In late September, HMML welcomed Chinese artist Liu Dan, an internationally known artist who specializes in large scale ink paintings. In recent years, has also become a well-known collector of Old Master drawings. In addition to working in ink, he also does pencil drawing (and his ink technique is very like pencil drawing). Liu Dan was in Minnesota for the opening of an exhibition of his work at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) in Minneapolis. While at HMML, he learned about our mission and global field work, he explored some of the materials in the rare book and manuscript collection and received a first-hand look at the Saint John's Bible. The photos include snapshots of several faculty in the Saint John's University art department, staff from the MIA and HMML's Dr. Matthew Heintzelman.
On Wednesday September 21, Jesuit priest and scholar, Dr. Michael Suarez, director of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, presented the 2016 Annual Millennium Club and Legacy Society Lecture at the James J. Hill Library in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Over eighty people attended the lecture entitled “How Does Your Garden Grow? Ecosystems of Reading and the Need for Futuristic Cultivation.” Millennium Club members give a minimum of $1,000 annually and Legacy Society members have included HMML in their estate plans. We've included a video of the program and pictures of the event below.
HMML's Malta Study Center Completes Digitization of Malta Collection at the Catholic University of America Rare Books and Special Collections
HMML's Malta Study Center has completed the digitization of 90 manuscripts and rare Melitensia located at the Catholic University of America Rare Books and Special Collections in Washington, D.C. The Center and CUA signed an agreement to film the Malta collection in December, 2015. Digitization of the collection began on September 29, 2016, led by Dr. Daniel K. Gullo, Joseph S. Micallef Curator of the Malta Study Center, and Wayne Torborg, Director of Digital Collections at HMML with the help of Lenore Rouse, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at CUA.
The Malta Collection at CUA consists of two major gifts devoted to the Order of Malta. The Foster Stearns gift, the older and larger of the two, was donated by Foster W. Stearns (1881-1956), a member of the United States House of Representatives, Privy Chamberlain of Sword and Cape to Pope Pius XI, Knight of Malta. Donated in 1955, the collection spans over 800 years of the Order’s history, consisting of over 281 rare books and manuscripts. The collection is particularly strong in early printed editions, particularly with regard to the Great Siege of 1565, the Siege of Rhodes of 1522, and early modern histories of the Order of Malta, such as the 1581 general history of the Order written by Heinrich Pantaleon. The collection was originally cataloged by Oliver L. Kapsner, one of the founders of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library.
The second gift, the Carol Saliba collection, was donated by Carol Saliba's son, Dr. N. Alex Saliba, in 1999. Carol Saliba was a native of Malta and a Commander of the St. John Ambulance Brigade of Malta. An avid collector of Melitensia, his important collection of letters and documents details the history of the Order of Malta during the 18th and 19th centuries, including several important documents penned by Grand Master Tommasi. The collection details the Order's attempt to seize the island of Lampedusa, in addition to conversations with the King of Sweden to acquire the island of Gotland after the Order's expulsion from Malta by the French in 1798.
The Malta collection at CUA will be uploaded into HMML's new digital collection, vHMML Reading Room. Cataloging has begun, with an uploading of the images and data to be completed by December 2016.
Dr. Daniel K. Gullo, HMML assistant director and Joseph S. Micallef Curator of HMML's Malta Study Center, will present a lecture at the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Oct. 14 from 3-4:30pm. The lecture, "Saving Libraries during a Time of War: The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library’s Race to Preserve Manuscripts Threatened by War and Cultural Trafficking" will introduce the various manuscript cultures represented by HMML’s projects and discuss efforts to recover manuscripts, such as those damaged by acts of war in Malta, ensuring that the contents of these irreplaceable witnesses to centuries of history will not be lost forever.
The Library of Congress European Division, in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Malta, Embassy of Italy, Italian Cultural Institute, and European Union National Institutes for Culture, are sponsoring the lecture.
The Thomas Jefferson Building is located at 101 Independence Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20540 Room LJ-119, 1st Floor Friday, October 14, from 3:00-4:30 p.m. Contact Lucia Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-707-2256
vHMML Reading Room is now live!
vHMML Reading Room will be a game-changing research tool for anyone interested in manuscript studies, including bibliophiles, students, or scholars who use manuscripts for academic study.
