Tracing the Origins of the Plimoth Pilgrims: Leyden, The Netherlands — the Pilgrims’ Home for Twelve Years (1608-1620)

Leiden (Netherlands). Archives.: Leyden Documents Relating to the Pilgrim Fathers.  Leyden:  E.J. Brill. 1920.

The Pilgrims, the religious sect known as the Separatists, and who later established the Plimoth colony, sailed from England to the Netherlands in 1608.  They settled in several cities in Dutch cities: Amsterdam, The Hague, Leyden (Leiden) and Antwerp, but Leyden was the major center of aggregation.

Despite the passage of time, it is possible to determine with a high level of certainty the individual Pilgrims, male and female, who emigrated to the Netherlands and their English origins.  The list of the Mayflower passengers exists as do lists of later emigrants, but determining the actual Pilgrims who lived in Leyden (and elsewhere in Holland) during those 12 years, where they came from, how they were related, and what were their occupations is rather limited and difficult to find in the English historical documents. However, such vital documentation pertaining to the members of these Pilgrim communities is available in the Dutch Betrothal Books.

From Leyden documents relating to the Pilgrim fathers (1920). Folio XVII, the marriage of William Bradford (first Governor of the Plymouth Colony, serving intermittently between 1621 and 1657) to Dorothy May, entered Nov. 15, 1613.

The Pilgrims did not believe marriage was a sacrament, and did not marry in front of a clergyman, but instead in front of a local magistrate or bailiff.  Fortunately for the Pilgrims, in Holland, couples also were married in civil ceremonies by either one of these local officials.  And, to these officials, prospective brides and grooms had to provide the following information:  their own baptismal names, the baptismal name of his/her father, their occupations, their places of residences, their home land or origins, consent of the parents, and one or two witnesses.  All of this information was recorded in the Betrothal Records for each town.  Moreover, other Dutch records relating to the Pilgrims such as permission to reside in certain cities can be found in archives in the various cities.

If you are on a genealogical search of your ancestors, interested in learning some Pilgrim trivia for the Thanksgiving dinner table, or just like studying historical documents, this book of facsimiles is for you!  It is available for viewing in the Special Collections and University Archives department which is located on the second floor of the Bartle Library.  The department is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday – Friday.

Leiden (Netherlands). Archives.: Leyden Documents Relating to the Pilgrim Fathers.  Leyden:  E.J. Brill. 1920.

Call Number:  **F68. L68. Rare Book Collection, Double Oversized.

This issue is limited to four hundred copies of which the University Libraries owns an unnumbered copy.


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Origins of the Plimoth Plantation Pilgrims

Title page from The American Pilgrim’s Way in England to Home and Memorials… by Marcus Bourne Huish. London: Fine Art Society. 1907

Harvest festival observed by the Pilgrims at Plymouth  Americans trace the Thanksgiving holiday to a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. Autumn or early winter feasts continued sporadically in later years, first as an impromptu religious observance and later as a civil tradition.  Squanto, a Patuxet Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe, taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them. Squanto had learned the English language during his enslavement in England. The Wampanoag leader Massasoit had given food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient.

The Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621. The exact time is unknown, but James Baker, the Plimoth Plantation vice president of research, stated in 1996, “The event occurred between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, 1621, with the most likely time being around Michaelmas (Sept. 29), the traditional time.” Seventeenth-century accounts do not identify this as a Thanksgiving observance, rather it followed the harvest. It included 50 persons who were on the Mayflower (all who remained of the 100 who had landed) and 90 Native Americans. The feast was cooked by the four adult Pilgrim women who survived their first winter in the New World (Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna White), along with young daughters and male and female servants.

“Pilgrims” are often confused with “Puritans”.  Two colonists gave personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth. The Pilgrims, most of whom were Separatists (English Dissenters), are not to be confused with Puritans, who established their own Massachusetts Bay Colony on the Shawmut Peninsula (current day Boston).  Both groups were strict Calvinists, but differed in their views regarding the Church of England. Puritans wished to remain in the Anglican Church and reform it, while the Pilgrims wanted complete separation from the church.

