Annotated Books and Hidden Genealogies

Rare books are as much artifacts as they are texts and there is no better proof of this than the ways in which early readers bound, annotated, and otherwise customized their books. Paper in particular was much scarcer in the early modern period than it is today, so fly-leaves and margins were prime spaces in which to jot down thoughts on the text. They were also a favorite place for children to practice penmanship or readers to make idle doodles. Some owners, like the anonymous one who recorded his yearly livestock (“hors”, “sheeps”, “cow”, “hogs”) expenses in his copy of John Brinsley’s 1627 Ludus Literarius, or, The Grammar Schoole [371 B7l1627 c.2], even used blank space for accounting.

Still other owners used their books to preserve genealogical information like births, marriages, and deaths. Usually this information was recorded in a family Bible that was passed down to children, grandchildren, and beyond, each subsequent generation recording their own important family dates. Between roughly 1750 and 1830, the Baker family of South Milford, Yorkshire wrote their important dates, however, in a calf-bound volume containing two works: Edward Brerewood’s Enquiries Touching the Diuersity of Languages, and Religions, through the Chiefe Parts of the World (1622) and A Remonstrance of the Most Gratious King Iames I. King of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. (1629) [409 B75e1622].


(Brerewood, title page and second fly-leaf verso, with inscriptions)

We do not know who first owned this 17th-century volume, although several men left behind ownership markings: John Baker, William Baker, Benjamin Baker, William Shooter, and William Taylor. There were two Benjamin Bakers, a “Juner” and a senior. Benjamin Baker, Sr. fathered at least nine “sun[s]” and “doughter[s],” born between 1764 and 1781, and their births and early deaths make up many of the entries in the volume. Of the nine children, only three lived to adulthood. One was Benjamin Baker, Jr., “Born March 28th in 1766 Betwese the ouer of Ten and a Leven a Clock in the fornoon” (Brerewood 2D2v), who was followed two years later by his sister “Martha Baker Juner Born July 5th 1768 Betwesct the ouer of Siss and Seven in the fornoon” (Brerewood 2D2v). Both siblings married in 1792, Benjamin Baker to Sarah Darley[?] and Martha Baker to William Shooter.


(Brerewood title leaf verso)

Sarah Baker, born February 7th, 1779, was the third surviving child of Benjamin Baker, Sr. and his wife. A daughter, Maria Mathers, was born to a John and Sarah Mathers in 1801 (Brerewood 2D1v) and daughter, Caroline Pickard Baker, was born to a Samuel and Sarah Pickard in 1826 (Brerewood 2C4v). Sarah Baker would have been 22 when Maria Mathers was born and 47 when Caroline Picard Baker was born. Was Caroline Sarah’s daughter from a second husband? There were two other Picard children, Samuell born in late 1819 (Remonstrance F1v) and Matilda born in 1822 (Remonstrance F2v), when Sarah was 40 and 43, respectively. Although not unheard of, it was unusual for women of this period to bear children into their mid- to late forties. It is also possible that Sarah Baker was the Pickard children’s grandmother. But If Caroline and her siblings were Sarah’s grandchildren, why was the surname Baker appended to Caroline’s name?
(Brerewood 2D2r)

(Brerewood 2D2r)

(Remonstrance A1v)

(Remonstrance A1v) Martha Baker, for he has written his inscription (“William Shooters Book”) throughout the second book in the volume. Shooter’s birth (“Nov 24 in the year 1770 at two o Clock morning”) is written in the margins of the first book (Brerewood 2A4v, 2B1r), as if he or Martha were deliberately incorporating him into the family genealogy.

The book must have passed into the ownership of William Shooter after his April 29th marriage toMartha Baker, for he has written his inscription (“William Shooters Book”) throughout the second book in the volume. Shooter’s birth (“Nov 24 in the year 1770 at two o Clock morning”) is written in the margins of the first book (Brerewood 2A4v, 2B1r), as if he or Martha were deliberately incorporating him into the family genealogy.

