Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter



Recent Acquisitions by Burns Library

In recent months Burns has added a number of exciting acquisitions to its collection.  Space does not permit an exhaustive listing of these acquisitions.  What follows are a few highlights:


Addition to Early Modern Scientific Works

AstronomiaCopernicus, Nicolaus.  De Revolutionibus. Amsterdam: Wilhelmus Jansonius, 1617.  This is the third edition, the first edition to include commentary by Nicholaus Müller of Groningen, of Copernicus’s classic work.  Copies of this edition are quite rare.  The first edition of De Revolutionibus (1543) is widely considered to be the most important scientific work published in the 16th century. A first edition copy recently sold for $2,300,000. 


The Copernicus joins two other early editions of the most important scientific works of the early modern period to be held by Burns, namely, a first edition of Galileo’s classic work on sunspots, Istoria e dimostrazioni intorno alle macchie solari e loro accidenti :  comprese in tre lettere scritte all'illvstrissimo signor Marco Velseri ... /  dal signor Galileo Galilei ... ; si aggiungono nel fine le lettere, e disquisizioni del finto Apelle [Christoph Scheiner]. In Roma :  Appresso Giacomo Mascardi,  MDCXIII [1613]; and an extremely rare eighteenth-century reprint of the second edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, together with an elusive essay on Principles of Calculus (Amsterdam, 1723).  The Copernicus and the Newton works were purchased through a collaborative effort involving the Provost’s Office, the Physics Department, and Boston College Libraries.  The Galileo was a gift of Wega and Angelo Firenze, from the library of Wega’s father, acclaimed physicist Pasquale Sconzo.  These core works in the history of science provide students at BC with a study and research opportunity few other institutions are able to offer.  Every year some 150 BC students visit Burns to do research projects involving the Newton and the Galileo.  With the addition of the Copernicus, more research opportunities are anticipated.   


Limited Edition Ulysses

UlyssesJoyce, James. Ulysses. Paris: by John Rodker for the Egoist Press, London, 1922.

This edition is limited to 2000 copies on handmade paper numbered from 1 to 2000.  Original blue wrappers. The Burns Library Copy is No. 1658.  Provenance: In manuscript at head of front flyleaf recto: C.U. Clark; bought from J.A. Joyce, British Museum, London.  Anonymous donor, presented to Burns by T. Frank Kennedy, S.J., Boston College. Though printed in France in October 1922 from the plates used for the first Shakespeare Press edition of Ulysses (February 1922), this edition is referred to as the First English Edition.  It was from this edition that some 500 copies were mailed to the United States, seized by postal authorities in New York and subsequently destroyed.



Olea, N. de. Tractatus De Admirabili Eucharistia e Sacramento auctore … Societatis Jesu in Lemensi, Platensi et Qusquensi Colegiis primario. (Lima, 1676). Original, unpublished manuscript.  Olea was a Lima-born Jesuit who was a theologian, humanist, orator and professor of grammar in the Colegio Maximo.  The Holy Office of the Inquisition in Lima looked negatively upon part of this manuscript, which perhaps explains why it was never published.  It offers insights into the history of ideas and their dissemination in the New World by the Jesuits.  Though never published, this work was mentioned by the great Latin American bibliographer Medina in Imprenta in Lima, 663.  This is the second Latin American Jesuit manuscript to be acquired in recent years.  The first was by L. de Valdivia, Manuscrito. Libro de Algunos Varones Ilustres que ha havido en la Compañia de Jesús cuyas santas Vidas y Gloriosas muertas padecidas por La Fee… np, c.1750, containing hundreds of biographies of Jesuits throughout the world, many of whom were missionaries in South America. These manuscripts offer great research potential to scholars and strengthen the Library’s modest collection of Latin American materials.   


Rio de la PlataLozano, P.  Descripcion chorografica del terreno, rios, arboles, y animales de las dilatadisimas Provincias del gran Chaco Gualamba: y de los ritos y costumbres … con una cabal relacion historica … Cordoba. En el Colegio de la Asumpcion: por Joseph Santos Balbas, 1733. Extremely rare first edition.  The “Gran Chaco” is the vast region in the center of South America.  This work is the only early account of that region, and contains the valuable folding map of the Rio de la Plata basin, which is usually missing from extant copies.  The map is in excellent condition.


Cassani, J. Tratado de la naturaleza, origen y causas de los Cometos. Con la historia de todos los que se tiene noticia harverse visto y de los efectos que se les han atribuido. Madrid, 1737. Rare first edition of this treatise on comets in Latin America by Joseph Cassani, a Spanish Jesuit and one of the founders of the Spanish Academy of Language. Though the author never visited the Americas, he mentions some cities in the New World where comets were sighted.


