Browse Exhibits (71 total)

Books and Prints by Albrecht Dürer

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Originally exhibited August 22–December 10, 2011
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

This exhibition features seventy prints by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) that highlight the artist’s contributions to European culture and religious experience. It includes several of Dürer’s earliest book illustrations, as well as woodcuts from his 1498 Apocalypse. Central to the exhibition are two of Dürer’s greatest achievements, the series of woodcuts known as the Large Passion and the Small Passion, both published in 1511. Also featured are important works from the last decade of Dürer’s life, which reflected the artist’s interests in artistic theory and the emerging values of the Protestant Reformation. 

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Books in the Jewish Tradition

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Originally exhibited September 4–December 7, 2012
Entry Hall

Introduction

This exhibition highlights the printed book as an expression of Jewish religious traditions. Selected from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections, these ten books shed light on the experiences of people in past centuries who wished to make books central to their faith, but had to overcome opposition from many quarters. Facing intolerance and persecution across most of Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Jewish publishers and their readers persevered wherever they could, eventually finding relatively safe havens in seventeenth-century Amsterdam and nineteenth-century America.

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Bridwell Library Special Collections: Items Featured in "Fossils to Film"

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Fossils to Film: The Best of SMU's Collections
March 14–June 20, 2021
Meadows Museum
SMU
Dallas, Texas

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Bygone Summers: Images of Chautauqua from the John H. Vincent Papers

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Originally exhibited May 24–August 16, 2019
Entry Hall

Introduction

The Chautauqua Institution began in August 1874 as an experimental Sunday School teachers' training assembly held at Chautauqua Lake in western New York. By 1900 Chautauqua had grown to become a popular summer destination, an influential adult education organization, and an international movement blending education, religion, the arts, and recreation. Today the Chautauqua Institution continues to foster the pursuit of knowledge and serves as a national forum for discussion of public issues.

This exhibition presents photographs of Chautauqua Lake, the Chautauqua Institution, and Institution leaders taken during the late 1800s and early 1900s. These images are from the personal papers of Bishop John H. Vincent (1832–1920). The Vincent papers are part of the Methodist Studies Archive at Bridwell Library.

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Catechisms

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Originally exhibited December 12, 2012–May 10, 2013
Entry Hall

Introduction

Manuals of Christian doctrine, catechisms are often organized in the form of questions with accompanying answers to be learned and memorized. This extremely popular and accessible genre for conveying fundamental religious teachings was utilized by both Protestant and Catholic authors beginning in the sixteenth century, and continues to be an introductory source for Christian instruction today. Included in this exhibition are works published between the sixteenth and nineteenth century with examples of texts for the youngest readers, more advanced students, and adults.

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Devotional Printing in France

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Originally exhibited May 26–August 25, 2017
Entry Hall

Introduction

The history of religious printing often emphasizes large and elaborately produced books held by wealthy individuals and institutions. Yet publishers also responded to the desire among the general population to possess and utilize religious books. Accessible, small format works provided an intimate experience in prayer, meditation, and religious instruction. The works featured in this exhibition document French interests in personal devotion in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. The publishing histories of these works also demonstrate the international and cultural importance of themes inherited over several centuries and shared across languages and borders.

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Dios y Su Pueblo: 250 Years of Mexican Religious Imprints

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Introduction

Bridwell Library acquired its collection of nearly 400 Mexican religious imprints under the directorship of Jerry Campbell in the 1980s from the University of California in Los Angeles.  The majority of the collection originates from the holdings of Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro, a private collector and former mayor of San Francisco who purchased thousands of publications in 1889 from Eufemio Abadiano, the unwilling heir to the Abadiano printing dynasty of Mexico City.  The Abadiano family could directly trace its printing legacy back through the most prominent printers of nineteenth century Mexico City all the way to Juan José de Eguiara y Eguren, who founded the Biblioteca Mexicana publishing house in 1753.  The family had, therefore, accumulated thousands of periodicals, serials, government publications, and pamphlets spanning over a century of Mexican history.  As the Abadiano family and its predecessors were known to be highly religious and conservative, an overwhelming majority of the pamphlets bought by Sutro documented the activities and concerns of the Catholic Church, arguably the most powerful and consistent institution in Mexico from the Conquest in 1521 to the Revolution in 1910.

