Private Lives of Old Books

Recovering Personal Histories from Early Books of Latin

This exhibition looks for traces of individual users of manuscripts and early printed books written in Latin during the Middle Ages, now held in Special Collections at Bryn Mawr College.

The exhibition was organized by Kate Barnes (Ph.D. Candidate in Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies) under the direction of Catherine Conybeare (Leslie Clark Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies) and with the assistance of the department of Special Collections.

Exhibitions, catalogue, and public programming are supported by the Friends of the Bryn Mawr College Libraries.


Sept. 24-Dec. 17, 2021 
Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and by appointment (
Rare Book Room, First Floor, Canaday Library

Related Events

Sept. 24Opening lecture "Bookhands and Handbooks" Joseph Farrell, Mark K. and Esther W. Watkins Professor in the Humanities, University of  Pennsylvania

  • 4:30 p.m., Carpenter 21. The lecture is also available via Zoom (Register for the Zoom here).  
    • From Professor Farrell: "My title contains two words that express a peculiar intimacy between the book and the human hand. These words encompass a reciprocal relationship among those who make books and those who use them. They also connote the embodied nature of the book and those same makers and users. But the images of book and hand can denote disembodied ideas, as well. Both of these perspectives are shared across the long history of the Latin book. I will ask how reflecting upon bookhands and handbooks, both embodied and ideal, might promote an appreciation of that long history, and how such an appreciation might inform the work of cultural historians in the near future."

Oct. 8, Curator's tour of exhibition 
Kate Barnes, Ph.D. Candidate in Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies, Bryn Mawr College 

  • Friday Finds, 12 p.m., Class of 1912 Rare Book Room, Canaday Library 

Nov. 6, Curator's tour of exhibition 
Kate Barnes, Ph.D. Candidate in Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies, Bryn Mawr College

  • Family Weekend Event, 1:30-2:45, Class of 1912 Rare Book Room, Canaday Library

Nov. 8–9, Guest lecture and objects workshop 
Marjorie Curry Woods, Sue Goldston Lebermann Professor of Liberal Arts Emerita, University of  Texas, Austin

Nov. 12Guest lecture, "Remembering the Saints: The Relationship between Word and Image in the Menologion of Basil"
Charles Kuper, Postdoctoral Fellow at Sapienza University of Rome and Visiting Assistant Professor in Classics at Haverford College

  • Friday Finds, 12pm, Class of 1912 Rare Book Room, Canaday Library.  Event also available remotely (Register for Zoom here.)

Dec. 3Presentation and Objects Workshop, "Book Traces and Mawrginalia," Alice McGrath, Senior Digital Scholarship Specialist, and project interns Sean Keenan and Menna Khaliel 

  • Friday Finds, 12pm, Class of 1912 Rare Book Room, Canaday Library.

Related Course 

Spring 2022: CSTS 310/610 Forming the Classics from Papyrus to Print (Conybeare, Pumroy), Thursdays 1:10-4 p.m., Canaday 205  (Register to attend in person)

Other Events

Friday Finds: A series of informal lunchtime chats about historical and cultural objects held in Bryn Mawr's Special Collections. Events begin at noon in the Rare Book Room, on the first floor of Canaday Library, and last about an hour, unless otherwise specified. 

Curating Art of the Global Middle Ages, Delaware Valley Medieval Association, Fall Meeting, Sept. 25, 2021
Virtual Roundtable, facilitated by Prof. Alicia Walker, Bryn Mawr College 

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