Medieval Manuscript Highlights: Books of Hours at the BPL

The book of hours is a collection of Christian devotional texts that was extremely popular during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Each individual copy contains psalms, hymns, readings, and other materials arranged to mirror the monastic cycle of daily prayer and worship known as the Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office. However, unlike…
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Recent Digitization Highlights: the San Sisto Choirbooks, 1475-1495

Thanks to the generous support of the Associates of the Boston Public Library, the BPL recently digitized two monumental, highly decorated prayer books from our collection of medieval and early renaissance manuscripts. The two manuscripts -- an antiphonary and a psalter -- once belonged to a larger set of 14 choirbooks created for the Benedictine monastery of San Sisto…
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All That Glitters Is Gold

The Rare Books Department is always looking for new and innovative ways to share our collections with the public, so we were thrilled to be contacted by one of the BPL’s excellent children’s librarians about orchestrating a rare books outreach program for some of the Boston Public Library’s youngest patrons. It was just the sort…
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J-E-L-L-Oh Don’t Eat That

Though we generally frown on the presence of food in the Rare Books department due to the potential damage it could do to our collections, would you believe that a favorite summertime dessert is perfectly welcome in our conservation lab? While we use a number of regular household items in unusual ways here, one that…
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Up for auction: S.L.M. Barlow’s early Americana at the BPL

On Monday, February 3rd, 1890, the personal library of Samuel Latham Mitchill Barlow came up for auction in New York City. One of the major American book sales of the late 19th century, the auction of Barlow’s collection was also a watershed moment for the BPL rare books collection. During his lifetime, Barlow had been one of…
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All About That Box

Even though the Rare Books and Manuscripts department is closed to the public, we're bustling with activity behind the scenes! As we prepare for the upcoming major construction project which will help ensure the long-term preservation of our materials, we here at the conservation lab are all about boxes. While we would love to build…
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