The identity of the people who recorded these of births, deaths, and marriages is unclear. It is tempting to think that Martha perhaps copied the Baker milestones from a family Bible, knowing she could not take it to her new home with Shooter and not wanting to lose the valuable family history within, but it is clear from the variance in ink colors that the milestones were recorded at different times, maybe by Martha’s mother or father. Also murky is how the Pickard / Picard and Mathers families–for they have their own share of entries in the volume–fit into the picture, although the common thread is the name Sarah.


Water droplets blur the ink on this inscription: “Maria Mathers the Daughter of John & Sarah Mathers Departed this life April 15 1819 [minus] 1802 [equals] 17 at […?] past 11 Clock fornoon this day” It is possible that they are tears. (Brerewood 2D1r)

Annotated books, as this post demonstrates, can raise just as many questions as they answer. Do you have any family genealogies in books?  SL

*1764, May 1 – 1764, May 3 / Johanna Baker
1766, Mar. 28 –                   / Benjamin Baker, Jr. [m. 1792, May 23, 1792, Dec. 22?]
1768, July 5-                      / Martha Baker, Jr. [m. 1792, April 29]
*1771, Jan 21 – 1772, April 22 / William Baker
*1773, Mar. 4 – 1791, May 30 / Elezebeth Baker
*1775, May 3 – 1791, “8”       / Mary Baker
*1777, Oct. 15 – 1777, Dec. 22 / Johanna Baker
1779, Feb. 7 –                     / Sarah Baker
*1781, Oct. 21 – 1784, May 7 / James Baker



(Remonstrance A2r)


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Then and Now, There and Here (1914–2014)

For Veterans Day 2014, we have invited our colleague Kevin T. McLaughlin to reflect on the impact of the Great War on our local community.

– Tony Hynes, Dennis Sears, Caroline Szylowicz, curators of the exhibition First Global Conflict: Contemporary Views of the Great War, 1914-1919. (On exhibit until December 19 in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library)

C7-3_Q_940_9197_Un3o_USWW1_No145_0001 copy

“The Last Two Minutes of Fighting, 11 November 1918, 10:58 a.m. Stenay, Meuse (France).” Photograph. Shelfmark: Q. 940. 9197Un30, item 145.

On Veterans Day of the Centennial of World War I, it is tempting to view events of such historical significance as this conflict at the global or national level.  However, that conflict had an impact on our state, our community and our university.  During WWI, the ground school for the School of Military Aeronautics was located here at the University of Illinois.  Chanute Air Field was located in Rantoul because of its proximity to the ground school and the East Central Railroad.  If you want to learn more, you may want to pay a visit to the Chanute Air Museum in Rantoul. Busey Residence Hall was used to quarter the students (cadets) of that school.   To this day, a commemorative plaque may be found inside one of the entrance halls to that dormitory.  Kenney Gym—previously known as the Gym Annex—was used as a laboratory for constructing wooden biplanes.  The Armory—which is home to Army, Navy & Marine Corps, and Air Force ROTCs was dedicated on November 1, 1914.  The United States Army, the longest tenant of the Armory, maintain a nice link to the history of the Department of Military Science or Army ROTC.  Memorial trees planted just outside the Armory were dedicated to U of I soldiers who died during WWI.  A few medallions may still be found near some of the trees.  And, of course, Memorial Stadium was built as a memorial dedicated to the 189 U of I students and alumni who died in WWI.  Their names have been engraved on the colonnades of that arena and may also be found on the University of Illinois Alumni Association’s Veterans Memorial Project website which includes a list of Gold Star Illini who died in WWI as well as the names of Illini who have died in conflicts since then.  The U of I’s Department of Chemistry was also very prominent in doing research for the War Department, as documented in the Bulletin for the History of Chemistry (“Noyes laboratory, an ACS National Chemical Landmark: 100 Years of Chemistry at the University of Illinois,” vol. 29, 1, p. 46).  There is a U.S. Army Reserve Chemical unit located in Urbana which may have been lured here because of the research being conducted at the University.  The 33rd division—comprised of mostly of National Guard units from Illinois—has a connection with the university from this time period and an even longer connection with Champaign-Urbana.  The Illinois State Library has put together a collection of digitized documents related to Illinois’ participation/response to World War I including one entitled “Response of the University of Illinois to the Call of War.”  Many of these historical connections can be researched locally at the University Archives and at the Champaign County Historical Archives.  Champaign-Urbana and campus resound with the echoes of our rich military history.

