The Marginal Status of Marginalia: Some Thoughts

Most librarians must shudder at the thought of marginalia, since writing in books must be near the top of their taboo list. But many instances of marginalia have been hugely important (the scribblings of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Pierre de Fermat come to mind), and the other day I thought I might have tripped across some very interesting ones penned by Samuel Johnson. Granted, this was not the good Doctor himself, but the respected American philosopher who became the first president of King’s College (now Columbia University). Perusing Johnson’s Elementa Philosophica (1752) in Early American Imprints, Series 1: Evans, I noted the marginalia immediately, and also saw that it appeared to be signed by the author in the same hand. How very exciting! (The copy of this work that Readex digitized for this database came from the American Antiquarian Society, whose holdings contain many works donated by their authors, so this made sense.) Here is what I was looking at: And there was more! In several places in the text asterisks had been penned in and at bottom there were notes! An example:
The Marginal Status of Marginalia: Some Thoughts

The Case of the Missing American Dedication of the Algonquian Bible

  Citing James Constantine Pilling’s bibliography of Algonquian language publications, the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) catalog entry in the digital edition of Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800 notes the separately printed dedication sheet to Robert Boyle, the famous British scientist, who supported the production of John Eliot’s translation of the Bible into the Algonquian language.The separately printed sheet, an American printing, was loosely inserted into copies of the 1685 edition of that famous Bible which were sent to England. That dedication sheet is not in the AAS copy digitized by Readex. Incidentally, Eliot’s dedicatory pages to Boyle are bound into his 1666 “The Indian grammar begun: or, An essay to bring the Indian language into rules, for the help of such as desire to learn the same, for the furtherance of the Gospel among them.”
The Case of the Missing American Dedication of the Algonquian Bible

Introducing the Readex Blog!

Welcome to our new weblog, where you will find the latest views and news from Readex. Our writers will focus on topics of common interest, including collection development, digital humanities, research and library trends in database use, primary source materials in the classroom, interface usability, cataloging and indexing, and diverse aspects of American and world history, literature, print culture and journalism.

We’ll also provide timely information about all our Readex databases, including new product development plans, interface enhancements, and content updates as newly digitized material is released every month. Most importantly, we hope this open forum will allow those of you who use our collections to share your ideas with us. Your thoughts about everything we do are critical to our mutual success, so please comment on any post as you see fit. Subscribe via RSS so you won’t miss new posts! To do so, click on the RSS icon to the right or paste http://readex.com/blog into your RSS reader. We look forward to meeting you here often!

Introducing the Readex Blog!

Pages


Back to top