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Student Spotlight: Lauren Young

Lauren Young is a senior majoring in art history and magazine journalism and minoring in music. She will graduate from the University of Missouri in May.  During the fall 2011 semester Lauren researched and studied Ellis Library’s copy of the Liber Chronicarum for her class on Renaissance figural arts at MU. She is currently working on a research project on fourth and fifth century manuscripts.  She comments on her project and provides an excerpt from her paper below.

The goal of my research project was to study the portraits of cities in the world chronicle, also known at the Nuremberg Chronicle. I discovered that the woodblock images of the cities as well as the content of the chronicle were, in fact, out of date when the book was printed in 1493. However, these images, which the Nuremberg Chronicle is well known for, exposed readers to far away lands allowing them to become armchair travelers.

The World According to the Liber Chronicarum: Selected Excerpts

Origins of the World Chronicle

The concept of a world chronicle was not a new one when the Nuremburg Chronicle was printed in 1493. In fact, the biographer of Emperor Constantine, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, developed the idea. His chronicle, Chronicorum Canones, included a list of dates from Assyrian, Hebrew, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times up to 325 C.E. Saint Jerome translated and completed Eusebius’ chronicle in 378 C.E. This chronicle became the model for later medieval historiography.

The Birthplace of the Nuremberg Chronicle

The security provided by the stable and growing economy in Nuremberg allowed two local men, Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kamermaister, the ability to finance the printing of a new world chronicle. Hartman Schedel, the city physician, was hired to write the text and artists Michael Wolgemut and Hans Pleydenwurff were contracted to produce the woodcut images. In total there are 1,809 illustrations in the chronicle. Forty-four woodcuts of kings are used for 270 different rulers and 28 woodblocks are used for 226 popes. The reuse of images through out the chronicle may have helped decrease the time and cost of labor during the creation of the world chronicle because woodblock illustrations were one of the least expensive ways to illustrate a book.  This practice also extended to the 101 places pictured in the Nuremberg Chronicle using 53 blocks.

Anton Koberger printed the Nuremberg Chronicle in both a Latin version and a German version. Koberger established his press in Nuremberg in 1470. It was the second press to open in the city and he published his first book in 1471, the same year he became godfather to Albrecht Dürer the younger.  He later purchased the building his press was housed in and added four houses over the years. Koberger’s press had space for 100 workers, 24 presses and living space for his large family. The press even had its own water system used for dampening paper during the printing process. The permit for the pipes from a well at the city wall remained in effect until 1881 when the city bought the water system. This water system helped supplement Koberger’s income because any leftover water he sold to the city.

The Ellis Library Liber Chronicarum

Ellis Library on the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus has in its special collection a nearly complete, uncolored, Latin copy of the Liber Chronicarum. The book was trimmed and rebound at some point before the university acquired it. However, whoever trimmed the book was careful enough to leave many of the notes in the margins intact by creating a series of flaps. This, in a way, increased the interactive nature of the book similarly veiled illuminations in manuscripts did. The reader now has to physically manipulate the book in order to look at the notes. The previous owner of the book who wrote the notes in brown ink was clearly literate and knowledgeable. There are places in the chronicle where this owner has corrected information and page numbers as well as added in their own thoughts. Clearly, they had a strong connection to Prague and may have even lived there because there are extensive notes in Latin below the two-page woodcut of the city.

During the time spent researching this paper, it was discovered that one of the maps in the Chronicle had been cut out of the book some time in the past. Even after consulting with the librarians in the Special Collections department of the library it is still not clear when folios 12 and 13 where removed. However, the other pages containing 26 two-page city portraits, 69 single page portraits and one world map are still intact.

Know an outstanding student you’d like to nominate for the Spotlight?  Email SpecialCollections@missouri.edu.

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Teaching Spotlight: Lena Sheets, Smithton Middle School

Graduate student Amy Jones shows ancient Asian artifacts to Smithton Middle School studentsLena Sheets has a master’s degree in education and teaches world cultures at Smithton Middle School in Columbia.  In December 2011, she brought 150 sixth-grade students to tour various collections on the MU campus, including Special Collections and Rare Books.  This month, we’ll hear from her and her students about their experiences with rare books and artifacts.

