Lunchtime Talk with Alexander L. Ames, The Rosenbach’s Associate Curator and author of The Word in the Wilderness (in-person)

Date / Time

  • May 3, 2022
    12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States

This program is sponsored by Lenore Steiner and Perry Lerner 


  • Admission is $15. Student admission is $10. 50% off for Rosenbach members, free for the Delancey Society. Not a member? Learn more.
  • This is an in-person program at The Rosenbach and requires proof of vaccination. Please check your spam folder for your email confirmation. If you have questions, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • Registration opens for Delancey Society members on March 2, for members on March 9, and for the general public on March 16.


In the 1700s and early 1800s, the German-speaking residents of the agrarian counties surrounding Philadelphia practiced arts of calligraphy and manuscript illumination that have long drawn the attention of scholars, regional historians, and students of American decorative art.  Some have interpreted the manuscripts produced by Pennsylvania Germans as “medieval” in nature, whereas others treasure them as ornaments of early American folk life.  In this presentation, Dr. Alexander Lawrence Ames takes a different lens to the documents, analyzing them as artifacts of the intense religious culture of the time, and local examples of an overlooked global tradition of manuscript text production during the so-called “Age of Print.” In the process, Ames will reconsider the significance of Pennsylvania in transatlantic religious history and address the importance of the Pennsylvania Germans to the story of America.  He will highlight objects from The Rosenbach’s collection that showcase the incredible diversity of religious thought in early Pennsylvania as well as pieces from the Free Library of Philadelphia Rare Book Department’s iconic collection of Pennsylvania German manuscripts.   

The presentation is based on Dr. Ames’s new book The Word in the Wilderness: Popular Piety and the Manuscript Arts in Early Pennsylvania, published by the Pennsylvania State University Press in 2020.  Discounted soft-cover copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.   

About the Speaker 

Dr. Alexander Lawrence Ames is Associate Curator of The Rosenbach. He holds an M.A. in American material culture from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware, as well as an M.A. in history and a Ph.D. in history of American civilization and museum studies from the University of Delaware. A scholar of early American religion and the history of the book, his research has been published in venues including Winterthur Portfolio, The Mennonite Quarterly Review, Libraries: Culture, History, and Society, as well as Suave Mechanicals: Essays on the History of Bookbinding. He is also The Rosenbach’s Celtic harpist in residence, having performed numerous bibliographically-inspired recitals in recent years, and will be one half of a harp and organ duet at the upcoming Rosenbacchanal celebration in May. 

About Lunchtime Talks at The Rosenbach 

Enjoy In Conversation Programs at midday with leading scholars, artists, and authors talking about their work. Tea sandwiches and light refreshments included. 

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