The collecting of Greek materials began in earnest with archaeologist Carl W. Blegen, UC classics professor from 1927 to his death in 1971. Blegen excavated extensively in Greece and served as Assistant Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and was able to acquire many publications for the UC Classics Library on his frequent stays in Greece, but also on visits to Istanbul, Paris, London, and New York. The collection focused initially on standard editions of ancient texts published by modern Greek scholars as well as on Greek works on ancient history and archaeology. It subsequently expanded to include also Greek linguistics and “the language question,” Byzantine and Modern Greek history, geography and topography, as well as Philhellenism. At that time there were even plans to make Cincinnati the center of Medieval and Modern Greek studies in the United States and to enable the acquisition of rare books such as first editions and special elegant editions through its Friend’s program to illustrate the history of modern Greek typography and book making. In 1952 the University, under the Farmington Plan of the Association of Research Libraries, took responsibility for the preservation in the United States of all scholarly publications originating in Greece. Under this plan, Professor Blegen began the acquisition of contemporary materials in nearly every field of knowledge except for law, medicine, and agriculture. Peter Topping in a survey of “Modern Greek Studies and Materials in the United States” in the early 1940’s (Byzantion 15 (1940-41): 414-442) referred to the UC Modern Greek collection at that time as “the finest and largest” in the United States.
The Byzantine and Modern Greek Collections at the University of Cincinnati include some 70,000 volumes and more than 1,000 journal titles covering all aspects of Byzantine and post-Byzantine Greece, with special strengths in 19th c. and early 20th c. journals, such as Έρμῆς ὁ λόγιος (1811-21), the journal of Greek intellectuals dispersed through Europe during the pre-Revolutionary period and an important source for the theoretical background to the Revolution as well as the first journal published in modern Greek. Other historical periodicals include:
A recent project includes the “Greek Digital Journal Archive” which aims at digitizing all or most historic journals and newspapers (19th to early 20th centuries) in the humanities and social sciences published in Greece and diaspora communities throughout the world and making them available via open access. The project aims at joining forces with many academic and research libraries and archives in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe.
Other significant publications In the Burnam library include Μεσαιωνικὴ βιβλιοθήκη (7 vols., Venice, 1872-94), and the Ἀρχεῖον κοινότητος Ὓδρας (1778-1832) in fifteen volumes, which is of great importance for the understanding of the commercial background of the Revolution (the War of Independence, 1821-1832, against the Ottoman Turkish rule).
Further UC holdings include review publications such as:
The rare 19th century modern Greek journal collection comprises some 120 titles and those from the first half of the 20th century more than 280 titles. In most cases, the UC Classics Library possesses all volumes published of each journal. This historic collection is one of the finest of its kind in North America.
The library further owns an extensive collection of studies related to humanist scholar Adamantios Koraïs (Ἀδαμάντιος Κοραῆς), one of the largest in America. Moreover, the library possesses a rare copy of Constantine Cavafy’s Ποιήματα (including poems written from 1905-15), printed in Alexandria in 1930 and carrying the author’s signature; a rare large folio edition of novelist Nikos Kazantzakis’ Ὀδύσσεια (Odyssey: A Modern Sequel), Athens 1938, as well as Cubist artist Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas’ illustrations to Kazantzakis’ work, containing a facsimile of a letter from Kazantzakis to Ghikas, dated February 15, 1944. The library further owns a discrete collection of some 7,500 items in Byzantine and Modern Greek literature. Other collections of note include more than 1,000 army corps maps of the Mediterranean area from World War I and II, which are currently being digitized.
In recent years, after the retirements of Niove Kyparissiotis, the cataloger of Modern Greek, and Eugenia Foster, the curator of Modern Greek materials, the collecting in this area has not held quite the same high level, especially in Modern Greek literature, although recently the collection received a boost from a significant donation of duplicate imprints from the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection at California State University, Sacramento. The acquisition of Modern Greek journals and monographs at the University of Cincinnati is still comprehensive for titles dealing with the Byzantine period, Frankokratia, Venetokratia, Tourkokratia, Enlightenment Era, the War of Independence, WWII (impact on Greeks and Greece’s involvement), the Greek military dictatorship, 1967- 1974, travel in Greece, Philhellenism, the language question, the Eastern question, and historiography. The coverage is more selective in the areas of general history, politics, language and literature, religion, folklore, music, theater, and the Greek diaspora.
The Classics Library’s modern Greek holdings also greatly benefit from the many Greek scholars in the Classics Department, including faculty, Tytus fellows, and graduate students and from the support of Philhellene Jack L. Davis, the Chair of the Department and Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology since 1993 and Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2007-2012.
Phone: (513) 556-1316
Fax: (513) 556-6244
The University of Cincinnati Libraries collection is available through the Library Catalog link on the Classics Library Web site.
Kyparissiotis, Niove, editor. The Modern Greek Collection in the Library of the University of Cincinnati: A Catalogue. With a foreword by Carl W. Blegen. Athens: Hestia Press, 1960. Riley, Jacquelene W. “Research Opportunities in the Modern Greek Collection in the Classics Library at the University of Cincinnati,” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 26:1 (2008): 29-62. Topping, Peter W. “Modern Greek Studies and Materials in the United States.” Byzantion 15 (1940): 414-442.
Topping, Peter and Eva C. Topping. “University of Cincinnati: Greece” in East Central and Southeast Europe: A Handbook of Library and Archival Resources in North America, edited by Paul L. Horecky, 45-52. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1976.
University of Cincinnati. Libraries. “Burnam Classical Library. Modern Greek Collection. Catalog of the Modern Greek Collection, University of Cincinnati.” Boston, MA: G. K. Hall, 1978. Wellington, Jean S. “The Modern Greek Collection at the University of Cincinnati.” Paper presented at “Strengthening Modern Greek Collections: Building U.S.-Greek Library partnerships,” a conference at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., April 29-30, 1999.
The John Miller Burnam Classics Library’s website