Special Collections & Archives Blog

Finding cool things

Thursday, May 5, 2011 9:03 am

As I have been re-cataloging books in rare, I have come across many titles that even though they have call number slips in them, have no record for them in the catalog. It has gotten to the point when I am more surprised when a book is actually in the catalog than when it isn’t. One that I came across recently seems to be one of just a few copies still in existence. The Aitken Bible was published in Philadelphia in 1782. It was the first complete Bible printed in the United States, and considered the Bible of the Revolution. It even includes a 2 page resolution from Congress authorizing the sale of the Bible. It was published at a time when the British had a monopoly over the publication of such material which means that it was published illegally. Robert Aitken is said to have buried the type so that it wouldn’t be destroyed by the British soldiers. Earlier editions of the New Testament were published during the years 1777-1779. Our copy was bought in 1952. Included is a copy of the book seller’s catalog supplement advertising the Bible. It has the history of the Bible as well as information about how many copies were still available in 1952. When I downloaded the record, I noticed that OCLC said we held it, but it was never entered into any computer catalog system. There are only 33 other libraries that have copies. As I continue going through the shelves, I am sure that I will find others books that haven’t been cataloged. I am hoping for a something really big such as a first folio of Shakespeare or a Gutenberg Bible! A librarian can only dream.


  1. This is a wonderful description of how many curve balls we dodge in SC! Thanks for the excellent write-up.

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