News and Events: Archive:

A studied look at some of the Libraries' rare treasures, in the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries

Illustration of the temporary procession area built to celebrate the return of William III to Holland, after his coronation in 1690. Image from the Festival Book, published in Amsterdam in 1691. This image, and others, accompanies the article by Professor Morrison in the 2007 issue of the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries.

Scholars of politics, history, linguistics, pharmacy, and medicine may all find some unusual and delightful surprises in the new issue of the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries.

The Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries is an annual publication of the Libraries that publishes scholarly articles based on the holdings of the Rutgers University Libraries, with particular focus on the resources in Special Collections and University Archives. The Journal supports inquiry and investigation of topics that examine the history of New Jersey, Rutgers University, prominent political or social leaders, and/or libraries, books, or printing. Robert G. Sewell, Associate University Librarian for Collection Development and Management at the Rutgers University Libraries, serves as editor of the Journal.

The 2007 issue of the Journal offers an in-depth look at four topics of scholarly interest, two related to the history of the book and two related to the history of medicine;

  • An article by Karl Morrison, the Lessing Professor of History and Poetics in the Department of History in Rutgers-New Brunswick, highlights the book genre of Festival Books – elaborate publications, many with rich illustrations, published in early modern Europe to celebrate milestones in the lives of royalty, nobility, and church elites. Rutgers' Special Collections holds a growing collection of Festival Books.
  • A transcript of the February 2007 public lecture by Rutgers-Newark History Professor Jack Lynch, presented at the opening of the Libraries' exhibition of the Edward Bloustein Dictionary Collection. Professor Lynch's spirited address offered a humorous and illuminating chronicle of the battles between early English lexicographers as they sought to advance their craft and differentiate their wares from their bitter competitor's works.
  • A personal essay by Professor David Cowen, an internally renowned scholar on the history of pharmacy (now deceased), on the stories that accompany some of the rare volumes in his collection. Professor Cowen's notable collection of publications on pharmacy's history was donated to the Rutgers University Libraries after his passing in April 2006.
  • An investigation by Sandra Moss, a retired MD and current Rutgers history department graduate student, on the 'medical topography' practices of 19th century New Jersey physicians – wherein they correlated illnesses with the geographical features and weather conditions of specific areas. Such practices were a common feature of public health studies and epidemiological research in that era.

The new issue of the Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, soon to be mailed to subscribers, is available now as open-access journal. Copies of the four articles described above, including all accompanying illustrations, as well as the journal editor's preface can be viewed at:

Inquiries about the Journal, including subscription requests and submissions of articles for consideration, should be addressed via email to Journal editor Robert G. Sewell at

Posted December 12, 2007