This collection of printed ephemera, the oldest document of which dates to 1719 and the most recent to 1968, illustrates both the revolutionary changes and the subtle continuities that the Catholic Church of Mexico experienced through this turbulent 250 year period.  Within it can be seen the obligations of the Church to the Crown during the colonial period, the challenges to ecclesiastic authority during the independence movement, the bitter disputes between liberals and conservatives during the Reform Era, and the drastic decline of the Church's power in secular matters after the Revolution.  The authors contained in the collection represent all levels of the clergy, from archbishops to priests to mendicants, as well as independent citizens and the printers themselves.  In addition to the official sermons, pastoral letters, orders of worship, and papal bulls issued by the leaders of the Church, the collection incorporates a wide array of pious hymns, poetry, prayers, catechisms, and devotional exercises, written and widely distributed so that people from every stratum of society could daily partake in religious worship and, in doing so, bring themselves closer to achieving God's salvation.  While the works in Bridwell's collection certainly document the complexities of the Mexican Catholic Church's doctrines, politics, and the concerns of those at the top of its hierarchy, these imprints reveal much more about the popular piety of a deeply religious people as it changed over time.

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Documents from the First Decade of Southern Methodist University

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Originally exhibited May 15–August 28, 2013
Entry Hall

Introduction

To honor the centennial of Southern Methodist University, Bridwell Library presents from its archival holdings eighteen documents produced between 1911 and 1920 which offer insights into the development of the university and its School of Theology.

The training of ministers and other church leaders was an important part of SMU’s founding vision. In 1915–1916, the university’s opening year, thirteen students enrolled in the Bachelor of Divinity degree program, twelve students enrolled in the theology certificate program, forty-seven undergraduates took courses at the school of theology, and eighteen Dallas-area pastors took continuing education extension courses.

To learn more about the history of Perkins School of Theology, please consult these works:

Allen, Joseph L. Perkins School of Theology: A Centennial History. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 2011.

Grimes, Lewis Howard, and Roger Loyd. A History of the Perkins School of Theology. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1993.

Patterson, Stanley, and Ruth Patterson Maddox. Building SMU, 1915-1957: A Warm and Personal Look at the People Who Started Southern Methodist University. [Lewisville, Texas]: Odenwald Press, 1995.

Thomas, Mary Martha Hosford. Southern Methodist University: Founding and Early Years. Dallas: SMU Press, 1974.

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Early Methodists and Their Books

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Originally exhibited August 20–December 14, 2012
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

Among John Wesley’s most enduring gifts to the early Methodist movement was his constant encouragement to make use of a great variety of beneficial reading materials. Through his published advertisements for newly available Methodist titles and specific reading recommendations made in his personal letters, Wesley created a community that shared a common bond in affordable, easily-read, and useful books intended for education and worship.

The fifty items in this exhibition reveal how readers in the first century of the Methodist tradition (c. 1739–1839) acquired, read, inscribed, annotated, and treasured their books. Selected from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections, these volumes include several owned by John Wesley or his brother Charles Wesley, original manuscripts used by early Methodist ministers, and numerous books and hymnals inscribed with the names of everyday Methodist pioneers, male and female, in England and America.

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Early Texas Methodism, 1815–1860

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Originally exhibited August 28–December 11, 2015
Entry Hall

Introduction

The earliest Protestant preaching in Texas is credited to Methodist Episcopal Church circuit rider Rev. William Stevenson (1768–1857). In 1815 he crossed the Red River into Texas from the Territory of Arkansas (now part of Oklahoma) and formed a society near Pecan Point. During the antebellum era, ministers and lay persons evangelized a significant number of Texans, organizing them into Methodist societies and Sunday Schools. Despite their success, early Texas Methodists left behind few records. This exhibition presents fifteen items from the Special Collections at Bridwell Library that document the Methodist movement during its formative years in Texas.

To accompany this exhibition honoring the bicentennial of Methodism in Texas, Bridwell Library has reprinted The Autobiography of the Rev. William Stevenson, recently edited by Dr. Ted A. Campbell, Professor of Church History at Perkins School of Theology. Free copies are available at Bridwell Library. A PDF of the book is available here

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Eight Centuries of the Bible in Translation

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Originally exhibited February 1–May 14, 2011
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

The Bible was born from two parent languages, Hebrew and Greek. Although St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible shaped Christian theology and worship throughout medieval Europe, the development of regional languages and the rise of reform movements encouraged numerous vernacular translations during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. By the late eighteenth century, biblical translations had been produced throughout Europe and in selected regions beyond. During the nineteenth century, a period of widespread missionary efforts, the Bible was disseminated in hundreds of languages indigenous to Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. Today, the Bible is available in more than 2,000 languages.