These last three works are among some two dozen recent acquisitions for the Burns Library’s world-renowned Jesuitana Collection of books and manuscripts by or about the Jesuits from their founding in 1540 to their Suppression in 1773.  The Jesuitana Collection has been described by noted Jesuit historian John O’Malley, S.J. as the largest of its kind in the Western Hemishphere. Special thanks go to the Jesuit Institute and the Jesuit Community of Boston College for their financial support in making some of these acquisitions possible.


Brendan Galvin Papers

Brendan GalvinPoet and professor Dr. Brendan J. Galvin, the author of sixteen collections of poems, has donated his papers to his alma mater.  The 2009 Recipient of the Boston College Annual Arts Council Award for Distinguished Achievement, Dr. Galvin is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA fellowships, the Sotheby Prize of the Arvon Foundation (England), and Poetry’s Levinson Prize, the first OB Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Charity Randall Citation from the International Poetry Forum and the Sewanee Review’s Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry.  Dr. Galvin received his BA from Boston College in 1960 and an MFA and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts.  Though some of his papers are already at Burns, the bulk (some 19 boxes) are in transit.  They will be processed expeditiously to make them available to researchers as soon as possible. 

Collection of Ancient Manuscript Fragments and Artifacts

In December 2008 the Burns Library received two major donations of ancient manuscript fragments and artifacts from the ancient world.  Thirteen items were donated by Dr. and Mrs. Domenic Mariano of Warren New Jersey.  Their donation includes:

  • an ancient Syrian bronze cylinder seal depicting the god Baal wearing a pointed cap standing on two hill tops brandishing a weapon, ca. 1800-1600 BC;
  • an ancient Roman thick terracotta tile stamped with the name of the legion that manufactured it, ca. late 1st - 3rd century AD;
  • an Hellenistic Greek clay seal impression of Ceres or Demeter enthroned holding a grain ear and poppy, Hellenistic Period, 3rd - 1st century BC, Seleucid;
  • an ancient Egyptian fragment of the Book of the Dead on a finely woven strip of linen, with six lines of Hieratic characters, the cursive form of Hieroglyphs, and a finely painted vignette of the deceased before an offering table and the god Ptah, New Kingdom, ca. 1550-1070 BC;
  • an ancient Roman marble relief fragment of the lower part of a votive stele depicting Zeus and Hera standing side by side, an eagle between them, a Greek inscription below reads: "... RIS EUCH..." ca. 2nd - 3rd century AD;
  • two ancient Roman marble relief fragments of a votive stele depicting Zeus and Hera, ca. 2nd - 3rd century AD;
  • an ancient Egyptian papyrus fragment with a Hieratic text in black and red ink partially preserved in three lines, likely a Book of the Dead fragment, New Kingdom - Late Period, ca. 1500-300 BC;
  • two ancient Greek papyrus fragments with a text in black ink partially preserved in ten lines, ca. 300 BC - 100 AD;
  • an ancient Egyptian papyrus fragment with a Hieratic text in black ink partially preserved in nine lines, Late Period, ca. 700-30 BC;
  • an ancient Egyptian papyrus fragment with a Coptic text partially preserved in three lines; an ancient Egyptian papyrus fragment with a Coptic text partially preserved in two lines on one side and six on the other, Egypt, ca. 300-600 AD;  
  • a large ancient Greek papyrus fragment with a text in black ink partially preserved in several lines, ca. 300 BC - 100 AD;
  • and a finely made ancient Urartian iron cheek-piece from a horse bit,  inscribed in cuneiform text for King Menua, "The property of Menua," ca. 800-785 BC.


Dr. and Mrs Joseph DeGregorio of Wyckoff, New Jersey, who previously donated a stunning collection of ancient manuscripts and artifacts, including two Dead Sea Scroll fragments, donated:

  • a large ancient Egyptian Lapis Lazuli scarab, New Kingdom, ca. 1550-1070 BC;
  • a large ancient Egyptian wooden ushabti XIXth Dynasty, 1293-1185 BC;
  • an ancient Egyptian inscribed wood ushabti, New Kingdom, XIXth Dynasty, 1293-1185 BC;
  • an ancient Mesopotamian clay tablet inscribed with 13 lines of Sumerian cuneiform text and a geometric field plan, Third Dynasty of Ur, Ca. 2100-2000 BC;
  • and an ancient Mesopotamian clay tablet inscribed with 37 lines of cuneiform text concerning a legal case involving compensation for land sold by, Ninurta-apla-iddina, the governor of Nippur, ca. 1242 BC.


These pieces are available for study or simply to admire, and faculty are welcome to invite their students to see and study these treasures at Burns.         


Bob O'Neill

Bob O'Neill

Burns Library



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