John H. Strang memorandum

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a newly digitized collection: John H. Strang memorandum (MSS 3893). The formal and much longer title of the item is A memorandum of the family of Daniel d’Estrange and of Charlotte his wife who escaped from France in the year of 1685 in the persecution under Louis XIV and came to America in the year 1688 and settled at New Rochelle in the County of Westchester, then Province of New York. This item is a small book by John Strang (also called Uncle John D’Estrange), written for his niece, Sarah Ann Strang. The memorandum tells about the persecution of the Protestant D’Estrange family, John D’Estrange’s immigration to America, his dislike of Catholics and Jesuits, the visit of a man who claimed to be D’Estrange’s son left with guards in France, a list of children of Daniel D’Estrange and Charlotte Hubert.

James J. Strang (1813-1856)

A photocopy from Doyle C. Fitzpatrick’s book The King Strang story : a vindication of James J. Strang, the Beaver Island Mormon King includes a typed version of the journal and some information about James Jesse Strang.

John Hazard Strang was born in Yorktown, Westchester, New York on June 7, 1785. His parents were Henry Strang and Margaret Hazard. He married Elizabeth Ann Purdy in Yorktown on September 20, 1812. His three children were Alsop H. (b.1813), John Grant (b. 1815) and Alvan Purdy (1817). He had a niece named Sarah Ann Strang and dedicated this history of the d’Estrange family to her. He passed away on July 4, 1878 in Yorktown, New York.  The exact relationship between John H. Strang and James Jesse Strang is unclear.

Two Decadent Dandies: Aubrey Beardsley and Max Beerbohm in the Outrageous 1890s

August 21 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of well-known British artist Aubrey Beardsley. Three days later, August 24, is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beardsley’s friend, caricaturist and essayist Max Beerbohm. As young men, both artists shocked English society with their boundary-pushing creativity, becoming celebrities in literary and artistic circles in early 1890s London.

A humorist, Beerbohm parodied high society and the prominent artists and writers of the 1890s through caricatures and comical essays which sometimes shocked the establishment. He would go on to have a long career, publishing 15 books and thousands of caricatures, and even broadcasting essays over BBC radio. He is still remembered for his sparkling wit and his ties to major figures of British arts and letters, including George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.

Beardsley’s career was brief, troubled, and revolutionary. He gained immediate notoriety for his unique illustration style, but his penchant for blending beauty with the grotesque polarized both critics and the public. Though he died at the young age of 25, his work transformed the world of art and design and still inspires artists today.

To commemorate their work and friendship, Special Collections has mounted a new small exhibit. Two Decadent Dandies: Aubrey Beardsley and Max Beerbohm in the Outrageous 1890s showcases drawings, books, and periodicals produced by the two artists when they were just finding success in the world of arts and letters. The exhibit is on display in Special Collections’ lobby through the month of August.

Special Collections authors you’ve never heard of: Charles Lever

Title page of Lever’s first novel, The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer, illustrated by Phiz (Hablot Knight Brown)

June 1 marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Victorian novelist Charles Lever (1806-1872). Lever was born into a middle-class Anglo-Irish family. He began writing to supplement his income while training to become a physician. He quickly found success writing rollicking tales of Ireland and of military life, drawing on his childhood in Dublin and his travels to continental Europe, where he would permanently settle. Lever authored 30 novels and numerous essays and stories during a career that spanned over four decades.

Lever was a close contemporary of Charles Dickens and William Thackeray, and nearly as popular with readers of the early Victorian period. They published with the same firms and worked with the same illustrators. Like Dickens and Thackeray, Lever edited a literary journal (the Dublin University Magazine, from 1842-45), and he contributed essays and serialized novels to the major literary magazines of the day. Lever’s novel A Day’s Ride was published alongside Dickens’ Great Expectations in All the Year Round in 1860 and 1861.

Yet Lever, despite his early success, gradually fell out of favor with readers and is virtually forgotten today. Critic Stephen Haddesley attributes Lever’s fall from popularity in part to the unevenness of his literary output. Lever typically worked on two novels simultaneously to be able to keep up with the demands of serial publication and his gambling habit. He was never diligent at plotting, and his rushed writing schedule was also thwarted at times by installations getting delayed or lost in the mail (the ending of The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer had to be completely rewritten due to a shipping mishap). Critics also note that Lever’s depictions of Ireland challenged both his Irish and English audiences. As an expatriate observing Irish society from Europe, Lever’s writing did not always conform to the sociopolitical views of either side, perhaps contributing to his waning popularity.

Special Collections owns copies of 18 of Lever’s novels, including several titles in their original monthly parts. Many feature illustrations by Hablot Knight Brown, also known as “Phiz,” who is perhaps best known for illustrating Oliver Twist.

