Written by: Andrew Lundeen
Primary Source: The Special Collections Provenance Project at MSU, September 25, 2015
Last week I had the privilege of teaching an upper-level French class here at MSU all about special collections, rare books, and rare book provenance. It was a blast!
The students got a chance to work with some very old books (the earliest was printed in 1551 and the latest in 1845), transcribing and translating French annotations and marginalia left by previous owners, readers, and booksellers.
Many of the students were surprised to learn that they could actually touch the books. Of course I went over the rules for handling the material beforehand, and everyone was very respectful and gentle with these old volumes.
The whole experience was really a win/win: Everyone seemed to have fun playing biblio-detective, and now Special Collections knows a little bit more about the ways in which these books were read and used in the past. I can’t wait until we can do something like this again!