The initial collections available on vHMML Reading Room include representative samples of HMML’s vast microfilm and digital resources, including images from Malta, Iraq, Ethiopia, Syriac texts and the famed Timbuktu manuscripts. Collections will be added as quickly as cataloging allows.
The collections in vHMML Reading Room are searchable by country, repository, author, language, genre, date, features, city or even writing systems and script.
vHMML Reading Room is one of five components that make up vHMML, HMML’s online tools and resources for manuscript studies.
Digital preservation of manuscripts gives scholars access to manuscripts that would otherwise be inaccessible. HMML has been working globally for more five decades to preserve manuscripts. HMML now holds the world's largest collection of resources for the study of manuscript cultures, both east and west. vHMMLReading Room will very soon be the world's largest online collection of manuscript images.
The vHMML team is still working to ensure that the user experience is seamless and consistent, and that metadata is accurate and easily searchable. Because of agreements with owning libraries, you will need to register in an easy, no-cost and one-time process. You can register directly at https://www.vhmml.org/registration.
Tell us about your experience using vHMML Reading Room and vHMML’s other resources and take a look at all of vHMML at www.vhmml.org.
In 1715, Giuseppe Simone Assemani, then a titular bishop of Tyre, a Maronite scholar and librarian, departed Rome on a quest: he was searching for valuable manuscripts to add to the Vatican Library. He spent two years traveling, visiting Wadi al-Natrun and Cairo in Egypt, Damascus, and Lebanon, acquiring manuscripts and learning about the cultures that created them.
Assemani’s expedition netted hundreds of manuscripts for the Vatican Library. He also produced the 1719 multi-volume book Bibliotheca orientalis Clementino-vaticana, a reference tome that not only cataloged the manuscripts he collected, but described their contents, the various languages and traditions present and how to interpret them. And, nearly 300 years later, the book remains the main reference book on the Vatican Syriac manuscript collection, while also becoming an artifact itself.
Digitizing Syriac manuscripts
The Syriac Language
Discovering Syriac in Europe
Giuseppe Simone Assemani
The Spread of Syriac
Syriac Church Literature
Visitors to the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s University can see two original volumes of Assemani’s book, along with other artifacts, in a new exhibition of Syriac manuscripts, traditions and culture.
Syriac Christianity dates back to the 1st century A.D. The Syriac language is a rich dialect of Middle Aramaic that was spoken across the Near East during late antiquity and the Middle Ages. During this time, the Syriac Christians authored an abundance of manuscripts pertaining to history, science, literature, philosophy and religion.
“Preserving the linguistic and liturgical traditions of the Syriac Christians became a priority for HMML in 2006, when globalization, wars and religious intolerance began to threaten historic Syriac Christian communities in the Middle East and India,” said Fr Columba Stewart, OSB, executive director of HMML. “By digitizing, cataloging and archiving these unique witnesses to human creativity and cultural identity, HMML is keeping the Syriac language, literary and liturgical traditions and histories alive and accessible forever.”
Since 2003, HMML has digitized over 13,500 manuscripts belonging to Syriac communities in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and India. The current exhibition includes over a dozen rare books and manuscripts, including a manuscript fragment from the 9th Century, an Ottoman pen case and inkwell from Damascus and a 21st Century prayer stole from Kerala, India.
The exhibit is free and open to the public in HMML’s Reading Room through September 2016. Due to the renovation of the adjacent Alcuin Library, HMML is currently only accessible via stairs. Those wanting more information about visiting HMML should visit www.hmml.org or call 320-363-3514.
The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library’s mission is to identify, digitally photograph, catalog and archive endangered manuscripts belonging to threatened communities around the world. Having formed partnerships with over 540 libraries and archives, HMML has photographically preserved over 140,000 manuscripts from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India.
HMML is currently preserving manuscript collections in many global sites, including Lebanon, Iraq, Jerusalem, Egypt, Mali and Malta. These resources are available through HMML’s legacy catalog, OLIVER; image database, Vivarium; and the recently launched vHMML, at www.vhmml.org, HMML’s new online environment for manuscript research. See more at www.hmml.org.
The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library in Collegeville, Minnesota, preserves handwritten manuscripts around the world and makes the digital images freely available in an effort to understand and protect the history of humanity.