Kevin T. McLaughlin
MSW, Class of ‘18
MSLIS, Class of ‘04
LAS/Anthropology, Class of ‘88
Senior Library Specialist/Serials
Government Documents Cataloging & Processing Team

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How do you say “Remember, Remember the 5th of November” in Latin?

John Milton found a way at the tender age of 17, on the eleventh anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, when he wrote “In Quintum Novembris.” This rousing mini-epic praises God for preserving the heroic King James from a “band of impious Papists.” The poem ends with Milton’s description of Guy Fawkes festivities in the England of his day:

Attamen interea populi miserescit ab alto
Æthereus pater, & crudelibus obstitit ausis
Papicolûm; capti pœnas raptantur ad acres;
At pia thura Deo, & grati solvuntur honores;
Compita læta focis genialibus omnia fumant;
Turba choros juvenilis agit: Quintoque Novembris
Nulla dies toto occurrit celebratior anno.

Looking down from above mercifully on his people, the heavenly father thwarted the Papists’ cruel attempt. They are seized and taken off to bitter punishments. Pious incense and grateful honors are given to God. All the joyous streets smoke with amiable flames; the young people dance in crowds. No day in all the year is more celebrated than the fifth of November.

Guy Fawkes day photo 2

The poem was published in 1645 in Poems Of Mr. John Milton: Both English And Latin, Compos’d At Several Times. Printed By His True Copies. The Songs Were Set In Musick By Mr. Henry Lawes Gentleman Of The Kings Chappel, And One Of His Majesties Private Musick. London: Printed By Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Moseley, and are to be sold at The Signe of the Princes Arms in S. Pauls’ Church-yard, 1645.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign holds nine copies of this work. Shelfmark: 821 M64L 1645.

Guy Fawkes day post photo 1

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University of Illinois-Urbana Rare Book & Manuscript Library Invites Visiting Scholar Applications

The John “Bud” Velde Visiting Scholars Program
and the
2015 Kenneth S. Brunsman Visiting Fellowship

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS, 2015-16 Program Cycle

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library annually awards two stipends of up to $3,000 to scholars and researchers, unaffiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who would like to spend a month or more conducting research with our materials.

Thanks to the generosity of Kenneth Brunsman, an additional award, the “Kenneth S. Brunsman Visiting Fellowship,” honors recently retired Director of Library Advancement Vicki Trimble and will be available for the 2015-16 visiting scholar program cycle.

The holdings of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library are substantial. Comprehensive collections support research in printing and printing history, Renaissance studies, Elizabethan and Stuart life and letters, John Milton and his age, emblem studies, economic history, and works on early science and natural history. The library also houses the papers of such diverse literary figures as Carl Sandburg, H. G. Wells, William Maxwell, and W. S. Merwin.

For information about this program, how to apply, and to find out more about The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, please visit our Web site at:

Please contact the Public Programs Manager, Dennis Sears, with further questions about the program or the Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

Or email Dennis: dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu.

Deadline for application: *1 February 2015*.

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Yummy Acquisition

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has recently acquired the first cookbook devoted to pastry making. Le Pastissier françois (The French Pastry Chef), published in 1655 by the great Dutch printing house of Elzevir, is a landmark in the history of cooking and cookbooks. The book is often attributed to François Pierre de la Varenne (1615-1678), the father of French gastronomy and author of the first French cookbook (Le Cuisinier françois, 1651). He was also the first to break with Italian practices, concocting such staples of French cooking as Béchamel, hollandaise sauce, and bisque. Le Pastissier françois is equally revolutionary in the history of cooking for establishing most of the foundations of French pastry making. For example, here for the first time, we find an explanation of the now universal way of making flaky pastry dough by weaving together butter and flour. The author also introduces such classics of French baking as beignets, chansons aux pommes (apple turnovers), choux pastry (used for éclairs), and gaufres (waffles), as well as the very first recipes for a cake (gateaux) and an apple pie (!). In addition to these innovative sweet confections, Le Pastissier françois offers recipes for savory pastries as well.

