May 17, 2012

Religious texts at the Montana Historical Society

Guest post from Allison Badger, a contract cataloger, who has been working at the Research Center for the past 6 months.
As a cataloger I deal with a variety of materials. Some are interesting and some not so much. A few weeks ago, I came across some items that definitely fell into the interesting category: the Montana Historical Society’s collection of Bibles and other religious books. While most of this collection consists of family Bibles, it also includes Catholic prayer books, a Jewish Bible and Methodist hymnals.
     
On the left, The Holy Bible, containing Old and New Testaments. together with the Apocrypha (undated, owners unknown). On the right, Tresor des ames pieuses ou divers moyens d'atteindre la perfection Chretienne, published in 1869, owned by Philomine Rouleau.
On the left, The Holy Bible, containing Old and New Testaments. together with the Apocrypha (undated, owners unknown). On the right, Tresor des ames pieuses ou divers moyens d'atteindre la perfection Chretienne, published in 1869, owned by Philomine Rouleau.
Before they came to the Montana Historical Society, many of these items belonged to people who played a role in Montana’s history. Materials of interest include Granville Stuart’s The New Testament of Lord Savior Jesus Christ (1881), Governor Samuel Hauser’s family Bible (1853) and a Bible presented to Governor Forrest H. Anderson on the one hundredth anniversary of the Montana ministry of Methodist circuit-rider Brother William W. Van Orsdel. This collection also contains items that were owned by less-well known Montanans. These books include French Catholic prayer books that belonged Philomine Rouleau and James Rodda’s Hymns for the Use of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1872).

Interior pages showing Philomine Rouleau's notations.
Interior pages showing Philomine Rouleau's notations.

Although the volumes themselves are fascinating, it’s the personal touches that truly set them apart. That is, many of the previous owners listed the marriages, births and of deaths of family members within the pages of these books. Some, such as the Hauser Bible, document several generations Hauser family. Others contain a lock of hair or four leaf clover or notes related to various Bible verses. One in particular, the Wood Family Bible, contains the signatures of the family members who owned this Bible.  

For a complete list of what is included in this collection, see the catalog record here. Then click on Catalog Record.

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