Pages from the past

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History of the Pages from the Past Collection


This collection, entitled Pages from the Past: Original Leaves from Rare Books and Manuscripts, is an excellent example of history through leaf books. The leaf book was initially used as a way of collecting and combining relics. Creating a leaf book involves removing leaves from an array of damaged or incomplete books and creating a new and often rare book by combining the pages. This practice dates all the way back to the Middle Ages, and was especially popular among religious texts. This is result of religious texts being one of the main things printed in this time period, which can be seen in the collection below, as it features numerous bible and daily devotional pages. Special Collections and Rare Books received this portfolio set from Alfred Stites, who was a diversely successful business man. He purchased the company G.M.L Brown Foliophiles, Inc. in 1963, and later changed the name to Foliophiles, Inc. When he purchased the company, he had a 10,000 leaf collection, and in just 6 years he doubled the amount and included approximately 400 rare books and manuscripts. Stites then created Portfolio Sets, and sold them to many major universities and collections around the country.

Portfolio Set I: History of the Written Word


Ellis Library's Special Collections has Portfolio Set I: History of the Written Word, which is just one of several editions of this portfolio. These combined pages had the original purpose of being used as a didactic tool that showed the progress of book printing over the centuries, and because of this, several institutions have included Pages from the Past in their catalogs. The portfolio set in Ellis Library's Special Collections and Rare Books houses original leaves from books, manuscripts and artifacts aged as early as 1000 B.C. all the way to the 19th century. The collection includes a varied range of countries and languages, including Egyptian hieroglyphics and Dutch calligraphy. Each leaf includes a label giving researchers the basic information about the leaf, which allowed the Digital Library to organize them into online categories for easy use.

Digitized Collection


As of right now, after having digitized approximately sixty percent of the portfolio, dates range from 1500 B.C. to 1873, and feature 13 different countries of publication and 13 different languages. When organizing the digitized leaves, we used the information given to us on the label. These usually provided date, location, author, publisher and any interesting facts. When doing more in-depth research, which has been done on a few selected leaves, we used many resources such as OCLC WorldCat and the Internet Archives to find complete versions of the books. These resources allowed us to find and match bibliographic records to further our knowledge about the pages in our portfolio.

Tips for Using the Collection


Below you will see the collection split into country of origin, date published, and language. The collection has also been mapped, showing the spread of the pages across the world. More details regarding the map and how to use it can be found in that collection. In addition to these collections, local genres have been added to narrow the collections further, identifying Religious, Illustrated, and Handwritten manuscripts. By using this collection, we are able to see trends in publishing around certain time periods, which varies greatly with location, and see how things have advanced into the printing we know today.

Additional Resources