The Library’s Special Collections consist of 30,000 volumes with an emphasis on Anglican and Episcopal documents, early Bibles and editions of the Book of Common Prayer. Rare printed Bibles include the Coverdale Bible (1535), the first complete Bible printed in English, and a first edition of the Authorized King James Version (1611). Other significant holdings include works of sixteenth- through nineteenth-century English theology, important editions of patristic texts, devotional works and sermons from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The collection includes more than 120 incunabula (pre-16th century printed books).
Collection strengths include: editions of the Bible in English, Latin, the major European languages, as well as Native American, Asian, and African languages; biblical exegesis; editions of the Book of Common Prayer from 1549 to the present day, in every language represented in the Anglican Communion; English Theology from the early sixteenth to the nineteenth century; Anglican ecclesiology; and neo-Gothic church architecture. In addition, Special Collections houses a small but distinguished group of medieval illuminated manuscripts.
Included within Special Collections are the GTS Archives, which contain archival papers of many Episcopal bishops from Samuel Seabury to the present, including significant correspondence of virtually every U.S. Episcopal bishop from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. The Archives contains the Episcopal Church’s diocesan convention and journal records dating from the eighteenth century, as well as significant materials that describe the history and mission of The General Theological Seminary from its founding in 1817 to the present. The mission of the Archives is to identify and preserve significant and unique records generated or received by the General Theological Seminary community that have enduring value and are past the period of active use. Access to these materials is regulated to safeguard confidentiality and privacy in accordance with policies established by the Library.
Guidelines & Procedures
Access to Special Collections materials is by appointment only. We are not able to accommodate drop-ins. Twenty-four hours advance notice is required for all requests.
Researchers must complete and sign a Research Application once each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30) and must provide acceptable identification (photographic ID card, a copy of which is kept on file).
All manuscripts and archival materials are housed in closed stacks. Readers may request particular items by submitting requests to the Reference Librarian or the Technical Services Librarian in advance of their visit. The materials will be brought to the researcher in the designated Rare Book Reading Room. No material will be pulled for use after 4:15 p.m. Researchers may not take special collections materials to other areas of the library.
The Library reserves the right to inspect all research materials and personal belongings before a patron leaves the building.
Handling and Care of Special Collections Materials
Special collections materials may be used only in the Rare Book Reading Room, with the permission of the Reference Librarian or the Library Manager. The librarian will inspect all materials at the end of the appointment.
Researchers will be asked to leave all belongings in a locker (other than a laptop, pencil or sheet of paper) while using Special Collections materials. Researchers will be asked to wash their hands before handling materials. Rare or fragile material may not be photocopied.
The researcher must accept the responsibility of handling carefully all materials made available. Manuscripts and archival materials are to be maintained in the order in which they are received by the researcher. If any material is discovered out of order, a Librarian should be notified. Papers should not be rearranged. Manuscripts and books may not be leaned on, written on, folded, traced over or handled in any way that may damage them.
Researchers may be limited in the amount of material received at one time, usually no more than one item.
The use of ink is strictly prohibited.
No beverages are allowed when using Special Collections material in the Library, and smoking is prohibited.
All materials must be returned to the Librarian by 4:45 p.m. or before the researcher leaves the Library.
Mutilation, destruction and theft of Archives and Manuscripts materials are subject to prosecution.
Reproduction for Research Use
The Christoph Keller, Jr. Library will consider requests for reproduction of material when such duplication can be done without injury to the material and when duplication does not violate donor agreements or copyright law. Requests for reproduction will be considered on an individual basis. Requests for duplicating certain materials may require the approval of the Library Manager. Permission to reproduce does not constitute permission to publish.
Permission to Publish
Researchers should be aware that the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, USC) provides protection for unpublished materials as well as for published works. Permission to publish from or to quote from previously unpublished manuscripts or from published items under copyright first must be obtained from the copyright holder. It is the researcher’s responsibility to secure that permission. For original manuscript materials, the permission of the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library, as owner of the originals, is also required. In most instances, the Library does not hold the copyright to materials in its holdings.
For any use of the materials or content from the Keller Library’s Special Collections, the researcher must agree to acknowledge the Library as the source of the original material in published works. Use the credit line: Courtesy of the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library, General Theological Seminary, New York, NY.
When citing material from manuscript collections in this library, please use the following form: [Identification of the item and the title of the collection], [Identification of the record group or manuscript collection number], Special Collections, Christoph Keller, Jr. Library, General Theological Seminary.