Who were the Pilgrims or the Separatists?  The Separatists, or Independents, were English Protestants who occupied the extreme wing of Puritanism. The Separatists were severely critical of the Church of England and wanted to either destroy it or separate from it. Their chief complaint was that too many elements of the Roman Catholic Church had been retained, such as the ecclesiastical courts, clerical vestments, altars and the practice of kneeling. The Separatists were also critical of the lax standards of public behavior, citing widespread drunkenness and the failure of many to keep the Sabbath properly.

Referring to themselves as the Saints, the Separatists believed that they had been elected by God for salvation (see Calvinism) and feared spiritual contamination if they worshiped with those outside of their congregations, often referred to as the Strangers.

In 1608, a community of English separatists decided to escape persecution by moving to Holland, an area long known for its toleration. Dutch society was so welcoming that the Pilgrims, as they had come to be known, eventually feared that they were losing control over their children. In 1620, they set out for a more remote location that would allow them to protect their community. This effort resulted in the founding of Plymouth Colony.

Huish’s book The American Pilgrim’s Way…traces the origins of the  Pilgrim or Separatist founders of the Plimoth Plantation including Captain Miles Standish, John Winthrop, and Thomas Dudley, from their homelands in England (see below) to the shores of modern day Massachusetts.

This volume is an exquisitely decorated art book that contains lavish black and red wood block prints, vintage black and white photographs of English manors, watercolor illustrations of church yards and landscapes, along with facsimiles of historical family specific documents, certificates, and memorials.

If you would like to see this rare book, either to study its art work or read up on your favorite Pilgrim, it is housed in the Special Collections and University Archives department located on the second floor of the Bartle Library.  The department is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday – Friday.

The American pilgrim’s way in England to homes and memorials of the founders of Virginia, the New England States, and Pennsylvania, the Universities of Harvard and Yale, the First President of the United States & other illustrious Americans by Marcus B. Huish; illustrated by Elizabeth M. Chettle.  London:  Fine Art Society. 1907.

Call Number:  **E 188. H9 1907. Rare Book Collection, Double Oversized.

This issue is limited to five hundred copies of which the University Libraries owns No. 1.

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In Flanders Fields

Upper body of a man in a soldier's uniform. He has short dark hair parted in the middle and maintains a neutral expression.

Lieut.-Colonel John McCrae, left, author of the poem “In Flanders Fields” from the book In Flanders Fields and Other Poems (1919).

During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres during the First World War, a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres.  An exploding German artillery shell landed near him.  He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.

As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.

The poem handwritten by McCrae. In this copy, the first line ends with "grow", differing from the original printed version.

In the original, handwritten version, the first line ends with the word “grow” while in the printed version the line ends with “blow.”

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.   Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

On Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, this poem is often cited at remembrance services and singular poppies are still worn to commemorate the fallen.

Image result for poppy

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The Codex Gigas (AKA The Devil’s Bible)

The Codex Gigas (English: Giant Book) is probably the largest extant medieval illuminated manuscript in the world, at 92 cm (36 in) tall. It is also known as the Devil’s Bible because of a very unusual full-page portrait of the devil, and the legend surrounding its creation.

It was created in the early 12th century in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice in Bohemia (modern Czech Republic). It contains the complete Vulgate Bible as well as other popular works, all written in Latin. Between the Old and New Testaments are a selection of other popular medieval reference works: Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews and De bello iudaico, Isidore of Seville’s encyclopedia Etymologiae, the chronicle of Cosmas of Prague, and medical works; these are an early version of the Ars medicinae compilation of treatises, and two books by Constantine the African.

Eventually finding its way to the imperial library of Rudolf II in Prague, the entire collection was taken as war booty by the Swedish in 1648 during the Thirty Years’ War, and the manuscript is now preserved at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, although it is no longer on display for the general public.

Very large illuminated bibles were a typical feature of Romanesque monastic book production, but even within this group the page-size of the Codex Gigas is exceptional.



The codex’s bookbinding is wooden boards covered with leather, and then ornate metal guards and fittings. At 92 cm (36 in) tall, 50 cm (20 in) wide and 22 cm (8.7 in) thick, it is the largest known medieval manuscript. Weighing 74.8 kg (165 lb), Codex Gigas is composed of 310 leaves of vellum allegedly made from the skins of 160 donkeys or perhaps calfskin. It initially contained 320 sheets, though some of these were subsequently removed. It is unknown who removed the pages or for what purpose but it seems likely that they contained the monastic rules of the Benedictines.

