing capabilities and heat retention in cold weather.

Learn more about the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, Confederacy by visiting their website.

Image: An pencil sketch illustration of a Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, Longhouse from The Story of the American Indian, 1887 (Vining E 77 .B87).

Example pages from The American Indian in the United States, Period 1850-1914. The left-hand page is an image in sepia tones of a Native American man standing on top of a hill or cliff. He is dressed in clothing with fringes possibly on the legs or arms. He also has bow at his side.

The American Indian in the United States, Period 1850-1914 (1914)

Image: Example pages, including an image titled "The Last Outpost" (right-side of page) from The American Indian in the United States, Period 1850-1914, 1914 (Vining E 93 .M8)

Framed image of four painted portraits of Native Americans. There are two women and two men drawn.

Artwork Portraying Native People

A suspected 18th century work depicting Native American men and women. These portraits were found in the Gordon College Archives though little is known about their origin.

Image: Possible 18th century artwork.

Map of Native American Tribes

There are hundreds of Indigenous people groups that have distinct history, language, and culture. Find out more about what Indigenous territories you are living on by visiting Native Land Digital

Image: Map of Native American tribes in 1650 from the United States as well as portions of Mexico and Canada. 

One Body: Preserving a Diverse Legacy (Sept. 2021 - Sept. 2022)

Photo of the exhibits wall showing photo panels and descriptions as well as the exhibits case

One Body: Preserving a Diverse Legacy

The Gordon College Archives and the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO) is proud to present a collaborative exhibit celebrating the stories of diverse students throughout Gordon College's and Barrington College's history. 

This exhibit couldn't have been completed without the help of the following Archives and MIO interns:

Claire Hoag (2022)
Olivia D'Souza (2021)
Joanna Echtenkamp (2021)
Brianna Rivera (2022)

Gordon College Archives Manager, Sarah Larlee St.Germain, also created a Scot Talk for Homecoming 2021 to talk a little bit about the exhibit. You can check out the video on the Gordon College YouTube page. 

Map of the world in yellow with black dots on certain countries. These countries match up where people featured live(d).

Where in the World?

This map gives an overview of where in the world the alumni highlighted in this exhibit come from. 

  • Alice (Wentworth) Douglin - Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Daniel Janey - United States
  • Deighton Douglin - United States
  • Emmanuel Arango - United States
  • Freda Obeng-Ampofo - Ghana; United States
  • Ingrid Orellana Mathew - El Salvador
  • Marie Patfoort - Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Patricio Confesor - Philippines
  • Samuel Tsoi - Hong Kong; United States
  • Sastra Chim-Chan - Cambodia
  • Silvio Vazquez - Argentina; United States
  • Sumant Ramteke - India
  • Veronica Lanier - United States

Yearbook photo of Patricio Confesor (1926)

Patricio Confesor (1926)

From: Cabatuan, Iloilo, Philippines

Patricio “Pat” Confesor (1900-after 1955) graduated from Gordon College in 1926. After graduating, Confesor traveled back to his home in the Philippines and became a pastor of a Baptist Church. During the early 1940s, he contracted tuberculosis and had to step back from his ministry work. Around this same time, World War II began, and Pat and his family, his wife and four children, joined the underground resistance group on the island of Panay and he quickly became the leader of the group. He soon learned that the air in the mountains that the resistance group was located in was good for his tuberculosis and he made a speedy recovery. At one point, his eleven-year-old daughter was captured by the Japanese, but she was able to escape captivity and reunited with her family on Easter.

On October 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur landed in Leyte, Philippines. MacArthur then put Confesor in charge of reorganizing the Filippino government. Confesor when on to serve as Governor of Iloilo Province in 1945 and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1949 where he served a term from 1950-1953. Through his time serving in the House, Confesor continued with ministry.

Article about Patricio Confesor in The Gordon

Twenty-Five Years Later – Article on Patricio Confesor

Article in the June 1951 edition of The Gordon, an alumni publication, featuring an update on Patricio Confesor since his graduation from Gordon 25 years earlier. The article elaborates on his experience as an underground leader in the Philippines including when his 11-year-old daughter and her nurse were captured by the Japanese.

Yearbook photo of Sumant Ramteke (1940)

Sumant Ramteke (1940)

From: Kolhapur, India

Before coming to Gordon, Sumant Ramteke (1889-1955) grew up in Akola, India, where, at age seventeen, he was one of the founders of the Marathi Christian monthly magazine, Suvrutta Prasar. This magazine would later become the “mouth-piece of all the missions in Berar and Khandesh.”

After graduating from Gordon College in 1940, Ramteke returned to India where he became pastor of the Wilder Memorial Church in Kolapur. He also served as the Secretary of the Christian Endeavour Union of India, Burma and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from 1943-44. Over the next eight years, he served as District Superintendent (Evangelist) of Kodoli District.

Starting in July 1952, he served as the pastor of Christ Church in Poona. Besides working in ministry, Ramteke wrote and translated an abundance of Christian literature, served on the Revision Committee of Pandita Ramabai’s Bible and the Marathi Hymn Book. He also enjoyed painting, writing poetry, and playing the organ.

The strain of working in a “large, and not always united, city church” had taken a toll on Ramteke. He was taking insulin regularly and doctors warned him that his “heart might give way at any moment.” Despite, all this, he continued on, undaunted. On December 4, 1955, Ramteke preached twice and then went to preside over a special function. It is noted that, “Before his message concluded he was visibly having difficulty, but insisted on finishing.” As he was pronouncing the “Amen” of the benediction, he collapsed on the floor and died while on route to the hospital. At his funeral, the officiating pastor remarked that Ramteke was like “Jonathan, who fell on the battlefield with sword in hand.”

Read a short write-up on Ramteke written by Fred Schelander. Fred's article/letter starts on page 54.

Article in the Gordon Alumni News that speaks about Sumant's death

Indian Pastor and Christian Leader Dies After Preaching – Article about Sumant Ramteke

Article in the February 1956 edition of the Gordon Alumni News relaying the information about Sumant Ramteke’s death. It gives information on the life of Sumant as well as an abridged version of the letter received from Sumant’s wife notifying the College of his death.

Yearbook photos of Deighton and Alice (Wentworth) Douglin (1950B)

Deighton and Alice (Wentworth) Douglin (1950B)

From: Lowell, MA (Deighton); Watsa, Congo Belge, Africa (Alice)
Majors: Pastor’s Course (Deighton); General Bible Course (Alice)

Deighton and Alice (Wentworth) Douglin met at Barrington College where they graduated from in 1950. After graduating, Deighton went to Taylor University to be trained as a teacher and Alice went to Belgium. Eventually, he mailed Alice an engagement ring and her American roommate placed the ring on her finger. In July of 1953, Alice and Deighton were married in New Jersey and from there they started on their journey as missionaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo. During their time as missionaries they were often at great personal risk from robberies, attacks, and even volcanic eruption, but this didn’t stop them from serving as school teachers and administrators in Goma.  

In 1974, they took a two-year furlough from the missionary field, when their son, David, began attending Gordon College. Deighton also took this opportunity to attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 1992, they left the Congo, only to return two years later in 1994 to help Rwandan refugees in the Congo. They stayed for a short period of time and returned to Massachusetts.

Alice also wrote an autobiography titled Daughter of the Commandant: An Autobiography of Alice Wentworth Douglin in 2005. It tells her story from being adopted by American missionaries, working in a medical clinic, coming to America, meeting and marrying Deighton, to serving as missionaries in the Congo.

In 2016, the Douglin’s were awarded the A.J. Gordon Missionary Service award for their decades of missionary work.

Pages from the 1950 Barrington Yearbook titled Torch. It features a photo of Deighton Douglin in the bottom row as well as a small note that he wrote to the former owner of the yearbook.

1950 Torch Yearbook (Barrington)

Page from the 1950 Barrington College Torch Yearbook featuring Deighton Douglin. His photo is in the bottom row on the right page and is signed with a note from him.

Cover of Alice (Wentworth) Douglin's autobiography

The Commandant's Daughter

Alice’s autobiography follows her life from childhood to present (as of 2005) from being adopted by American missionaries, working in a medical clinic, coming to America, meeting and marrying Deighton to serving as missionaries in the Congo. On loan from the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library. This copy is a circulating copy so if you are interested make sure to check it out in the new year.

Image: Cover of The Commandant's Daughter

Yearbook photo of Veronica Lanier (1954)

Veronica "Ronny" Lanier (1954)

From: West Medford, MA

Veronica “Ronny” Lanier (1918-2014) graduated from Gordon College in 1954. While at Gordon, she was active in the literary society and Commuters Fellowship as well as the Children’s Chapel leader, Sunday School teacher, and Assistant worship leader at the First Baptist Church in Medford. She also served as a Girl Scout Leader in West Medford.

After graduating from Gordon, Lanier was commissioned as a missionary by the American Baptist Home Mission Society in 1957 and served in Denver, Chicago, and Sacramento. She then joined the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts and oversaw the children’s curriculum and teacher training. In 1964, she had a severe heart-attack and was told by her doctor that she would have only 30 minutes left to live. However, that was not the case and Lanier was later ordained by the American Baptist Church in Massachusetts in 1970. She was only the second black woman to be ordained by an American Baptist Church in Massachusetts and only the seventh woman to be ordained by a Baptist denomination in the decade leading up to her ordination. 

Other roles that she filled through out her life time include, Pastor Emeritus at First Baptist Lynn for 16 years, interim pastor for several churches, and received an honorary doctorate from the American Baptist Seminary of the West. Lanier was also a “do it yourself person” and had self-taught skills such as building furniture, sewing, knitting, pattern design, and rug-hooking. She even taught herself how to play the organ.

Learn more by visiting

Yearbook photo of Marie Patfoort (1967)

Marie Patfoort (1967)

From: Belgian Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Major: Education

Marie Patfoort graduated from Gordon College in 1967. Before coming to Gordon, Patfoort lived in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) where she meant alumnus Dr. Winifred Currie ‘45. Currie was working at the Assembly of God mission where Patfoort spent her teen years helping to educate the younger children there. Unfortunately, in 1960, her education came abruptly to a halt as the Congo Crisis began. The Congo Crisis was a period of political upheaval occurring immediately after the country became independent from Belgium and lasted until 1965. Due to her mixed heritage, Patfoort was in danger and Dr. Currie smuggled her out of the Congo to the United States. Not long after escaping the Congo, Patfoort graduated with a degree in education and was the first Congolese woman to receive a college degree in education.

After graduation, Patfoort found herself as a 5th grade teacher in Whitefield, Maine. Two years later, she was asked by the government of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) to return to Africa to teach. She did return, but only stayed for two years in order to return to the US before her window of opportunity to become a citizen closed. Once she was back in the United States, she went on to continue teaching in Maine. She retired from teaching in 1994.

You can learn more about Patfoort's story by reading Life History of Marie Patfoort. The site includes photos and audio recordings of Patfoort telling her story. 

Yearbook photo of Daniel Janey (1972)

Daniel Janey (1972)

From: Boston, MA
Major: Social Work

Daniel Janey (1949-2019) graduated from Gordon College in 1972. After Gordon, he worked for two years at the Roxbury Children Services and volunteered at the Hawthorne Youth Community Center where he later served for thirty years as Chairman of the Board.

In 1975, he received a Master’s in Social Work from Boston College while working for the Department of Mental Health for the Commonwealth of MA. He worked as a forensic social worker for thirty-two years. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Janey worked at the Dorchester Court Clinic and later became the director. After retiring from the Commonwealth, Janey represented Quincy Mental Health Care Center and worked with inmates in Norfolk County to ensure that they were connected with services after they were released. 

Janey also worked on political campaigns, for the national and Boston chapters of the Black Social Workers organization, and as an adjunct professor at Lesley University (1995-1998) and Bunker Hill Community College (1999-2001).

Amongst his many talents, Janey was also an “avid fisherman, collector of knives, sweater vests, kitchen equipment, music, black bags, and knowledge.” He was also famous at his church for his bread.

Yearbook photo of Silvio Vazquez (1987)

Silvio Vazquez (1987)

From: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Skillman, New Jersey
Major: History

Silvio Vazquez is a 1987 Gordon alumnus and a first-generation college graduate. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Vazquez grew up in central New Jersey and came to faith through the ministry of Young Life. After graduating from Gordon, he began working for Young Life in Ridgefield, CT, directing outreach to junior high and high school students while coaching high school soccer. In 1989, he returned to Gordon College and embarked on a 20-year career with the College.

At Gordon, Vazquez served as an Admission’s Counselor (1989-1992) before moving into the role of Director of Annual Giving and Special Gifts (1992-1995). From there, he worked as the Director of Alumni, Parent, and Church Relations (1995-1998), Dean of Admissions (1998-2003), and Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing (2003-2009). During his tenure in admission and enrollment, the College experienced growth in enrollment, especially among international and underrepresented students. Vazquez was instrumental in helping launch the New City Scholars Program, which today is known as the Clarendon Scholars Program.

Upon leaving Gordon, he worked as a consultant for one of the nation’s top higher education consulting firms, Scannell & Kurz, Inc. In 2011, he became the Dean of Admissions at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California and held that position until 2017, when he was hired as Wheaton College’s first Chief Enrollment Management Officer. A role he holds to this day.

Vazquez received his M.B.A. from Boston College in 2003. He has served as a panelist and speaker at various professional higher education conferences and as an Enrollment Commissioner for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). He has contributed articles to University Business and Private Colleges and Universities as well as alumni publications for Gordon and Wheaton, and has served on the board of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival in Rockport, MA.

He currently resides in Wheaton, IL with his wife, Tara, and their three sons.

Learn more about Vazquez by reading Telling the Story: Silvio Vazquez Steps into CEMO Role or watch his talk titled The Fragrance of Life.

Yearbook photo of Sastra Chim Chan (1994)

Sastra Chim Chan (1994)

From: Cambodia
Major: Political Science and International Affairs

As a boy, Sastra Chim Chan watched as the Khmer Rouge seized control of Cambodia in 1975 and as Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in 1979. According to recollections from his father, Chim Chan served as a government soldier under the Vietnamese occupation before joining the anti-Vietnamese resistance.

In 1989, he was accepted into a training program for human rights advocates at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights. He then made his way to Gordon in 1991 and graduated with a degree in political science and international affairs in 1994.

After his time at Gordon, Chim Chan returned to Cambodia to work in human rights and joined the UN Center for Human Rights. Later, he went to Rwanda to investigate human rights abuses. A colleague of Chim Chan’s said, “He went to repay a debt” because he felt that “Cambodia owed the world for all the help it had received from other countries.” Tragically, Chim Chan’s life was cut short at the age of 34, when he was shot in a suspected Hutu ambush on Feb. 4, 1997. He was believed to be the first Cambodian human rights monitor to die abroad. He is remembered for his passion, idealism, and his fearlessness. In June of 1998, a small village in the Kompong Chhnang province of Cambodia opened a primary school, donated by fellow UN workers, named the Chim-Chan Sastra primary school.

Learn more about Sastra Chim-Chan by reading the articles listed below or visit his legacy page.

Cover of the Summer 1997 Stillpoint featuring a photo of Sastra with former Gordon professor Peter Stine.

Stillpoint 1997

Cover of the Summer 1997 Stillpoint which acted as a memorial of sorts for Sastra Chim Chan who had passed away in February 1997. It includes stories, photos, and a touching tribute to Sastra. This edition of the Stillpoint is available on the 4th floor of Jenks Library in the Periodical’s Hallway or can be accessed in the Gordon College Archives. Sastra is pictured on the cover with former Gordon professor Peter Stine.

Photo of Samuel Tsoi

Samuel "Sam" Tsoi (2007)

From: Hong Kong; Boston, MA
Major: International Affairs

Samuel Tsoi graduated from Gordon College in 2007 and was a part of the Clarendon Scholars’ first cohort. Having immigrated to the US from Hong Kong when he was 8-years old, he decided to study abroad at Peking University in China during his time at Gordon. During this time, he “discovered a passion for dialog around racial reconciliation as well as honest and real conversations about who we are as people and as a country with so many differences.”

After graduating, Tsoi went on to get a M.S. in Public Affairs from the University of Massachusetts Boston (2012); completed a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management & Leadership at Tufts University (2013); and completed advanced courses at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Tsoi worked for a number of organizations involved with immigration, immigrant communities, and international relations. In 2016, he was a part of the RISE San Diego Fellows program which is a “community development organization”. Then in 2017, he began work at Welcoming San Diego which is a city initiative “to effectively integrate immigrants into the economic, civic and cultural fabric of our community.” He was also the Assistant Director or 21st Century China Center which helps prepare future leaders “for constructive dialog on U.S. relations with China.” Most recently, he became the Equity Impact Manager for the County of San Diego’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice.

Learn more about Tsoi by visiting the article about him in The Bell and the article Someone San Diego Should Know

Photo of Freda Obeng-Ampofo

Freda Obeng-Ampofo (2008)

From: Ghana; Worcester, MA
Major: International Affairs

After graduating from Gordon College in 2008, Freda Obeng-Ampofo has kept busy. She has worked with trade, international business, and project management organizations including the European Union, American World Services Corporation, and Futures Group International under the USAID Health Policy Initiative (HPI/HPP). Most recently, she has been working for Kaeme, an indigenous Ghanian beauty and cosmetic company specializing in personal and skincare products offering a range of natural shea butter and liquid black soap products. Obeng-Ampofo was recently featured on the Richard Quest Show through CNN International and CNN Business for the way she handled her workers during the pandemic.

During her time at Gordon she was a part of the Clarendon Scholar’s program then known as the New City Scholar program. She also participated in ISO (International Student Organization), was a part of the Gospel Choir, and was a short distance sprinter for the Track and Field team. As a part of her final year at Gordon, she was able to gain admission to the America Studies Program in Washington, D.C. Of this experience, Obeng-Ampofo recalls, “This experience not only gave me an opportunity to have my feet in the professional world even before I graduated from college, but also allowed me to make lots of contacts and network in DC where I hoped to eventually work after Gordon.”

In her spare time, Obeng-Ampofo enjoys running marathons across the globe not only to keep fit, but to also get to know and learn about other cultures while also raising money for charity. She is also on the Board of Directors and Chair of Programs for Ahaspora, a group of Ghanians who have gone to school or worked abroad and are now “back home to make a difference,” and is a part of the Organizing team for the Accra International Marathon.

