Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection

The Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection was established in 1987, when Richard and Martha Kessler donated their private collection of Reformation imprints and manuscripts to Emory University. These materials were combined with Reformation holdings at the Pitts Theology Library, and an effort was launched to enlarge and sustain this collection in the years to come. An advisory committee of Lutheran laypersons and clergy and of Candler School of Theology faculty and administrators oversees the nurture of the collection and its programs. The Reformation Notes newsletter provides semiannual updates on the growth of the collection, and the Reformation Day at Emory program of music and lectures each October celebrates the collection and its contributions to music, history, and theology.

In the sixteenth century the social and theological movements of central Europe, known collectively as the Reformation, critically shaped religion, law, education and other institutions in the West, and their long shadow has extended even to the present. The purpose of the Kessler Collection is to document these changes by collecting print and manuscript materials down to 1570 by Martin Luther (1483-1546) and those whom he influenced or engaged in debate. In this way historians and theologians will be able to hear the full range of voices that were raised in this dynamic period.

The holdings of the collection now exceed 3,600 items, a mark approximated by only two other libraries in North America; no American library approaches the Kessler Collection's 1,000+ publications by Luther himself. Highlights of the collection include:

A detailed description of early Lutheran hymnals and other musical resources in the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection can be found in this article by Dr. Stephen A. Crist.

As the collection has grown over two decades, it has stimulated musical programs, provided a venue for visiting lecturers, supported teaching and research, and supplied the grist for scholarly publications. In addition, it has provided the material for the creation of a Digital Image Archive of woodcuts and metal engravings. In short, the Kessler Collection has been a significant resource for the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and international scholarship. It is continually the subject of presentations for students, church and synagogue groups, professional organizations, and visiting scholars. It has provided a fruitful point of contact for the academy and the church.

Reformation Notes

The Reformation Notes newsletter provides updates on the growth of the collection. The following issues are available for download in Adobe Acrobat format:

Number 1 Number 2 Number 3 Number 4 Number 5 Number 6 Number 7
Number 8 Number 9 Number 10 Number 11 Number 12 Number 13 Number 14
Number 15 Number 16 Number 17 Number 18 Number 19 Number 20 Number 21
Number 22 Number 23 Number 24 Number 25 Number 26 Number 27 Number 28
Number 29 Number 30 Number 40 Number 41 Number 42 Number 43 Number 44
Number 45 Number 46 Number 47