Monthly Archives: August 2012

St. Bartholomew’s Day, the Act of Uniformity, and the Book of Common Prayer

A year after the child king, Edward VI, ascended to the British throne, the first Act of Uniformity was enacted in 1549. The Act established the Book of Common Prayer as the sole legal form of worship in England. Subsequent Acts of Uniformity in 1552 and 1559 adopted revisions of the Book of Common Prayer, or reinstated the act after the reign of a Catholic monarch, like Mary I. The Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1549, is the liturgical text of the Church of England. It contains liturgies for both Sunday and daily worship services as well as orders for baptisms, weddings, funerals, confirmation, and words to say over the ill and dying. Readings from the Old and New Testament were included as well as Morning Prayers, Evening Prayers, and Holy Communion rites. In England, a country that had only just recently broken from the Roman Catholic church, it was invaluable to have a liturgy text in the English language.Book of Common Prayer, 1739

A century later, after the end of England’s Civil War and the reign of Oliver Cromwell and his son, Richard, the monarchy was reestablished under Charles II in 1661. Another major revision of the Book of Common Prayer was published a year later and a new Act of Uniformity was enacted along with it. This new Act was even more stringent. Not only was the Book of Common Prayer the only legal form of worship throughout England again, but adherence was mandatory for anyone who wished to hold a position in the church or in the government. Furthermore, the requirement for episcopal ordination for all ministers was reintroduced. The Act was met with hostility from a large group of ministers who complained that they could not adhere to a revised, yet-to-be-printed, Book of Common Prayer that they had not yet even seen. However, a deadline to comply with the Act was placed on St. Bartholomew’s Day, August 26, 1662.

What is now known as the Great Ejection took place on that day. It is estimated that about 2,000 to 2,500 ministers were cast out of not only the Church of England, but also from social and academic life. The Clarendon Code, named for the Earl of Clarendon, consisted of the Act of Uniformity and three other acts, passed around the same time. The Code forbade non-conformist ministers from holding university degrees from Cambridge or Oxford and many were forced to move at least five miles away from their former home parishes. Historians and former ministers wrote passionately on the injustice of the Great Ejection. Well-known ministers who became victims of the Great Ejection include John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, Sr., Thomas Doolittle, Matthew Poole, Samuel Clarke, and Richard Baxter. At Special Collections, you can find historian John Corbet’s An Account Given of the Principles & Practices of Several Nonconformists and Edmund Colamy’s The Church and the Dissenters Compar’d as to Persecution.
The Church and the Dissenters Compared as to Persecution
Principles and Practices of Several Nonconformists

It would be 150 years before Nonconformists could hold civil or military office. This year, 350 years after the Act of Uniformity of 1662 was enacted, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Westminster held a Service of Reconciliation at Westminster Abbey in London on February 8th. To mark the occasion, an Act of Penitence and an Act of Recommitment were performed, and selections from various writings of seventeenth century and eighteenth century Nonconformist ministers were read.


Posted in Rare Book Collection, Uncategorized

Welcome back, students and faculty!

Every Day at the University of MissouriToday is the first day of classes at MU, and campus is bustling with new and returning students and faculty, just as it has for the past 173 years.  Today’s collection highlight provides a glimpse of campus as it was one hundred years ago.

University publisher Joseph Chasnoff produced a booklet entitled Every Day at the University of Missouri in 1912.  In the introductory text, he noted,

"Last Year 3000 Came"“To this town students come each year in ever increasing numbers to attend the University.  This year 3000 came.  They flooded out at the Wabash and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railway stations.  They poured into and filled dormitory and rooming house.  The student is a predominant factor in Columbia.  He is one to three in numbers.  The population of the town is 10,000.”

The library, ChaThe Library is a Quiet but Busy Placesnoff notes, was a hub of campus in 1912 – as it is today. At that time, the library was housed in the west wing of Jesse Hall (then called Academic Hall).  In 1912, the library owned over 100,000 books.  Today, that number is over 3 million.