Learn more by reading her story on The Bell. You can also watch Freda Obeng-Ampofo Speaks to CNN or Freda Obeng-Ampofo’s Journey as KAEME Business Owner.

Photo of Emmanuel Arango

Emmaneul "Manny" Arango (2010)

From: Boston, MA
Major: Biblical Studies

At age 13, Manny Arango preached his first sermon at a juvenile detention center in Roxbury, MA. Fast forward to 2010 and Manny graduated from Gordon College with a B.A. in Biblical Studies. Shortly after graduation, he was ordained by Jubilee Christian Church in 2011 and is still the Youth Pastor there. He also works for New England Community Services, is the Youth Pastor for World Overcomers Christian Church, and runs a blog. He has also taught in England, Grenada, and Hawaii.

Arango describes himself as “a Bible nerd, a storyteller, a troublemaker, an overcomer, and a revivalist. Passionate about fighting for people who have lost their voice, Manny strives to inspire those who have lost hope or have settled for mediocre.”

Learn more about Arango by visiting his website. You can find more photos, stories, and videos there. 

Photo of Ingrid Orellana Rivera

Ingrid Orellana Mathew (2015)

From: El Salvador
Major: Business Administration

Ingrid Orellana Mathew graduated from Gordon College in 2015. During her time at Gordon, she was the Student Director of the International Student Organization (ISO) for three years. She also played a large role in the development of the International Orientation program and an international mentorship program. It was during this time that “she discovered a love for her fellow international students and a desire to shepherd new cohorts through the process of acclimating to the United States and to Gordon.”

After graduation, she became Gordon’s Director of International Student Services, a role she has held since August 2015. She also received a Master’s of Leadership in Education from Gordon in 2020.

Her favorite Bible verse is Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” She says, “Living in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language – away from family and home was hard but the Lord would always bring to my mind Joshua 1:9 through people, peers, friends, and my own parents so it became the encouragement and the reminder I needed when I was feeling low or overwhelmed.”

Pin that features a blue star with an open bible at the center. Each point of the star has a letter: G B M T S.

Gordon Lapel Pin

A Gordon Bible Missionary Training School (GBMTS) lapel pin (c.1903-1907). The pin features a blue star with an open bible at the center. Each point of the star has a letter: G B M T S. It was given to Waldon Corbett (Class of 1948) by Irene Baker.

Photo of the Dudley Bible Institute Class of 1928. Three men stand in the back row while two women sit in chairs in the front row.

Dudley Bible Institute Class of 1928

The Dudley Bible Institute (later Barrington College) class of 1928. 

Pictured:

(Back Row) Gaetano Buttaro, Edward Cheney, Stephen Ciccorilla
(Front Row) Verna Rapp, Nina Gregg

White t-shirt with blue outlined block letters spelling out Clarendon. 15th Anniversary is written underneath.

15th Anniversary T-Shirt

In 2018, these special t-shirts were printed to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Clarendon Scholars program. On loan from the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO).

Commencement sash for students of African descent. It has different African prints in yellows, reds, greens, and blacks.

Commencement Sash (African)

A Commencement sash given out by MIO to all graduating multicultural students. This sash is for African Heritage students. On loan from the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO).

Clarendon Scholars Pin. It has a cityscape featured in the middle with

Clarendon Scholars Pin

Clarendon Scholars Commencement pin (2019) given to graduating Clarendon Scholars students. On loan from the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO).

Commencement Sash for students of Hispanic descent. It has stripes of colors in hues of green, blue, pink, white, red, orange, black, and yellow

Commencement Sash (Hispanic)

A Commencement sash given out by MIO to all graduating multicultural students. This sash is for Hispanic Heritage students. On loan from the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO).

ALANA (stands for African, Latin, Asian, Native, Allies) t-shirt with the logo used for 2013-2019. The logo is triangular with a rectangle in the middle. The outer triangle parts are in blue and the two middle rectangular parts are in yellow and orange.

ALANA T-Shirt

A t-shirt from the student organization ALANA which stands for African – Latin – Asian – Native – Allies. This shirt includes the old logo that was used from 2013-2019. On loan from the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO).

Traveling through the Archives: Egypt and Arabia Petrea (Aug. 2021 - Aug. 2022)

Map of the Arabian Peninsula c.1850s

Traveling through the Archives: Egypt and Arabia Petrea

Curated by Rebecca Leslie (Archives Intern - Summer 2021)

 

This exhibit showcases items from the Vining Rare Book Collection and the Egyptian Archaeological Collection.

About the Vining Collection

The Vining Collection was the personal library of Edward Payson Vining (1847-1920) and was donated by his family to Gordon College in 1921. The collection consists of over 7,000 books, manuscripts, and letters, ranging from the 12th century to the early 20th century. It contains over 900 Bibles in 140 languages and is rich in Shakespeareana, Early Americana, geography, travel literature, ethnology, and especially philology - with vast holdings in indigenous languages. 

About the Egyptian Archaeological Collection

The collection was donated by Elizabeth Eliot Gren and contains artifacts from a dig performed by W.C. (William Cowper) Prime in 1855. It also includes a 19th century Arabic outfit.

 

Image: Map of the Arabian Peninsula from The One Primeval Language by Rev. Charles Foster, 1851-54 (Vining PJ 3091 .F7 vol. 1)

Image of William Cowper Prime

On William C. Prime (1825-1905)

William Cowper Prime was a lawyer, journalist, and art history professor at Princeton College. These mummy case fragments and other artifacts from the Holy Land in the Gordon College Archives would have been collected either on Prime's visit to Egypt in 1855 or during Prime's years with the Metropolitan Museum of Art where he served as a trustee from 1873-1891 and Vice President from 1874-1891. Besides many books on on pottery and porcelain (an interest he shared with his wife, Mary Trumbull Prime), and accounts of his travels in Egypt and the Holy Land, W.C. Prime also edited and wrote a biographical preface for the Civil War memoir of General George B. McClellan, McClellan's Own Story, which is also in the Vining Rare Book Collection. Prime's style of travel writing was parodied by Mark Twain in Twain's tale The Innocents Abroad.

Image: Portrait of William C. Prime from The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume XIII, 1906, page 254.

Elisabeth Elliot with students at the Student Missionary Convention in Urbana, Illinois, in 1976

On Elisabeth Elliot Gren (1926-2015)

Elisabeth Elliot Gren was a missionary, author, and speaker. Her husband, Jim Elliot, and four other men were killed trying to bring the Gospel to the Waorani (or Huaorani) tribe in Ecuador. Amazingly, she afterwards returned to the same tribe with her young daughter and another missionary widow and lived with them there. She wrote two books about this experience, along with about 20 other books. She and her second husband, Addison Leitch, both taught at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary before his death. In 1981, she was appointed writer-in-residence at Gordon College. 

These Egyptian and Arab materials were donated to the Gordon Archives by Elisabeth Elliot Gren and were inherited through her family from the William C. Prime estate, having been originally collected by William C. Prime.

Image: Elisabeth Elliot with students at the Student Missionary Convention in Urbana, Illinois, in 1976. From the Billy Graham Center archives, Wheaton College, Illinois, via The Bell, 2015.

Pages from Egyptian Grammar (1836-41)

Egyptian Grammar

This grammar of the ancient Egyptian language is written in French and uses the Coptic language apparently to make diachronic linguistic comparisons or to provide transliteration and pronunciation aids for the hieroglyphic characters. Jean-François Champollion is famous for his many contributions to Egyptology including the decoding of the Rosetta Stone which contained a bilingual inscription in Egyptian and Greek using three scripts (hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek) and which proved to be the key to cracking the code for reading the previously indecipherable hieroglyphic inscriptions of Egypt's monuments.

 

Image: Pages from Egyptian Grammar [Grammaire égyptienne ou Principes généraux de l'écriture sacrée égyptienne appliquée à la représentation de la langue parlée] by Jean-François Champollion, 1836-41 (Vining PJ 1135 .C4)

Mummy case fragment

Egyptian Sarcophagus Piece

Pictured: Fragment of a mummy case (or sarcophagus), the protective box that lay between a mummy and its coffin. It is likely from the Third Intermediate Period (1070-664 B.C.), but may possibly resemble examples from the 22nd Dynasty (c. 943-720 B.C.) in Upper Egypt in both iconography and style. 

Mummy case fragment

Egyptian Sarcophagus Piece

Pictured: Fragment of a mummy case (or sarcophagus), the protective box that lay between a mummy and its coffin. It is likely from the Third Intermediate Period (1070-664 B.C.), but may possibly resemble examples from the 22nd Dynasty (c. 943-720 B.C.) in Upper Egypt in both iconography and style. 

Mummy case fragment

Egyptian Sarcophagus Piece

Pictured: Fragment of a mummy case (or sarcophagus), the protective box that lay between a mummy and its coffin. It is likely from the Third Intermediate Period (1070-664 B.C.), but may possibly resemble examples from the 22nd Dynasty (c. 943-720 B.C.) in Upper Egypt in both iconography and style. 

Title page showing the author in Arab dress and an engraved illustration on the left page (1838)

Journey through the Sinai Peninsula

The Vining Rare Book Collection contains a section devoted to travel literature. This book is a translation of a French account by Léon Laborde of his travels in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt and also near Petra, located in the territory of ancient Edom or modern-day Jordan. The title page displays a portrait of the author in Arab dress across from one of the book's numerous engraved illustrations of sights and people, many of which were drawn by the author. The book also contains a map of Arabia Petræa or Stony Arabia. The translator's preface lays out a number of detailed parallels between Biblical prophecies regarding ancient Edom or Idumea and the observations of various travelers and historians which the translator wished to highlight as apparent confirmation of the prophecies' fulfillments.

 

Image: Title page showing the author in Arab dress and an engraved illustration on the left page from Journey through Arabia Petræa, to Mount Sinai, and the Excavated City of Petra, the Edom of the Prophecies by Marquis Léon de Laborde, 1838 (Vining DS 110.5 .L13)

Image of the linen tunic and outer robe from the Arab Costume

Arab Costume - Tunic & Outer Robe

Pictured: Linen tunic with right side pocket and outer robe. The linen tunic has black, yellow, green, and white stripes and is about 50 1/2" h x 22 1/2" w [chest], and approximately 28 1/2" w [bottom]. The outer robe is made of a thin material and is 50" h x 41" w.

 

Linen belt with tassels, headband with ties, and one braided cotton piece from the Arab Costume

Arabic Costume - Additional Pieces

Pictured: Linen belt with tassels, headband with ties, and one braided cotton piece. The linen belt includes eight sections of interconnected tassels and is 51" l x 1"w x 1/2" h. The headband, which is 1" w x 12" l (excluding the ties), also has a connected face covering that is 16 1/4" l x 5 1/2" w. Finally, the braided cotton piece is white and is 36" l x 3/4" w x 1/4" h. 

Head or waistband from Arab Costume

Headband or Waistband

Pictured: The colorful, but heavy, folded head or waistband from the Arab Costume. It is 3" w x 36" l.

Wooden musical pipes with six pitch holes

Wooden Pipes

Pictured: Two wooden musical pipes with six pitch holes. It is 8" l x 1/2" w. 

Page from New Testament [Kitāb al-'ahd al-jadīd] (1909)

Arabic New Testament (1909)

This is a copy of the Arabic New Testament, representing the written language of modern-day Egypt. This Semitic language's script is written from right to left.

 

Image: Page from New Testament [Kitāb al-'ahd al-jadīd], 1909 (Vining BS 315 .A65 1909)

Page from the Coptic Psalter [Psalterium coptice], 1837

Coptic Psalter (1837)

This is a Coptic Psalter edited by Julius Ludwig Ideler (1809-1842), a philologist and naturalist of Berlin, Germany, who wrote books on ancient and modern languages, the natural sciences, and studies of classical Greek and Roman meteorology. The Coptic language is written left to right in a script derived from the Greek alphabet with several Egyptian demotic letters added. It is the fifth and final stage of the Egyptian language but was eventually superseded as a spoken language by Arabic after the Muslim conquest of Egypt (AD 639-646). Today, it is primarily still used as a liturgical language of the Coptic Church.

 

Image: Page from the Coptic Psalter [Psalterium coptice], 1837 (Vining BS 100 O.T. Psalms .I4w 1837)

Eliot's Bible: Celebrating 100 Years of the Vining Collection (Sept. - Dec. 2021)

Portrait of Edward Payson Vining

Eliot's Bible: Celebrating 100 Years of the Vining Collection

Curated by Damon DiMauro

 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the gift of the Vining Collection. It was bequeathed as a memorial to Edward Payson Vining (1847-1920), who himself had been, according to the institution’s 1921 catalogue, “sympathetic with the scholarly work and evangelical loyalty of Gordon College.” The collection consists of some 7,000 books, manuscripts, and letters, ranging from the 12th century to the early 20th century. It boasts over 900 Bibles in 140 languages. It is also rich in Shakespeareana, Early Americana, geography, travel literature, ethnology, and especially philology—with vast holdings in indigenous languages.

Vining had made his fortune as a “railroad man,” serving for many years as freight manager of the Union Pacific Railroad and later as general manager of the San Francisco street-railway system. His career took him far and wide, putting him literally on the map, for the town of Vining, Kansas was named in his honor. After his retirement in his early 50s, he devoted the remainder of his life to book collecting and research. Vining authored an eclectic array of scholarly studies and had working knowledge of some fifty languages. In his most ambitious foray into philology and ethnology—an 800-paged monograph titled An Inglorious Columbus (1885)—he contended that Buddhist monks from Afghanistan had first discovered America in the 5th Century. As a scholar, Vining is mainly remembered for his work on Shakespeare. He was a founding member of the New York Shakespeare Society and edited the Hamlet volume of the organization’s republication of the Bard’s collected works (1888). In The Mystery of Hamlet (1881), his most significant contribution to the field, Vining advanced the unorthodox theory that the dithering “prince” was in fact a woman who posed as a man to preserve the succession of the Danish throne. His hypothesis shaped Danish actress Asta Nielsen’s 1920 version of Hamlet for the silver screen and also earned him a fleeting mention in James Joyces’ Ulysses (Ch. IX). Vining was an autodidact and never attended college. He did, however, receive an honorary A.M. from Yale University in 1886 and was granted an LL.D. degree from William Jewell College in 1908. He was also a trustee at the University of Chicago (1886-88).

Image: Photo of Edward Payson Vining

Photo of Charles Otis

Charles Otis

In 1919, well into his seventh decade, Edward Payson Vining sought to donate his library of rare books to the Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston. The minister at the time, Cortland Myers, declined, citing lack of space and suggesting the books “should be somewhere of real usefulness.” The following year, Vining was struck by an electric car while crossing the street in Brookline and died less than two months later, leaving the collection without a home. As former Gordon President Nathan Wood later wrote, “An unplanned episode occurred out of the clear blue sky when Charles Otis of New York telephoned and asked if Gordon wanted the Vining Library.” Otis was Vining’s son-in-law and the publisher of the Wall Street Journal. In accepting the bequest, the college saw itself as the “custodian” for “the benefit of scholars at large as well as those within its own walls,” so that “Generations of scholars for the ministry and mission field [might] multiply the influence of the Christian scholarship of Edward Payson Vining.” At the same time, Otis became a trustee and dedicated himself to the school for the remaining twenty-five years of his life. According to Wood, a main feature of Otis’ devotion to the “Gordon College of Theology and Missions was that his ‘tithing’, which he interpreted as a tenth of the gross, not the net, income of the business.” This “led to steady giving to the School of some thousands of dollars a year, which as he said ‘didn’t cost him anything, because they were there, waiting to be assigned.’” On more than one occasion, when the institution was in financial straits, Otis came to the rescue with his largess.  

Image: Photo of Charles Otis

Photo of A.J. Gordon as a young man

Eliot's Influence on A.J. Gordon

Adoniram Judson “A. J.” Gordon (1836–95) was a Boston-based Baptist minister. Through his writing, speaking, and hymnology, he became one of the most influential religious leaders of his era. In 1886 he addressed the Northfield Conference when the initial 100 student volunteers launched what became the Student Volunteer Movement. It was, however, at the 1888 London Centenary Conference on the Protestant Missions of the World that Gordon emerged as a leading apologist for worldwide evangelization and indigenous church planting. Recognizing the desperate need for laborers in the harvest, he founded the Boston Missionary Training School in 1889. After his demise, the school was renamed Gordon in his honor.

A. J. Gordon’s first known brush with the legacy of John Eliot was also his first known foray into the realm of education. As a young civic-minded pastor in Jamaica Plain, he served as head of a committee overseeing the construction of a new edifice for the Eliot School, named after John Eliot, who in 1689 had given 75 acres of land, stipulating that the proceeds were to be used “for teaching and instructing of the children of that end of town (together with such negroes or Indians as may or shall come to said school)…” Gordon, speaking at the opening ceremony, noted that some had objected to the final design which resembled too much a church. Although not conscious of the resemblance at first, he nevertheless quipped how “appropriate it was for a school founded by John Eliot.”

Later in life, A. J. Gordon was wont to make pilgrimages to the gravesites of previous heroes of the faith. Regarding David Brainerd’s tomb, he maintained that he had “never received such spiritual impulse from any human being as from him whose body has lain now for nearly a century and a half under that Northampton slab.” It is known that he also visited Jonathan Edwards’ tomb and indeed John Eliot’s burial place to draw inspiration from their example.

In one of his most well-known sermons, If Ye Continue in my Word, he refers to Eliot’s example: “I sorrowfully own that I make many failures in the Christian life: but the secret has often been too much work and too little prayer. I believe in the maxim of John Eliot: ‘Prayer and pains through faith in Christ can do all things.’ Yes, if we only keep the two yoked together, and always moving with equal footstep.” The maxim in question is found on the last page of Eliot’s Indian Grammar.

Image: Photo of a young A.J. Gordon

Portrait of John Eliot

John Eliot

Image: Portrait of John Eliot.

Painting of John Eliot

Eliot the Man

John Eliot graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1623, where he had shown a special talent for languages. His religious thinking was profoundly influenced by Puritan divine Thomas Hooker, the future founder of the Colony of Connecticut. Eliot immigrated to Massachusetts Bay in November 1631. After serving the Boston Church for a year, he was ordained at Roxbury in November 1632, and remained in the pastorate there until his death, serving over half a century.

