What You Can Find in the Library Part V: Bibles

Hannah D. Cox, Archivist/Librarian

Did you know that the Albany Institute of History & Art Library holds over 120 Bibles in our collection? You might wonder why we have so many and, in truth, we seldom collect these nowadays. Family Bibles are often large and take up a great deal of space and frequently havconservation issues. The Library’s collection of family Bibles, Psalm books, and prayer books come from some of Albany’s oldest families. These family Bibles from some of the area’s earliest European settlers are very old, the majority dating from the 1600s-1800s, with a number written in Dutch, Latin, and German. Since we are celebrating Dutch history virtually this year, while no tulips seem to have been kept in the Bibles, we thought now would be a perfect opportunity to draw attention to the Dutch Bibles in our collection. 
AIHA Bible Collection in secured stacks
AIHA Bible Collection in secured stacks

Dutch Bibles

Our friends at the New Netherland Institute have embarked on a wonderful project to highlight many of the Dutch Bibles in the region. Once complete, the project will culminate in a page on their site of photographs of many Dutch Bibles in Albany-area collections containing handwritten information and providing transcriptions and translations of those materials. While that site is not yet live, below are some images from the AIHA Library collection that were taken for this project. Dates for these Bibles indicate the oldest date recorded by hand, which does not always coincide with the copyright date of the Bible. 

De Hondt Family Bible, 1643

Seen here are pictures from the de Hondt family Bible. The first shows the front of the Bible, along with its ornaments and clasps. This is a large, heavy bookapproximately a foot in length, and several inches thick. Although it has held up remarkably well for nearly 400 years, it shows sign of wear along its spine and in scuff marks on the cover. Imagine what a lovely showpiece this once was in the de Hondt home!  
 
The second photograph shows the writing inside the front cover. This does not yet have a translation, but appears to include names and dates, making it likely to be a genealogical record. Many Bibles were used to keep such family records, and later iterations added pages within for that purpose. Family Bibles can be especially useful in researching your female ancestors or learning the true number of children born to a couple, as these pages may be the only place where they appear. 
 

Raum/Fricke/Smith Family Bible, 1693

Bibles were often passed down through families and did not always follow a single family line. This Bible includes information from the Raum, Fricke, and Smith families. The first photograph shows how ornately this Bible was illustrated. You can see, however, that there are many tears on the page and it is quite dirty. Even so, the pages are certainly of high-quality to have lasted this long. 
 
The second photograph shows something that appears quite often in family Bibles and family papers but does make some people squeamish—a lock of hair. While these are often found associated with a name, this one’s owner has sadly been lost to time. Families often kept locks of hair and similar mementos of children in family Bibles during this time, as baby books were yet to come into vogue. The family Bible was typically kept safely, and retained if at all possible, so it’s use in such manner would allow the family to preserve a few keepsakes of loved ones. 
 

DePeyster/Schuyler Family Bible, 1702

The Depeyster/Schuyler families were joined when Cornelia Schuyler (1715–1785), a cousin of the Schuylers we all know and love, married Pierre Guillaume DePeyster (1707–1785). One of four Schuyler family Bibles in the Library’s collection, this one is also a large Bible and includes genealogical information on family members.  
Bible 049. Depeyster_Schuyler Family. Biblia dat is de gantsche H. Schrifture… Dordrecht, Hendrick, Jacob and Pieter Keur Amsterdam, Marcus Doornick and Pieter Rotterdam, 1702.jpeg
Bible 049. Depeyster_Schuyler Family. Biblia dat is de gantsche H. Schrifture… Dordrecht, Hendrick, Jacob and Pieter Keur Amsterdam, Marcus Doornick and Pieter Rotterdam, 1702.jpeg

Oothout Family Bible, 1716

Found within the Oothout family Bible is a page that either fell out of the book and was replaced, or was a separate loose sheet placed within later. It, too, appears to be a genealogical record, and you can clearly see “Albany” written at the end of the first notation. Although it looks suspicious, the red marks on the page are more likely to be stamp or seal marks, as blood tends to be much more brown in color when it dries. 
Bible 082. Oothout Family. Het Nieuwe Testament… Dordrecht, Pieter Keur, Amsterdam, Pieter Rotterdam, 1716.jpeg
Bible 082. Oothout Family. Het Nieuwe Testament… Dordrecht, Pieter Keur, Amsterdam, Pieter Rotterdam, 1716.jpeg

Van Schaick Family Bible, 1726

This is a fun Bible, as it is much smaller than many in the Library’s collection. Only approximately 3-4 inches in length, it is very ornate and includes both clasps. It does suffer from some damage to the spine and general wear, but what a lovely specimen! 
Bible 028. van Schaick Family_01. Het Nieuwe Testament… Amsterdam, C. Oterlyk, Wed. J. van Heekere, Isaak vander Putte, 1726 .jpeg
Bible 028. van Schaick Family_01. Het Nieuwe Testament… Amsterdam, C. Oterlyk, Wed. J. van Heekere, Isaak vander Putte, 1726 .jpeg

Douw Family Bible, 1736

Seen here is a page from the Douw family Bible. While certainly a record of some kind, it has not yet been translated so it is unclear if it relates to the family or local events. Sometimes, families used their Bibles to record important things that happened in the area, such as severe weather. Paper was once in much scarcer quantity than it is today, and the family Bible might be the only place such important or catastrophic events might could be recorded. 
Bible 014. Douw Family. Biblia dat is de gantsche H. Schrifture… Dordrecht, Pieter and Jocob Keur, 1736.jpeg
Bible 014. Douw Family. Biblia dat is de gantsche H. Schrifture… Dordrecht, Pieter and Jocob Keur, 1736.jpeg

Radclift Family Bible, 1741

The final Dutch Bible we will look at today comes from the Radclift family. Found within it was a leaf that someone felt should be preserved. A good example of why archivists try not to read too much into objects found within collections, it is unclear whether this leaf was intentionally retained or if it simply became stuck one day long ago. Personally, I am very curious to know how old that leaf actually is and how similar it would be to its descendants today! 
Bible 078. Radclift_078. Biblia dat is de gantsche H. Schrifture… Dordrecht, Jacob and Hendrick Keur, 1741.jpeg
Bible 078. Radclift_078. Biblia dat is de gantsche H. Schrifture… Dordrecht, Jacob and Hendrick Keur, 1741.jpeg
The Albany Institute of History & Art is participating in a virtual celebration of Albany’s Tulip Festival by holding a Tulip Art Challenge! The Library is also working on a bibliography of our Dutch resources, which will be posted in the coming days.  
 
As always, please contact us with any questions, and stay tuned for our next post in this series: Part VI: Deeds and Indentures. 
 
30 April 2020