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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives: Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

Johns Hopkins University Libraries: Special Collections

Introductory Information

Johns Hopkins University Libraries: Special Collections External

Milton Eisenhower Library External
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

John Work Garrett Library External
4545 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210

George Peabody Library External
17 East Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore, MD 21202

Telephone number:
Eisenhower Library:410-516-8335
Garrett Library:410-516-8348
Peabody Library:667-208-6715

Contact information: See Reference policies for each library below

Online catalog External
ArchivesSpace External : Search the libraries' collection guides for university records and manuscript collections.

Access Policies

Hours of service:
Eisenhower Library External
Garrett Library External : Appointment Only
Peabody Library External

Open to the public: Yes. All three libraries are open to the public. Appointments are required for the Garrett Library and desired for the use of the Eisenhower and Peabody libraries.

Interlibrary loan: Yes

Reference policy:
Eisenhower Library External
Garrett Library External
Peabody Library External

Background note:
The Sheridan Libraries Special Collections Department is comprised of three separate libraries: the Eisenhower, the John Work Garrett, and George Peabody Libraries. The Eisenhower Library Collection began with the University's departmental libraries in 1876. These disparate libraries were united into the Milton S. Eisenhower Library in 1964. The John Work Garrett Library was bequeathed to the University in 1942, while the George Peabody Library became a part of the University in 1982. The Eisenhower Library rare book collections are an outgrowth of the University's research collections. At the heart of this resource are several book collections assembled by scholars to support their research. The Garrett Library collections were assembled by John Work Garrett and his father T. Harrison Garrett beginning in the nineteenth century. The collection reflects their interest in travel, natural history, Americana, literature and early printing (including over 50 incunabula), beautifully illustrated books, and the graphic arts. The George Peabody Library was begun in the 1860s and in 1878 it moved to its current building. Mr. Peabody requested that the trustees fund "an extensive Library, to be well furnished in every department of knowledge, and of the most approved literature...It should consist of the best books on every subject embraced with in the scope of its plan..."


Books and monographs

Eisenhower Library:
The University never had a formal theology department and the library did not develop a theology collection. The Eisenhower collections have a representation of different kinds of religious works: medieval illuminated Books of Hours; biblical commentaries from the 16th century on; devotional books; and church history and biography. This small collection of theology and church history supports the history and literature works in the collection. There is an interesting collection of early editions of the works of Jakob Böhme, the 17th-century mystic who developed theosophy. The collection of Robert Southey's works include his life of Wesley as well as his essays and a book on Catholicism in England. The collection also contains several early editions of Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Garrett Library:
The Garrett Library collection is primarily one of high points and less common items. The Polyglot Psalter (1516), the first polyglot edition of any part of the Bible, was the gift of the Evergreen House Foundation. A very rare item in the collection is John Eliot's Indian Bible (Cambridge, MA, 1662-1663), the first edition of the first complete Bible printed in the New World. Eliot translated the Bible into the Massachusetts Indian language for the use of missionaries. The collection also includes many early editions of the Bible in other traditional languages such as English, Latin, and French, but also contains specimens, particularly of the New Testament, in such languages as Manx, Rarotongan, Norwegian, and Lithuanian.

Besides Bibles proper, the collection contains many early works on theology and canon law such as examples by Duns Scotus, Alexander de Hales, Gratian, Thomas Aquinas, and Eusebius of Caesarea. The Garrett Library has the 1553 and 1555 editions of the works of Martin Luther, and several books written or edited by his colleague Philipp Melanchthon. The collections also include an early edition of John Donne's Essays in Divinity.

The Garrett Library is also home to the Women of the Book collection, dedicated entirely to the spiritual lives and textual production of early modern Catholic women. Comprising nearly 1,000 rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera, this collection resurrects the voices of religious women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Approximately 60% of the collection has been digitized and is fully accessible through the Internet Archive. External

Peabody Library:
The Peabody Library developed an interesting theology collection in response to its collection development policy to acquire the latest works in all branches of scholarship known in the late-nineteenth century. The centerpiece of the Peabody theology collection is its fine collection of over 200 Bibles published in many languages. Outstanding items include Anton Koberger's Biblia Latina (Nuremberg, 1479), one of the first editions of the Bible printed in the Vulgate; a 1549 edition of the Matthew Bible, one of the first printed in the English language; a 1562 edition of the Geneva Bible, considered to be one of the more scholarly translations of its day; a 1609 first edition of the Rheims-Douay Bible, the first authoritative version for the Roman Catholic Church; early editions of the Authorized, or King James Version, first published in 1611; and numerous editions of Bibles published in America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to printed Bibles and books of the Bible, the collection is rich in general Bible literature, including sources on Bible commentary, criticism, history, and interpretation, as well as concordances and dictionaries. Supporting the Bible collections are a small collection on doctrinal theology and Christian social theology as well as the writings of theologians. There is a strong collection of sermons, particularly from the eighteenth century. The history of religion is represented with works on general church history, the majority of which deal with the Christian church in Europe and the United States, especially the Roman Catholic Church and mainstream Protestant denominations.

The Peabody Library houses the Bible collection that was assembled by Julius Hofmann, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Baltimore. When Hofmann died in 1928, Professor William Kurrelmeyer, Hofmann's literary executor, persuaded Henry Hilken, the German consul in Baltimore, to purchase and donate the Hofmann collection to the Johns Hopkins University. This collection includes the four volume Bible printed by Koberger in Nuremberg in 1497, and the "September Bible", the first edition of Martin Luther's translation of the New Testament into German (1522). The reissue of Luther's work four months later, popularly known as the "December Bible", was a gift from the family of Professor Kurrelmeyer.

Databases and/or electronic resources External

Subject Headings

Bible; Biblical studies; Böhme, Jakob, 1575-1624; Canon law; Catholic Church; Christian biography; Christian theology; Church history; Luther, Martin, 1483-1546; Sermons; Society of Friends