John Eliot developed an interest in missions to first peoples and began to study Wampanoag, a dialect of the Algonquian language. He enlisted the help of a native named “Cockenoe,” who had been captured in the Pequot War of 1637 and who had become indentured to an English settler. “He was the first,” affirmed Eliot, “that I made use of to teach me words, and to be my interpreter.” With Cockenoe’s assistance, he was able to translate the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and other religious material. In 1646, while still serving the Roxbury church, Eliot set about to preach to native populations. His first evangelistic overtures were unsuccessful. He then resorted to what in modern parlance would be called “adult education”: after an opening prayer and sermon, he entertained general questions—the cause of thunder, the ebbing of the sea, the changing of the wind. Sometimes the questions became more pointed: “Do not English spoil their souls when they say that a thing costs them more than it did cost, and is not that all one as to steal?”

In 1651, Eliot petitioned the General Court for a tract of land in Natick on which to establish a native community. He eventually assisted in organizing fourteen such communities, known as “Praying Towns,” complete with their own form of government and educational system, combining literacy as well as vocational skills. Eliot’s venture flourished for over 20 years until the advent of King Philip’s War (1675-76), led by Wampanoag chief Metacom in a last-ditch effort to stop English settlement, bringing this rather utopian state of affairs to an abrupt and tragic end.

Eliot’s passion for education is evident in a prayer he once offered before the Assemblies of the Puritan Church: “Lord, for schools everywhere among us! That every member of this assembly may go home and procure a good school to be encouraged in the town where he lives! That before we die, we may be so happy as to see a good school encouraged in every plantation of the country.” His educational legacy endures to this day: he founded the Roxbury Grammar School and he donated 75 acres of land to support the Eliot School in what was then Roxbury’s Jamaica Plain district. Eliot’s donation required the school (renamed in his honor) to accept both African American and Native American students without prejudice.

Eliot died, nearly 86 years old, on May 20, 1690. His ultima verba were, “Welcome—Joy!”

Image: Painted portrait of John Eliot

Title page of the New Testament in Eliot's Indian Bible. Text is in Algonquian.

Eliot's Bible

The crowning achievement of John Eliot’s ministry was his “Indian Bible” (1663), a project which he undertook because he felt that native peoples were more receptive to hearing the Scriptures in their own tongue. It has well been styled “a wonderful monument of patience, industry and faith.” Its superlatives are several:

The first complete Bible printed in the Western Hemisphere and printed on the first press brought to the American colonies.

The largest printing project ever undertaken in 17th-century Colonial America.

The first time the entire Bible was translated into a language not native to the translator.

The earliest known example of the translation of the Bible into a new language of no previous written words.

For the printing of his translation, Eliot had the financial support in England of the newly formed “Company for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England.” In the end, £16,000 were raised, all from private donations. After much toil and travail, Eliot learned enough of the local dialect of the Algonquian language to begin his grand endeavor. He was most certainly aided by native-speaking Christian converts John Sassomon, Job Nesuton, and James Printer. Eliot first published the New Testament in 1661. He then published the entire 66 books of the Bible in 1663 under the title Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up Biblum God (“The Whole Holy His-Bible God”). It took him and his cadre of artisans a little over fourteen years.

Eliot did not deem the indigenous term for the Deity sufficiently removed from superstitious misconceptions, and rendered it as “God” or “Jehovah” as the English Bible would have them accordingly. For proper nouns or objects known only to the oriental world, he employed the English term, with proper native inflections. Eliot’s translation is also known for its additive multiword structures. “This Language,” as Eliot noted, “doth greatly delight in Compounding of words”:

Nummatchekodtantamoonganunnonash (32 letters, “our lusts”)

Wutteppesittukqussunnoowehtunkquoh (34 letters, “kneeling down to him”)

Kummogkodonattoottummooetiteaongannunnonash (43 letters, “our question”)

Many copies of the original edition of Eliot’s “Indian Bible” were destroyed during the King Philip’s War (1675-76)—hence its great rarity today, for only 37 copies are known to exist. In 1685, after some debate, the Society for the New England Company decided to support the publication of a second edition of Eliot’s Indian Bible (1685), of which there are 53 surviving copies.

Pictured: Editio princeps of John Eliot’s “Indian Bible” (1663). The first Bible published in British North America and a translation based on the Geneva Bible. The New Testament, whose title page is presented here, was printed earlier in 1661.

Image: Title page of the New Testament (Vining BS 345 .A2 E4 1663).

Conserved Eliot Bible. It is bound with brown leather decorated with a straight border along the edges with small, floral designs in the corners. The spine is briefly visible with

Eliot Bible Conservation

In the Summer of 2021, the Eliot Bible was conserved by Jim Reid-Cunningham. The Bible was in rough condition originally and had split into three separate sections. Thanks to Jim's conservation work, the Bible has been fully rebound and whole once more. You can see the video of Jim's conservation work on the Jenks Library YouTube page. 

Image: The conserved Eliot Bible with new binding

Painting title “Eliot’s Indian Bible” by Elijah M. Haines (1888) showing Eliot preaching to the Natives

“Eliot’s Indian Bible” by Elijah M. Haines, 1888

Image: Painting of John Eliot preaching to the Natives. 

Title page of the 1685 edition of John Eliot's bible. It is written in Algonquian and lists the Old Testament and New Testament.

Eliot's Bible (1685)

Second edition of Eliot’s “Indian Bible” (1685), in the preparation of which he was assisted by John Cotton (1640-99), the younger, of Plymouth, who also had a wide knowledge of the native tongue.

Image: Title page of the 1685 Bible (Vining BS 345 .A2 E4 1685)

Title page of Eliot's Gospel of Matthew

Gospel of Matthew (1680)

This edition of Eliot’s Gospel of Matthew (1680) might have been rebound as a remnant of a New Testament that had fallen apart, as often happened. Or, it could possibly have been printed by Eliot as a trial run, as he had done with both Genesis and Matthew while preparing the first edition of the “Indian Bible.”

Image: Title page of Eliot's Gospel of Matthew (Vining BS 345 .A2 Matthew 1680)

Leaf fragment from the Gospel of John in Algonquian.

Eliot Bible Leaves

Through heavy use and the depredations of time, few entire Eliot Bibles survive. Many individual leaves, on the other hand, have been carefully preserved.

Image: Leaf from John (Vining BS 345 .A2 E4 1685 John)

Leaf fragment from Isaiah in Algonquian

Eliot Bible Leaves - Isaiah

Image: Leaf fragment from Isaiah (Vining BS 345 .A2 E4 1685 Isaiah)

Leaf fragment from Acts in Algonquian

Eliot Bible Leaves - Acts

Image: Leaf fragment from Acts (Vining BS 345 .A2 E4 1685 Acts)

Title Page of John Eliot's

Eliot the Philologist

The early English settlers were fascinated with indigenous languages. In addition to John Eliot’s seminal work on Algonquian, Roger Williams’s A Key into the Language of America (1643), John Cotton, Jr.’s Diary and Indian Vocabulary (1666-78), Josiah Cotton’s Vocabulary of Massachusetts (or Natick) Indian Language (1708), and Jonathan Edwards, Jr.’s Observations on the Language of the Muhhekaneew Indians (1778), all attest to this keen and enduring interest in native philology.

When indigenous peoples began to articulate Christian doctrine in their own idiom, as the Eliot Bible and other catechetic materials came into their hands, it also elevated the status of native philology itself in English eyes. At the same time, colonial philologists discovered that native languages were coherent systems, structured by their own grammatical rules. They were equally surprised to find that indigenous tongues evinced novel ways of ordering language, which caused them to question their own linguistic superiority.

Ever the pioneer, John Eliot’s own Indian Grammar (1666) contains important reflections on the Algonquian language, which he describes as differently ordered than European tongues, with its own inner logic, yet just as expressive and sophisticated. As Eliot reminds his readers, “Grammar is the art or rule of speaking.” Which is why the word “RULES” is emphatically foregrounded on the titlepage: it declares that the recognizable verbal patterns of first peoples put them on a par with their European counterparts. Eliot’s radical contention is even more piquant in that it came at a time when English itself was considered lacking in consistency (cf. Edmund Spenser: “Why a God’s name, may not we, as else the Greeks, have the kingdom of our own language?”).

In attempting to track the operational rules that govern Algonquian propositions and inflections, Eliot is keen to point out their unique features: “no other Learned Language (so farre as I know) useth.” He lauds these as “elegancies.” In essence, Eliot claims to have discovered “new ways of Grammar,” namely new possibilities for organizing language and thinking grammatically.

Finally, Eliot finds a spiritual richness in Algonquian that reveals God’s presence. For instance, instead of the usual masculine-feminine construct of many languages, Eliot notes that Algonquian operates on an animate-inanimate distinction. “The first kinde of Noun is, when the thing signified is a living Creature, the second kinde is, when the thing signified is not a living creature.” For Eliot, this trait indicates that native peoples were allied with Puritans in their preoccupation with the nature of the soul.

Image: Title page of The Indian Grammar 

Example pages showing the Optative Mode in the Praeter Tense in Algonquian and English.

Reprint of Eliot's "Indian Grammar" (1822)

Reprint of Eliot’s 1666 Indian Grammar. (Boston: Printed by Phelps and Farnham, 1822.) The republication is notable because it is edited and prefaced by comparative linguists Peter Stephen Du Ponceau (1760-1844) and John Pickering (1777-1846). Pickering, in particular, notes that the work of “the venerable Eliot” gives the lie to prejudiced colonial views “that savages, having but few ideas, can want but few words, and therefore that their languages must necessarily be poor.”

Image: Example pages showing the Optative Mode in the Praeter Tense in Algonquian and English (Vining PM 1737 .E43w 1822).

Title page of the second printing of Eliot's Indian Grammar

Second Reprint of "Indian Grammar"

Second reprint by Pickering and Ponceau of Eliot’s 1666 Indian Grammar, this time for the Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston: From the Steam Power Press Office, W.L. Lewis, Printer, 1832).

Image: Title page of the second printing of Eliot's Indian Grammar (Vining PM 1737 .E43w 1832)

Example pages from the

Algonquian Devotionals

Eliot published a series of devotional manuals in Algonquian, which form what is now called the “Indian Library.” Among these instructional and pedagogical texts intended to promote conversion and the ability to read were the Indian catechism (1653) and A Primer or Catechism (1654). Later, The Indian Primer, comprising an exposition of the Lord’s Prayer and a translation of the Larger Catechism, was also published (1669). It is reprinted here under the editorial superintendence of John Small of the University of Edinburgh (1877).

Image: Alphabet pages (Vining PM 1739 .E6)

Relief of John Eliot and Natives

Eliot the Apologist

During his initial encounters with first peoples, John Eliot recorded many of the impromptu queries they put to him, and at times his responses as well. These candid probings were what led him to translate the Scriptures, which, he believed, had a special virtue to quicken the understanding, into the indigenous language.

“Why the English call them Indians, because before they came they had another name?”

“Whether they should believe Dreames?”

“How doth much sinne make grace abound?”

“What is the effect of your religion? We have no contentions about property, and no man envies his neighbor?”

“Why did not God give all men good hearts, that they might be good?

“Why did not God kill the devil, that made all men so bad, God having all power?”

“How they should know whether their faith was good, and when their prayers were good prayers?”

“Whether they in Heaven see us here on Earth?”

“Why some men were so bad that they beat those men that would teach them good things?”

Question: “Whether Jesus Christ did understand, or God did understand Indian prayers?”

Answer: “Jesus Christ and God by him made all things, and makes all men, not onely English but Indian men, and if hee made them both… then hee knew all that was within man and came from man, all his desires, and all his thoughts, and all his speeches, and so all his prayer; and if hee made Indian men, then hee knowes all Indian prayers also.”

Question: “Whether the English men were ever at any time so ignorant of God and Jesus Christ as themselves?”

Answer: “There are two sorts of English men, some are bad and naught, and live wickedly and loosely, and these kind of English men wee told them were in a manner as ignorant of Jesus Christ as the Indians now are; but there are a second sort of English men, who though for a time they lived wickedly also like other prophane and ignorant English, yet repenting of their sinnes, and seeking after God and Jesus Christ, they are good men now…”

Question: “What get you, say they, by praying to God, and beleeving in Jesus Christ? You goe naked still, and you are as poor as wee, and our Corne is as good as yours, wee take more pleasure than you; did we see that you got anything by it, wee would pray to God and believe in Jesus Christ also as you doe?”

Answer: “First, God giveth unto us two sorts of good things, one sort are little ones, which I shewed by my little finger; the other sort are great ones, which I shewed by my thumbe… The little mercies are riches, as clothes, food, sack, houses, cattle, and pleasures, these are little things which serve but for our bodies a little while in this life; the great mercies are wisdome, the knowledge of God, Christ, eternall life…”

Image: Relief of John Eliot with natives

Portion of the Massachusetts' Seal

Eliot's Hagiography

From the earliest New England histories until relatively recent times, John Eliot was heralded as “the Apostle to the Indians” for his linguistic and humanitarian work. Modern sensibilities have made him ipso facto an imposer of western values on indigenous cultures. The reassessment of Eliot’s work has also been colored by the legacy of the King Philip’s War (1675-76), which saw the native “Praying Towns” razed and their inhabitants forcibly removed to Deer Island, a barren strip of land off Boston Harbor. Eliot rowed to the island, bringing supplies to his interned flock, but came away distraught: “The Island was bleak and cold, their wigwams poor and mean, their clothes few and thin.” Today, descendants of the Nipmuc tribe visit Deer Island every October to hold a memorial ceremony.

Prior to the conflict, however, Eliot was highly effective in his mission to native peoples, and early biographies tend to depict him in a haloed light. The first recorded account is found in Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), which details the religious development of New England colonies from 1620 to 1698. Among the hagiographic biographies of Puritan ministers, none receive higher praise than John Eliot. In narrating Eliot’s call to ministry, Mather reveals that he felt moved by “pity for the poor Indians” whenever he looked upon the Massachusetts Bay Colony seal (1629). This features a native figure holding a bow in one hand and a down-turned arrow in the other. From his mouth issues an appeal “COME OVER AND HELP US,” a reference to Acts 16:9, in which a Macedonian appears to Paul in a dream and implores him, “Come over into Macedonia.”

Mather mentions Eliot’s quaint belief that the Indians belonged to the lost tribes of Israel and that their language conserved traces of Hebrew, the language of heaven. Mather describes this notion as not “so much guess as wish—wherein he was willing a little to indulge himself.” As for Eliot’s translation of the Bible into Algonquian, Mather considered it a milestone that added luster to the glory of New England and hastened the approach of the Millennium: “Behold, ye Americans, the greatest honour that ever you were partakers of! This Bible was printed here at our Cambridge; and it is the only Bible that ever was printed in all America, from the very foundation of the world.” Moreover, “The Bible being justly made the leader of all the rest,” noted Mather, “a little Indian library quickly followed,” which included primers, grammars, catechisms, and theological treatises.

A vestige of Eliot hagiography still survives today, in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA), which remembers him with a feast day on May 21.

Image: Portion of the Massachusetts' Seal

Mural titled

Mural in the Massachusetts Statehouse

In terms of latter-day depictions of Eliot, hagiography’s last gasp might be found in a mural adorning the Massachusetts Statehouse, “John Eliot Preaching to the Indians.” It was painted by neo-classical artist Henry Oliver Walker. Unveiled in 1903, it presents an ethereal scene with sunlight pouring down from heaven on Eliot and receptive native peoples at his feet.

Mural titled

Natick Post Office

By 1937, the portrayal was quite different. In a mural titled John Eliot Speaks to the Natick Indians, commissioned for the Natick Post Office under a New Deal works program, artist Hollis Howard Holbrook captures the very moment the Natick Indians are deported in chains to Deer Island. They await a word of solace from their pastor. He offers them his Bible, while a foregrounded English settler clutching a gun leads the captive band away.

Event Poster for a Screening of the Film

Eliot's Bible and Its Afterlife

Eliot’s “Indian Bible” has had something of an afterlife. It has served, however ironically, as an instrumental resource for the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, where it is being studied alongside the English Bible in order to relearn Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) vocabulary and grammar.

In 1992, Jessie Little Doe Baird, a citizen of the Mashpee tribe of the Wampanoag Nation, had dreams of her ancestors, conversing in a language she could not comprehend. Baird eventually enrolled at MIT, where, with the help of eminent linguists, she made use of the Eliot Bible and other 17th- and 18th-century documents to revive her long-unspoken language. Wôpanâak, one of a group of roughly three dozen dialects in the Algonquian language family, had not been used for 150 years when the project began. After studying these early documents, a Wôpanâak dictionary soon burgeoned to 10,000 words. Out of some 4,000 Wampanoags, an estimated 200 have taken a Wôpanâak class, and seven are now said to be proficient. Baird’s linguistic efforts were chronicled in the 2011 documentary “We Still Live Here” by Anne Makepeace.

In a recent development, the American Recovery Act has set aside $20 million for the preservation of native languages, which will help continue the revival of Wôpanâak. The language is also currently being taught to high school students in the Mashpee Public School system.

Image: Event Poster for a Screening of the Film "We Still Live Here"

Screenshot of Ted Hildebrandt's YouTube video. It shows a portrait of John Eliot as the image and lists the title of the exhibit underneath the image.

Life and Works of John Eliot

To learn more about the incredible life and works of John Eliot, you can view the video created for this exhibit by Ted Hildebrandt titled John Eliot, Gordon College Vining Exhibit, 9/28/21. You can also visit Ted's website Biblical eLearning and he has plans to include a section about John Eliot soon. 

Photo from the Play

Song on the Wind

Closer to home, the story of the 17th-century convergence of English and native cultures was the subject of a musical “Song on the Wind” by David MacAdam, Artistic Director of New Life Fine Arts in Concord, MA. The title is in special reference to Eliot’s first convert, Waban (lit. “wind” in Algonquian), who came to faith after hearing Eliot preach a sermon on the Valley of Dry Bones from Ezekiel 37:9: “Prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” As Gordon Professor Graeme Bird, who took part in a production of “Song on the Wind,” recalls the musical’s climatic moment: “Eliot is singing/preaching from Ezekiel, and then Waban joins in in a magnificent sort of counterpoint, expressing his inner questions and conflict and final conversion.”

