The Spiritual Lives of Early Modern Women, 1450–1800

September 12, 2022 – January 31, 2023
George Peabody Library Exhibit Gallery

Admission is free

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In 2017 the Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries acquired the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera detailing the experiences of early modern women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.

Though the voices of women were largely absent from traditional historical sources, the Women of the Book Collection turns that problem on its head through its focus on extremely rare or unique sources of evidence of the institution of female monasticism—the world of nuns and convents dedicated to enlivening, sharing, and preserving the spiritual, intellectual, and interior lives of women for the wider world, in manuscript and in print.

This exhibition of treasures from the collection paints the world of these holy women in living color—from psycho-spiritual autobiographers, bilocating nuns, rockstar status saints, ecstatic mystics, and female healers, to the hidden careers of women printers and engravers and miracle makers.

Explore the Women of the Book Collection

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Featured Media

“Women of the Book” exhibit reveals the lives of women from 1450-1800

Sheridan Libraries holds largest collection of early modern women materials.

Read the story that accompanies this video on JHU Giving

Illuminated A initial with two nuns

Join curator Earle Havens for a virtual introduction to the collection.

detail of Terera of Avila from manuscript

Flip through an online illustrated guide to the collection and its contents.

two hands opening the pages of a renaissance book

Discover how Hopkins students and faculty are using the collection to reveal the voices of early modern women.

Related Events

Women of the Book Opening Reception

Sunday, October 2, 2022 | 3-5pm
George Peabody Library

Join curators Earle Havens and Kelsey Champagne as they introduce the exhibition at this celebratory event featuring the Peabody Renaissance Ensemble performing early music written by women.

  • 3pm Exhibition Viewing and Refreshments in the Exhibit Gallery
  • 4pm Remarks and Concert in the Reading Room

This exhibition is made possible by Sheridan Society members of the Friends of the Johns Hopkins University Libraries.