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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Marginalia in the Shaheen Antiquarian Bible Collection

Chris Caldwell, Assistant ProfessorUniversity Libraries

Marks in books, known as marginalia, can make every copy of the same book unique. Who owned this book in the past? What notes did each person make in the margins? Where has the volume traveled? This presentation will highlight marginalia in UT Libraries’ Shaheen Antiquarian Bible Collection. Acquired in 2011, its 250 volumes include Bibles from the 16th through 20th centuries and were used by Shakespeare scholar Naseeb Shaheen to trace the Bard’s many uses of early modern Bible translations. In an effort to emphasize the unique histories of books as objects and occasional canvases for human interaction, two UT librarians investigated the Shaheen collection for evidence of readers’ handwritten marginalia and ownership marks through the centuries. Revealed are some of the ways that these particular books have been cherished and abused, for reasons both spiritual and earthly. ​

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