The gallery exhibition of 60 Bibles from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections traces the enduring effort, despite resistance on many fronts, to translate the Bible into the world’s native languages. Dating from the thirteenth century to the early twentieth century, the exhibited Bibles represent 55 different languages from five continents. 

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Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection

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Originally exhibited September 8–December 11, 2009
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

This exhibition highlights Bibles from the collection of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro (1919–2009), who donated nearly five hundred volumes in more than fifty languages to Bridwell Library in 1996. One of Southern Methodist University’s great benefactors, Mrs. Prothro was the daughter of Joe and Lois Perkins, whose generosity endowed Perkins School of Theology. She graduated from SMU in 1939, one year after her marriage to Charles N. Prothro (1918–2001) of Wichita Falls. In 1962, a Bridwell Library exhibition of fifteenth-century printing inspired her to collect rare books. Her husband’s gift of six early volumes for their twenty-fifth anniversary on January 14, 1963 laid the foundation of a remarkable collection that reflects Mrs. Prothro’s life-long love of scripture and a connoisseur’s appreciation of historically significant editions.

Bridwell Library hosted the first exhibition of the Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection in 1966. In 1990, one hundred Bibles from her collection were featured in the inaugural exhibition in The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries, given by her husband for their fiftieth anniversary in 1988. Donated to Bridwell in 1996, her Bibles have played important roles in many of the library’s exhibitions, including small exhibits marking her honorary SMU degree in 1996 and the rededication of Perkins Chapel on her birthday in 1999. Sixty of her Bibles were shown in a ten-year anniversary exhibition in 2006, for which her family donated additional early Bibles in her honor.

The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection invites continual use at Bridwell Library. The Bibles appear in many exhibitions and are shown regularly to visiting groups, examined by students, and consulted by scholars from around the world.  The collection will continue to inspire future students of the Bible, its history, and its lasting influence.

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Engraved Throughout

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Originally exhibited August 15, 2016–December 9, 2016
Entry Hall

Introduction

This exhibition explores religious works printed entirely with copperplates: the volumes were engraved throughout. These pages could be presented side-by-side, as in prayer books and guides to the mass. Alternatively each plate would be viewed individually, often as one print in a series. Such suites of plates proved conducive for illustrating narrative accounts including biblical episodes and the biographies of religious figures. Created with various intentions, the exhibited volumes published in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries provided an appealing and engaging format for instruction, documentation, worship, and devotion.

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Faith and Devotion in Mexico

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Originally exhibited December 7, 2011–May 7, 2012
Entry Hall

Introduction

This exhibition surveys Catholic devotional beliefs and practices in Mexico in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as documented in images, novenas, sacred poetry, historical accounts, and a variety of other sources.  In addition to public worship,  personal and community devotion was an active element of spiritual life which served to complement and supplement Church rituals and liturgy. 

Apparitions of various manifestations of the Virgin Mary, particularly the Virgin of Guadalupe, were the most popular focus for these devotions.  Other highly venerated images included those representing the crucified Jesus, such as the statue found in the pilgrimage site at Chalma and the crucifix located in a church in Orizaba.  The roles of faith and devotion in the lives of individuals and their communities can also be seen in the activities of late colonial confraternities, social and mutual-assistance organizations represented here by certificates issued to members, and the use of late nineteenth-century devotional handbills, often issued in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  These ephemeral religious works, providing aid for the faithful,  also serve to document the long tradition of popular faith in Mexico.

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Fifty Women

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Originally exhibited August 26 – December 13, 2013 
Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries 

Introduction

This exhibition features more than fifty books from the late Middle Ages to the beginning of the twentieth century that were written, produced, owned, or inspired by women. Selected from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections, the exhibited books present contemporary evidence of the important roles that women of all callings – saints, queens, heroines, authors, printers, artists, mothers, and daughters – have played within the history of book production and readership. Together, the stories told by these books offer fascinating insights into the diverse personalities of individual women in Europe and the Americas during past centuries.

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Four Centuries of Religious Books for Children

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Originally exhibited January 20–May 12, 2012
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

“Adapted to the understandings, feelings, and perceptions of the young . . . to prepare them for the reception of those great and all important truths.”
—W. Fletcher in Hymns for Children

This exhibition explores religious books specifically written for children that were printed in Europe and America between the sixteenth and the nineteenth century. The types of books featured are Bibles, catechisms, instructional works, moral stories, devotional literature, hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs.  Authors, editors, and publishers in each of these genres utilized numerous strategies involving the choice of text, image, and physical format to entice and engage young readers.  Intended to both instruct and delight, these publications were the foundation for students’ future religious education and faith.

