A Curious Student Dug Through A Box In The Archives — And Unearthed A Centuries-Old Geneva Bible

A college student found a Geneva Bible in an old box in the college’s archives; it may be more than 400 years old.

Crummé has traced the Bible’s ownership back to Francis Fry, a 19th-century Bible collector in England. From Fry, the Bible apparently went to a London bookseller, who sold it to the Rev. Clarence Baerveldt, a pastor in Waldport and Yachats, who gave it to Lewis & Clark. Along the way, it’s possible the Bible made a stop in the southern Oregon community of Roseburg — Crummé said she found a Roseburg address written on a page.

 

Sam Bussan says he was almost ready to split for the day.

It was late one September afternoon, and Bussan, a junior at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, was getting ready to leave the school’s archives, where he worked.

But as he was walking out, Bussan spotted a sign on a shelf.

“Bibles four boxes,” the sign read.

“And I thought that was interesting,” Bussan said.

So he investigated.

He looked in one box, then another, he recalled in an interview.

Eventually, Bussan found a Geneva Bible, which may be more than 400 years old.

Pretty solid, right?

“More than anything else, it’s just very moving to have something that’s made it 400 years, sitting right in front of me,” Bussan said.

A find like this Geneva Bible is significant not necessarily because of the book’s age (which is sort of confusing, more on that later), but because of the larger story it can tell, said Zachariah Selley, associate head of special collections and college archives at Lewis & Clark.

“A lot of the ways we teach with this type of material is, we look at the history of printing, or the history of information, in context through the ages,” Selley said. “Not necessarily just looking at the content of a book.”

In other words, there’s more to take away from this Bible than just what it contains, Selley explained.

Something like this is unique, he said, because historians can look at its prominence as a way to disseminate information from the time.

“The 1599 Geneva version of the Bible is a perfect example of that, because it’s one of the best annotated, indexed and referenced versions of the Bible that had been printed and was available to the general public at the time, so it was very revolutionary in that way,” Selley said. “And it was very much kind of mass-produced, to be able to get that information out.”

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