Maximum Marginalia

One of my favorite parts of working in a Special Collections library is finding books featuring marginalia—the notes and drawings that readers leave in the margins of books they’re reading.  I’ve come across pristine handwriting and illegible scribbles, thoughtful commentary and brief notes, and drawings that ran the gamut from cute to comical to crude.

But I’ve never seen as much marginalia as what I found in our copy of Gaius Julius Hyginus’ De Astronomica, which was printed in Lyon by Joannes Franciscus de Gabiano in 1608.  The book was printed in Latin, and features some Latin marginalia, but primarily features notes written in Ancient Greek.  Most of the notes were written by the same hand, but the colors of ink change throughout, and it’s possible some marginalia was written by a second or third hand.  There’s writing found on almost every page of the book, and for a 20 page span, the entire margin of each page is filled with notes.

Stop by the DeGolyer to take a closer look at De Astronomica (PA6445.H8 1608) and if you read Ancient Greek, we’ve got a transcription project for you!

Email Christina Jensen at to learn more.