Messages in the Margins

As an alumna and current staff member here at Georgetown University, much of my adult life has been shaped by the Jesuit ideals of civic responsibility and academic and personal inquiry that is the foundation of this school. We may feel very far away from the first class of students here, but they were shaped by these same principles.

I was reminded of this congruent history at the Jesuit Heritage event we held at the Library on January 28 with Professor Roberts from Loyola Chicago. He presented the Jesuit Libraries Project, which works with the original library catalogue from shortly after the founding of St. Ignatius College in 1870. The catalog lists approximately 5,100 titles and provides a rare snapshot into the books European-born Jesuits used to teach the sons of Irish immigrants in Chicago.

This project has given Loyola students the chance to research and reconstruct the holdings data of the long-forgotten original St. Ignatius College library catalog, and to create a photo-archive of ownership marks in original books from the collection on Flickr. Now, students are working with the books in the margins of which their counterparts from almost 150 years ago wrote.

This project shows a way to connect our histories with our current digital age and I hope one day someone will take on a similar project here at Georgetown.
Click here (new window) for a video with more info on the digital reconstruction of this historic library.

Written by
Grace McKinney, C’13