Rare Books Connect Us

Date: July 12, 2022

Rare books connect us to the past. Rare books tell stories about the people who owned them, their thoughts, and the institutions they served.  The various editions of the Book of Common Prayer from the Church of England and the Episcopal Church reveal much about the evolution of those organizations.  The Charles Winfred Douglas collection relays the story of the music of the Episcopal Church in the 20th century.  Many of Douglas’s books have annotations that reveal his thought process as he assembled the 1916 and 1940 hymnals.  The David Donaldson Book of Common Prayer collection tells the story of one man’s meticulous collecting habits. Special thanks to David Buresh, a library science student at Catholic University, who has volunteered his time as part of his program to help us organize and analyze this collection. The library’s 1768 copy of the Book of Common Prayer includes editorial changes made after 1783 reflecting the changed attitudes of citizens and churchgoers of the new United States.

As we head into the Seminary’s 200th anniversary in 2023, Bishop Payne Library’s rare book collection contains the heritage of Christianity, the Episcopal Church, and Virginia Theological Seminary.  They tell us much about where we have been as an institution. Given careful curation and conservation, these books will speak to future generations of students, faculty, and researchers for another 200 years and beyond.

Bradley Hess, MLS, MA
Technical Services Librarian
Bishop Payne Library

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