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Liège Jesuit Manuscript Text Collection

Identifier: GTM-850325

Scope and Contents

The Liège Jesuit Manuscript Text Collection consists of manuscript volumes used by students in the English College at Liège between 1660 and 1730. All but one of the volumes cover specific subjects in theology, and probably fairly represent the Jesuit theology curriculum at Liège. Most titles occur at least twice and others as many as three times, a significant consideration, even in a collection of this size.

Most of the sections of the present texts were presumably copied from a master text, written by the professor of a particular course. These copies would have been written out by the individual students to be used later for study.

Other sections of these texts appear to be notes written during the lectures themselves, and recopied later for further study. This second type of text sometimes includes a marginal reference indicating the name of the professor, rather than the "au(c)tore" or "tradita a" usually used to indicate the author of a work or the professor of a course. Some of the volumes are mixtures of these two types of texts, and some include condensations of larger works of the first kind, which perhaps cover only the ideas needed to pass the exam in the subject.

The collection consists of fifteen volumes containing forty-three different sections, and can be divided into three series by their dates. Volumes 3, 4, and 5 are the earliest, and seem to form a distinct group, judging by their bindings and penmanship, and by the authors represented. Volumes 1 and 2 come next chronologically, using the authors as a guide, and of course by the dates listed in them. The last ten volumes seem to form a more or less uniform series by the authors represented, though the bindings and hands vary.

In these last ten volumes, only seven authors are represented, all of whom taught at Liège between 1660 and 1720, and at least four of whom were at Liège at the same time, about 1702-04. At any rate, all these men travelled in the network of English Jesuit schools in the Low Countries (St. Omers, Watten, Ghent, Liège and Louvain), and most likely knew each other, if only as acquaintances. Biographical sketches of all the authors and professors mentioned in the entire collection follow this introduction.

The provenance of these volumes is itself a fascinating problem, though some tenuous deductions may be attempted. The odd volume of the collection, the "Tractatus de Horographia Sphaerae armillaris...", has an interesting inscription on the last page of the text. It reads: "Ex dono autori, P. Edv. Slaughter. l8 Junii. an. 1726. Leod.ii." This inscription is probably in the hand of one Arnold Livers, a native of Maryland who entered the Society of Jesus at Watten in 1724. If he followed the usual pattern of English-speaking Jesuits at this time, he probably then studied at Liège before returning to Maryland (though his activities before returning are documented neither in the Maryland Province Archives nor in the Records of the English Province SJ).

There are many interesting details in these volumes, but a few deserve special attention. For example, the printed texts listed in Volume 3 are announcements circulated before a doctoral defense of Theology, and lists those defending as well as the professor presiding over the event. The theses to be defended are then described in the text of the pamphlet.

Processed: 25 March 1985 by James Helminski

Note: Click on "External Documents" below for a link to the finding aid for the collection.


  • 1660 - 1730

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.


15 volumes (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Georgetown also owns printed works by at least two of the authors represented here: The Arithmetica by Edward Slaughter, and the Trigometria Plana et Sphaerica by James Gooden, both of which are mentioned by Foley in the Records, SJ. Both these works are also housed in the Special Collections Division.

Liège Jesuit Manuscript Text Collection
James Helminski. Booth Family Center for Special Collections Georgetown University Library. Revised 2018.
1985 March 25
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057