Newly-digitized rare literature

The HBLL has been scanning items from the Rare Books Collections which have recently entered the public domain. Selected items published between 1924 and 1926 are now available in the library’s repository at the Internet Archive. Highlights include works by Rudyard Kipling, Eugene O’Neill, and H.G. Wells. More material from Special Collections’ holdings will be added throughout the year.

Two Bibles of 1522

2022 marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of two important early Bible translations.

A leaf from volume 4 of the Complutensian Polyglot (Ezekiel 10:4-11:9)

The Complutensian Polyglot or Bible of Alcalá was the first Bible to include the text in multiple languages (in this case, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Aramaic). The project was conceived by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, a powerful Spanish religious leader. Cisneros acquired a number of Biblical manuscripts and enlisted a group of Spanish scholars, including several converts from Judaism, to edit the texts. The scholars met at the Complutense University in the city of Alcalá de Henares, from which this Bible edition takes its name. Their work began in 1502. They were able to print copies of the polyglot New Testament in 1514, but held back publication until the Old Testament was complete.

Title page of the 1522 Erasmus New Testament

As the Complutense University translators continued their work, Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus learned of the project. Erasmus was working on an edition of the Greek New Testament compiled from newly-discovered manuscripts which would be accompanied by his new Latin translation. He secured a special four-year privilege from both the Pope and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian, which gave him exclusive license over publishing the Greek Bible, in 1516. So when the Complutensian translation was completed in 1517, publication was delayed until the Pope could grant approval in 1520. Scholars believe that the Complutensian Bible was not widely published until 1522.

Meanwhile, Erasmus continued to refine his dual-language Greek and Latin New Testament. Because he rushed his edition to the press, many typographical errors appeared in the 1516 edition. A second edition appeared in 1519, and a third edition in 1522. The 1522 edition would later be used as a major source for the translators of the King James Version of the Bible in the early 17th century.

Special Collections owns an original copy of the 1522 Erasmus New Testament, and two leaves from the 6 volume Complutensian Bible. One leaf accompanies a full facsimile of the 6-volume Complutensian Bible which was published in 1987; the other (shown above) is part of a leaf book about polyglot Bibles.

Medieval Bookbindings exhibit

This month, the Special Collections reading room is hosting a student-curated exhibit. “Medieval Bookbindings: Methods, Materials and Oddities” looks at examples of medieval binding structures from Special Collections’ holdings of early printed books and manuscripts dating from the 13th through 16th centuries. The exhibit was curated by Louisa Eastley, a student employee in the Lee Library’s conservation lab. To view the exhibit, reading room access is required; the exhibit will be on display through April and May 2022.


FILM RESTORATION SHOWCASE — Winter 2022 — April 1, 7pm Library Auditorium

At the BYU Motion Picture Archive we have a variety of historical materials.

Sometimes these are Hollywood film artifacts: film prints of Hollywood-produced films. Some of these are common (CASABLANCA) and some of these are rare (WINGED VICTORY).

A special group of materials are those absolutely unique camera original elements of productions from the BYU Motion Picture Studio. From these original elements we can now scan with cutting edge technology and see the films of yesteryear as they have never been seen before.

This is film restoration: to go back to a purer source of information so that what was there in the beginning can be brought back and enjoyed in its fulness (ring a bell?).

I could do this work alone, but that would miss out on the great work of the university: contributing to the growth of the next generation. So the library has generously afforded me to offer internships in film restoration at times. Together, the students and I work to restore titles for which we have the original film materials.

On April 1, we are holding our next RESTORATION SHOWCASE, where these students will present the projects we have been working on.

2001: The Deal   (1980)

Short student project from the Theatre and Communications school.

“Time Bomb” music video (1984)

We honestly have no information on this music video. We are guessing on the song title based upon the chorus lyrics. The performers might have been called “The X-ing Band”


A young man is concerned for his family’s eternal duration when he perceives his father’s smoking habit to be at odds with priesthood sealing requirements.


Historical. Fun. Interesting. Entertaining.

Join us, and some special guests, as we take a walk down memory lane with newly-restored media as it has never been seen before.


Edna Beilenson and The Distaff Side

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the L. Tom Perry Special Collections shares the work of 20th century bookmaker Edna Rudolph Beilenson (1909-1981).

Edna Beilenson’s husband Peter founded the Peter Pauper Press, and after their marriage, she worked alongside him as a typesetter. Her career expanded into printing, publishing, and book design. In the 1930s, Beilenson organized a group of women who were involved in printing and the graphic arts into a sort of collective called The Distaff Side.