Image: Photo from a production of "Song on the Wind"

Title Page of the Massachuset Psalter (1709)

The Massachuset Psalter (1709)

The Massachuset Psalter (& Gospel of John) is a diglot in parallel columns, Algonquian and English, published by Experience Mayhew (1673–1758) for the Wampanoag of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. After Eliot’s “Indian Bible,” it is the most important monument of the indigenous language. The publication of the Gospel of John also constitutes the first printing of any part of the New Testament in English in the colonies—since the British Crown countenanced only the “Authorized Version” in King James’ English and did not permit its printing in the Americas. Mayhew’s choice then to reproduce the Geneva version of the English Bible (often used by dissenters) could have been viewed as a seditious act.

The Mayhew family is largely responsible for the evangelization of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. It has been called one of the “longest most persistent missionary endeavors” in the annals of Christendom. An English colony had been established on the islands by 1642 by Thomas Mayhew the Elder (1593-1682), one of the editors of the Bay Psalm Book (1640), the first book published in British America. Relations between the Wampanoag tribe and the early settlers were relatively harmonious, especially compared to those between the English and Native Americans on the mainland.

Thomas Mayhew the Younger (1618-57) is credited as the moving force behind the Indian mission. When a native named Hiacoomes expressed curiosity about Christianity, Mayhew invited him into his household and instructed him in English and the faith, while Hiacoomes, in return, taught Mayhew the native tongue. Hiacoomes is said to be the first Christian convert in the colonies. When Mayhew felt proficient enough in Algonquian to converse, he was known to “walk 20 miles through uncut forests to preach the Gospel… in wigwam or open field.” There was little progress among the Wampanoag at first, yet, by 1652, there were 283 converts, as well as an Indian School. Mayhew related his missionary activity amongst the Wampanoag in several tracts for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England, who financially supported his work.

Thomas Mayhew’s grandson Experience learned to speak the native language from Hiacoomes. He continued the missionary work and began preaching to the Wampanoag at the age of 21. He was ordained a Congregational minister and had oversight over several assemblies of “Praying Indians.” His ministry lasted 64 years. Experience Mayhew’s Massachuset Psalter was printed in 1709 in Boston by Bartholomew Green and his apprentice James Printer (alias Wawaus, a member of a prominent Nipmuc family and Christian convert).

Image: Title page of the Massachuset Psalter

Example pages of the Psalms in Algonquian and English. Each page is split in two with Algonquian on the left and English on the right.

Massachuset Psalter - Example Pages

Image: Example pages from the Massachuset Psalter (Vining BS 345 .A2 Psalms 1709)

Stained glass window depicting Rev. Thomas Mayhew, Jr. baptizing Hiacoomes

Stained Glass Window

Image: Stained glass window in the baptismal font in the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. depicting Rev. Thomas Mayhew, Jr. baptizing Hiacoomes.

Title page of the John Eliot section

Magnalia Christi Americana

First edition of Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana (London: Printed for T. Parkhurst, 1702). Notable sections include his treatment of the recent Salem witch trials, from which he attempts to distance himself; his account of the escape of Hannah Dustan, a well-known captivity narrative; and the founding of Harvard College. Mather's early history of New England has often been described as "the most famous American book of colonial times."

Image: Title page of the John Eliot section (Vining F 7 .M41)

Early 18th-century map of New England

Map from Magnalia Christi Americana

Recognized as the first 18th-century map of New England, it was used to illustrate Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana. It covers the expanse from the Hudson River Valley east to Cape Cod and from Long Island north to Casco Bay. Mather makes reference to the map in his work, as “An ecclesiastical map of the country” showing colonies, counties, and congregations.

Image: Map from Magnalia Christi Americana (Vining F 7 .M41)

Example pages from Shepard's

The Sincere Convert (1689)

Thomas Shepard’s popular catechism, The Sincere Convert: Discovering the Small Number of True Beleevers, and the Great Difficulty of Saving Conversion, was first printed in London in 1641. He was also considered one of the premier New England divines, for he was quoted by Jonathan Edwards more often than anyone else. The translation of this work into Algonquian was a joint effort, undertaken by John Eliot, Grindal Rawson, and presumably one or more native interpreters. This original Algonquian edition of The Sincere Convert [literally: “Man who stands turned-about”] was published by Samuel Green in Cambridge in 1689. Green had come to Massachusetts Bay with John Winthrop in 1630, and also had a hand in printing the 1663 Eliot Bible.

Image: Example pages from The Sincere Convert (Vining PM 1739 .S5)

Example pages of Cotton's

Reprint of "Vocabulary of Massachusetts (or Natick) Indian Language" (1708)

Reprint of Josiah Cotton’s Vocabulary of Massachusetts (or Natick) Indian Language (1708). (Cambridge [Mass.]: E. W. Metcalf and Co., 1829.)

Image: Example pages from Cotton's Vocabulary (Vining PM 1738 .C7)

Cover of Eames' bibliograhic notes. Eames signed it with a note to E.P. Vining in the top right corner

Wilberforce Eames

Wilberforce Eames (1855–1937) was a librarian and bibliographer at Lenox Library (NYC) and the New York Public Library. In 1924, The New York Times called Eames “The greatest living scholar of books in America.” He was a correspondent of Edward Payson Vining and signed this complimentary copy of his work on Eliot’s Bible to him.

Image: Cover of the text. There is a note in the upper right corner that Eames wrote to E.P. Vining (Vining Z 8260 .E12)

Example page of the Lord's Prayer in Massachusetts (language of the tribes of Massachusetts Bay)

Algonquin Versions of the Lord's Prayer

Notes on Forty Algonkin Versions of the Lord’s Prayer by J. Hammond Trumbull (New Haven, CT: The American Philological Association, 1873). This publication is a testament to the increasing interest in native-American languages as worthy of scientific study. James Hammond Trumbull was an American historian, philologist, bibliographer, and politician. A scholar of American Indian languages, he served as the first Connecticut State Librarian in 1854 and as Secretary of State from 1861 to 1866.

Image: Example pages of the Lord's Prayer in  Massachusetts (language of the tribes of Massachusetts Bay) (Vining PM 609 .T8)

First page of the Eliot biography

John Eliot Biography

An early John Eliot biography printed for the Massachusetts Historical Society and “collected from manuscripts and books published the last century, by one of the members of the Historical Society” (Boston: Munroe & Francis, 1802).

Image: First page of the Eliot biography (Vining E 78 .M4 1802)

Title page for

Sketch of the Life of John Eliot

A Sketch of the Life of the Apostle Eliot: Prefatory to a Subscription for Erecting a Monument to his Memory by Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn (Roxbury: Norfolk County Journal Press, 1850). Dearborn was an American soldier, lawyer, author, and statesman. He was the first President of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the author of many books.

Image: Title page of the text (Vining E 78 .M4 E525)

First page of

"The Indian Tongue and its Literature, as Fashioned by Eliot and Others"

The Indian Tongue and its Literature, as Fashioned by Eliot and Others (Boston: Osgood, 1880) by J. Hammond Trumbull.

Image: First page of the text (Vining PM 1736 .T87w 1880)

The Flood Narrative showing drawings and text

The Flood Narrative

Ephraim George Squier, “Historical and Mythological Traditions of the Algonquins, with a Translation of the ‘Walum-Olum,’ or Bark Record of the Linni-Lenape” (America Review 9, 1849).

Image: The Flood Narrative (Vining PM 1033 .S6 1849)

Example pages in Algonquian

"The way of the cross, for the use of the Roman Catholic Indians of the mission of the Lake of the two mountains"

"The way of the cross, for the use of the Roman Catholic Indians of the mission of the Lake of the two mountains," translated into Algonquin-Nipissing by Pierre Richard (Moniang [Montreal]: Takkwabikichkote L. Perrault, 1843).

Arabica Christiana (Sept. 2020 - Aug. 2021)

The Moorish Proselytes of Archbishop Ximenes, Granada, 1500  ​​​​​​​Painting by Edwin Long (1829–1891)

Arabica Christiana
Curated by Damon DiMauro

The Early Modern Period, oft defined as extending from the Renaissance through the Age of the Enlightenment, witnessed a revival of interest in Arabic studies. The works in this exhibit reflect the growing attention paid to the Arabic world, whether for missionary, ideological or simply scientific purposes. While Christendom had long abandoned its crusades, Spain remained a nation forged in a struggle with Islam, as the “Reconquista” forced many Granadans of Muslim heritage to convert to Catholicism. These “Moriscos” required materials in their own idiom. A century later, the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (1622) was founded in Rome to promote missionary work in the Levant. To this end, the Medici Press was created and language schools in Syriac, Persian, and especially Arabic were established. Roman Arabists made every effort to de-Islamize, or rather to Christianize the Arabic language, by providing materials for liturgical and catechetical use, most notably the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalter, and the Creed. Protestants, on the other hand, tended to be the champions of comparative Semitic studies, since Arabic was especially prized for exegetical purposes due to its similarity to Hebrew. Finally, for purely practical reasons, the study of Arabic was considered useful for understanding scientific treatises and for remaining in contact with Christians of the Middle East — factors which contributed eventually to the nineteenth-century orientalist movement in literature and the fine arts.

 

Image: The Moorish Proselytes of Archbishop Ximenes, Granada, 1500 
Painting by Edwin Long (1829–1891)

Example pages from Cosmographia Universalis by Sebastian Münster (1550)

Cosmographia Universalis (1550)

Sebastian Münster (1488–1552) was a German cartographer, cosmographer, and Hebraist scholar. In 1529, he left the Franciscan order and joined the Lutheran Church, accepting an appointment at the Reformed Church-dominated University of Basel. His Cosmographia (editio princeps 1544) was the earliest German description of the known world at that time. It was also one of the most successful books of the sixteenth century, passing through 24 editions in 100 years and helping to revive the study of geography in Europe.

In ancient geography, Arabia Felix (Latin: “Happy Arabia”), pictured here, was the comparatively fertile region in the south as opposed to Arabia Deserta in the barren north central and Arabia Petraea (“Stony Arabia”) in the northwest.

The success of the Cosmographia was also due to the fascinating woodcuts (some realized by Hans Holbein), including separate maps for each of the four continents then known — America, Africa, Asia and Europe. The volume below contains an image of Mohammed, holding both a scepter and a sword. He is described as a “pseudopropheta” or false prophet.

 

Image: Example pages from Cosmographia Universalis by Sebastian Münster, 1550 (Vining G 113 .M7 1550)

Painting of Sebastian Münster by Christoph Amberger, c. 1552

Sebastian Münster

Image: A painting of Sebastian Münster (1488–1552), a German cartographer, cosmographer, Hebraist scholar and author of Cosmographia Universalis, by Christoph Amberger, c. 1552. 

Example pages from the Genoa Psalter (1516)

Genoa Psalter (1516)

The Octaplum or Quadruplex Psalter was the first polyglot of the Psalms ever published (in Genoa, 1516). The versions are laid out in eight parallel columns — four per page — in Hebrew, a Latin paraphrase of the Hebrew, the Vulgate Latin, the Septuagint Greek, Arabic, Aramaic (“Chaldean”), a Latin paraphrase of the Aramaic, and the editor’s notes, known as the scholia. Elegantly printed in red and black with fonts especially designed and cut for this edition, the Genoa polyglot is a typographical and scholarly achievement of the first order. The Arabic version is also the first specimen in Western printing of Arabic moveable type.

The Psalter was personally financed by Bishop Agostino Giustiniani of Genoa (1470-1536), who had dedicated himself to the study of biblical languages and had crossed paths with Erasmus and Thomas More during his European peregrinations. His scholarship was widely acknowledged, and King François I invited him to France to occupy the very first chair of Hebrew and Arabic at the University of Paris (1517-1522).

Of particular interest, a marginal note related to Psalm 19:4 (“Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world”) attributes to Christopher Columbus the prophetic fulfilment of this verse. The scholia extend for two pages, offering a biographical sketch of the Genoese native son, and constitute the first printed history of his expeditions to the new world.

 

Image: Example pages from the Genoa Psalter, 1516 (Vining BS 1419 .A2 1516)

Title Page of the Genoa Psalter

Image: Example of the title page from the Genoa Psalter.

Example pages from Ziegler's Terræ Sanctæ (1536)

Terræ Sanctæ (1536)

This is the second edition of the Terræ Sanctæ, published in Strasbourg in 1536 (originally published in 1532), by German cartographer Jacob Ziegler (ca. 1470-1549). His popular atlas helped acquaint European readers with the geography of the Middle East. It features eight maps (double-spread woodcuts) at the end of the volume. The most important of these has been hailed as the first scientific map of Palestine, stretching from Damascus and Sidon in the north to Rafah and to the Arab Desert in the south. Eight lines can also be seen emanating from its center, indicating the distance between Jerusalem and several major cities in the world (Rome, Venice, Babylon, etc.). The other maps depict the surrounding regions of Syria, Egypt, the Sinai Desert, and the Mediterranean basin. A final map in the volume depicts Scandinavia. 

Ziegler was an important humanist, theologian, and cartographer — in other words, an archetypal representative of the German Renaissance ideal. He was born in Bavaria and spent his early years travelling throughout Europe. In the 1520s, Ziegler resided for a time at the court of Pope Leo X, though after his decision to adopt the principles of the Reformation, his works were put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum of the Catholic Church.

 

Image: Example pages from Ziegler's Terræ Sanctæ, 1536 (Vining G 95 .Z66 1536)

Portrait of Jacob Ziegler by Wolf Huber, c. 1540

Jacob Ziegler

Image: Portrait of German cartographer Jacob Ziegler (ca. 1470-1549) painted by Wolf Huber, c. 1540. 

Example pages from Liber Psalmorum, 1614

Liber Psalmorum Davidis Regis Et Prophetæ (1614)

This diglot edition of the Psalter, set in parallel Arabic-Latin text, was prepared by two Maronite scholars, Nasrallah Salaq al-’Aquri and Gabriel Sionita. The former taught Arabic and Syriac at the University of Rome from 1610-1631 — a platform from which he also sought to further the twin causes of European Orientalism and Oriental Christianity.

The text of the Psalms is based on a manuscript the French scholar-diplomat François Savary de Brèves (1560–1628) discovered and purchased in Jerusalem. As it occasionally departs from the Vulgate, the imprimatur process required special clearance from Rome. It was Savary de Brèves’ crusading spirit, however, that conceived the plan for an Oriental press, with the hopeful expectation that the publication of sacred works in Syriac and Arabic might better dispose the Christian minorities in the Levant to embrace the Roman Church whenever their political liberation from the Ottoman Empire might draw nigh.

The publication is renowned for the legibility and the sublimity of its typeface, based on a calligraphic manuscript preserved in the Bibliotheca Vaticana. The careful vocalisation also earned this accessible quarto volume great acclaim among orientalist scholars throughout Europe.

 

Image: Example pages from Liber Psalmorum, 1614 (Vining BS 1442 1614w)

Title page of the Liber Psalmorum Davidis Regis Et Prophetæ

Liber Psalmorum Davidis Regis Et Prophetæ

Image: Title page of the Liber Psalmorum Davidis Regis Et Prophetæ

One of the earliest Christian depictions of Mohammad where he is seated on a throne, a Koran in his hand, and apparently engaged in the act of making a convert (1493)

Liber Chronicarum (1493)

Published in 1493, the Nuremberg Chronicle is an illustrated history of the World, divided into seven “ages,” from the creation narrative in Genesis to the Last Judgement. Subjects include biblical history, mythological lore, and the story of important Christian and secular cities from antiquity. The Chronicle was composed by physician, humanist, and antiquarian Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514), whose personal library contained 670 printed books and 370 manuscripts.

The Chronicle was printed by Anton Koberger (ca. 1440-1513), who had established the first printing shop in Nuremberg in 1470 and eventually operated 24 presses and employed 100 workers in the city. Koberger was also the godfather of Albrecht Dürer, who happened to be apprenticed to one of the illustrators (Michael Wolgemut) at the time production began, and who thus would have worked on the illustrations here. There are some 1,809 woodcut illustrations in all.

 

Image:  The pages above show one of the earliest Christian depictions of Mohammad. He is seated on a throne, a Koran in his hand, and apparently engaged in the act of making a convert. Immediately to Mohammad’s left stands another man who holds a cap, apparently removed from the head of the kneeling figure. Behind the kneeling figure stands the Lord High Executioner, a sword unsheathed, seemingly ready to execute judgment. (Vining D 11 .Sch22 1493)

Hand-tinted woodcut of the City of Nuremberg

City of Nuremberg

Image: An example of a hand-tinted (colored) woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle showing the City of Nuremberg. 

Hand-tinted woodcut of God creating the world

God Creating the World

Image: An example of a hand-tinted (colored) woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle showing God creating the world. 

Hand-tinted woodcut of the Danse Macabre or the Dance of Death

The Danse Macabre (Dance of Death)

Image: An example of a hand-tinted (colored) woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle showing the Danse Macabre or the Dance of Death.

Example pages from the Arabic New Testament (1727)

First Arabic New Testament Published in England (1727)

The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge was founded in 1698 by Rev. Thomas Bray and a small group of mission-minded Anglicans who grew concerned about the “gross ignorance of the principles of the Christian religion.” They endeavored to promote “religion and learning in any part of His Majesty’s Plantations abroad, and to provide Catechetical Libraries and free schools in the parishes at home.” This edition of the New Testament in Arabic was intended for dissemination amongst the Christians of the Levant. It was the work of two eminent Syrian scholars, Salomon Negri from Damascus and Carolus Dadichi from Aleppo.

The Society also commissioned a new Arabic type for the printing, cut by William Caslon and patterned after Robert Granjon’s much-admired Arabic type used by the Medici Press in Renaissance Rome. The type was later supplied to both Oxford and Cambridge University Presses for their publication of Arabic-related studies. George Sale, an Orientalist most remembered for his English translation of the Koran, designed the calligraphy for the title-page. 

Sources cite an initial printing of 10,000 copies of the New Testament, but since the majority were exported to the Arab world — and subsequently lost or deliberately destroyed — the work is exceedingly rare. Only eighteen copies are known to exist worldwide.

 

Image: Example pages from the Arabic New Testament, 1727 (Vining BS 315 .A65 1727)

Title Page of the Arabic New Testament, c. 1727

Title Page of the Arabic New Testament

Image: Title page from the Gordon College's copy of the Arabic New Testament printed in 1727.

