Pitts Theology Library
Archives and Manuscripts Department

Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection

Descriptive Summary
Title:Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection.
Call Number:Manuscript Collection Group No. 001
Abstract:A collection of manuscripts, images, and ephemera from the Reformation era and material produced by Pitts Theology Library in relation to this collection.
Language:Materials in English, German, and Latin.

Scope Note

The Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection was established in October 1987 at Pitts Theology Library, Emory University. James T. Laney, President of Emory University, and Richard C. Kessler, an active Lutheran layman and Atlanta businessman, signed a formal agreement by which Kessler and his wife, Martha, donated their private collection of Reformation imprints and manuscripts to Emory. A committee of representatives from Emory University and the Lutheran church was established to oversee the development, conservation, use, and programmatic dimensions of the collection.

The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century remains the pivotal religious movement in Western culture since the introduction of Christianity. The life and works of Martin Luther (1483-1546) are central to the understanding of the Reformation and its consequent movements. The Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection focuses on the sixteenth century German Reformation as expressed in the writings of Luther, his friends, and his opponents. The core of the collection is the corpus of original impressions of Luther's writings, encompassing works from 1517 to 1546. The collection also includes materials from the pre-Reformation era (pre-1517). These holdings can help us understand the religious and ecclesiastical setting of the times, especially in Germany. They include the early written attempts to reform the church and writings of the humanists who contributed to the development of critical historical research and linguistic studies.

The first series in this collection is a group of documents and manuscripts which compliment the monographic literature of the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection. Of particular interest are a Luther manuscript in which Luther accounts for two chronological difficulties in the Old Testament and a Melanchthon manuscript entitled "Paulus spricht zu den Colossern."

The second series consists of likenesses of principle characters of the German Reformation. Items in this series are not limited to the sixteenth century. Significant items within the series are a portrait of Luther, Melanchthon, and XX commissioned by Richard C. Kessler and a full folio page woodcut of Melanchthon, executed by an unknown artist in 1561, and printed in his memory in 1564.

A third series in the collection includes material created or maintained by Pitts Theology Library in relation to the events that take place each fall to promote and publicize the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection. This series includes acquisition lists, concert programs and posters, printed lectures and audio recordings of lectures presented at the fall concert, and newspaper articles and other publicity materials promoting the collection and annual concert.

Series 1: Documents and Manuscripts of the German Reformation

Content Note

The individual manuscripts and documents within this collection are arranged alphabetically by author (or recipient) and linked to a description. Each description includes brief biographical information for the creator of the document as well as a description of the document. Unless otherwise noted in the individual description, the items are stored in the document box for Manuscript Collection 001 (Msc 001). Most documents have been encapsulated in Mylar to provide protection from environmental contamination as well as to provide additional support for the document during display and handling. Following is a list of the documents and manuscripts which are contained in this collection:

Container Listing

29Albert, of Brandenburg, Archbishop and Elector of Mainz, Cardinal (1490-1545) Letter, 30th July 1540 addressed to Julius Plug, MSS 132.
  Catholic Church. North Dutch book of hours, MSS 086.
211Catholic Church. Archdiocese of Mainz (Germany). Archbishop (1515-1545 : ALBERT) Albertus Dei et Apostolicae...Indulgence, 1515, MSS 085.
33Cochlaeus, Johannes, 1479-1552. Letter to Julius von Pflug, June 6 1547. MSS 116.
34Cruciger, Kaspar (1504-1548). Letter to Veit Dietrich, July 8, 1544. MSS 138.
  Dürer, Albrecht (1471-1528). Small Passion Woodcut Collection, ca. 1509-1511. MSS 406.
21Frederick III, Elector of Saxony (1463-1525). Letter to Samsons Schoffler zu Seyda and Mathes Pustewald and concerns the parish of Neuerdorff, and the death of Rev. Wust. Letter is dated Tuesday, St. Sixtus's Day [1512], MSS 087.
22John, Elector of Saxony (1468-1532). Letter sent to an unknown person. The letter addresses John's unwillingness to provide aid in a dispute against his relative, Duke Albrecht of Bavaria. Letter is dated Easter eve, 1501. MSS 113.
23Jonas, Justus (1493-1555). Autograph receipt for 20 Gulden by Justus Jonas to the Council of the City of Erfurt, 2 February 1549, MSS 114
13Luther, Martin (1483-1546). Manuscript on Old Testament Chronology, 1541, MSS 090.
31Maurice, Elector of Saxony (1521-1553). Protestatio facto in dieta Augustana. . ., 1550. MSS 144.
25Medici, Raffaele de' (1477-1555). Three letters to Raffaele de' Medici concerning the Diet of Worms, 5 May 1520, 29 April 1521, 1 June 1521, MSS 043.
11Melanchthon, Philipp (1497-1560). Paulus spricht zu den Colossern, 1551, MSS 115.
2 Reformation-era Woodcut collection (1507-1544). MSS 400.
32Spain. Sovereign (1527-1598 : Philip). Council of Trent document, 12 July 1564. MSS 143.
15Spalatin, Georg (1484-1545). Two letters to the Noble and Right worthy Heinrich von Einsiedel in Gnansteyn, [October 7, 1528] , ["Sunday after Epiphany" 1536], MSS 122.
14Stoltz, Johann (1514-1556).  Disticha de uita et praecipuis rebus gestis uiri Dei et ..., 1550-1556, MSS 089.
17Türkenkriege -- Verzeichnis der personen vnd knechte, so zu widerstandt des Türcken ..., MSS 218.