SC: How did you incorporate Special Collections into your teaching this semester?
Prior to going to special collections, students had been learning about the Early River Civilizations, such as  Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Students then went to Special Collections and learned various ways that early civilizations communicated.  Students wrote observations about the items they saw such as scrolls, papyrus, parchment and seals. Students then came back to school and wrote a brief story that incorporated the information they had learned about a particular piece.

What outcomes resulted from your class visits? What were the effects on your students?
Students could make the connection between history and real people and objects that they have studied.Students are much more engaged in what they are learning and are more inquisitive.  They would like to return again next year.

What advice would you give to faculty or instructors interested in using Special Collections in their courses?
If you are working with middle school students, it is important for them to have an activity to do while they visit.  The presenters were very engaging and answered a ton of questions, but it just middle school nature for students minds to wander.  With the outstanding presentation and a place to write down what they were learning, students were engaged the entire time and had great discussions when they returned.

Any additional comments or suggestions?
I think a visit to Special Collections is a great authentic experience that could fit any place in a unit, at the beginning to generate excitement or at the end to help students make real world connections outside the classroom, or even in the middle to do a little of both.

The staff  at Special Collections were so patient and accommodating. In addition, they were full of knowledge about each artifact and kept the students thinking.   I also appreciated that they took the time to let me preview the items my students would see. I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm for the trip and I only hope, I can get funding to return again next year.

Browse stories by young writers from Lena Sheets’ class below.

Know an inspiring educator or outstanding student you’d like to nominate for the Spotlight?  Email us at SpecialCollections@missouri.edu.

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Student Spotlight: Jen Para

Jennifer Para is a freshman from Rogers, Arkansas, majoring in business. As part of Julie Christenson‘s section on the ancient world, part of the honors humanities sequence, Jen and her classmates worked with rare and historic materials in Special Collections, including ancient materials and fifteenth- and sixteenth-century editions of the classics. Jen shares her insights and reactions below.

Glancing through rare books at Ellis Library, a certain leather bound novel with a delicate design imprinted into the spine catches your eye. The marbled paper cover reminds you of exquisite stones with white and gold specks reflecting the bouncing sun, meshed together in a pond of blood. Touching the book, you are surprised at its smoothness, and you wonder why the book does not fall apart at your caress. On the book’s spine you notice gold lettering revealing the title of the book: Aeneidos. This epic poem is a 1583 copy of Phaer and Twyne’s translation of Virgil’s Aeneid.

Flipping through the book, you observe old English type and strain your eyes to read it.  You come to the beginning of a chapter with an intricate black border in which an “Argument” gives a summery of the chapter. As you look through the epic poem, you see no page numbers, only words at the bottom of each page. Curious, you ask the librarian. She informs you that the printing process included folding the papers together, using the first and last words of a page to ensure the correct order.

At the end of each chapter there seems to be a Latin copyright, and you also notice small printed notes in the margins. Between books twelve and thirteen you find the authors’ letter to their readers. Phaer and Twyne intended their translation of the Aeneid to be read by “maisters and students of universities,” who “will not bee too much offended,” by their raw translation, and “pray they will correct the errors escaped in the printing.”

Curious about Phaer and Twyne, you begin researching for more information. Thomas Phaer, a native to Pembrokeshire, translated The Aeneid into one of the oldest meters in English, the fourteener. According to scholars, it was a good attempt, but not attractive. Unfortunately, Phear died while translating the tenth book. Not wanting to leave the work unfinished, Thomas Twyne edited and finished the last two and a half books in 1573.

You look through the book once again. This copy is not an original nor a textbook; there are no handwritten notes anywhere. But in book ten, you see calligraphy and make out words “Hugh Bateman”, “Thomas Payne”, “1767 London”, “Dronfield”. Partaking in more research, you find record of several Hugh Batemans at Dronfield.

You come to the conclusion that this epic-poem, due to its lack of use and penmanship practicing, was most likely a “coffee-table book”. Its gorgeous cover could capture the eyes of any person, but its translation made it very difficult to read. You picture in your mind this epic poem, sitting on a rosewood desk, collecting dust, until a man opens it up to dab ink off his quill. Closing the book, you sigh, knowing you are only partaking in guesswork. You wonder what conversations it has overheard, who read its pages, and how it ended up at the Ellis Library at the University of Missouri. If only books could talk.

Have an outstanding student you’d like to nominate for the Spotlight?  Email SpecialCollections@missouri.edu.

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