Some of the most historic documents in the world will be on display side-by-side this fall, and the general public can see them all for free.
Benedictine College in Atchison is bringing “The Wisdom of the Ages,” a major exhibition from The Remnant Trust, Inc., to the area. The collection includes a page from one of the first finished copies of the Gutenberg Bible from 1455, a copy of the Magna Carta from 1576, a hand-written manuscript of the works of Thomas Aquinas from 1475, the first public printing of the Emancipation Proclamation from the New York Times in 1862, a rare Dunlap journal printing of the Declaration of Independence from 1776, and more.
These and 35 other documents will be on display inside the Laughlin Rotunda in the Ferrell Academic Center on Benedictine’s campus from Sept. 11-19, and additional dates through the fall. A public grand opening for “Freedom Week” is scheduled for Sept. 11 with hours from 4–8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sunday. The exhibit is free and open to the public. School tours will be available throughout the fall semester by appointment.
“It is exciting to have materials of this caliber on our campus,” Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis said in a news release. “This exhibit includes 40 key documents expressing ideas that truly shaped the world.”
The exhibit is made possible by a donation from the Haverty Family Foundation. Michael Haverty, well-known Kansas City businessman and philanthropist and former Benedictine College board member, had worked with the Remnant Trust in the production of a documentary on some of their Early American material called “We the People.” After that project, managers at the Remnant Trust had asked him if he wanted to have the documents on display, and he suggested Benedictine College.
The exhibit encompasses four major strands of intellectual history:
• The Two Wings of the Human Spirit: Faith and Reason in Dialogue through the Ages:
This includes items like a 1553 letter from Martin Luther regarding the Reformation, the
Decrees of the Council of Trent from 1670, an illustrated manuscript Bible from 1225, and a
hand-written paper in Persian from 1250.
• Unlocking the Mysteries of Nature: The Emergence of a Scientific World View:
Because the printing press helped spread the scientific revolution, this grouping includes a
page from the first printing of the Gutenberg Bible from 1455. It also holds a first edition of
Nicolaus Copernicus’ On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres from 1617, a rare issue of
Galileo’s proof of the Copernican system from 1710, and a printing of Isaac Newton’s theories
from 1714.
• An Experiment in Liberty: America and the Heritage of the West:
A collection of Early American documents, this section includes one of the rarest 1776 printings of the Declaration of Independence; a first edition of Common Sense, the famous political pamphlet by Thomas Paine, also from 1776; and the journal of the Acts of the First Congress of the United States from 1789, which officially ratified the Constitution and the election of George Washington as the first president.
• The Glorious Liberty of the Children of God: Human Rights in the Western Tradition:
Tracing the development of individual rights, this section includes a first edition of Harriet
Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin from 1852; a first printing of Lincoln’s Emancipation
Proclamation from the New York Times in 1862; and a 1576 printing of the landmark Magna
Public events are listed below:
• Freedom Week: Sept. 11–19
• Heritage Week: Oct. 13-19
• Patriot Week: Nov. 8–14
Special events:
• 10 a.m. Nov. 8: Colonial Williamsburg’s Thomas Jefferson (Bill Barker) will give a special presentation on the “Documents of Freedom.” There will also be a showing of the “We the People” film.
• 7 p.m. Dec. 3: On the 155th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s 1859 campaign stop in Atchison, Dr. Kimberly Shankman, dean of the college and a noted Lincoln scholar, will talk about that historic visit, the Emancipation Proclamation, and other documents relating to the abolition of slavery.
To schedule a school tour, call Kathleen Kiger at (913) 360-7576.