LATROBE, PA – A preservation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities is helping Saint Vincent College care for and increase access to its collection of rare books, Benedictine history, illuminated manuscripts and other items in its Special and Legacy Collections.
NEH Preservation Assistance Grants help small and mid-sized institutions improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanities collections. Saint Vincent’s preservation project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.
The NEH grant supported the cost of a book conservator from the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) to visit Saint Vincent College to examine the Special Collections and make recommendations for the best ways to preserve them for use by scholars and for exhibition to the public. These collections include works of Milton, Chaucer, Thomas Aquinas and Petrarch, incunabula written about theological, literary and philosophical subjects, handwritten documents dating to the 12th century and more.
The Special Collections items will reside in a new secure, climate-controlled space in Saint Vincent’s expanded and renovated Dale P. Latimer Library, which is scheduled for completion by summer 2020. The Rare Books section will contain exhibit cases, shelving and a new reading room for use by students, faculty and visiting scholars. The CCAHA conservator identified several dozen fragile books in need of extra attention, and plans to ensure their continuing care are included in the campaign for the library’s expansion and renovation.
Photo 1: A German prayer book from 1782, part of Saint Vincent College's Special Collection.
Photo 2: A 14th-century manuscript on vellum from Northern Italy that depicts St. Benedict handing his Rule to a monk. The manuscript is part of Saint Vincent College’s Special Collection