Example pages from the Interlinear Arabic-Latin Gospel (1774)

Interlinear Arabic-Latin Gospel (1774)

This is an eighteenth-century re-issue of the original sixteenth-century Arabic-Latin Gospel printed by the Medici Press, founded by the cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici (1549-1609), with the support of Pope Gregory XIII (1502-1585), in order to spread the Word of God in the Orient. 

The work was supervised by the Arabist scholar Giambattista Raimondi (1536-1614). The Arabic text is printed in Robert Granjon’s (1513-1589) celebrated large font, widely esteemed as one of the finest Arabic printing types ever crafted. The work also contains 149 woodcuts by the late-Mannerist engraver Leonardo Parasole (1570-?).

 

Image: Example pages from the Interlinear Arabic-Latin Gospel, 1774 (Vining BS 315 .A67 1774)

Painting of Cardinal Ferdinando de'Medici

Cardinal Ferdinando de'Medici

Image: Painting of Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici (1549-1609).

Painting of Pope Gregory XIII

Pope Gregory XIII

Image: Painting of Pope Gregory XIII (1502-1585).

Title page of the Interlinear Arabic-Latin Gospel

Interlinear Gospel

Image: Title page of the Interlinear Arabic-Latin Gospel

Example pages from Castell's Lexicon Heptaglotton (1654)

Edmund Castell (1606-1686)

Edmund Castell was an English orientalist. At just fifteen years of age, he entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he took degrees in theology and was appointed Professor of Arabic in 1666. He moved to St John’s in 1671, to be close to the vast library holdings there. His magnum opus, the Lexicon Heptaglotton Hebraicum, Chaldaicum, Syriacum, Samaritanum, Aethiopicum, Arabicum, et Persicum (1669), took him eighteen years to complete, laboring on it between sixteen and eighteen hours a day. One diarist at the time described him as “a modest and retired person, indefatigably studious: he hath sacrificed himself to this service, and is resolved to go on in this work though he die in it.” Castell ended up spending £12,000 from his own purse on the project, ruining his estate as well as his health in the process. 

The Lexicon Heptaglotton marked an epoch in Semitic scholarship and Castell was widely admired for his great industry and unparalleled learning. Castell wished to encourage young scholars to study Arabic for the benefit of biblical studies, admonishing them: “So that literature flourishes and more every day, which people here until now have held to be very exotic. Through you let this Arabic of ours, which abounds with such great and rich treasures, not remain a desert.”

Castell bequeathed his manuscripts to the university of Cambridge and died in 1685 at Higham Gobion, Bedfordshire, where he had served as rector.

 

Image: Example pages from Castell's Lexicon Heptaglotton, 1654 (Vining BS 1 1654 v.7)

Portrait of Edmund Castell

Edmund Castell

Image: Portrait of Edmund Castell, an English orientalist.

Example pages from Beg's Epochæ Celebriores (1650)

Epochæ Celebriores (1650)

Ulugh Beg (1393/4-1449) was the Viceroy of Samarkand, a city in Uzbekistan. He was known for his work in astronomy-related mathematics, including trigonometry and spherical geometry, as well as for his keen interest in the arts and other intellectual pursuits. It is claimed he spoke five languages: Arabic, Persian, Turkic, Mongolian, and Chinese. During his reign and through his patronage, the Timurid Empire enjoyed a cultural renaissance.

This is the first edition of Beg’s Epochæ Celebriores, or The Most Famous Eras. The volume was edited by John Greaves (1602-1652), an English astronomer and orientalist. The knowledge of different calendrical systems is basic for astronomers — hence his specific interest in Ulugh Beg. An important result of the scientific work of Beg and his school were the astronomical tables called the “Zij.” The present volume offers the calendrical and chronological section of his tables. As an aside, it was through the works of Greaves that Newton became acquainted with the works of Beg.

Ulugh Beg built a three-story observatory in Samarkand between 1424 and 1429. It was esteemed by scholars as amongst the finest in the Islamic world. Beg himself was acknowledged as a great observational astronomer. He also transformed the cities Samarkand and Bukhara into the most important cultural centers of learning in Central Asia.

His skills in governance were not equal to scientific expertise. During his brief rule, he was unable to consolidate his jurisdiction and administration. Consequently, his rivals, not to mention family members, exploited his weakness and toppled him from power.

 

Image: Example pages from Beg's Epochæ Celebriores, 1650 (Vining QB 6 .U3w 1650)

1987 USSR stamp depicting Ulugh Beg and his astronomical observatory scheme

Ulugh Beg

Image: Ulugh Beg and his astronomical observatory scheme, depicted on the 1987 USSR stamp.

Israel: Selections from the Gordon College Archives (Dec. 2019 - July. 2021)

Partial map of Israel showing location of Jerusalem and Dothan. Dothan is 60 miles north of Jerusalem. The two cities are connected with a drawn, red line.

Israel: Selections from the Gordon College Archives

Curated by Eva Erickson (Archives Intern - Fall 2017)

 

This exhibit combines selections from the Vining Collection with archaeological artifacts that were found in Tel Dothan in Israel from the The Israel – Tel Dothan Archaeological Collection.

About the Vining Collection

The Vining Collection was the personal library of Edward Payson Vining (1847-1920) and was donated by his family to Gordon College in 1921. The collection consists of over 7,000 books, manuscripts, and letters, ranging from the 12th century to the early 20th century. It contains over 900 Bibles in 140 languages and is rich in Shakespeareana, Early Americana, geography, travel literature, ethnology, and especially philology - with vast holdings in indigenous languages. 

About The Israel – Tel Dothan Archaeological Collection

The Israel – Tel Dothan Archaeological Collection includes artifacts from the Early Bronze through Iron Age II (3,000 – 600 BC) from the site of ancient Tel Dothan which is located 60 miles north of Jerusalem. The dig was conducted in 1954-1955 by Wheaton College and the American Schools of Oriental Research. The Collection is a gift of former Providence Bible Institute (later Barrington College) alumnus, George Kelsey (1950), who was the first assistant to Joseph P. Free, the Director of the expedition.

 

Image: Partial map of Israel showing location of Jerusalem and Dothan. Dothan is 60 miles north of Jerusalem. The two cities are connected with a drawn, red line.

Pages from Delitzch's Hebrew New Testament (1883)

Delitzch's Hebrew New Testament (1883)

This is a copy of a Hebrew New Testament, printed by the British and Foreign Bible Society. They commissioned Franz Delitzch, a German Lutheran theologian and Hebraist, to translate the New Testament Greek into Hebrew. The project began in 1873 and the final edition was printed in 1890. 

 

Image: Pages from Delitzch's Hebrew New Testament, fifth and electrotype edition (Vining BS 2010 1883w)

Handwritten pages from Exodus in Samaritan (c.18th century)

Exodus in Samaritan

This is a handwritten copy of Exodus. It is evident that different scribes worked on making this copy, as the handwriting changes throughout the text. This copy is unique because it has been rebound multiple times and pages of different materials have also been added. Some pages have Arabic writing on them, while the main body of the text is only in Samaritan. 

 

Image: Handwritten pages from Exodus in Samaritan (Vining Manuscript no. 48) c. 18th century

Cooking bowl handle c. 1200-900 B.C.

Cooking Bowl Handle

Image: A common cooking bowl handle which has been burnt from use. It is dated to c. 1200-900 B.C.

Stone loom weight c. 1200-900 B.C.

Loom Weight

Loom weights were a necessary part of weaving on a warp weighted loom. These looms were used throughout ancient Greece, Europe, and the Near East, where these weights come from. These weights are made of stone, but others were often made of clay. Bunches of threads were tied to the ends to keep them taut as the weaver worked.

 

Image: A loom weight in our collection and is dated to c. 1200-900 B.C.

Cooking bowl handle (c.1200-900 B.C.) with impression marks on the handle.

Cooking Bowl Handle - Impressions

Image: This handle comes from a set of similar pieces for cooking bowls. The unique thing about it is that it shows impressions that the potter made to identify their work. This piece is dated to c. 1200-900 B.C.

Oil lamp (c.900-600 B.C.)

Intricate Oil Lamp

Image: This oil lamp is quite intricate. The lamp has what looks like writing or drawings in the center and the remnants of, what looks like, red pigment. The lamp is slightly burnt where the wick would have been laid. This lamp dates to c. 900-600 B.C.

Oil lamp (c.900-600 B.C.)

Oil Lamp

Image: This oil lamp, though less intricate than the previous example, is pinched on four corners. This shows how the lamp was made and also serves to help keep the wick, which probably would have been set into the pinched corner, out of the oil. This example dates to c. 900-600 B.C.

Pages from the Book of the New Covenant and Psalms in Syriac (1886)

Book of the New Covenant and Psalms in Syriac

This is a printed book of the New Testament, called the New Covenant, and Psalms in Syriac. It is open to a section of the Psalms, and you can see the different chapter and verse markings. Syriac, Hebrew, and Samaritan scripts are all written from right to left. 

 

Image: Pages from the Book of the New Covenant and Psalms in Syriac (Vining BS 1993.2 1886)

Facsimile of Codex 151 Hagiographia. Psalm LXIX, 3-21

Facsimiles of Hebrew Illuminated Bibles of the 9th and 10th Centuries and Samaritan Scroll of the Law of the 11th Century

This book contains facsimiles, which are exact copies of the original manuscript, of illuminated Bibles. Both the Bibles and the scroll are examples of a codex, which is a term used for handwritten manuscript books. The Gaster Collection of Hebrew and Samaritan manuscripts was acquired by the British Museum in 1924. The book is open to Psalm 69 on one of the illuminated Bibles. 

 

Image: Codex 151 Hagiographia. Psalm LXIX, 3-21 from the Hebrew Illuminated Bibles of the 9th and 10th Century (Codices or Gaster, nos. 150 and 151); and a Samaritan Scroll of the Law of the 11th Century (Codex or Gaster, no. 350). Together with eight plates of facsimiles of these manuscripts and fragments from Geniza in Egypt, M. Gaster (Vining BS 21 1901)

130 Years of Excellence (Aug. 2019 - May 2020)

Students outside Frost Hall when Gordon was located on the Fenway in Boston, MA

130 Years of Excellence: A Brief History of Gordon College

Curated by Sarah St.Germain

 

Image: Students outside Frost Hall when Gordon was located on the Fenway in Boston, MA. 

A comparison of the statistics of Gordon College using the 1892 and 2019/2020 course catalogs

A comparison of the statistics of Gordon College using the 1892 and 2019/2020 course catalogs.

A list of Gordon and Barrington College name changes and presidents

Then & Now: Name Changes & Presidents (1889-2019)

Gordon family photo taken on October 23, 1889

Gordon Family

Image: Photo of the Gordon Family taken on October 23, 1889.

Pictured standing (L-R): Edwin McNeill Poteat, Arthur Hale Gordon, Elise Gordon, Helen Gordon, and Ernest Barrow Gordon

Pictured sitting (L-R): Harriet (Haley) Hale Gordon Poteat, A.J. Gordon, Theodora Livingstone Gordon Hall, and Maria Hale Gordon

A.J. Gordon's Bible, open to Exodus, with handwritten note and doodle on right page

A.J. Gordon's Bible

This Bible, covering the last chapter of Genesis through the first chapter of Isaiah, was one of the Bibles that belonged to A.J. Gordon. Blank pages are inserted into various places throughout the Bible for note taking. The page displayed above shows notes taken by A.J. Gordon as well as a doodle that was found in the back of the Bible. 

Donated by Esther Davis, great-granddaughter of A.J. Gordon.

 

Image: A.J. Gordon's Bible, open to Exodus, with handwritten note and doodle on right page   

Gordon Family tea set

Gordon Tea Set

A tea set that belonged to Maria Hale and A.J. Gordon. It was used when hosting their friends from all over the world including missionary Hudson Taylor. The set includes a hot water pot used to dilute tea, tea pot, sugar bowl, cream bowl, and slop bowl to dump used tea leaves into. These artifacts were rediscovered in the Ken Olsen Science Center (KOSC) basement by Joshua Jenkins in Spring of 2019.

The tea set was donated by the Harrell Family, descendants of A.J. Gordon.

Title page of The Ministry of the Spirit by A.J. Gordon published in 1894

The Ministry of the Spirit

Image: Title page of The Ministry of the Spirit by A.J. Gordon published in 1894.

Lindsay family photo taken in 2018

Lindsay Family

Image: Photo of the Lindsay Family taken in 2018. 

Pictured are Rebecca Lindsay, D. Michael Lindsay, and their three daughters Elizabeth, Caroline, and Emily.

Cover of View from the Top by D. Michael Lindsay published in 2014

View from the Top

Image: Cover of View from the Top by D. Michael Lindsay published in 2014.

Information panel on a brief history of Gordon College

A Brief History of Gordon College

Photo of Clarendon St. Baptist Church Deacons in 1895

Clarendon St. Baptist Church Deacons

Image: Clarendon St. Baptist Church Deacons in 1895.

Back row (L-R): W.H. Breed, Elihu T. Underhill, Charles B. Perkins, Samuel B. Thyng (Thing)

Front row (L-R): Leander Beal, George S. Dexter, A.J. Gordon (Pastor), Salmon P. Hibbard

William Breed, Charles Perkins, and Samuel Thyng (Thing) founded the Boston Missionary Training Institute (later Gordon College) along with A.J. Gordon in October 1889.

L-R: Example pages for English-Congo Dictionary (1883) and Chinese New Testament (1882)

Vining Books

The two books pictured above are from the Vining Collection. The Vining Collection was the personal library of Edward Payson Vining (1847-1920) and was donated by his family to Gordon College in 1921. The collection consists of roughly 7,000 books, manuscripts, and letters, ranging from the 12th century to the early 20th century. It contains over 900 Bibles in 140 languages and is rich in Shakespeareana, Early Americana, geography, travel literature, ethnology, and especially philology - with vast holdings in indigenous languages.

Many Gordon and Barrington students wen into the mission field. Around the time that Gordon and Barrington were founded, missionaries were flocking to China and the Congo. The English-Congo dictionary and the Chinese New Testament (shown above) are contemporary to both schools and are examples of the type of materials missionaries would have been using.

 

Image (L-R): English-Congo and Congo-English Dictionary by Henry Craven and John Barfield, 1883 (Vining PL 8403 .C7 1883) and Hsin yüeh ch'huan shu: wên li (New Testament: classical), 1882 (Vining BS 315 .C55w 1882)

First page, dated Oct. 15, 1889, of the Gordon Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes

Board Meeting Minutes

Book of Board Meeting minutes (then the Executive Committee) covering 1889-1908. The entry shown is from October 15, 1889. Members of the committee included Rev. A.J. Gordon, Rev. M.R. Denning, James B. Bell, Samuel B. Thing, William H. Breed, Charles W. Perkins, Sidney A. Wilbur, Mrs. A.J. (Maria Hale) Gordon, and Mrs. B.F. Sturtevant. At the bottom of the page it lists the enrollment for the college as follows

For the full course                men               10

For the full course               women            1

For a partial course            men                 3

For a partial course           women            5

Image: First page, dated Oct. 15, 1889, of the Gordon Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes

Class of 1892 Photo

Class of 1892

Image: Boston Missionary Training School Class of 1892. Those pictured include J.A. McElwain (behind Gordon), A.J. Gordon (center), and F.L. Chappell (left of Gordon).

Copy of the earliest course catalog for the Boston Missionary Training School in the Archives' holdings

1892 Course Catalog

Image: Copy of the earliest course catalog for the Boston Missionary Training School in the Archives' holdings.

Color coded notes taken by Mabel G. Withington 1898-1899

Class Notes 1898-1899

Image: Notes taken (1898-1899) by Mabel G. Withington during Frederick L. Chapell's "Exegesis of Joel" course. The notes are color coded; chapters in red, verses in purple, questions in black, and answers in blue. Any additional notes are in a mauve color.

Gordon Bible Missionary Training School (GBMTS) lapel pin

Lapel Pin

Gordon Bible Missionary Training School (GBMTS) lapel pin (1903-1907). The pin features a blue star with an open bible at the center. Each point of the star has a letter: G B M T S. It was given to Waldon Corbett (Class of 1948) by Irene Baker. 

Donated by Waldon & Isabel Corbett.

Bookend with the seal of the Gordon College of Theology and Missions

Bookend

Image: Gordon College of Theology and Missions Bookend (c.1921-1962)

Two pages, one with photos and one with ticket stubs, from Hilary McElroy and Nellie S. Welch's 1924 memory book

Gordon Memory Book (1921-1924)

Image: Pages from a 1924 Memory Book that belonged to Hilary McElroy (Class of 1924) and his wife Nellie S. Welch (Class of 1925). The page to the left shows the life of unidentified students at Gordon College of Theology and Missions. The page to the right displays ticket stubs from various activities that McElroy Welch attended.

Cover of 1923 Hypernikon yearbook

1923 Hypernikon Yearbook

Image: Cover of the first edition of the Gordon College Hypernikon yearbook from 1923.

These pages show Jean Barclay and her friends having fun in the snow

Gordon Memory Book (1938-1943)

Memory book that belonged to Jean Barclay Toothaker. She arrived as a student in 1938 and graduated in 1943. During that time, Gordon was located on Evans Way in Boston.

 

Image: These pages show Jean Barclay and her friends having fun in the snow. 

Informational panel on the Wenham Move and Barrington Merger

The Wenham Move & Barrington Merger

Portion of a newspaper article in the Boston Sunday Post (Jan. 4, 1948)

Acquiring Princemere Estate

Image: Portion of a newspaper article in the January 4, 1948 Boston Sunday Post about James Higginbotham and his help in acquiring the Princemere Estate.

James Higginbotham in 1996

James Higginbotham (1996)

Image: James Higginbotham (Class of 1946) at his 50th class reunion in 1996. That same year he was honored for the role he played in acquiring the Princemere Estate for Gordon College. 

Diploma from 1948 and 55th class reunion medal (2003) that belonged to Muriel Clement

Gordon Diploma and Medal

Image: Diploma from 1948 and 55th class reunion medal (2003) that belonged to Muriel Clement. 

Donated by Allan Emery.

Seal embosser with faint example of seal

Gordon Seal Embosser (1962-1970)

Image: Gordon College and Gordon Divinity School Seal Embosser and, if you look closely, an example of the seal (c.1962-1970).

