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Items from Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

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Sojourns of a Jesuit Traveler

This week’s post, the sixth in our series Treasures from Woodstock Theological Library is a revisiting of the fourth blog post about Francis Barnum, S.J. and the Torah scroll he donated to the Woodstock College in 1871. As the wooden case which houses the Torah scroll indicates, he acquired it in Jerusalem:

פר׳ יר׳ ברנם הבלתימורי הבא ספר התורה הזה מירושלים ויתן לבת הזה בשנת ישועה יהוה אתעא

Fr[ancis] Yr' Barnum, the Baltimorian, brought this book of the Torah from Jerusalem and gave it this house in the year of the salvation of The LORD.

Since Fr. Barnum’s papers are part of the manuscript collection in Booth Family Center for Special Collections, finding the exact place and day he acquired it seemed possible. After reviewing his files on his Palestinian itinerary and other related files he kept on travels near Palestine, however, no specific reference to his acquisition of the Torah scroll was found.

What we did discover are his accounts of the daily events of his trip. Below is the first page from his diary which he called “Tour in Palesinte”.  As you can see, most of his entries are brief but he often commented on the taxing travels by camel, or where he stopped to eat lunch; he comments on the landscape noting wadis, beaches, and flocks of goats.


Journal Entry

Of special note are the flourishes and, sometimes, random illustrations he made in his diary. Here, he adorns the cover of his diary with an geometric shape “from an old mosque near Baalbec.” [take out the nautical one] To supplement his descriptive entries, he also kept a map charting his course in throughout Palestine. 

Barnum Diary



Along with his diaries, he included a map charting his course in throughout Palestine.

Map of Palestine 

Given his painstaking documentation of his journey it seems that his travels were of great import to him and he undoubtedly shared his experiences with his friends and family.