Series 2: Portraits and Images of Significant Individuals and Places Associated with the German Reformation.

Special Collections
Reading Room
1. Portrait, "Martin Luther and Friends, 1988.
Box 1/Folder 22. Woodcut of Melanchthon, 1561, 1564.
Box 33. Commemorative Coin, 1867.
Box 34. Medallion, 1983.
Box 3/Folder 105. Woodcut of Wittenberg, 1572 from Munster, Sebastian, 1489-1552. Cosmographey: oder beschreibung aller Lander. . ., M.D. LXXII. jar gemehret. Basel: Heinrich Petri, 1572.

The Portrait, "Martin Luther and Friends", 1988.

The acrylic painting by Hong Min Zou, entitled "Martin Luther and Friends" depicts Martin Luther, and associates Philip Melanchthon and Johannes Bugenhagen standing in a church. The painting was commissioned by Richard C. and Martha Kessler and presented by them as part of the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection. The painting is on permanent display in the Jeschke-Graham Reading Room on the fourth floor of the Pitts Theology Library.

A Woodcut oF Melancthon, 1561, 1564.

The woodcut is a full folio page woodcut of Melanchthon, executed by an unknown artist in 1561, and printed in his memory in 1564.

Commemorative Coin, 1867.

Historical Note

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America emerged from the heavy Scandinavian immigration of the nineteenth century. The two primary characteristics of church life in 19th century Norway were traditional Lutheranism as reflected by the Church of Norway and Lutheran pietism as reflected by the movement known as Haugeanism. Low-church Haugean immigrants, led by a layman, Elling Eielsen, formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (popularly known as the Eielsen Synod) in 1846.

Content Note

The silver colored coin measuring 5 cm. in diameter, was minted in 1867 to commemorate the "Seventh Jubilee of the Great Reformation." The front of the coin bears a likeness of Martin Luther and the inscription "NOMEN DOMINI TURRIS FORTISSIMA" with the date 1517. In small type just below the image of Luther is the name "W. H. Key. F".

The reverse side of the coin bears an oak cluster and a laurel cluster crossed at the bottom and providing a border for the coin. A small star appears at the top. The inscription on the reverse side of the coin reads "SEVENTH JUBILEE / OF THE / GREAT REFORMATION / A MEMORIAL /EV. LUTHERAN CHURCH / AMERICA/ 1867".

Medallion, 1983.

The porcelain medallion measuring 6.5 cm. in diameter is brown in color and bears the likeness of Martin Luther on its front with the inscription "MARTIN LUTHER EHRUNG DER DDR 1983". The reverse side of the medallion bears the likeness of a door of the college at Erfurt and the inscription "COLLEGIUMMAIUS ERFURT ANNO 1510".

The medallion is housed in a green case with "Martin Luther / Ehrung 1983 / der Deutschen / Demokratischen / Republik / Rat Der Stadt Erfurt" inscribed in gold lettering.

Woodcut of Wittenberg, 1572.

This matted print featuring a woodcut of Wittenberg was taken from a publication of Sebastian Munster's Cosmographey: oder beschreibung aller Lander. . ., M.D. LXXII. jar gemehret. Basel: Heinrich Petri, 1572.

Series 3: Pitts Theology Library public relations files

Container Listing

4/11987Kessler Committee Fall Meetings -  Audio Tape, "Remarks to the Committee of 100 at the announcement of the Richard C. Kessler Collection.
4/21987Pitts Theology Library, “Kessler Collection Comes to Emory.”
4/31988Acquisitions List [missing]
4/51988Brochure photographs
4/61988Concert Program
4/71988Editorial, WSB Radio, Mike Faherty, V.P. and General Manager.
4/81988-1989The Atlanta Journal and Constitution.  Articles [photocopy]
4/91989Concert Program [missing]
4/101989Imprint, A Newsletter for the friends of the Emory University Libraries, Spring 1989, “Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection at Pitts Theology Library,” p 3.
4/111990Acquisitions List
4/121990Concert Program
4/131991Acquisitions List
4/141991Concert Program
4/151992Concert Program
4/161993Concert Program
4/171994Concert Program
4/181995Acquisitions List
3/51995Concert Poster
4/191995Concert Program
1/61995Correspondence - Heinze Scheible re: Melanchthon piece
4/201995Lecture - Robert L. Marshall – “Luther, Bach, and the Early Reformation Chorale”
4/211996Acquisitions List
4/221996Concert Program
5/11997Acquisitions List
5/21997Concert Program
5/31998Acquisitions List
5/41998Concert Program
5/51999Acquisitions List
5/61999Concert Program
5/72000Acquisitions List
5/82000Concert Program
5/92001Acquisitions List
5/102001Concert Program
5/112001Miscellaneous material
5/122002Acquisitions List
5/132002Concert Program
5/142003Concert Program [includes acquisitions list]
5/152004Concert Program [includes acquisitions list]
5/162005Concert Program [includes acquisitions list]
5/172006Acquisitions List
Concert Program

Last Modified: November 3, 2015 (bcw)