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Library Special Collections: Home



Luther Seminary Library has several named special collections honoring donors who collected extensively in specific areas, but its largest special collection is often simply referred to as the “pre-1800 book collection.”

Image: Handbook on the Bible (Venice, 15th century)Pre-1800 Book Collection

Most of these pre-1800 books document the Lutheran tradition,  from  its  urgent initial  publishing efforts in  the  form  of  pamphlets (primarily sermons and polemical tracts) to later and more expansive works of translation, biblical commentary, and theological treatises by Lutheran and other Protestant reformers of the 16-18th centuries.  A highlight of this collection is a leather bound folio Bible in Martin Luther’s German translation published in 1556.

Carl Døving Hymnal Collection

Carl Døving (1867-1937) was a hymnologist and translator as well as a pastor of the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America. He gathered a hymnal collection of over 1,400 volumes representing over 325 languages and dialects.

Jacob Tanner Catechism Collection

Luther's Small Catechism has been translated into nearly as many languages and dialects as has the Bible. Dr. Jacob Tanner (1865-1964) taught at Luther Seminary from 1924-1938 and assembled a collection of Small Catechisms translated into languages from around the world.


Manuscript leaf (Storaasli manuscript collection)

Olaf Storaasli Manuscript Collection

Olaf K. Storaasli (1915–2006) was a New Testament professor at Luther Seminary. Dating from his time in graduate school he began collecting leaves from late medieval manuscripts and early printed books. Approximately  three-fourths of the 107 items in this collection are manuscript leaves representing books of hours, missals, antiphonaries, breviaries, Bibles, and psalters.

The Edward Sovik Collection

Edward “Ed” Sovik (1918–2014) was an architect based in Northfield, MN.  Ed gave his substantial library of books on church architecture to Luther Seminary, among which was a collection of books about seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English ecclesiastical architecture, with particular emphasis on the works and influence of Christopher Wren.




For an essay-length overview of the library’s special collections and the Rare Book Room, see “Hogwarts in Minnesota: The History, Description, and Impact of Special Collections at Luther Seminary.”

Use of items in these collections, as well as the Thrivent Reformation Research Library, can be arranged by making an appointment in the library or by calling 651-641-3301.


Reformation Research Library

The Thrivent Reformation Research Library is an extensive microform collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century books, pamphlets, and other primary source material from major European universities and libraries.  The Library documents the religious and intellectual history of the Reformation period from its beginning to the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648. 

Founded in 1983 by Lutheran Brotherhood to commemorate the 500th birthday of Martin Luther, the Reformation Library had as its goal to film, preserve, and catalog for research use the works of Luther, the recorded works and actions of his predecessors, associates, and critics, as well as the responses of the Counter-Reformation.

Items in this collection of more than 43,000 titles in microfilm and microfiche formats can be searched in our online catalog and are available for interlibrary loan

Catalog Search for Reformation Research Collection