Blocks of History

Blocks lying on a wooden table, each with a different image and scripture

There is no doubt a vast number of mediums through which we can understand European history and its influence on American culture. When thinking about these mediums though, woodcut printing blocks may not be the first materials to come to mind. Yet, a collection of these historically rich objects are the latest acquisition for UNC-Chapel Hill’s University Libraries, thanks to funding from the John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes Foundation and the Whittaker Library Foundation.

The 9 millionth volume acquired by the University Libraries consists of blocks in various languages, sizes, and shapes, dating from 1625 to 1850, and that serves as a symbol of the interconnected nature of our world. The collection will benefit a wide variety of scholars, from those focusing on religious studies to those who are studying art history.

“This collection allows us to see how even our most historic collections are also a global research collection,” said Elizabeth Ott, Frank Borden Hanes Curator of Rare Books at the Wilson Special Collections Library.

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