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Missing manuscripts prompt curator to search Firestone

A pictorial manuscript from central Mexico has been misplaced from the Garrett Collection of indigenous manuscripts at Firestone Library, according to the collection's curator, Alfred Bush.

The item was supposed to be included in the exhibition, "The Search for Latin America: Sources at Princeton," that recently opened in the library's main gallery, but it could not be found during the preparation of the exhibit.


Peter Johnson, the exhibition's curator and bibliographer for Latin America, Spain and Portugal, said although there were many items in the University's collections to choose from, "when you can't find something, it's a cause of concern."


Bush stressed that the manuscript is not missing from the library. He explained that pieces are misplaced all the time, and said he is sure the item will "turn up."

"I have total confidence that it's there in the rare books department," he said.

Bush said he suspected the manuscript was misplaced when the collection moved from the library's third floor down to its current location in the manuscript vault four or five years ago. The piece's over-sized nature may also have contributed to its disappearance, he added.

Bush likened the mistake with the manuscript to a student's removing a book from a library shelf and then putting it back in the wrong place.

Although a complete catalogue is in the works, the items that comprise the Garrett Collection are currently only recorded on a "simple hand-list," according to Bush. Over a dozen different scholars are contributing to making the new list.


The Garrett Collection is the greatest collection of Middle American manuscripts in the United States, according to Bush. Most of the items come from the Mayan culture and are written in a variety of the tribe's 31 distinct languages.

The Latin American exhibition runs through April 13, 1998. It displays more than 200 Latin American items owned by the University, ranging from books and correspondences to coins and artifacts. It also includes other manuscripts from the Garrett Collection.

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