Their first production was a book called Bookmaking on the Distaff Side (1937). Each signature of the book—31 in total—was printed by a different member. It includes essays (ranging from scholarly to satirical), literature, and artwork commenting on the overlooked contributions of women in the book trades throughout history. The Distaff Side worked sporadically over the ensuing decades toward charitable causes, including organizing a book fair to raise relief funds for Britain in the early years of World War II. Their third and final book, A Children’s Sampler, was published in 1950 to benefit a children’s medical charity.

Title page of A Children’s Sampler

Edna Beilenson’s contribution to A Children’s Sampler










Beilenson edited a series of cookbooks published by the Peter Pauper Press during the 1950s. She became sole proprietor of the company after her husband’s passing in 1962. Beilenson was active in many organizations related to the printing profession, and she was the first woman to serve as president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. She also designed and printed two different titles for the Limited Editions Club book series. More information about Beilenson can be found in Sean Donnelly’s history, The Peter Pauper Press of Peter and Edna Beilenson (University of Tampa Press, 2013), available in Special Collections.

The Man in the Iron Mask, printed by Edna Beilenson for the Limited Editions Club, 1965.


Archive Classics Series: TRAPPED BY THE MORMONS (1922) — Friday, March 4, 7pm – Library Auditorium

We are happy to announce our next installment in the ARCHIVE CLASSICS series.

This series features the presentation of cinematic gems held in the BYU MOTION PICTURE ARCHIVE.

These films are esteemed to be of particular importance to BYU Students, focusing on depictions, representations, and expressions of latter-day saints in the medium of the cinema.

The plan for the series is to hold one screening per academic semester and include a presentation that will place them in their time and context.

In the first quarter of the 20th century there were some organized waves of anti-Latter-day Saint activities in Britain. One of the mediums they put to use was that of the motion picture, and this belongs to that category.

Sensational, supernatural, strange, and in the end, quite funny—this film had an impact when it was released in March of 1922. On its 100th birthday, the Motion Picture Archive is pulling this relic back out of the mothballs and presenting it for presentation.

There is incredible history with this film, and too much to put in a blog post. Multiple articles have been written about this film, its influence and impact.

Come see it with an audience and hear from Brian Cannon, faculty member in the History Department at BYU, to put this film into its artistic and historical context.

This is one you don’t want to miss!

Friday, March 4, 7pm – Library Auditorium

Aron Heilner family collection

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a newly digitized collection: Sanford Joseph Heilner and Claire Heilner Freedman collection on the Aron Heilner family (MSS 6721).  This collection is a wonderful resource for understanding 19th century Jewish German immigrant history in the American West.  Some descendants of Aron Heilner, including Sanford and Claire, became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints.

The following is a description of the collection by Morgan Meik and Aubrey Stewart, students in the Lee Library Digitization Lab who assisted in scanning this collection:

Sigmund Heilner with son (circa 1892)

The records of the Heilner family collection belonged to Sigmund Heilner, an ambitious Jewish German immigrant seeking to make his mark in the United States. They give a firsthand look at Sigmund’s family interactions within the United States and between those who lived in Germany. Additionally, the collection features letters, journal entries, business documents, and other historical clippings pertaining to Sigmund’s business endeavors. The collection was compiled by Claire Heilner Freedman and Sanford Joseph Heilner—two descendants of Sigmund and avid genealogists who added their own commentary throughout the collection. Their writings offer their unique perspectives through their attempts to craft a holistic narrative of Sigmund Heilner’s life.

The collection follows the triumphs and highpoints of Sigmund and his family. These include Sigmund’s marriage, his business endeavors, and his eventual election as mayor of Baker City, Oregon. Correspondence between Sigmund and his family highlight their lives in Germany, such as his brother David’s business successes. The collection also documents a series of tragedies within the Heilner family: the destruction of the theater owned by Sigmund, complicated family relationships, and the murder of Sigmund’s brother Seligman. Perhaps most heart-renching is the ominous forecomings of the Holocaust and its devastating results on the Jewish Heilner family in Germany. 

Signmund Heilner’s theater on fire (1937)

In the midst of extreme highs and lows, the Heilner collection offers a unique history of a family attempting to thrive in a confusing and sometimes cruel world. It’s a story of heartbreak, loss, hope, and perseverance—a story that has stood the test of time and remains relevant today. 

In addition to a beautifully compiled narrative, the Heilner family collection offers valuable firsthand information for a variety of research topics. These topics include European immigration to the United States, contrasts in German and American business styles, life on the American west coast in the 20th century, and social dynamics among multigenerational families.

Jesse and Joseph Heilner, descendents of Sigmund Heilner (circa 1887)



Selections of letters from this collection will soon be made available alongside thousands of other letters related to German immigration to the United States through the German Heritage in Letters online digital collection, a project by the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C.

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