Papyrology Collection

Hatcher Graduate Library, Room 807
913 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
(734) 764-9369 (p)

Hours listed are for the reference collection only.  If you wish to view papyrus, please check the exhibit page or schedule a class tour.  Please note that since we have limited staffing and limited space, it is best to e-mail or call ahead in case of unexpected schedule conflicts. Thank you.

A world-renowned collection of ancient texts and documents dating from about 1,000 BCE to 1,000 CE

The University of Michigan Library is home to the largest collection of ancient papyri in North America. The documents in the Papyrology Collection, which span roughly 2,000 years, contain not only important religious texts — including 60 pages of the oldest known copy of the Epistles of Paul — but also personal letters, school primers, sales contracts and other records that paint a unique portrait of everyday life. Of the 18,000 pieces in the collection, about 5,000 have never been studied and translated, and continue to attract scholars from across the country and around the world.

The collection also continues to draw hundreds of visitors each year, including K-12 students, undergraduate and graduate students, and religious groups interested in the early artifacts of their faith.

“Reading Plato is great, but here you can see and touch pieces of the ancient world,” says collection manager Monica Tsuneishi. Along with texts written on papyrus, the collection also includes documents written on wood and wax tablets.

The roots of the collection go back almost a century to Francis Willey Kelsey, a professor of Latin at U-M, who believed students would benefit from studying historical objects directly. Kelsey traveled through Europe and Middle East purchasing items for the university and later organized excavations in Egypt and elsewhere.

Unlike most antiquarians of his day, Kelsey insisted on the recording of the precise locations where artifacts and documents were found inside each building, especially in Karanis — an ancient town in Egypt excavated by U-M between 1924 and 1935. As a result, many items in the U-M collection include additional clues about the context in which they were used.

The collection presents a wealth of possibilities for original research by both students and scholars, says Arthur Verhoogt, acting archivist of the Papyrology Collection and Professor of Papyrology and Greek.

For example, seemingly boring account records may offer new insights on the demographics of the era, lifespan, marriage patterns or the productivity of ancient farmers.

Page maintained by Monica Tsuneishi
Last modified: 12/04/2015

Used Book Sale 2016

brightly colored design books on bookshelves

Book image courtesy of See-ming Lee

The University Library is selling several thousand gently used books, including duplicate or superseded titles and other books not needed for the collection. There's something for everyone at low, low prices.

Event Information

Date & Time
December 12, 2016 - 10:00am to 10:00pm
Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery (Room 100)
Location Information
Event Type
Open House

Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive

Special Collections Library
Hatcher Graduate Library
913 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
(734) 764-9377 (p)

A collection of American culinary history: cookbooks and other materials from the 16th through the 21st century

We are not just what we eat, but how we eat — not to mention when, where and with whom. Cookbooks, menus, advertisements, manuals of table etiquette and the like may not be written to preserve the history of everyday life, but that’s exactly what they do. And this is what makes the library’s Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive (JBLCA) so valuable. Containing more than 25,000 items including ephemera publications, it paints a rich and unique portrait of American life over the centuries. In the context of the collection, American culinary history is defined broadly to include both influences upon American foodways and the influence of American culinary practices elsewhere. 

Food preparation and consumption offers a doorway to explore how people saw themselves, their neighbors, and their larger communities. Through the culinary archive one can explore changing attitudes towards diet and health, homemaking, commercial dining and the industrialization of food production. It also reveals historical ideas about race, class, and gender. And food continues to be an important part of our culture — contemporary discussions about organic produce, fast food, dietetics and diet fads, concentrated feed lots, vending machines in schools and the merits of vegetarianism all stem from historical contexts chronicled in the archive.

The collection is shaped by the donation of a rich assemblage of cookbooks, menus, and other material collected over many years by Jan Longone, an adjunct curator in the U-M Special Collections Library, and her husband U-M Emeritus Professor Daniel T. Longone.

Not so long ago, even the concept of American culinary history was met with skepticism.

“[Critics] said America had no cuisine or culinary history to speak of; all we ate were hamburgers,” Jan Longone wrote of attitudes at an Oxford University food symposium in the 1980s. Yet today the archive is recognized as a premier collection for the study of American culture as it relates to food and home life.

Writing in the Boston Globe, renowned chef James Beard called an exhibit of works from the collection “an unequaled feat of culinary scholarship.”

“Not all the cookbooks are good cookbooks, but they are all interesting and the authors, mainly women, were an amazing group who did a great deal to influence American history,” Beard wrote in the 1984 column.

And the collection has only continued to grow and evolve since then. Formerly held at U-M’s William L. Clements Library, it was transferred to the U-M Library in 2013 where its potential for teaching and scholarship can be fully realized.

Page maintained by Juli McLoone
Last modified: 06/15/2016

In Between Worlds

In Between Worlds, an integrative project by Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design senior Elaine Czech, reimagines humans' relationship with primates through a series of carved wooden masks inspired by Japanese Noh Theater masks. 

Event Information

April 19th, 2013 through May 5th, 2013
Current Periodicals Reading Room
Event Type

Publish Not Perish: Faculty Advice for New Academic Authors

Stack of books

Are you an undergraduate, graduate student, or faculty member interested in learning more about academic publishing? Please join us for a distinguished panel of faculty members from across the disciplines who will discuss the academic publishing experience for aspiring authors from a variety of viewpoints.

Event Information

Date & Time
March 14, 2013 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Hatcher Library Gallery, 100 Hatcher Graduate Library
Location Information
Event Type
Panel Discussion


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