Rare Discovery | Oregon Rare Books Initiative Lecture Series

On March 16, Elizabeth Yale from Iowa University’s Center for the Book gave the second presentation of the Oregon Rare Book Initiative 2016 Lecture Series. ORBI was formed in 2013 to promote awareness of the rare book collections in UO’s Special Collections and University Archives and to promote their use in research at all levels.

Yale’s talk addressed how scholars collaborated in the 17th century to gather evidence, banding together in support of each other when confronted with scientific controversies (such as the origin of fossils). In doing research with the UO rare book collections, Yale discovered a letter (until now unknown to scholars) by John Ray pinned to the endpaper of his own copy of the book Three Physico-Theological Discourses (1713). In this letter Ray asks Edward Lhuyd to translate from Latin into English a letter that Lhuyd had published in his Lythophylacii Britannici ichnographia (1695). The pinned letter not only demonstrates the collaborative nature of scholarship of the late 17th/early 18th century, but also scholars’ interest in continually revising published works through new editions as new evidence came to light.

Ray LetterThere are three more ORBI events scheduled for spring term:

“Alexander von Humboldt and the Crucible of the Tropics”
Ralph Bauer, English, University of Maryland
Tuesday, April 5th, 2016  Knight Browsing Room, 4:00 pm

“Thinking about Captain Cook: Narrative and Engravings for the Pacific Voyages”
Elizabeth Bohls, Professor; and Amanda Schmidt, Graduate Student, English University of Oregon
April 20th, 2016  Paulson Reading Room 4:45 pm

“Why Write a Book on China?  Athanasius Kircher (1602-80) between Rome and the World”
Paula Findlen, Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of Italian History, Stanford University
Thursday, May 5th, 2016  Knight Browsing Room, 4:00 pm


Special Collections and University Archives are full of these types of materials and present endless opportunities for discovery and original research. Let us know if you would like to schedule an instruction session or research consultation.


By Bruce Tabb, Rare Books and Public Services Librarian

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