Most of the buildings pictured in the booklet are still standing.  A few photos, however, provide an idea of how much campus has changed.

Laws Observatory

Dormitories in 1912

A bird's eye view

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Posted in Rare Book Collection, University of Missouri Collection

My Great-Grandparents Did What?: Genealogical Resources at Special Collections

Looking for information about one’s ancestors can be a daunting (and sometimes expensive) task. There are quite a few online databases and websites like or that can help fill in the holes of your family tree, but they are not cheap.  Here at Special Collections, researching family trees has become a bit of a hobby for one of our employees. We are extremely lucky here to have plenty of resources in a number of forms including print, digital, and microforms. However, a lot of people have no clue how to begin to look for an elusive ancestor. Although census records and birth certificates can tell a lot, they sometimes do not tell the whole story about a person.

Take for instance the story of a 56 year old gentleman, George Valentine, who lived in what is now Ritchie County, West Virginia in 1862. The census records during his lifetime can give information about his name, occupation, family, where he was born, and age (thereby cluing the researcher into George Valentine’s birth year). However, if you search alphabetically in the Union Provost Marshals’ file of Papers Relating to Individual Civilians, you will find that George Valentine was arrested by Union troops for being a noted rebel in October 1861 and shipped off to Camp Chase in Ohio, a notorious Union prison where 2260 prisoners died from bad conditions including lack of food, water, clothing, and sanitation.  You would also find a letter, hand-written by Mr. Valentine’s captor to the Governor of Ohio, giving Mr. Valentine over to the governor’s care.
MU Savitar
If your ancestor possibly attended the University of Missouri, you should check out Special Collections’ MU collection. We have publications from various departments on campus.  One of our biggest periodical collections is the MU Savitar. The yearbook, which ran from 1894-2005, includes photographs and stories of thousands of students who have roamed the hallowed grounds of Mizzou for over one hundred years. If you are too far away from the MU campus, you should check out the digitized Savitar collection here.

Plat books contain a wealth of names and information of landowners in a particular county or state. Like the Savitar, most of the Missouri county plat books have been digitized, making it convenient to access nice clear scans of every page from anywhere. If you have an approximate idea of where an ancestor lived at a given point in time, you can usually find their name written in a plat book and estimate how much land the owned.Plat Book of Warren County Missouri

Sanborn Map

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps date back to 1867. They were originally created to assess fire liability and risk, but are used now to see a snapshot of a town or city during the past. This is a great way to find the general store that your great-grandfather ran back in 1905, or his house in 1912. Not only does Special Collections hold an extensive collection of Missouri Sanborn maps, but they have been digitized and put online as well. Furthermore, other states have also digitized their collections.

Finally, Special Collections is the home of one of the largest microform collections in North America. Immigrant and Passenger Arrivals Many of these sets come with their own print guides and indexes. Various microform collections that might of interest to genealogical researchers include the “The Immigrant in America”, extensive personal papers and correspondence of many American pioneers, and our large volume of early American newspapers and periodicals. We also have indexes of many major American newspapers like the New York Times, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and the Atlanta Constitution, so it is easy to look up someone’s name or a historical event and find the exact date and page number where they were mentioned.

As Missourians, we are truly lucky to have so much in genealogical information readily available.  Although there is a lot that has been put online for easy access, we also have a small staff here at Special Collections ready to help you find what you need up on the fourth floor of Ellis Library.  Even though none of us are trained genealogical experts, we can usually point you in the right direction.  For Missouri-specific inquiries, the State Historical Society is housed in the same building, and can often provide information that we may not have here.  Furthermore, the largest free-standing genealogical library the Midwest Genealogy Center, is located near Kansas City.   Finally, if you find yourself lost, contact us and we can provide you with names of local professional genealogists.

Posted in Special Collections, Uncategorized

Special Collections and Rare Books

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