Photo of the Providence Bible Institute (PBI) Class of 1931

Providence Bible Institute Class of 1931

Image: Photo of the Providence Bible Instituted (PBI), later Barrington College, Class of 1931. Those pictured include Dean Lydia Smith, Dr. Howard Ferrin, and Carlton Booth.

Donated by Meredith VanderWoude in honor of her late aunt, Edith (Pearson) Kollbeck.

Cover of 1939 Torch Yearbook

1939 Torch Yearbook

Image: Cover of the first edition of the Providence Bible Institute, later Barrington College, yearbook from 1939.

Howard Ferrin's academic robe

Ferrin's Academic Robe

Image: President Howard Ferrin's academic robe. Ferrin was the President of Barrington College from 1925-1965. 

Not pictured: Three hoods and a cap.

Photo of the groundbreaking ceremony of KOSC on June 17, 2006

Campus Growth

After the move to Wenham in the 1950s and the Barrington Merger in 1985, buildings continued to be added to the property. Including the Ken Olsen Science Center (KOSC), named after Ken Olsen who was the founder of the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and a member of the Gordon's Board of Trustees. 

Image: Photo of the groundbreaking ceremony of KOSC on June 17, 2006. 

(L-R): Richard Stout (then chair of the Division of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computer Science), George Marsh (Payette Associates principal), Aulikki Olsen, Ken Olsen, President R. Judson Carlberg, Kurt Keilhacker (then Board of Trustees Chair), Chris Keeley (Bowdoin Construction Corporation Vice President), and Peter Bennet (Trustee and previous Board Chair).

Blue hard hat with a sticker with

Hard Hat

Image: Contractor's hard hat from the building of the Ken Olsen Science Center (KOSC). The groundbreaking ceremony took place in June 2006 and the building opened in August 2008.

Cover of the 2018-19 Gordon College course catalog

2018-19 Course Catalog

Image: Cover of the Gordon College course catalog from the 2018-2019 school year.

Class of 2019 Photo

Class of 2019

Over the years, Barrington College and Gordon College grew separately, but, with the merger in 1985, the two college's became linked forever. Their unique histories and the future of the combined institutions are celebrated within this exhibit.

Image: Gordon College Class of 2019 Commencement photo taken in front of the A.J. Gordon Memorial Chapel.

Noah Webster (Jan. 15 - May 20, 2019)

Image of Noah Webster from an 1886 print

Noah Webster: “Father of American Scholarship and Education”
Curated by Damon DiMauro and Mary-Ellen Smiley

 

Noah Webster was born in West Hartford, Conn. in 1758 and graduated from Yale College in 1778. He was a lexicographer, textbook writer, political activist, newspaper editor, and educator.

He has often been dubbed the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” for his “Blue-Backed Speller” taught several generations of American schoolchildren how to read and write. In 1828, Webster published An American Dictionary of the English Language. It was a crowning achievement, after a quarter century of labor, made all the more remarkable in that it was accomplished without the aid of an amanuensis. The work has had a redoubtable influence on American culture and literature, so that today Webster’s name has become synonymous with “dictionary.” Not only did Webster shape the language and define the values of the nascent nation through his writings, but, in the political sphere, he was an ardent advocate of the American Revolution and of the ratification of the United States Constitution. In 1791, he founded the Connecticut Society for the Abolition of Slavery. He also had a role in establishing the Copyright Act of 1831.

 

Image: Drawing of Noah Webster from an 1886 print

Title page of Webster's Dictionary (1828)

Webster’s Dictionary (1828)

Noah Webster was already a household name due to his speller and primer, when, in June 1800, he took out an ad in a Connecticut newspaper announcing his intention to compile a “Dictionary of the American Language.” The proposal made national news and was roundly ridiculed by Anglophile sophisticates who thought Samuel Johnson’s 1755 dictionary unsurpassable. But Webster held to his radical belief that the common run of the American people, not a cenacle of self-appointed of cognoscenti, shape language and make its rules. For over a quarter century, Webster worked sedulously, at last putting the finishing touches on his magnum opus:

“When I had come to the last word, I was seized with a trembling… The cause seems to have been the thought that I might not live to finish the work… But I summoned strength to finish the last word…”

The first edition of Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1828, contained 70,000 entries, as opposed to 58,000 in any previous similar work. Webster made himself the champion of orthographic rules that would become features of American English (center instead of centre, honor instead of honour, program instead of programme, etc.). As Harvard history professor Jill Lepore notes, “The American dictionary did not fly off the shelves, but it was respected and, soon enough, revered. What contributed most to the dictionary’s success was timing: it was published at the height of the Second Great Awakening. The book was a Christian catechism. Born-again Americans applauded it.”

When Noah Webster died in 1843, the Merriam brothers bought the rights to his American Dictionary, after which each succeeding edition strayed further and further from his guiding principles. Many of Webster’s innovations in spelling and pronunciation were jettisoned. His proposed etymologies were updated by the most current trends in continental philology. Even his Christian didacticism (the main selling point of the original dictionary) was watered down and replaced with more neutral prose. Indeed, with the incorporation of slang and vulgar expressions, it is probable that Webster would have distanced himself from the dictionary now called by his name.

 

Image: Title page of Webster's Dictionary, 1828 (Vining PE 1625 .W3 1818 v.1)

Picture of a Webster Dictionary's entry for Instructor

Anatomy of a Websterian Dictionary Entry

Spelling: INSTRUCTOR

Part of Speech: n.

Definition: A teacher; a person who imparts knowledge

to another by precept or information.

Biblical Citation: 1 Cor. iv.

Title page, with portrait of Webster on the left page, of Webster's

Webster’s “Common Bible” (1833)

In his younger years, Noah Webster was something of a freethinker; however, in April 1808, he attended a revival meeting and experienced “God’s touch.” He became a devout believer, and the influence of the Christian religion can be attested in his dictionary, which relied heavily on biblical literature for definitions and examples. And as Webster later proclaimed, “Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic text and book in all fields. God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”

Webster’s reformation of American English extended to his revision of the King James Bible (1611). The British Crown, which held the copyright on the English Bible, had made it illegal to be printed in the colonies; that is, until 1775, when the Continental Congress banned British imports, including Bibles. At the start of the Revolution, then, Americans began printing Bibles in earnest. But Webster found the King James Version outdated and uncouth. In 1829, when the America Bible Society revealed its plan to place a King James in every home, Webster could no longer sit idly by and threw himself into the fray, stating: “I consider this emendation of the common version as the most important enterprise of my life.”

Webster’s “Common Bible” appeared in 1833. Perhaps his greatest legacy was to replace the term “Holy Ghost” with “Holy Spirit,” for he did not want readers to confuse the third person of the Trinity with an apparition. Among other major Websterian revisions: changing the words Easter to Passover (Acts 12:4), as well as common expressions such as “why” instead of “wherefore,” “its” instead of “his” (when referring to nonliving things), “male child” instead of “manchild,” “to” instead of “unto,” and “kill” instead of “slay.”

Webster also had a Puritanical streak. Thus he changed “whore” to “lewd woman.” As for Lazarus, the phrase “he stinketh” became “his body is offensive” (John 11:39). And in Isaiah 36:12, long the object of schoolboy chuckle, men were no longer made to “eate their owne dongue and drinke their owne pisse,” but rather to “devour their vilest excretions.” As Webster explained, “Language which cannot be uttered in company without a violation of decorum or the rules of good breeding exposes the Scriptures to the scoffs of unbelievers, impairs their authority, and multiplies or confirms the enemies of our holy religion.”

 

Image: Title pages of Webster's Common Bible, 1833 (Vining BS 194 .W4 1833)

Title page of

Dissertations on the English Language

Image: Title page of Dissertations on the English Language by Noah Webster (Vining PE 1103 .W4)

Portrait of Noah Webster in 1833

Noah Webster

Image: Portrait of Noah Webster in 1833 by James Herring

Title page of Worcester's Dictionary (1881)

The “Dictionary Wars”

Joseph Emerson Worcester (1784-1865) was a Yale-educated lexicographer who began his career schoolmastering in Salem, Mass., where he also privately tutored Nathaniel Hawthorne in his home. Worcester is chiefly remembered today as the arch-competitor to Noah Webster. Their mid-19th-century rivalry came to be termed the “dictionary wars.” Worcester favored traditional pronunciation, which he found “more harmonious and agreeable,” as opposed to Webster’s efforts to Americanize English. Worcester also adhered to British orthography and rejected Webster’s phonetic reforms (e.g. “tuf” for “tough,” “dawter” for “daughter”).

J. E. Worcester originally served as an assistant to Noah Webster on the compilation of his 1828 American Dictionary. However, Worcester felt it sacrificed too much to precedent and lacked polish, so he edited an abridged version of Webster’s work in 1829, adding new terms, removing etymology, and stressing pronunciation. In 1830, Worcester published his own Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory English Dictionary. Webster noticed similarities with his dictionary and wrote Worcester to ask whether he had borrowed any of his definitions. Worcester replied, “No, not many.” This led Webster to charge him with plagiarism. Worcester responded that he had been at work on his dictionary well before his collaboration with Webster and that he had availed himself of his own research in its production. The “dictionary wars” then broke out on the pages of America’s newspapers. In 1835, Webster published an open letter alleging that Worcester had stolen the entries of some 120 words. Worcester retorted that the burden of proof belonged to the accuser, but nonetheless detailed his sources.

The public competition between the two men served to create appreciable interest in lexicography in mid-19th-century America. Although Webster’s dictionary was to prove more popular with the public and its sales soon outpaced those of his rival, Worcester’s continued to be favored by writers of note, such as Melville, Hawthorne, Irving, and Emerson. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. once stated, Worcester’s dictionary was one “on which… the literary men of this metropolis are by special statute allowed to be sworn in place of the Bible.”

 

Image: Title page of Worcester's Dictionary, 1881 (Vining PE 1625 .W7 1881)

Portrait of J.E. Worcester

J. E. Worcester

Image: Portrait of J.E. Worcester

Title page of

A Gross Literary Fraud Exposed

Image: Title page of  A Gross Literary Fraud Exposed; Relating to the Publication of Worcester's Dictionary (Vining PE 1617 .W7 W7)

Title page of

A Reply

Image: Title page of A Reply to Messrs. G. & C. Merriam's Attack Upon the Character of Dr. Worcester and His Dictionaries, 1854 (Vining PE 1617 .W7 J456)

Title page of

The Critic Criticised, and Worcester Vindicated

Image: Title page to The Critic Criticised, and Worcester Vindicated; Consisting of a Review of an Article in the "Congregationalist," Upon the Comparative Merits of Worcester's and Webster's Quarto Dictionaries., 1860 (Vining PE 1617 .W7 J456w c.1)

A.J.: Adoniram Judson (Apr. 30 - Oct. 1, 2018)

Portrait of Adoniram Judson (1846)

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850)
Curated by Damon Dimauro and Mary-Ellen Smiley

 

The subject of this exhibit of rare works from the Vining Collection was the namesake of Gordon College’s namesake — Adoniram Judson Gordon (1836-1895). He also happens to be linked to local lore because he resided in the town from 1793-1800, when his father pastored the Wenham Congregational Church. In his own day, he attained folk-hero status, a veritable Indiana Jones figure avant la lettre, for his 1812 mission to Burma (now Myanmar) set the example for the hundreds of North-American missionaries who followed in his wake throughout the globe in the ensuing decades. He gave the Burmese people their first translation of the Scriptures and he authored the first Burmese-English and English-Burmese dictionaries. He pioneered a ministry methodology now called “indigenous agency” to spread the Gospel. But the Adoniram Judson story is also one of sacrifice and perseverance in the face of trial. He suffered depression, endured prison and torture, and lost two wives, several children, and a number of co-workers. As former Gordon professor Paul Borthwick notes: “It seems that there were between a dozen and twenty-five enduring Burmese converts at the time of Judson’s death. No matter what the statistics, the Judson-mission-deaths seem to have equaled or exceeded the number of converts.” Nevertheless, as a result of Judson’s approach to ministry, the seed of Christian indigenization took root. Today, 2 million Myanmar Christians retrace their spiritual ancestry to him and, 150 years later, his Bible translation is still the version of choice. Stateside, Judson is cited for his role in establishing overseas missions and, to date, some 60 biographies have been written about him.

 

Image: Portrait of Adoniram Judson by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1846

Example page from Adoniram Judson's Burmese Dictionary from 1826

Burmese Dictionary

Image: Example pages of Adoniram Judson's Burmese Dictionary, 1826 (Vining PL 3957 .J8)

Example pages from Adoniram Judson's English-Burmese Dictionary (1849)

English-Burmese Dictionary

Image: Pages from Adoniram Judson's English-Burmese Dictionary, 1849 (Vining PL 3957 .J82 1849)

Drawing of the sailing from Salem on the

From Congregationalist to Baptist

While at Andover Seminary, Adoniram Judson met a small group of students interested in foreign missions. In 1810, they presented themselves before the Congregationalists’ General Association for support. The elders were impressed by their commitment and voted to form the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to assist them. In 1812, Adoniram Judson, his wife Ann Hasseltine, and several other missionaries, having been appointed to serve in the “East,” set sail from Salem aboard the brig Caravan.

The original destination was Calcutta, India, where British Baptist missionary William Carey was known to serve. En route, Adoniram Judson, sensing he would have to defend his pedobaptist views before Carey, began studying the question and came to the conclusion that, in fact, the Scriptures sanctioned only credobaptism. Judson wrote an agonized letter to his Congregationalist brethren in Massachusetts, acknowledging he would have to forfeit their support, lamenting as well the pain his decision would cause family and friends. From a cultural standpoint, the Baptists were also considered at the time a lower-class communion among the other confessions. Nevertheless, Judson concluded that “it [was] better to be guided by the opinion of Christ, who is Truth, than by the opinion of men.” Once in India, he and his wife had themselves baptized by immersion.

The Judsons soon found they were not welcome in India. The United States was at war with Britain and the East India Company ordered them out of country. The couple set sail for Mauritius, passed through Malaysia, and eventually wound up in Burma — a mission field which even the Baptist missionaries of India had reputed “impermeable to Christian evangelism.”

After his break the Congregationalists, Judson had written to Salem Baptist pastor Lucius Bolles and requested financial support. The outcome was far from certain, but the Baptists took him in and formed their own missionary society. It was with Bolles that Judson frequently corresponded over the years, requesting translation materials in addition to support. It was also to Bolles that Judson enthusiastically described his new approach to evangelism — accommodating himself to local custom by building a zayat for use as a Christian meeting-house. The ubiquitous bamboo pagoda was commonly used by the Burmese for social and religious gatherings. Judson held his first service in 1818, sitting in a zayat and calling out to passersby, “Ho! Everyone that thirsteth for knowledge!”

 

Image: Drawing of the sailing from Salem on the "Caravan"

Drawing of a Burmese zayat that was used for social and religious gatherings

Zayat

Image: Drawing of a Burmese zayat that was used for social and religious gatherings.

Judson in prison at Oung-pen-la

Timeline of Adoniram Judson's Life

1788 Adoniram Judson is born on August 9 in Malden, Massachusetts.

1791 At age three, Adoniram’s mother teaches him to read in one week’s time and he astonishes his minister father by reading aloud an entire chapter of the Bible.

1796 Young Adoniram establishes a reputation among his Wenham schoolmates as something of a prodigy due to his ease with mathematics and his ability to read classical languages.

1804 At age sixteen, Adoniram’s father, fearing Harvard’s theological liberalism, sends him to the more conservative-leaning Brown University. The young Judson graduates in three years, at the top of his class. Nevertheless, he forsakes his early pietism and becomes a desist under the influence of classmate Jacob Eames.

1808 Adoniram Judson founds a teaching academy and has already published a book on English grammar and another on mathematics. However, he witnesses the untimely death of former Brown classmate Jacob Eames and is so shaken that he makes “a solemn dedication of himself to God.”

1809 Adoniram attends Andover Seminary and finds other classmates interested in overseas mission work. They present themselves to leaders of the Congregational Church who form the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions in response.

1810 While visiting the home of Deacon John Hasseltine of Bradford, Massachusetts, Adoniram meets and falls in love with his daughter Ann.

1812 In less than a fortnight, Adoniram Judson and Ann Hasseltine marry, are commissioned for mission work, and set sail aboard the brig Caravan for India. During their voyage, the pair experience a change of heart concerning infant-baptism and adopt the believer’s-baptism view. They themselves are baptized by immersion upon their arrival in India. They are forced to break ties with their Congregational sponsors in the States. The Judsons remove to Burma, where they set about learning the language in earnest.

1814 The Judsons receive word that the newly-formed American Baptist Missionary Union will support their work.

1817 The Gospel of Matthew is translated into Burmese and printed for distribution.

1819 After six years of perseverance in the field, the first indigenous convert, Moung Nau, passes through the waters of baptism.

1820 The Judsons find themselves increasingly harassed and fear physical harm. They travel upriver to visit the new Emperor and appeal for his protection. To no avail. They make plans to leave the country, but their three indigenous converts beg them to stay. They remain, and shortly thereafter three more converts come to faith.

1823 Adoniram Judson completes his translation of the New Testament into Burmese. In order to recover her health, severely compromised due to her work in the field, Ann travels to Great Britain and America, where she is universally heralded as a heroine of the Christian faith.

1824 Adoniram Judson completes his Burmese-English dictionary, published two years later. The Anglo-Burmese war breaks out. Judson is accused of being a British spy and is thrown into prison with other Westerners. For eleven months, he is starved and tortured.

1825 Judson is forced with other captives to march “on bleeding feet” to another prison, where he remains seven additional months. He is only released because he can serve as a translator in the peace negotiations between the British and the Burmese. Somehow, he has been able to preserve his Burmese New Testament manuscript by concealing it in a cushion.

1826 Ann Judson dies from smallpox. Adoniram is so distraught that he sits for months by her grave and even digs a grave for himself in the jungle, contemplating his own demise. His dark night of the soul lasts some two years, writing at the time, “God to me is the Great Unknown; I believe in Him, but I cannot find Him.”

1830 Judson emerges from his depression with renewed spiritual vigor and produces a number of Old Testament translations to add to his Burmese Bible. Other missionaries begin to arrive in the country and assist in the work.

