As a college librarian, I often hear stressed-out students searching for primary sources say, "I'll take anything." Don't settle for just anything. There is a treasury of primary source material available electronically. Peruse my selection of 200-plus primary source sites by conducting a keyword search, exploring the tag cloud at left, or browsing by historical era. You can also visit my Delicious and Diigo sites to review my bookmarks. Here's hoping you find what you're looking for.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Turn the pages of these rare, historic texts

I loved Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book, a novel that traces a rare manuscript’s centuries-long journey from its creation Spain to its discovery in war-torn Sarajevo. The novel is based on the true story of the Sarajevo Haggadah, which today is on display at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. Recently I happened upon a fascinating digital collection that gave me more insight into the Haggadah, the Jewish text that contains the story of Exodus and the Passover Seder ritual.

The British Library’s Turning the Pages online gallery allows users to leaf through the pages of great books. Those works include the first atlas of Europe, Jane Austen’s early work and William Blake’s notebook, to name just a few selections. Visit that collection and you’ll also be able to peruse the Golden Haggadah. In addition to being able to digitally leaf through the pages of that manuscript, the gallery's features allow you to magnify the images, listen to commentary about the resource and read background material about that particular book. Reading through the available material, I learned the Golden Haggadah was likely brought to Italy by Jews fleeing Spain in the late 1400s. The volume remained in Italy until it was acquired by the British Museum.

The image above is a facsimile of the Sarajevo Haggadah and comes from the online exhibit “You Shall Tell Your Children: The Passover Haggadah in the Yale University Library Collections.

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