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Francis Asbury (1745–1816)

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Originally exhibited December 18, 2015 – May 14, 2016
Entry Hall

Introduction

“Dust, fever, and too much company, these are my trials: peace, and perfect love, these are my consolations.”  Francis Asbury, April 13, 1815

Francis Asbury, the “Father of American Methodism,” was born in Staffordshire, England in 1745. At the age of twenty-one, Asbury became an itinerant lay preacher in the Methodist movement. Five years later, in 1771, he accepted John Wesley’s call for volunteers to cross the Atlantic and minister in British North America.

Highly regarded for his piety, perseverance, and administrative leadership, Asbury was ordained a Deacon, an Elder, and a General Superintendent (Bishop) during the 1784 founding “Christmas Conference” of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  During his forty-five year ministry in North America, Asbury rode an estimated one hundred thirty thousand miles, preaching more than ten thousand sermons and ordaining an estimated seven hundred clergy. Under Bishop Asbury’s leadership, Methodism in North America grew from less than one thousand members in 1771 to over two hundred thousand in 1816.

This exhibition honors the memory of Bishop Francis Asbury by presenting fifteen documents and publications that detail Asbury’s ministry.

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Heresy and Error: The Ecclesiastical Censorship of Books, 1400–1800

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Originally exhibited September 20 – December 17, 2010
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

From its inception the early Christian Church sought to suppress books believed to contain heretical or erroneous teachings. With the development of the printing press during the latter half of the fifteenth century, Christian authorities in Europe became increasingly aware of the need to control the mass production of unfamiliar and potentially unacceptable texts. Initially, censorship of the press was enforced locally. However, with the spread of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church required a more centralized and organized approach. Thus, the Council of Trent (1545–1563) ratified the Index librorum prohibitorum (“Index of Prohibited Books”), which listed individual banned titles as well as authors whose writings had been condemned outright. Catholic officials also published lists of expurgations, which identified specific passages to be deleted from every copy of an edition. From the sixteenth century well into the nineteenth, the censorship of books remained a primary, if not entirely effective, means of eradicating heresy and error.

It is unusual for Bridwell Library to showcase its damaged volumes. In this exhibition, however, it is necessary to focus not on handsomely preserved rare books, but on the historical evidence offered by the intentional alteration and suppression of books by Christian censors during past centuries. Of the sixty-two books and broadsides in this exhibition, thirty-seven were prohibited, enduring either physical expurgation or the threat of destruction. The remainder are publications that assisted the Church in its battle against heresy and error: several are indexes of prohibited books or expurgations, while others were written in defense of ecclesiastical censorship. Combined, the exhibited books and broadsides contribute to a fuller understanding of the role of post-publication censorship in the religious controversies of the past.

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Highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections: Bibles

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Originally exhibited June 7–July 30, 2010
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction 

This exhibition comprises a selection of highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections. Representing various strengths of the library’s rare book collections, the materials document the role of books in religious practice in selected eras and locales. These materials reflect the uncommonly strong foundation for teaching and advanced research that Bridwell Library provides for students and faculty of Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University as well as the broader community.

The Bible constitutes one of the core collections at Bridwell Library. The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection, donated in 1996, offers a comprehensive survey of the printed Bible with notably strong holdings in early English editions and vernacular translations. It is complemented both by the Thomas J. Harrison Bible Collection, received in 1994, and continuing acquisitions in this field. The holdings include medieval manuscripts, first editions of nearly all of the major European language translations, and dozens of uncommon vernacular versions used to propagate the scriptures worldwide.

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Highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections: Nineteenth-Century Prayer Books

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Originally exhibited June 7–July 30, 2010
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

This exhibition comprises a selection of highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections. Representing various strengths of the library’s rare book collections, the materials document the role of books in religious practice in selected eras and locales. These materials reflect the uncommonly strong foundation for teaching and advanced research that Bridwell Library provides for students and faculty of Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University as well as the broader community.

A variety of nineteenth-century publications offered especially handsome or innovative presentations of traditional prayer texts. Several of the books included here demonstrate how European and North American printers responded to the increasingly mechanical aspects of nineteenth-century book production by offering fine typography or rich programs of illustration; others reveal how the addition of an elegant binding likewise enhanced the reader’s experience of the prayers.