1832 Judson’s Burmese New Testament is printed.

1834 Judson completes his translation of the Old Testament into Burmese. He receives a letter of appreciation from widow Sarah Boardman, who has been ministering with her late husband to the Karen people. Judson travels to meet her and, though sixteen years his junior, he convinces her to marry him. They are married four days later.

1835 Adoniram Judson’s Burmese Bible is printed.

1839 A consistent cough leads to Judson’s partial loss of voice. He will never again be able to speak above a hoarse whisper.

1845 Sarah Judson falls ill and, in an attempt to save her, Adoniram decides to leave on furlough. En route, her condition takes a turn for the worse and she dies off the coast of Africa. She is buried on St. Helena. Adoniram journeys on to Boston and remains in the United States for nine months. From city to city, he is hailed as a national hero, though he is unable to speak publicly due to his chronic condition.

1846 While in Philadelphia, Judson chances upon a book by Emily Chubbock (whose pen name is Fanny Forester) and is smitten with her writing style. He commissions her to write a biography of his second wife Sarah. A subsequent meeting leads to courtship, which then, though she is half his age, leads to marriage.

1847 The Judson newlyweds return to Burma, where Adoniram sets about the task of finishing his Burmese-English dictionary and Emily that of writing her memoir of Sarah.

1849 Adoniram Judson’s Burmese-English dictionary is published.

1850 Adoniram Judson contracts a respiratory fever. Believing that a better climate might restore him to health, Emily puts him on a vessel. He succumbs in the Bay of Bengal and is buried at sea.

 

Image: Judson in prison at Oung-pen-la

Title page of Adoniram Judson's

A Sermon on Christian Baptism

Image: Title page of Adoniram Judson's A Sermon on Christian Baptism, 1846 (Special Coll. BV 811 .J83 1846)

Example pages from the Eliot Bible (1663)

Early Domestic Missions

Among the “great cloud of witnesses” who inspired the nineteenth-century missionary movement were early pioneers in domestic outreach, John Eliot (1604-1690) and David Brainerd (1718-1747).

John Eliot was a Puritan divine who emigrated to Massachusetts Bay in 1631. He has been called the “apostle to the Indians,” for shortly after his arrival in the new world he began learning Alonguian and translating the Scriptures into the indigenous tongue. His first edition of the “Indian Bible” — the first Bible printed in the Colonies — was published in 1663. As a result of Eliot’s missionary efforts as well as literacy work, 14 towns of “Praying Indians” were established. Tragically, during King Philip’s War (1675), because the Colonists feared that Eliot’s converts would join the uprising, these communities lost their self-governing status and many were destroyed. Some 500 “Praying Indians” were then herded to an internment camp on Deer Island in Boston Harbor. Eliot did what he could to succor them. As one observer who accompanied Eliot on a visit noted, “The Island was bleak and cold, their wigwams poor and mean, their clothes few and thin.” Half of the interned native Americans died of starvation or exposure.

David Brainerd was Connecticut born. He began attending Yale College, but was expelled due to his involvement in the “New Lights” movement. His religious fervor nevertheless brought him to the attention of a Presbyterian minister who suggested he devote himself to missionary work among the Native Americans. His ministry among the Delaware and Susquehanna tribes was well received, though illness (tuberculosis) caused him to leave the field in 1746. He was welcomed at the Northampton home of Jonathan Edwards, where Edwards’ daughter Jerusha attempted to nurse him back to health. Edwards overheard and recorded their last conversation: “Dear Jerusha, are you willing to part with me? I am willing to part with you… though, if I thought I should not see you, and be happy with you in another world, I could not bear to part with you. But we shall spend a happy eternity together!” Brainerd died five days later in 1747. Jerusha died the following year, having contracted the disease from him.

David Brainerd’s influence on succeeding generations is largely due to the biography Jonathan Edwards compiled — culled from Brainerd’s diary — and published in 1749. The impact was immediate. John Wesley republished excepts from the biography and proclaimed: “Let every preacher read carefully over The Life of David Brainerd.” Today, Brainerd is credited with having established a certain missionary ideal, which has been described as “radical disinterested benevolence” in the face of longsuffering. It is known that Adoniram Judson read Brainerd’s biography while at Andover Seminary in preparation for the ministry. In the late nineteenth century, even A. J. Gordon found himself compelled to make a pilgrimage to Brainerd’s gravesite, explaining that he had “never received such spiritual impulse from any human being as from him whose body has lain now for nearly a century and a half under that Northampton slab.”

 

Image: Example pages from the Eliot Bible, 1663 (Vining BS 345 .A2 E4 1663)

Portrait of John Eliot

John Eliot

Image: Portrait of John Eliot

Painting of Brainerd preaching to indigenous people

David Brainerd

Image: Painting of David Brainerd preaching to indigenous people.

Title page of John Edwards'

Life of David Brainerd

Image: Title page of Life of David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards, 1749 (Vining E 98 .M6 B7)

 

Portrait of Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards

Image: Portrait of Jonathan Edwards

Title page of John Williams'

John Williams

In Great Britain, Anglican Church and voluntary mission societies, with their own cavalcade of Christian heroes, had existed since the late seventeenth century. In the popular imagination, John Williams (1796-1839) was the intrepid English counterpart to Adoniram Judson. In 1816, the London Missionary Society commissioned him to work in the South Pacific. He was an ironmonger by trade and sought to spread not only the Gospel, but the use of technology. Over the next two decades, Williams and his wife travelled extensively throughout the region, visiting Tahiti, the Polynesian island chain, Samoa, and the Cook Islands. Williams became fascinated in particular by one volcanic-peaked island in this latter group, Rarotonga, which rises dramatically out of the sea and is ringed by a turquoise lagoon. Williams translated the New Testament into the local language.

In 1837, Williams also published a Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands, which was a grand success in England and brought increased interest in the region. Two years later, in 1839, while visiting the island of Erromango, where Williams was not yet known, he was slain and eaten by cannibals.

In 2009, John Williams’ descendants were invited to Erromango by the descendants of the cannibals for a ceremony of reconciliation. As the leader of the island nation, Iolo Johnson Abbil, told the BBC at the time, “Since we claim to be a Christian country, it is very important that we have a reconciliation like this.” As one Williams family member, in reaction to the dozens of cannibal descendants who lined up to ask for forgiveness, remarked, “I thought I would be dispassionate after 170 years, but the raw emotion, the genuine contrition, the heart-rending sorrow has been hugely moving.”

 

Image: Title page of John Williams' A Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands, 1837 (Vining BV 3672 .W5 A3 1837)

Title page of the New Testament translated into the Rarotongan language

New Testament in Rarotongan

Editio princeps of John William’s translation of the New Testament into Rarotongan, a language also known today as Cook Islands Māori, and named after the capital island.

 

Image: Title page of the New Testament translated into the Rarotongan language, 1836 (Vining BS 335 .R35 1836)

Portrait of John Williams

Portrait of John Williams

Image: Lithograph (c.1838-1841) of John Williams by J. H. Lynch after Henry Anelay's original painting (c.1838). 

A print titled “The Massacre of the Lamented Missionary”

Print of John William's Demise

Image: A portion of a painting titled "The Massacre of the Lamented Missionary" by John Baxter, 1841.

Portrait of Ann Hasseltine

The Three Wives of Adoniram Judson

Ann Hasseltine (1789-1826) was born in Bradford, Massachusetts and her father was a deacon at the Congregational church where the first meeting of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was held. It is there that Adoniram Judson met the young schoolmistress. They were married two weeks before departing for Asia. The Judsons were clear-eyed about the trials that awaited them. Adoniram, writing to Ann’s father to request her hand, had stated: “I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world. Whether you can consent to see her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life?”

Ann bore two children, who did not survive infancy. When her husband was imprisoned during the Anglo-Burmese war (1824–1826), suspected of being a British spy, she was a constant companion at the prison gates to support him. At the same time, Ann wrote to America riveting accounts of the mission field and the woes she witnessed—child marriages, female infanticide, spousal abuse, etc. She was a good linguist in her own right and composed a catechism in Burmese. She also translated the books of Daniel and Jonah into Burmese, and the Gospel of Matthew into Siamese (Thai). She died of smallpox in 1826.

Sarah Hall (1803–1845) was raised in Alstead, New Hampshire. One week after her wedding in 1827, she and her husband George Boardman sailed to Burma and began ministering to the Karen people. When Boardman succumbed to illness in 1831, Sarah elected to remain on the mission field. In 1834, she wrote a letter of appreciation to Adoniram Judson. The two met and were married four days later. The couple had eight children, three of whom died young. A gifted linguist as well, Sarah Judson translated part of Pilgrim’s Progress and other materials into the Burmese language. She also learned the language of the Peguan people of southern Burman and translated the New Testament into their language. Illness forced her to return to the United States in 1844, though she transpired in transit at Saint Helena, where she was interred. No image of her is known to exist.

 

Image: Ann Hasseltine

Title page from

Pilgrim's Progress

Image: Title page showing both English and Burmese titles for Pilgrim's Progress, 1840 (Vining PR 3330 .A73 1840w)

Portrait of Emily Chubbock later Emily C. Judson

The Three Wives of Adoniram Judson Continued

While on furlough in America, Adoniram Judson met Emily Chubbuck (1817-1853). Early in childhood, Emily had been inspired by the life of his first wife Ann: “I have felt ever since I read the memoir of Mrs. Ann H. Judson when I was a child, that I must become a missionary.” Instead, she became an educator and a writer under the nom de plume of Fanny Forester. Adoniram was sufficiently impressed with her writing to commission her to compose a memoir of his second wife Sarah. Courtship ensued. The subsequent betrothal between Emily and Adoniram raised eyebrows since she was almost thirty years his junior. She returned with him to Burma where she helped bring up two stepsons and also had a son (who died in infancy) and a daughter with him.

 

Image: Emily Chubbock later Emily C. Judson

Portrait of Emily C. Judson with two stepsons, daughter, and Burmese convert

Emily Chubbock Judson

Image: Portrait of Emily C. Judson with two stepsons, daughter, and Burmese convert.

Title page of

The Three Mrs. Judsons

Image: Title page of The Lives of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, and Sarah B. Judson, With a Biographical Sketch of Mrs. Emily C. Judson, Missionaries to Burmah by Arabella W. Stuart, 1855 (Special Coll. BV 3271 .J81 W62w 1855)

Title page from

A Sermon Preached at Haverhill, (Mass) in Remembrance of Mrs. Harriet Newell

Image: Title page of A Sermon Preached at Haverhill, (Mass) in Remembrance of Mrs. Harriet Newell, Wife of Rev. Samuel Newell, Missionary to India, 1814. The left page shows a portrait of Harriet Newell. This sermon was preached by Leonard Woods, D.D., Abbot Professor of Christian Theology in the Theological Seminary in Andover. (Special Coll. 3269 .N4 A3 1814)

Cover of the manuscript

Mélanges sur la Langue Rukheng

Image: Cover of the manuscript Mélanges sur la Langue Rukheng (Vining Manuscript no.25)

In the Company of Luther: Reformation-Era Works from the Vining Collection (Sept. 30 - Oct. 15, 2017)

Portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder

 In the Company of Luther: Reformation-Era Works from the Vining Collection
Curated by Damon DiMauro and Mary-Ellen Smiley

 

Image: Portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Title page of the Louvain Bible

The Louvain Bible (1547)

The University of Louvain in the Netherlands was the northern rampart of the Counter Reformation. Theologians from the institution had been the first to denounce Luther’s works, issuing a condemnation in 1519, several months before Leo X’s bull against the Wittenberg reformer in 1520. In the ensuing decades, the University of Louvain became a loyal defender of Catholic orthodoxy, sending delegations to the Council of Trent and joining the University of Paris to publish the first Index of Prohibited Books in 1544 and 1546 respectively.

As the Council of Trent drew to a close, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V issued an edict for the withdrawal from circulation of all Bibles suspected of heresy and he urged at the same time the Theological Faculty of Louvain to provide a revised version of the Latin Vulgate.

The response to the imperial request was the Biblia Vulgata Lovaniensis, edited by John Henten, a Flemish Dominican and soon-to-be Inquisitor, and published by the Louvain printer-publisher Bartholomew van Grave in 1547. In reality, the text was based on Robert Estienne’s Latin edition of 1538-1540, to which were added a great number of variant readings more in conformity with Catholic teaching. The Louvain Bible became the standard Catholic Latin Bible for the second half of the 16th century, until it was superseded by the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate of 1592. It was the basis for Catholic translations into Dutch in 1548 and French in 1550. The Louvain Bibles were meant to be a counterweight to the ubiquitous Protestant Bibles. All three Louvain editions have on their title page the epigraph, “In sole posuit tabernaculum suum” (“He hath set his tabernacle in the sun”), taken from Psalm 18 (19), and the corresponding vignette of the enthroned Holy Child holding a cross in the midst of a flaming sun. The Catholic reading of this verse, albeit based on the Septuagint, was an implicit retort to Protestants, for it proclaimed the exclusivity of God’s only “tabernacle” (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church), which has been placed in the “sun” and is thus manifest to all.

 

Image: Title page of the Louvain Bible (Vining BS 75 1547)

Drawing of the University of Louvain

University of Louvain

Image: Drawing of the University of Louvain

Drawing of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V

Holy Roman Emperor Charles V

Image: Drawing of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V

Page from Matthew in the Complutensian Polygot (1514)

Complutensian Polyglot (1514-1517)

The Complutensian Polyglot Bible is the first printed polyglot of the entire Bible and a monument of Renaissance typography and Spanish Humanism. The multilingual Bible was the initiative of Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (1436–1517), who, at substantial personal expense, brought together the top religious scholars of the day to Complutense University, near Madrid, in order “to revive the languishing study of the Sacred Scriptures.”

Work on the endeavor commenced in 1502 and extended for some fifteen years. To reconcile variations in the Vulgate, the team of scholars turned to the originals, and Greek and Hebrew manuscripts were purchased by Cisneros especially for the project. The New Testament went to press in 1514 — which antedates Erasmus’ “first” Greek New Testament (1516) by two years — but its publication was deferred while work on the Old Testament was completed, so that they might be published in tandem. Distribution of the Complutensian Polyglot was delayed further still until Pope Leo X authorized its publication in 1520.

The Old Testament was published in three parallel columns, Hebrew on the outside, the Jerome’s Latin Vulgate in the middle, and the Greek Septuagint on the inside — a configuration which symbolized the Roman Church’s preeminence over the Greek Church and the Synagogue, allegorizing Christ’s crucifixion between two thieves. The Aramaic text of the Targum Onkelos (for the Pentateuch) and Cisneros’ own Latin translation were added at the bottom.

Of the 600 printed multi-volume sets of the Complutensian Polyglot, only 123 copies are believed to still exist. Gordon College possesses the first printed volume, the New Testament, consisting of parallel columns of Greek and Jerome’s Vulgate. The Greek type was modeled on a 10th century manuscript and has been cited as “the finest Greek font ever cut.”

 

Image: Page from Matthew in the Complutensian Polyglot (Vining BS 1 1514w v.5)

Portrait of Cardinal Cisneros

Cardinal Cisneros

Image: Portrait of Cardinal Cisneros

Title Page with Cisneros’ Coat of Arms, and Cross Surmounted by a Cardinal’s Hat

Title Page with Cisneros' Coat of Arms

Image: Title Page with Cisneros’ Coat of Arms, and Cross Surmounted by a Cardinal’s Hat

Portrait of Erasmus

Erasmus

Image: Portrait of Erasmus

Title page of Erasmus' New Testament

Erasmus' New Testament

Image: Title page of Erasmus' New Testament

Page from 2nd John in Erasmus' New Testament (1522)

Erasmus' New Testament (1522)

Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) of Rotterdam was the preeminent humanist of his day. Though he was critical of Catholic abuses, he sought to reform the Church from within, emphasizing a “via media,” with a deep respect for tradition. Availing himself of the new humanist techniques of textual criticism, he prepared significant Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament, which raised questions that would have an impact on the Protestant Reformation. Among his most well-known works are On Free Will, The Praise of Folly, and Handbook of a Christian Knight.

Erasmus began the study of Greek in his late 40s. In 1516, he published the very first Greek New Testament, to which he added a fresh translation of Jerome’s Vulgate. The edition on display here is Erasmus’ third, the Novvm Testamentvm Omne (“All the New Testament”), printed by the famous Johann Froben Press in Basel in 1522. It features a woodcut title page and borders in Hans Hoblein’s style. The third edition is considered Erasmus’ most important, for it was used by Tyndale for the first English New Testament (1526) and later by translators of the Geneva Bible (1557) and the King James Version (1611).

With the third edition as well, the Comma Johanneum was included for the first time. The Johannine “short clause” is found in 1 John 5:7–8, first appearing in Vulgate manuscripts of the 9th century, though not in any Greek manuscript until the 15th century. The text of the Comma Johanneum appears in italics below:

King James:
7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Latin Vulgate:
7Quoniam tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in cælo: Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt.
8Et tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in terra: spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis: et hi tres unum sunt.

Textus Receptus:
7
ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα· καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι·
8καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.

The debate concerning the Comma Johanneum has persisted in the English-speaking world largely due to the King James Only movement.

 

Image:  Page from 2nd John in Erasmus' New Testament (Vining BS 1990 1522 c.1)

Page from the Quintuplex Psalterium​​​​​​​ (1515)

Quintuplex Psalterium (1515)

Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples (1455-1536), also known as Faber Stapulensis, was a French theologian whose scholarship revived biblical studies and anticipated later developments in the Protestant Reformation. With Guillaume Briçonnet, Guillaume Farel, Queen Margaret of Navarre, and others, he was a member of the “Circle of Meaux,” whose nascent evangelicalism sought a return to the study of the Bible as the primary source of Christian doctrine.

In 1509, printer Henri Estienne published Lefèvre’s Quintuplex Psalterium: Gallicum, Romanum, Hebraicum, Vetus, Conciliatum, or fivefold Latin Psalter in parallel columns—three versions derived from Jerome (the text used by churches in Gaul, the text used by Roman churches, and the text established directly from the Hebrew), followed by two other versions (a text older than Jerome and a harmonizing text corrected by Lefèvre himself). In 1515, Lefèvre issued a new edition, which is the one featured here in the exhibit.

