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Swem Library opens Bible exhibit

  • On display
    On display  This page is from a first edition copy of the King James Bible displayed in the exhibit.  Image courtesy of SCRC, Swem Library
  • Picture perfect
    Picture perfect  This illustration of David and Goliath is from a 1544 Bible with 98 woodcuts by the great artist Hans Holbein.  Image courtesy of SCRC, Swem Library
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Swem Library at the College of William & Mary presents the exhibit "In the Beginning was the Word: Bibles at Swem Library."  The exhibit is on display in the Nancy Marshall Gallery and the adjoining Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library through the end of October 2010.  Admission is free.  For information on exhibits, directions, parking, and hours, see the library's website.

"In the Beginning was the Word: Bibles at Swem Library" explores the history of the printing of the Bible. It begins with Gutenberg and other early printers in continental Europe, then moves across the English Channel to examine the publication of Bibles in England, Wales, and Scotland.  The exhibit then turns its attention to Bibles and related scriptures, some in English, some not, in the American colonies and later the United States.

Among the rare Bibles and related items on display are:

  • Leaves from a 1483 German Bible and a 1517 polyglot Bible published in Spain
  • An edition of the earliest Bible printed with chapter and verse markings
  • A 1544 Bible with 98 woodcuts by the great artist Hans Holbein
  • A 1550 edition of William Tyndale's English New Testament
  • The first Bible printed in the Welsh language in 1567
  • Three copies of the Bible used by early American colonists, the Geneva or "Breeches" Bible, including a copy possibly used by Pocahontas
  • A first edition of the King James Bible
  • A leaf from the first Bible printed in America, a Natick-language Bible from 1637
  • A 1776 German Bible printed in Pennsylvania, known as the "Gunwad" Bible
  • The 1782 Aitken Bible, the first English-language Bible printed in America and endorsed by Congress
  • Family Bibles belonging to Martha Washington and James Monroe
  • Thomas Jefferson's notes on Jesus's doctrines and his version of the Bible
  • A first edition of the Book of Mormon
  • A pre-Braille Bible for the Blind printed in 1836

For more information about this exhibit, contact Hope Yelich, Coordinator of Public Relations and Publications, Swem Library, at or 757-221-3070.