The manuscript includes illuminations in red, blue, yellow, green and gold. Capital letters at the start of books of the bible and the chronicle are elaborately illuminated in several colours, sometimes taking up most of the page; 57 of these survive (the start of the Book of Genesis is missing). There are also 20 initials with the letters in blue, with vine decoration in red. With the exception of the portraits of the devil, an author portrait of Josephus, and a squirrel perched on top of an initial (f. 110v), the illumination is all using geometrical or plant-based forms, rather than representing human or animal forms.[8] There are also two images representing Heaven and Earth during the Creation, as blue and green circles with respectively the sun moon and some stars, and a planet all of sea with no landmasses. Within books, major capitals are much enlarged, taking up the height of about five to six lines of text, in red ink, and placed in the margins. Less important divisions such as the start of verses are slightly enlarged within the text and highlighted with yellowish ink around the letter forms.

Folio 290 recto, otherwise empty, includes a picture of the devil, about 50 cm tall. Directly opposite the devil is a full page depiction of the kingdom of heaven, thus juxtaposing contrasting images of Good and Evil. The devil is shown quite frontally, crouching with arms uplifted a posture creating a dynamic effect, as if at any moment he could jump up to seize a new victim in his claws. His size is terrifying in itself where he alone fills the entire space of Hell, even though he does not reach up to the tops of the towers. He is naked except for a white loincloth covered all over in small comma-shaped red dashes which have been interpreted as the tails of ermine furs, the distinguishing attribute of a sovereign, in this particular case the Prince of Darkness, a mighty potentate. He has no tail, and his body, arms and legs are of normal human proportions, but his hands and feet with only four fingers and toes each, terminating in large claws, are bestial, as are his huge horns, which, like all his claws, are red as though dipped in blood.

He has a large, perfectly round, dark green head, the colour of which reminds us of the deadly sin of envy, and his hair forms, as it were, a skull cap of dense little curls. His eyes are small, with red pupils, which gives him a vicious glare, and his red-tipped ears are large, enabling him to pick up all the gossip and slander entitling him to the souls of the calumniators. His open, leering mouth reveals his small white teeth, and two long red tongues flicker from the corners of his mouth. This doubling of tongues evokes negative associations with serpents, which have forked tongues, and false, double-tongued human beings. The expression ‘forked tongues’ is an ancient one already to be found in the Bible (Nordenfalk 1975, n. 15).

Several pages before this double spread are written in yellow characters on a blackened parchment and have a very gloomy character, somewhat different from the rest of the codex. The reason for the variation in coloring is that the pages of the codex are of vellum. Vellum, or scraped and dried animal hide, “tans” when exposed to ultraviolet light. Over centuries, the pages that were most frequently turned have developed this tell-tale darker color.

The codex has a unified look as the nature of the writing is unchanged throughout, showing no signs of age, disease or mood on the part of the scribe. This may have led to the belief that the whole book was written in a very short time (see Legend), but scientists are starting to believe and research the theory that it took over 20 years to complete.

The length, size, and detail of the codex are of such extraordinary magnitude that legend surrounds its origin, specifically the story that it was written by one scribe in one night with help from the devil.


According to one version of a legend that was already recorded in the Middle Ages, the scribe was a monk who broke his monastic vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive. In order to avoid this harsh penalty he promised to create in one night a book to glorify the monastery forever, including all human knowledge. Near midnight, he became sure that he could not complete this task alone so he made a special prayer, not addressed to God but to the fallen angel Lucifer, asking him to help him finish the book in exchange for his soul. The devil completed the manuscript and the monk added the devil’s picture out of gratitude for his aid. In tests to recreate the work, it is estimated that reproducing only the calligraphy, without the illustrations or embellishments, would have taken five years of non-stop writing.

From Wikipedia

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Leonardo da Vinci’s Visionary Notebooks Now Online: Browse 570 Digitized Pages


Quick, what do you know about Leonardo da Vinci? He painted the Mona Lisa! He wrote his notes backwards! He designed supercool bridges and flying machines! He was a genius about, um… a lot of other… things… and, um, stuff…

Okay, I’m sure you know a bit more than that, but unless you’re a Renaissance scholar, you’re certain to find yourself amazed and surprised at how much you didn’t know about the quintessential Renaissance man when you encounter a compilation of his notebooks—Codex Arundel—which has been digitized by the British Library and made available to the public.