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Highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections: Public Worship and Private Devotion

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Originally exhibited May 24–July 30, 2011
Entry Hall

Introduction

This exhibition comprises a selection of highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections. Representing various strengths of the library’s rare book collections, the materials document the role of books in religious practice in selected eras and locales. These materials reflect the uncommonly strong foundation for teaching and advanced research that Bridwell Library provides for students and faculty of Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University as well as the broader community.

Bridwell Library’s collection of books for public worship and private devotion spans eight centuries. The types of books highlighted in this exhibition include the Missal, used for the celebration of the Mass; the Psalter and the Book of Hours, for personal prayer;  and a variety of popular manuals for private devotion, including the “Imitation of Christ” and the “Art of Dying.” The spiritual functions of such books often were enhanced by rich hand decoration or printed illustration.

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Highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections: The Reformation

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Originally exhibited May 24–July 31, 2013
Entry Hall

Introduction

This exhibition comprises a selection of highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections. Representing various strengths of the library’s rare book collections, the materials document the role of books in religious practice in selected eras and locales. These materials reflect the uncommonly strong foundation for teaching and advanced research that Bridwell Library provides for students and faculty of Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University as well as the broader community.

Bridwell Library’s collection of early Reformation era pamphlets, sermons, broadsides, catechisms, commentaries, and vernacular Bible translations is highlighted by the major works of Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, Jean Calvin, numerous other sixteenth-century reformers, and Counter-Reformation authors. The exhibited items include several works of extreme rarity: while two are the only copies preserved in the United States, two others are the only recorded copies.

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Highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections: Theology and Church History

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Originally exhibited June 7–July 30, 2010
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

This exhibition comprises a selection of highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections. Representing various strengths of the library’s rare book collections, the materials document the role of books in religious practice in selected eras and locales. These materials reflect the uncommonly strong foundation for teaching and advanced research that Bridwell Library provides for students and faculty of Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University as well as the broader community.

Works of the great theologians and ecclesiastical authorities of the Christian tradition are strongly represented at Bridwell Library. Books and manuscripts representing the breadth of these holdings include essential works by St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Thomas Aquinas, and a variety of documents concerning Christian instruction, canon law, hagiography, and church administration. In addition to books, this section includes an original manuscript papal bull and a unique copy of an early printed indulgence.

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Highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections: Wesleyana and Methodistica

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Originally exhibited June 7–July 30, 2010
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

This exhibition comprises a selection of highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections. Representing various strengths of the library’s rare book collections, the materials document the role of books in religious practice in selected eras and locales. These materials reflect the uncommonly strong foundation for teaching and advanced research that Bridwell Library provides for students and faculty of Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University as well as the broader community.

Numerous items within Bridwell Library’s expansive collection of Methodist books, manuscripts, and archives have direct historical connections to the founders of Methodism. Complementing the more than 130 signed letters from the hand of John Wesley, the Library has collected several printed books with manuscript inscriptions or annotations by Wesley, members of his family, or his closest associates. Unique materials highlighted here also include annotated proof sheets and printer’s copy used in the production of important Methodist publications.

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Highlights from the Ruth and Lyle Sellers Medical Collection

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Originally exhibited February 1, 2016 – July 1, 2016
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries

Introduction

This exhibition celebrates the recent acquisition by Bridwell Library of the Ruth and Lyle Sellers Medical Collection, transferred to Southern Methodist University from Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas in 2015. The collection of six hundred printed books and manuscripts was assembled by Dr. Lyle M. Sellers (1894–1964), Chief of the Otolaryngology Department at the Baylor Medical Center from 1946 to 1963 where the volumes were originally donated in 1963. In 2001, for purposes of improved preservation, one-hundred of the rarest manuscripts and early printed books were placed on long-term deposit at Bridwell Library, where they have been researched, cataloged, exhibited, and made available for study by SMU students, faculty, local researchers, and visiting scholars. With the 2015 transfer, Bridwell Library is the sole owner and caretaker of the collection.

One of the finest private libraries ever created in Dallas, the Ruth and Lyle Sellers Medical Collection includes works in the fields of early medicine and science, natural history, religious ceremony and private devotion, and nineteenth-century English and American literature. In highlighting selections from each of these collecting areas, Bridwell Library honors Dr. Sellers and his vision for a collection of rare books and manuscripts "believing that proper educational progress rests upon belief in God and knowledge of the arts and sciences – my personal library has been developed as an expression of my goal and guidance of the complete, modern physician.” 

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