Last night, Columbia University, in collaboration with The Holland Society of New York, hosted the lecture “Humanism at the University of Leiden: Pedagogy, Philology, and Printing”, presented by Anthony Grafton (Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton) and moderated by Pamela Smith (Columbia University Seth Low Professor of History, Director of the Center for Science and Society, and chair of the Studies of the Dutch-Speaking World.)
Columbia University has a strong history of supporting the study of the Dutch-speaking world, dating from the post-war period when the Stichting Koningin Wilhelmina Professoraat (Queen Wilhelmina Professor Foundation) collaborated with Columbia to create a chair in the history, culture and language of the Dutch-speaking world. The program now hosts a visiting Queen Wilhelmina professor annually, choosing a professor from Utrecht University or KU Leuven on a rotating basis. The visitor, along with Columbia faculty, organizes a series of lectures and workshops during their semester-long stay. Last night’s lecture was organized by Arnoud Visser, this year’s Queen Wilhelmina Visiting Professor and Professor of Textural Culture in the Renaissance, University of Utrecht, in collaboration with the Holland Society of New York, the Studies of the Dutch-Speaking World at Columbia University, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the European Institute.
The talk gave new exposure to the Holland Society’s collection of early Dutch books, together known as the Grotius Collection. The Grotius Collection has been on deposit at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library since 1901. The books were purchased from Bom and Bom Book Dealers in Amsterdam in 1890 by Robert Barnwell Roosevelt, a Holland Society member and ex-United States Minister to the Hague. Mr. Roosevelt was a politician and lawyer. He represented New York’s 4th District in the House of Representatives. In addition to his post as United States Minister to the Hague, he also served as Secretary to the United States Embassy in London. He was the uncle of Holland Society member and United States President Theodore Roosevelt and the great-uncle of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.