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Teaching with Special Collections

Teaching with Special Collections

COVID-19 Response: In-person instruction and tours are temporarily suspended in accordance with health and safety protocols. Materials may be viewed, however, by individual appointment. Some Special Collections materials are also available online: rare books through the Rare Book Image Bank and medieval manuscripts through Digital Scriptorium. We are happy to work with course instructors to select materials and shape assignments that support teaching objectives within these parameters. Please contact us to discuss possible arrangements.

Teaching with special collections is transformative. By integrating medieval manuscripts and rare printed books from Special Collections into a class assignment or course, students learn through direct experience the historical contexts in which information, ideas, and literature were created, read, preserved, disseminated, and transmitted through time. Whether it is a thirteenth-century manuscript Bible, a seventeenth-century printed volume of Jesuits in Japan, or a Victorian newspaper, these texts and artifacts of intellectual and cultural history speak vividly of their times.

  • Pedagogy with more impact using primary sources
  • Critical skills shaped and honed through original artifacts
  • Education made more empowering by holding history in one’s hands

Library faculty subject specialists are ready to provide classes and tours, or to help you fashion an assignment, class, or course based on original materials from our collections. Our reading rooms are available for your classroom teaching. Please contact us to discuss your instructional needs. Classes or tours should be scheduled at least 2 weeks in advance. Please let us know the course title and topic, number of students, and length of session desired, and send a copy of your syllabus.

Students must register to use the collections, and should familiarize themselves in advance with our guidelines for reading room use and proper handling procedures for rare materials.

To arrange an instruction session or to discuss assignment, class, or course design using Special Collections materials, please contact one of our subject area specialists:

  • Rare Books
    Jennifer Lowe, Rare Books Librarian
    Pius XII Memorial Library, Rm. 307
    314-977-5070
  • Vatican Film Library (Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts)
    Debra Cashion, Assistant Librarian, Vatican Film Library | Digital Humanities Librarian
    Gregory Pass, Director, Vatican Film Library
    Pius XII Memorial Library, Rm. 105
    314-977-3090