The notebook, writes Jonathan Jones at The Guardian, represents “the living record of a universal mind.” And yet, though a “technophile” himself, “when it came to publication, Leonardo was a luddite…. He made no effort to get his notes published.”

For hundreds of years, the huge, secretive collection of manuscripts remained mostly unseen by all but the most rarified of collectors. After Leonardo’s death in France, writes the British Library, his student Francesco Melzi “brought many of his manuscripts and drawings back to Italy. Melzi’s heirs, who had no idea of the importance of the manuscripts, gradually disposed of them.” Nonetheless, over 5,000 pages of notes “still exist in Leonardo’s ‘mirror writing’, from right to left.” In the notebooks, da Vinci drew “visions of the aeroplane, the helicopter, the parachute, the submarine and the car. It was more than 300 years before many of his ideas were improved upon.”

The digitized notebooks debuted in 2007 as a joint project of the British Library and Microsoft called “Turning the Pages 2.0,” an interactive feature that allows viewers to “turn” the pages of the notebooks with animations. Onscreen glosses explain the content of the cryptic notes surrounding the many technical drawings, diagrams, and schematics (see a selection of the notebooks in this animated format here). For an overwhelming amount of Leonardo, you can look through 570 digitized pages of Codex Arundel here. For a slightly more digestible, and readable, amount of Leonardo, see the British Library’s brief series on his life and work, including explanations of his diving apparatus, parachute, and glider.

Read more here!

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Millions of Objects at 14 Art Institutions to Be Digitized for Online Database

Hans Holbein the Younger, “Sir Thomas More” (1527) (The Frick Collection, photo by Michael Bodycomb)

Hans Holbein the Younger, “Sir Thomas More” (1527) (The Frick Collection, photo by Michael Bodycomb)

















A new database launched by an international consortium of art institutions is working to grant internet users unprecedented access to dozens of art historical photo archives, which capture multiple images of a single artwork over time. Collectively known as PHAROS, the group is gradually digitizing millions of images, many of which are previously unpublished and accessible only through physical visits to individual research repositories. The 14 institutions involved include the Frick Collection (which is leading the project), Rome’s Bibliotheca Hertziana, the Courtauld Institute, Getty Research Institute, Paris’s Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, and the Yale Center for British Art.

its completion, Pharos will exist as a searchable database of about 25 million images, most of which are of actual art objects from all over the world; other images consist of supplementary material, such as x-ray photos taken during conservation, or photos of the back of a painting. You may currently sift through over 158,000 images, from eight of the partner institutions, searching by an artwork’s date, artist, dimensions, medium, and more.

Read more here

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On this day in 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany is established

Documents on the creation of the German Federal Constitution. Published:  [Berlin] : Prepared by Civil Administration Division, Office of Military Government for Germany ; 1949. (From the H. Warner Waid Collection)

Documents on the creation of the German Federal Constitution.
Published: [Berlin] : Prepared by Civil Administration Division, Office of Military Government for Germany ; 1949. (From the H. Warner Waid Collection)

The NATO-aligned Federal Republic of Germany (popularly known as West Germany) was formally established as a separate and independent nation on May 23, 1949. It would remain so, divided from the Warsaw-pact aligned East Germany, until German reunification on October 9, 1990.

The Federal Republic of Germany, with the city of Bonn as its de facto capital city, was established from eleven states formed in the three Allied Zones of occupation held by the US, the UK and France.  The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was established in October 1949 from the territory occupied by the Soviet Union. The city of Berlin was also divided as West Berlin was later physically separated from East Berlin as well as from East Germany by the Berlin Wall.

Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967), German statesman, first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany 1949–63, at the German Bundestag, February 1955.  Image: Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive)

Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967), German statesman, first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany 1949–63, at the German Bundestag, February 1955.
Image: Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive)

Konrad Adenauer became the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Adenauer held power for the next fourteen years and during that time refused to recognize the legal existence of the German Democratic Republic.

