Jesuit Libraries Project

The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project is a collaborative research and teaching project dedicated to uncovering the history of acquisition and use of Loyola’s original library books. Students, faculty, and staff work together to make available information about these foundational collections through a virtual library system, a digital archive of provenance marks, and a website devoted to scholarship on these books by undergraduate and graduate interns.

The Jesuit Libraries Project recreates the original library catalog of  St. Ignatius' College (forerunner to Loyola University Chicago) in an innovative virtual library system. The c.1878 catalog, now in the collections of Loyola University Archives and Special Collections, records approximately 5100 titles, encompassing over 8000 volumes.  It is arranged in six sections – Pantology, Theology, Legislation, Philosophy, Literature, and History – that reflect the way in which Jesuits taught and gave order to the world of knowledge. These divisions raise important questions about late nineteenth-century urban Jesuit and Catholic education, intellectual life, and transnational identity. The Project began in 2012 and will launch later in 2016.

In the course of creating the virtual library system, students discovered that upwards of 1750 original books potentially survive in the Loyola university libraries today — in Special Collections, in the Library Storage Facility, even still circulating in the main stacks of the Cudahy Library. The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project (JLPP) was launched in March 2014 to give students the opportunity to track down, digitize, and create a digital archive (on Flickr) of provenance marks from surviving books. Through the Flickr page and the project website, JLPP team members seek to foster a participatory community of book lovers, collectors, scholars, and students interested in the history of Jesuit-held books.

Project Director: Kyle Roberts


Field(s): critical curation, digitization, history of the book and print culture, virtual library systems

Funding: Multiple grants from the Joan and Bill Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage (2012-14; 2014-15; 2015-16)