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Photo: Alonso Nichols

Mysterious Riches

A leaf from an anatomy book dating back to 1555. Engravings from a 1740 volume called Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain. Part of a German story, “Sidonia the Sorceress,” translated by Lady Wilde, Oscar Wilde’s mother. These are among thirty-two treasures unearthed during a reorganization of the rare books stacks at Tisch Library. “We have no idea of the provenance of this material,” says Christopher Barbour, the humanities bibliographer and coordinator of special collections at the library. It “literally turned up in a stack of uncataloged volumes.”

You can see the collection, now known as the Tisch Miscellany, online (bit.ly/tisch_miscellany), where it will soon be elucidated by Tufts undergrads. “My students are transcribing and translating the documents, and also writing commentaries and essays,” says Marie-Claire Beaulieu, an assistant professor of classics. Their work will aid Google in indexing the miscellany. That, in turn, could help solve the mystery of its origins. “It’s entirely possible that there are other collections out there with leaves from these same books,” Barbour points out, and if there are, rare books connoisseurs might begin to make connections.

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