Groundbreaking in many ways, Le Pastissier françois is the first cookbook to indicate precise measurements and quantities for each ingredient, the first to give exact cooking times and heat levels, and the first to include an alphabetic index to the recipes.

The book was printed by Louis and Daniel Elzevir in 1655, the third generation of the great Elzevir printing house in Amsterdam. Le Pastissier françois has been called “the most sought after of all Elzevir imprints,” chiefly because of its rarity. Like hymnals and children’s books, cookbooks are printed to be used (and abused) and therefore have poor survival rates. Indeed, in the nineteenth century, the Elzevir Le Pastissier françois became a kind of Holy Grail for collectors and the price skyrocketed accordingly, leading several English and French authors to comment admiringly or sarcastically upon the phenomenon. Alexandre Dumas, for example, claims to have been distracted from a play by the incredible sight of a man reading a copy of Le Pastissier nearby, and several English novelists list this title when describing the grandeur of character’s library. When J.P. Morgan died, the New York Times mentioned about a dozen of the highpoints of Morgan’s collection, listing the Elzevir Le Pastissier françois alongside the Golden Gospels of Henry VIII, the Gutenberg Bible, and the manuscript of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. There appear to be fewer than a dozen recorded copies, most of them outside the U.S.

[LA VARENNE, François Pierre de (1618-1678), attributed to]. Le pastissier françois. Ou est enseigné la maniere de faire toute sorte de pastisserie, tres-utile à toute sorte de personnes. Ensemble le moyen d’aprester toutes sortes d’oeufs pour les jours maigres, & autres, en plus de soixantes façons. Amsterdam: Louis & Daniel Elzevir, 1655. Vicaire 659-64; Brunet IV, 426-27; Willems 1187. Shelfmark: IUB01721.

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Freedom of Speech for Me….but not for Thee

John Milton (1608-1674). Areopagitica, A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of vnlicenc’d printing to the Parliament of England. London: [s.n.], 1644. Shelfmark: 821 M64 N6.


With manuscript warrant issued to John Milton on 25 June 1650. Shelfmark: Pre-1650 MS 0168


John Milton, arguably the most significant English poet of the seventeenth century, was also a republican politician, religious renegade, and a vocal polemicist on the issues of his day. He flouted the Star Chamber Decree of 1637 when he published his tracts on divorce without license. His Areopagitica also appeared without permit or notice of publisher as required by the law. The Areopagitica has had an enormous impact on modern society, arguing, as it does, that without the freedom of speech, there can be no freedom of thought.

The Areopagitica presents the history of censorship from antiquity to Milton’s day in an eloquent and compelling narrative. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are presented as inalienable rights of humankind. Without free exchange of ideas, Milton claims that moral, intellectual, and societal development is impossible. From this book comes one of the most powerful statements on the freedom of the press ever written: “as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, God’s Image; but hee who destroyes a good Book, kills reason it selfe.”

Ironically, six years later, in 1650, Milton, now part of the ruling party, was issued a warrant to search the rooms of William Prynne, the Puritan writer with whom he had often squabbled in print. The warrant authorizes Milton to “seize all writings … of dangerous nature against the Commonwealth.” Prynne was arrested five days later and sentenced to three years in prison for expressing views contrary to those held by Milton and the Commonwealth.

The University of Illinois holds both these documents, historical proof that freedom of speech is easier to preach than practice.

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Proust and the Great War

Selected Letters at the University of Illinois

by François Proulx, Assistant Professor of French

This online exhibition is part of The Great War: Experiences, Representations, Effects, a campus-wide initiative marking the centenary of World War I. (Read more about this exhibition)


At the outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914, Marcel Proust (1871-1922) was experiencing professional success and private heartbreak. Swann’s Way, the first volume of his novel In Search of Lost Time, had appeared in November 1913, to largely positive reviews. Prestigious publishers who had previously turned down the novel now approached Proust to acquire the rights to its remaining volumes. Yet Proust found himself unable to work following the death of his driver Alfred Agostinelli, a man he “really loved” and “adored.” Meanwhile, the European powers were marching toward war.


