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1611 King James Bible now online

  • Posted by: Laura Bang
  • Posted Date: May 17, 2011
  • Filed Under: Partners
Engraved title page of the 1611 King James Bible.

Title page of the 1611 King James Bible.

Over the past several months we have been working on scanning, processing, and completing metadata for a very special volume from one of our partners. In January, La Salle University brought over their latest batch of items for us to digitize, which included a first edition of the King James Bible from 1611. Not only is this an exciting and important work to digitize, but it is particularly timely now as this version of the Bible celebrates the 400th anniversary of its completion.

This book proved challenging to scan in many ways. Its bulky and unwieldy size meant that for most of the process, scanning was a two-person job. The volume is also fairly tightly-bound, which meant that getting the full page was difficult at times. We were able to meet these challenges, however, and we are pleased to present the entire volume online.

 

Sarah Seraphin, Special Collections Librarian at La Salle University’s Connelly Library, was very enthusiastic about the completion of this scanning endeavor. “This partnership makes it possible to deliver our content to scholars all over the world, on an excellent platform alongside the collections of other Catholic institutions,” Seraphin said. “Our aim is to curate a unique online selection of historic Bibles relating to the translation of the Holy Bible into English. With the 1611 ‘He Bible’ now online, the task of scanning one of our most prized volumes has come to fruition. We are grateful for the dedication of the Digital Library staff for their work on this and other invaluable works from the Susan Dunleavy Collection.”

Seraphin curated an exhibit called “Adornment & Alliance: Preserving Illustrated and Historic Bibles and Curating a Digital Collection Through Constructive Partnership.” This exhibit honors the mission of the Susan Dunleavy Collection of Biblical Literature and highlights La Salle’s partnership with our Digital Library—and, of course, it also celebrates the 400th anniversary of the 1611 King James Bible. The exhibit is on view in the main lobby of La Salle’s Connelly Library until mid-July 2011.

There were two separate issues of the first edition, both published in 1611. The volume featured in this article is a first issue of the first edition, which contained a type-setting error in Ruth 3:15: “… he went into the citie.” For this reason, the first issue is known colloquially as the “He Bible.” The second issue is known as the “She Bible” and it (and all subsequent editions) reads: “… she went into the citie.”

Text of Ruth 3:15 with type-setting error "... he went into the citie."

Ruth 3:15.


One of the great pleasures of working with rare books and manuscripts is getting to “touch” history and make it available to a wider audience online through our Digital Library, though oftentimes these materials may have been forgotten. It has been an interesting and exciting experience to handle and digitize a 1611 King James Bible—a book that still has a tremendous impact 400 years after its original publication.

Student scanning the King James Bible.

One of our student workers, Celina Wildemann, scanning the King James Bible.

 

Over the past several months we have been working on scanning, processing, and completing metadata for a very special volume from one of our partners. In January, La Salle University brought over their latest batch of items for us to digitize, which included a first edition of the King James Bible from 1611. Not only is this an exciting and important work to digitize, but it is particularly timely now as this version of the Bible celebrates the 400th anniversary of its completion.

 

This book proved challenging to scan in many ways. Its bulky and unwieldy size meant that for most of the process, scanning was a two-person job. The volume is also fairly tightly-bound, which meant that getting the full page was difficult at times. We were able to meet these challenges, however, and we are pleased to present the entire volume online.

 

[title page]

 

Sarah Seraphin, Special Collections Librarian at La Salle University’s Connelly Library was very enthusiastic about the completion of this scanning endeavor. “This partnership makes it possible to deliver our content to scholars all over the world, on an excellent platform alongside the collections of other Catholic institutions,” Seraphin said. “Our aim is to curate a unique online selection of historic Bibles relating to the translation of the Holy Bible into English. With the 1611 ‘He Bible’ now online, the task of scanning one of our most prized volumes has come to fruition. We are grateful for the dedication of the Digital Library staff for their work on this and other invaluable works from the Susan Dunleavy Collection.”

 

Seraphin curated an exhibit to honor the mission of the Susan Dunleavy Collection of Biblical Literature and to highlight La Salle’s partnership with our Digital Library—and, of course, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the 1611 King James Bible. The exhibit is on view in the main lobby of La Salle’s Connelly Library until mid-July 2011.

 

There were two separate issues of the first edition, both published in 1611. The first issue of the first edition contained a type-setting error in Ruth 3:15: “… he went into the citie.” For this reason, the first issue is known colloquially as the “He Bible.” The second issue is known as the “She Bible” and it (and all subsequent editions) reads “… she went into the citie.”

 

[Ruth]

 

One of the great pleasures of working with rare books and manuscripts is getting to “touch” history and make it available to a wider audience online through our Digital Library, though oftentimes these materials may have been forgotten. It has been an interesting and exciting experience to handle and digitize the King James Bible—a book that still has a tremendous impact 400 years after its original publication.

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8 Comments »

  1. […] [You can read more on the digitization process for these bibles here.] […]

  2. Comment by Orlando News — May 23, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with you about the importance of this book and must say I envy everyone who had a chance to touch something so valuable and influential. I am regular visitor of your digital library, you are doing great job. Wish you all the best in your further work.

  3. Comment by jkar photography — May 24, 2011 @ 1:35 am

    I understand how hard it is to digitize that bulky and old Holy Bible. I experienced that in scanning old photos that was captured during WWII. Its hard to scan because of many factors like the quality of paper, stains, lighting when it was captured. A very challenging task but I am glad that you made it and available online. It will help a lot of bible scholars.

  4. Comment by Victor — May 28, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

    That looks like an amazing process. At least you can do the scanning with the book face up. Once documents are scanned like that, is there any optical character recognition process performed to convert from picture to words for easier referencing? (laymen here).

  5. Comment by Laura Bang — May 31, 2011 @ 9:32 am

    Yes, our image processing for all items includes OCR, but it’s likely to be quite inaccurate for the KJV due to the typeset. We do not currently have the ability to search within a particular text, but you can search our digital library, including the OCR of all texts, by using the search box at the top right of the main page: http://digital.library.villanova.edu/

    (And it was definitely quite exciting to be able to touch this volume!)

  6. Comment by modular sectional sofa — October 12, 2011 @ 4:57 am

    The tips you give on the proccess is great, I read the whole article intently which is a big deal, normally I get side tracked and head over to facebook or twitter, haha :)

  7. Comment by RI Bassfishing Guide About — January 3, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

    Bible is a sacred scriptures, it should be taken care of, good thing to know that bible verses can be reached online.

  8. Comment by Brandon Lott — June 13, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

    I love the <a href="http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bible?lang=eng&quot; Bible. I think it is such a great learning tool that God has allowed us to have. It is so neat that this was able to take place. I would love to know more about the scanning. The people involved are truly blessed.

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Last Modified: May 17, 2011