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Michigan State University

Artifacts in Special Collections: Religion

Technically, everything in Special Collections is an artifact. But here are some of the more unusual ones!


Special Collections is the library's department for rare, valuable, and fragile materials.

Materials from this department do not check out, but we welcome you in the Special Collections Reading Room in the Main Library lobby, across from the Circulation Desk. We're open by appointment.

Chamberlain Warren Samaritan Collection

Brass scroll container

The Chamberlain Warren Samaritan Collection -- the most extensive collection of Samaritan materials in the United States -- includes a brass scroll case inlaid with silver, dating from the 16th century.

Manuscript collection 287

Sylvia B. Kruger Haggadah Collection

Survivors' Haggadah

More than 75 published and unpublished (privately used) Passover haggadot, from Israel, London, and the U.S. Collected by Sylvia B. Kruger and donated to the MSU Libraries in 2013.

Manuscript collection 144

Islamic prayerbook and satchel

We have an 18th century Muslim prayerbook from Morocco, with a red velvet satchel.

Prayerbooks with ivory covers

Three prayerbooks with ivory covers

We have an unusual trio of prayerbooks with covers of ivory -- or perhaps "ivorine," which was an elephant-friendly manufactured substitute.

From left:

Path to Heaven: A Selection of Prayers...

סדר להדרת קדש :‏ ‏כולל תפלות כל השנה ... בהעתקת לשון ענגליש

Paroissien romain : contenant les offices...

Sinhalese palm-leaf manuscript

This manuscript on palm-leaf pages appears to be in Sinhalese, or perhaps another of the Indic languages. This type of book construction was often used for Buddhist texts.

If you use this manuscript for your artifact research assignment, let us know what you find out!

Souvenirs of Israel

Tiny book of Psalms

The dime is to show the scale of this miniature book, which is less than 4 inches tall.

The Irwin T. and Shirley Holtzman Israeli Literature Archive includes hundreds of novels, poetry, and nonfiction published in Israel since statehood, and hundreds of pages of correspondence with Israeli authors.

The archive also includes a small collection of souvenirs Mr. Holtzman acquired during his trips to Israel, such as:

  • A tiny Hebrew-English Book of Psalms with olive-wood covers (shown above)
  • A wooden letter opener with the word "Jerusalem" in Hebrew and English
  • A wooden pencil cup with the emblem of Jerusalem
  • Bookmarks and other giveaways from the Jerusalem International Book Fair

Manuscript collection 211, box 8