This divisive arrangement was supposed to be temporary, but as Cold War animosities began to harden, it became increasingly evident that the division between the communist and non-communist controlled sections of Germany and Berlin would become permanent. For the next forty-one years, East and West Germany served as symbols of the divided world, and of the Cold War animosities between the Soviet Union and the United States.

In 1990, with the collapse of communism, East and West Germany were finally reunited as one nation.

The H. Warner Waid Collection -located in Special Collections – consists of over 700 German books, periodicals and government documents such as Documents on the creation of the German Federal Constitution (seen above). Included are German publications from the Weimar era, propaganda from the Nazi era and also U.S. government and military documents from the post-World War II reconstruction era.

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ~ the first president of Turkey

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, c.1923

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, c.1923

Today, May 19, is Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s birthday.  Mustafa Kemal was born in 1881 in Thessaloniki, which was part of the Ottoman Empire and died on November 10th, 1938 in Istanbul.  Atatürk, which means father of the Turks was the first president of Turkey from 1923 to 1938.  He led the National Movement and was the commander during the war of independence against imperialism.  He was a nationalist and he advocated the independence of Turkey from all foreigners.   In 1923, he found the Republic of Turkey out of ashes of the Ottoman Empire and he transformed the country into a secular democratic nation-state and launched many reforms to create a modern Turkey by bringing a new political, legal, and education system and giving equal civil rights to women.

A number of books with information about Mustafa Kemal can be found in Special Collections on the second floor of the Bartle Library. These include Ataturk : a biography of Mustafa Kemal, father of modern Turkey by Lord Kinross, How happy to call oneself a Turk : provincial newspapers and the negotiation of a Muslim national identity by Gavin D. Brockett and Turkey by Arnold J. Toynbee and Kenneth P. Kirkwood. All three of these books are part of the Saeedpour Kurdish Collection.

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Rare Book on English Gardening Stolen from the NY Book Fair

Stolen in New York

The following book is missing, presumed stolen, from NY Book Fair, March 13, 2017.

STEELE [RICHARD]. An Essay upon Gardening, Containing a Catalogue of Exotic Planes for the Stoves and Green-Houses of the British Gardens… York: Printed for Author, By G. Peacock, 1793. 4to (25.7 x 20.1 cm).

Description: Later 19th century half calf on pebble maroon paper boards. The front cover is loose, almost off. Raised bands with double gilt lines; gilt title in upper panel; wear to edges. Collation: xxii [Includes Subscribers], [2], 126, [1-BL], [1-Explanation for plate], 127- 159, [1-Bl], [1-Errata], [1-Bl], 102, [2 –Explanation for plates], [2-BL] pp. + 3 copper engraved folded plates. The text has some edge dusting and minor toning. Plates and Explanation pages have toning and minor to moderate foxing, plates only.  The text block has been trimmed slightly, resulting in absence of plate mark at head and tail of plates. Details of plates is not affected, only blank margin inside plate mark.  This is scarce complete copy of one of the first publications with identification of origin of exotic plants growing in stoves, green-houses and British gardens.

If you have any information, or believed you have been offered this item, please contact Eugene Vigil (360-354-7512) or

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Happy Birthday L. Frank Baum!


Cover of 1908’s Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz located in the Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections.

Today we celebrate the birthday of L. Frank Baum, known for his children’s books, most famously The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. His first best-selling children’s book was 1899’s Father Goose, His Book. In 1900 Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , which sold for $1.50 at the time. He went on to write 13 more Oz books before his death in 1919.

Many generations over the years have enjoyed the story as well as 1939 film version based on Baum’s stories, which had its premier over 75 years ago. Baum didn’t live to see that film, but he was involved in a musical stage play (1903) and early silent films based on his most famous book.

A prolific writer, Baum published 55 novels, 82 short stories, and over 200 poems. Along with publishing under his own name L. Frank Baum, many of his books were published under the pseudonyms: Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, Schuyler Staunton, John Estes, Suzanne Metcalf, Laura Bancroft, and Anonymous.

Did you know? Baum was born in Chittenango, New York, in Madison County.

Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections holds several of Baum’s works including Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Road to Oz, The Magic of Oz and, of course, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Why not stop by and experience the magic of L. Frank Baum this summer?

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