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Color Our Collections

By January 29, 2020September 16th, 2023No Comments

By Emily Beck

Doodle of manFrom February 3 through 7, the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine will participate in The New York Academy of Medicine’s social media campaign, #ColorOurCollections

During this week-long celebration, libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world invite their patrons to get creative with their rare books.

Crayons and markers still aren’t allowed in the reading room, but we’ve made some coloring sheets for you from some of our most interesting illustrated books!

Doodles in the margins

The Wangensteen Historical Library’s 2020 coloring book is dedicated to marginalia – handwritten annotations in the margins of books left by readers. Some of the most interesting marginalia in the Wangensteen’s collection is found in a volume titled De Urinis Libri Septem by Joannes Actuarius, published in 1545. 

The anonymous reader who left these doodles clearly had fun while reading his or her book. Many of the illustrations depict subjects discussed in the book, such as roosters, fish, and garlic. Other illustrations are fanciful and over the top. For example, many early readers drew little pointing fingers, manicules, in the margins of their books in order to draw attention to particular passages.

The reader of the Wangensteen Historical Library’s book drew elaborate manicules, including one of a person wearing a hat with rabbit ears that point at a passage of text. 

Get your coloring pages

We will reveal a new page every day this week! Check back daily to download a new 500-year-old doodle to add your own spin to. 

Full Coloring Book


Share your finished artwork

Don’t forget to share your coloring pages with us on Twitter @WangensteenRare

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