During the 19th century, there was a mass movement to convert the peoples of the world -- particularly in Africa and eastern Asia -- to Christianity. When American missionaries traveled to other countries, they set up churches and schools and even hospitals to not only change the locals' spiritual practices, but to improve their overall lives. When they returned home, the missionaries often brought back souveniers, and some of them have ended up in our collections.
We have previously featured a selection of pages from our collection of foreign language Bibles, but our holdings are broader than interesting Bibles or even books. We have religious and secular artifacts including cuneiform tablets, small statues, a Japanese prayer charm, a Buddhist prayer wheel from China, and a case containing a relief map of Jerusalem.
These items and more are on display in our conference room. If you're in the Boston area, come by and see them. If you're closer to Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress is currently featuring several religious items in its Treasures of the World exhibition.