Browse Exhibits (2 total)

Dios y Su Pueblo: 250 Years of Mexican Religious Imprints

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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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Highlights from the Ruth and Lyle Sellers Medical Collection


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


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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