Letter from Marcel Proust to Lionel Hauser, 2 August 1914


In a letter to his financial advisor Lionel Hauser written the night of August 2, 19141 – mere hours before Germany formally declared war on France – Proust foresees the atrocities to come:

Letter from Marcel Proust to Lionel Hauser, 2 August 1914 (excerpt 1)

In the terrible days we are going through, you have other things to do besides writing letters and bothering with my petty interests, which I assure you seem wholly unimportant when I think that millions of men are going to be massacred in a War of the Worlds comparable with that of Wells,2  because the Emperor of Austria thinks it advantageous to have an outlet onto the Black Sea.3

He fears that one of these victims will be his younger brother, the doctor Robert Proust, who was mobilized on August 2 along with over three million Frenchmen:

Letter from Marcel Proust to Lionel Hauser, 2 August 1914 (excerpt 2)

I have just seen off my brother who was leaving for Verdun at midnight. Alas he insisted on being posted to the actual border.

In closing, Proust reflects further on the impending war:

Letter from Marcel Proust to Lionel Hauser, 2 August 1914 (excerpt 3a)

I still hope, non-believer though I am, that some supreme miracle will prevent, at the last second, the launch of the omni-murdering machine.

Letter from Marcel Proust to Lionel Hauser, 2 August 1914 (excerpt 3)

But I wonder how a believer, a practicing Catholic like the Emperor Franz Joseph, convinced that after his impending death he will appear before his God, can face having to account to him for the millions of human lives whose sacrifice it was in his power to prevent.

With all my heart and very sadly yours

Marcel Proust

Robert Proust survived the war, and was decorated for his courage in caring for the wounded under enemy fire. Marcel Proust left for the coastal town of Cabourg in September 1914, but soon returned to Paris where he remained for the duration of the war, enduring air raids and seeing the city’s social and cultural life first halted, then transformed. Due to his ill health, he was exempted from military duties, but many of his friends enrolled and fought, some never to return.

The war provided Proust with an unforeseen opportunity to greatly expand his novel: the three volumes announced when Swann’s Way appeared in 1913 had grown to five when In the Shadow of Young Girls In Flower appeared in 1919. After Marcel’s death in 1922, Robert Proust oversaw the publication of posthumous volumes until 1927, bringing the total number of volumes to seven. The final volume, Time Regained, includes many scenes set during and after the war, which Proust could not have imagined when he first conceived the novel in 1908.


This online exhibition was designed in collaboration with graduate students enrolled in the seminar “French 574: Marcel Proust.” Students have selected and commented on the following letters:

October 1914: Proust to Reynaldo Hahn, and March 1915: Reynaldo Hahn to Proust (by Anne-Bénédicte Guillaud-Marlieu)

March 1915: Proust to Louis d’Albufera (by Nick Strole)

April 1915: Madeleine Lemaire to Proust, and February 1918: Jacques-Émile Blanche to Proust (by Malyoune Benoit)

May 1915: Proust to Madame d’Humières (by Paola Pruneddu)

July 1915: Proust to Robert de Montesquiou, and Robert de Montesquiou to Proust (by Peter Tarjanyi)

July 1918: Proust to Louis Brun (by Laura Furrer)


The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois houses over 1,100 letters to and from Marcel Proust, making it the largest collection of Proust’s letters in the world. This unique collection was built to support the remarkable work of Philip Kolb, who spent decades editing Proust’s vast correspondence. Today the collection continues to grow in collaboration with the Kolb-Proust Archive for Research: in 2013, sixteen new letters were acquired.


1. Marcel Proust, Lettres. Edited by Françoise Leriche. Paris: Plon, 2004. 696-698. The date of this letter was established by Philip Kolb.
2. The War of the Worlds (1897), a novel by H. G. Wells. The manuscript of this novel is part of the University of Illinois’s extensive archive of H. G. Wells papers.
3. Marcel Proust, Selected Letters. Volume III. Edited by Philip Kolb. Translated by Terence Kilmartin. 274-275. (Translation modified)


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