Everything (Digital Collections) (Very) Old Is New Again: Introducing Two New Digital Collections

Our busy summer continues apace here in the Digital Projects Group, and our update today gives you two examples of what we’ve been up to. We’re excited to announce the addition of a pair of new digital collections to our stable of digital assets: The Baylor Libraries Digital Rare Books Collection and the Portraits Collection. Each is comprised of absolutely unique materials drawn from our Central Libraries, Poage Legislative Library and The Texas Collection.

William R. White – President of Baylor University (1948-1968) by Victor Lallier

Unveiling the Portraits Collection

Our first new collection presents 38 portraits of a range of figures, including United States Presidents, friends of Baylor University and other Texas luminaries. The centerpiece of the collection is a series of portraits of the thirteen previous presidents of Baylor University (prior to the presidency of current officeholder Judge Ken Starr). Also prominent is the name Victor Lallier, a Texan whose included works featuring U.S. Presidents, Baylor presidents and Congressman W.R. “Bob” Poage.

It is our hope that the portraits collection will be expanded in stages to include additional works from the libraries’ collections, as well as other works displayed across campus.

Opening page – with illuminated capital – of Summa De Casibus Conscientiae (A Summary of Cases of Conscience) – 1481

Treasures from the Vault: The Digital Rare Books Collection

Imagine a room filled with some of the earliest manuscripts ever created, each sitting side by side in a consistently secured, atmospherically-controlled atmosphere where only scholars of the highest caliber are allowed access. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it is – but it’s also available to a fairly limited number of people every year, so we decided to throw open the door of our rare book room and provide digital access to some of the Central Libraries’ oldest, rarest and most interesting treasures via the Digital Collections!

This 28-piece (and growing) collection features manuscripts and books dating as far back as the 15th century – 1481, to be precise. This work, “Summa De Casibus Conscientiae” or “A Summary of the Causes of Conscience,” features “illuminated initials, double columns [and] gothic type.” The “newest” piece dates to 1860: a translated New Testament written in Sequoyah, the language of the Cherokee people.

Itse Kanohedv Tetlohisdv Ugvwiyuhi Igatsetseli Tsisa Galone Utseliga / Cherokee Testament – c. 1860

The collection also includes a number of early works on medicine and health, a first of edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and an “almanack” from 1741 written by Nathanel Ames (no relation – as far as I know).

We’d be remiss in introducing this collection if we didn’t mention our indebtedness to our friends Chelsea Ferwerda and Sarah A.S. Epps. These fine ladies did amazing work in translating the titles of our Latin tomes into English. This essential step makes them more discoverable through search engine optimization and gives scholars – and non-Latin speakers alike – a better grasp of what the collection holds.


We hope you’ll take a few moments to peruse these two new collections, and please spread the word to anyone in your particular spheres who might be interested. Both collections are tagged as “active,” so new additions will be made over time!

Access the Portraits Collection and the Digital Rare Books Collection and tell us what you think! Images courtesy the Baylor University Central Libraries and the Poage Legislative Library at Baylor University.


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