Recognizing the importance of the vernacular for reaching the faithful, Lefèvre was the first to translate the Bible into French in 1530. Though some of his works were condemned as heretical and he was briefly exiled, it was his fortune to have powerful protectors in King François I and his sister Queen Marguerite de Navarre. And although an ardent supporter of ecclesiastical reform, Lefèvre remained a Catholic till the end. Calvin is said to have visited him on his flight from France in 1533.

 

Image: Page from the Quintuplex Psalterium  (Vining BS 1425 .L2 1515)

Portrait of Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples

Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples

Image: Portrait of Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples (1455-1536), also known as Faber Stapulensis, a French theologian whose scholarship revived biblical studies and anticipated later developments in the Protestant Reformation.

Title Page from the Gordon Edition of Quintuplex Psalterium

Title Page from Quintuplex Psalterium

Image: Title Page from the Gordon Edition of Quintuplex Psalterium

Portrait of Marguerite de Navarre

Marguerite de Navarre

Image: Portrait of Marguerite de Navarre, Lefèvre’s Protector and Fellow Member of the “Circle of Meaux”

Prologue showing Servetus' pseudonym Michel de Villeneuve

Servetus’ Revision of Pagnino’s Latin Bible (1542)

Santes Pagnino (1470-1541) was a Dominican from Lucca, a pupil of Savonarola (1452-1498), and a leading philologist of his day. Summoned to Rome by Pope Leo X, he taught at the school for Oriental languages until his patron’s death (1521). He devoted a quarter century to his translation of the Bible into Latin, which he published in Lyon in 1527/1528. There he came into contact with Spanish polymath Michael Servetus (1511-1553), to whom he gave his notes on biblical scholarship. In 1542, Servetus published a revised version of Pagnino’s work in Lyon.

Servetus developed unorthodox religious views, most notably anti-Trinitarian, for which he was condemned by Catholics and Protestants alike. His works were put on the Index of Prohibited Books. Fleeing Catholic authorities in France, he repaired to Geneva. Though French Inquisitors had asked that Servetus be extradited to them for execution, Calvin sought to flex his muscle in defense of Christian orthodoxy and recommended that the city’s governing council have him tried and burnt at the stake for heresy (1553). History has not deemed the Servetus affair to be one of Calvin’s finer moments. Nevertheless, not to be outdone, several months later the Inquisition in France executed him again, this time in effigy.

Servetus’ pseudonym “Michel de Villeneuve” appears here in the prologue, the last time this name would appear in any of his works. Copies of his works were burnt with him and every effort was made to destroy those which could be found, which makes this particular volume especially rare indeed.

 

Image: Prologue of Pagnino's Latin Bible showing Servetus' pseudonym (Vining BS 90 .P2 1542)

Title page of Servetus' revision of Pagnino's Latin Bible

Title page of Servetus' revision of Pagnino's Latin Bible

Image: Title page of Servetus' revision of Pagnino's Latin Bible (1542)

Drawing of Santes Pagnino

Santes Pagnino

Image: Drawing of Santes Pagnino

Portrait of Michael Servetus

Michael Servetus

Image: Portrait of Michael Servetus

Cover of Luther's

Wittenberg Press

When Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-Five Theses” on the door of a Wittenberg church in 1517, calling into question the corrupt practices of the Church, he was an obscure professor of moral theology. Within a short time, his ideas set Germany ablaze and spread all across Europe. Luther was not only a gifted theologian, but he was a master communicator as well. Gutenberg’s sixty-year-old invention permitted the widespread distribution of his works and gave him the ability to respond rapidly to his detractors.

As Luther turned himself into the most prolific author of his age — working in symbiotic relationship with his Wittenberg friend, painter, and publisher Lucas Cranach — he perfected a new form of theological discourse. Luther’s books were written in the common tongue, they were unaffected and lucid, and, of prime importance for the rapid spread of ideas, they were pithy enough to be consumed in a short period of time. Moreover, as the Reformer’s “brand” developed, printers gave his name increasing prominence and produced numerous images of him as well.

Through the shaping force of Luther’s theological production, Wittenberg became, in the words of one scholar, the “center of the book world.” It is therefore not surprising that the three Luther works featured in this exhibit all issue from Wittenberg presses. The first is a collection of sermons in Latin on Advent passages from the Gospels, as well as some material from the Epistles: Narrationes Epistolarum et Evangeliorum (1521). The remaining two are commentaries in German on Psalm 118 and 2 Samuel respectively. In the latter, Von den letzten Worten Davids (1543), Luther found in David’s ultima verba evidence of the doctrine of the Trinity, thus authorizing his Christological approach to the Old Testament. In the former, Das schöne Confitemini : an der Zal der CXVIII Psalm (1530), completed while Lutheran and Roman theologians were gathered at the Diet of Augsburg, the banned Reformer found personal solace, stating, “This is my own beloved psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life, I fell in love with this psalm especially.”

 

Image: Cover of Martin Luther's Enarrationes Epistolarum et Evangeliorum, 1521 (Vining BV 4257 .L73w 1521)

Cover of Luther's

Von den Letzlen Worten Davids

Image: Cover of Martin Luther's Von den Letzlen Worten Davids, 1543 (Vining BS 1425 .G7 L8 1543) 

Cover of Luther's

Das Schöne Confitemini (Psalm CXVIII)

Image: Cover of Martin Luther's Das Schöne Confitemini (Psalm CXVIII), 1530 (Vining BS 1450 .L73w 1530)

First Page of 1517 Printing of the Theses in Pamphlet Form

First Page of the Theses

Image: First Page of 1517 Printing of the Theses in Pamphlet Form

Wittenberg in 1536, Castle Church to the Left

Wittenberg

Image: Wittenberg in 1536, Castle Church to the Left

Vining's Shakespeare: Highlights from the Edward Payson Vining Collection (Dec. 9, 2016 - Jan. 1, 2017)

Title page of Shakespeare's 2nd Folio (1632) showing portrait of William Shakespeare

Vining’s Shakespeare: Highlights from the Edward Payson Vining Collection
Curated by Damon DiMauro and Mary-Ellen Smiley

 

Image: Title page of Shakespeare's Second Folio (1632) from the Vining Collection's copy (Vining PR 2751 .A25 1632)

Title page from Samuel Johnson's

Samuel Johnson’s Edition of Shakespeare’s Plays (1768)

As early as 1745, Johnson had proposed “A new edition of the plays of William Shakespeare, with notes critical and explanatory, in which the text will be corrected, the various readings remarked, the conjectures of former editors examined, and their omissions supplied.” It was finally published in 1765, comprising eight volumes and containing critical evaluations of each play that are recognized for their meticulous textual commentary as well as their discriminating analysis of earlier editions.

One of Johnson’s chief editorial aids in the process was his own A Dictionary of the English Language which, in addition to providing information on hundreds of words, allowed him to compare Shakespeare’s use of the same word in different texts. The result was an edition that shaped the reception of Shakespeare in the modern era of Shakespeare. Edmond Malone declared it “threw more light on his author than all his predecessors had done” and Walter Raleigh claimed it went “straight to Shakespeare’s meaning.”

Edward Payson Vining owned Johnson’s third edition (1768), Volume IV one of which is pictured above (Vining PR 2752 .J7 1768 v.4).

Portrait of Samuel Johnson in 1775

Samuel Johnson

Image: Portrait of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) by Joshua Reynolds. It is dated to 1775.

Title Page of Delia Bacon's

Baconian Theory

The Baconian theory holds that philosopher, scientist, and statesman Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) authored the plays which were publicly credited to Shakespeare. It is alleged that Bacon aspired to high office and needed a front to shield his identity, lest it become known that he composed plays for the common stage. The theory was based on perceived similarities between the ideas found in Bacon’s works and the plays of Shakespeare.

The theory was first advance by Delia Bacon in lectures and conversations with prominent American scholars and writers. But, in 1856, William Henry Smith first published the theory in a sixteen-page pamphlet in the form of a letter to Lord Ellesmere. It was entitled Was Lord Bacon the Author of Shakespeare’s Plays? The following year, in 1857, both Smith and Delia Bacon published books expounding the Baconian theory. The latter’s work was prefaced by Nathaniel Hawthorne, with whom she was an interlocutor.

The Baconian theory gained great traction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Vining owed numerous works related to the controversy, including the three mentioned above. 

 

Image: Title page of The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare by Delia Bacon (Special Coll. PR 2943 .B2)

Title page of William Henry Smith's

Bacon & Shakespeare

Image: Title page from William Henry Smith's Bacon & Shakespeare: An Inquiry Touching Players, Playhouses, and Play-Writers in the Days of Elizabeth (Vining PR 2943 .S6)

First page of William Henry Smith's

Letter to Lord Ellesmere

Image: First page of William Henry Smith's Was Lord Bacon the Author of Shakespeare's Plays?: A Letter to Lord Ellesmere (Vining PR 2946 .S5)

Alfred Edward Emslie's satirical painting, Shakespeare or Bacon (1885) a demonstrative “Stratfordian” holds a bust of Shakespeare, while arguing with a “Baconian” at the right, who is carving a porcine dish

Shakespeare or Bacon

Image: In Alfred Edward Emslie’s satirical painting, Shakespeare or Bacon (1885), a demonstrative “Stratfordian” holds a bust of Shakespeare, while arguing with a “Baconian” at the right, who is carving a porcine dish.

Title page of William Shakespeare's Fourth Folio

Shakespeare’s “Fourth Folio” (1685)

The Fourth Folio is the last of the four editions of Shakespeare’s collected plays printed in the 17th century. It contains the additional seven plays—most now considered apocryphal—that had appeared in the Third Folio (1663). The language has been further modernized and the syntax smoothed out in accordance with contemporary norms. Because the Fourth Folio later served as the basis of Nicholas Rowe’s 1709 edition of Shakespeare, a masterful work of erudition that rendered the dramatic œuvre more accessible—with lists of characters, act and scene divisions, and exit and entrance indications, it holds special value for the transmission of Shakespeare into modern times.

Because of their desirability and significance, Shakespeare folios were well-handled. Most copies now show appreciable wear and have replacement leaves. This is especially true of title pages and other introductory material. Vining’s copy of the Fourth Folio is missing its title page. However, it presents a particularity in that many of the pages remain “unopened” (what some refer to as “uncut”), since the leaves are still joined together at the fold. A purchaser would use a paper-knife to hand-slit the folds. The “unopened” leaves indicate that Vining’s copy has never been read in its entirety.

 

Image: Title page of Shakespeare's Fourth Folio (1685) from the Vining Collection's copy (Vining PR 2751 .A45 1685)

Open to title page of Prynne's

William Prynne’s Histrio Mastix (1633)

Polemicist William Prynne’s Histrio Mastix: The Players Scourge or Actors Tragaedie was printed the year after the publication of the “Second Folio” as a Puritan response to secular theater. It is often cited for his petulant reference to Shakespeare: “Shackpeers Plaies are printed in the best Crowne paper, far better than most Bibles.” Unfortunately for Prynne, an index entry, Women-Actors, notorious whores,” was not only ill-tempered but very ill-timed, for Queen Henrietta Maria played a role in William Montague’s The Shepherd’s Pastoral just ten weeks later. Although a coincidence, Prynne incurred royal wrath. He was pilloried, fined £5,000, imprisoned for life, and his book publicly burned.

For the reference to Shakespeare, see the marginal note at the bottom left-hand corner of the first page. In another note just below, Prynne further laments the recent proliferation of printed plays, “Above forty thousand Play-bookes have been printed and vented within these two yeares.” While his remarks might appear hyperbolic, they were actually quite accurate. In 1631 and 1632, fifty-two plays were published. Assuming a normal print run of roughly 800 copies per edition, some 40,000 plays would have been printed in just two years.

 

Image: Title page of William Prynne's Historio Mastix (Vining PR 3646 .H5)

Portrait of William Prynne (1600-1669)

William Prynne

Image: Portrait of William Prynne (1600-1669).

Close-up image of Ruth 3:15 in the

King James Bible, First Edition (1611)

 

“England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England.” Victor Hugo

 

King James I was a reputable biblical scholar in his own right. After several years of endeavor superintending a Bible translation committee composed of 47 Church of England scholars, James commissioned London printer Robert Barker to see to the widespread distribution of the new “authorized” version in 1611. This version was to supersede all other English versions then in circulation. There are fewer than 200 copies of the first folio still in existence. The exhibit features the “She” version of this first printing. After an initial issue in which Ruth 3:15 reads “he went into the citie,” translators decided the subject was meant to be Ruth, changing the wording to “she went into the citie.”

The King James Bible, which has just had its own quadricentennial, not only set the rule for Christian worship in the English language, but has been hailed as a literary masterpiece of the first order, a tour de force of both prose and verse. It has had a redoubtable influence on the English language itself—spreading patterns of thought, speech, and meter throughout the English-speaking world.

 

Image: Close-up image of Ruth 3:15 in the "She" Bible (Vining BS 185 1611 L6w She)

Image from Foxe's

Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1576)

John Foxe’s voluminous compilation of persecutions inflicted upon the faithful from the primitive Church age until his own “bloudy times” during Queen Mary’s reign, was perhaps, with the exception of the Bible, the most widely read single work of the late 16th and the entire 17th centuries in England. It is included here in the exhibit because Shakespeare apparently consulted Foxe’s martyrology while writing King John.

This is the third edition of The Book of Martyrs to appear in Foxe’s lifetime (1516-1587), and it is an unusually fine copy. As bookseller and author Alan C. Thomas has noted, “There are few books in the English language more difficult to find in good condition. This was the book the children of Puritans were allowed to look at on wet Sunday afternoons, attracted by the horrendous woodcuts, and all copies have suffered accordingly.”

 

Image: Section from Foxe's Book of Martyrs showing an engraving of King John (Vining BR 1607 .F6 1576)

Illustration from Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Image: An illustration from Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Title page to Plutarch's

Plutarch's Lives (1579)

Sir Thomas North (1535-1601) is best known for his translation of Plutarch’s Lives, which he actually “Englished” from the French edition of Jacques Amyot’s Vies des hommes illustres, published twenty years earlier in 1559. North’s The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth and, due to its vivid and robust prose style, soon became one of the most popular works of her reign.

North’s Lives has been called “Shakespeare’s storehouse of classical learning.” It is not too much to say that without North, Shakespeare’s Roman plays—Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Coriolanus—might never have been written. At times, he transfers some of North’s diction directly into blank verse, with only slight changes. In addition, scholars have noted that Timon of Athens, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Pericles are also indebted to North’s translation.

Other editions appeared in Shakespeare’s lifetime, in 1595 and 1603 respectively, but he is most likely to have availed himself of the first edition, presented herewith in the exhibit.

 

Image: Title page to Plutarch's The Lives of the Noble Grecians & Romans (Vining DE 7 .P55 1579)

Shakespeare's "Second Folio" (1632)

Second Folio is the designation applied to the second edition of the collected plays of William Shakespeare. It was a page-by-page reprint of the First Folio, except the attempts at updating sought to regularize orthography and grammar and to correct typographical errors. In all, scholars have found some 1,700 changes from the First Folio, roughly 800 of which have made their way into modern editions.

The printing of the Second Folio was undertaken by Thomas Cotes. Individual copies were issued with separate title-page inscriptions to each of the five booksellers in a syndicate that received a specific consignment of the press run, the size depending upon the level of involvement in the endeavor. Robert Allot is the publisher of Edward Payson Vining’s copy featured here in the exhibit. The remaining volumes of the Second Folio inscribed for Allot outnumber by two to one those for the four other publishers combined—a fact that bespeaks Allot’s role as the prime mover of the project.

Of particular note as well, in the liminary material of the volume, reprinted from the First Folio, is adjoined John Milton’s epigram in heroic couplets on the Bard and which marks his first appearance in print.

 

Image: Shakespeare's Second Folio (1632) open to Hamlet (Vining PR 2751 .A25 1632)

Title page from Shakespeare's

Shakespeare's "Second Folio"

Title page from Shakespeare's "Second Folio". 

Cover of Vining's

Vining's Theory

As a scholar, Edward Payson Vining is best known for his work on Shakespeare. In his book, The Mystery of Hamlet (1881), he advanced the unorthodox theory that the dithering “prince” was in fact a woman who posed as a man to preserve the succession of the Danish throne. Vining reasoned that only Hamlet’s feigned maleness could explain “his” brusque treatment of Ophelia as well as nuance “his” fondness for Horatio. If the maverick Vining’s re-gendered reading made the play more intelligible in some eyes, it is perhaps because it drew upon a longstanding tradition for the role to be interpreted by women. As critic Judith R. Buchanan notes, “Hamlet’s thoughtfulness, sensitivity, capriciousness, vulnerability and indecision all rendered him ripe for feminizing: the list of actresses who took up the challenge is extensive.” In all events, for Vining, the pathos of unrequited love—due to a life-long secret as a woman inhabiting a man’s persona—was especially arresting: “Shall human pity ever sound the depths of woe that engulfed this unhappy life?”

Vining’s Hamlet theory earned him a fleeting mention in James Joyce’s Ulysses (Ch. IX). And because he had translated his own book into German (1883), his radical hypothesis became known in Europe. Danish silent-film actress Asta Nielsen formed her own production company to make her “Hamlet” and cast herself in the leading role (1920). The film was shot in Berlin by her husband Svend Gade and “Professor Vining” is twice referenced in the credits. The story line expands upon his theory, for the Princess of Denmark is made to masquerade as “Hamlet” by a conniving mother, from which follows “his” secret passion for Horatio and rivalry with Ophelia for his affections. Nielsen’s performance has been hailed as one of the most powerful of Weimar cinema. As a New York Times critic stated in 1921, “It holds a secure place in the class with the best.”

Vining also later penned Time in the Play of Hamlet (1886) and edited Hamlet (1888) for New York Shakespeare Society’s republication of the Bard’s collected works.

 

Image: Cover of E. P. Vining's The Mystery of Hamlet (Vining PR 2807 .V5)

Cover of Vining's

Das Geheimniss des Hamlet

Image: Cover of Vining's Das Geheimniss des Hamlet, published in 1883 (Vining PR 2807 .V5 1883 c.3)

Asta Nielsen as Hamlet movie poster

Asta Nielsen

Image: Movie poster of Asta Nielsen, a Danish silent film actress, as Hamlet in a 1921 German film adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet.