Skip to Main Content

Crossing Cultures

Crossing Cultures Exhibit

Designed to coincide with the university's hosting of the 2013 Mid-America conference in Sept. 2013, Crossing Cultures highlights the themes of cultural exchange and the transmission and transformation of ideas across centuries and across cultures. The exhibit features books from all the fifth floor special collections of OU libraries - Bass Business History Collection, Bizzell Bible Collection, History of Science Collections, and the John and Mary Nichols Collection. See article about exhibit from Sooner Horizon 2, 1 (2014)


Ptolemy, Geographia vniversalis, 1545

Crossing cultures showcases the richness of the resources available in OU special collections libraries available to support a broad range of teaching and research needs across the humanities, arts, and sciences. Geographies, travel accounts, and voyage narratives provide a glimpse into the exploratory encounters that shaped perceptions of places and peoples.  A broad range of multilingual scientific texts, lexicons, and guides in the exhibit showcases the transfer of knowledge across time and place.

One of the oldest books on display is the first printed edition (1483) of the Alfonsine tables (case 13), an influential work in astronomy, and a product of the translation movements of the late medieval/early modern periods.  


Other works featured include Jesuit Matteo Ricci’s 1616 account of his travels to China (case 5), a 1594 Arabic edition of Euclid’s Elements (case 13), and Charles Dickens’ 1842 book on his impressions of America (case 12).  

Rare books and materials from the four special collections are displayed in cases organized around the following themes:

  • Geography & Travel (Cases 1-4)
  • China (Case 5)
  • Egypt (Case 6)
  • Languages & Lexicons (Cases 7-8)
  • Science in Translation (Case 9)
  • Darwin Across the World (Case 10)
  • Exploratory Encounters (Case 11)
  • Viewing America (Case 12)
  • Science Across Cultures (Case 13)
  • The Bible in Translation (Cases 14 & 15)

See below for links to the catalog records for the books on display in these cases. Books are listed chronologically for each case or for the shelves in each of the vertical case sections. Images are included for select books and cases. 



Crossing Cultures was developed with the assistance of staff and students of the History of Science Collections.  Images were taken by Carilyn Livesey.  

The exhibit premiered as a workshop during theTransnationalism and Minority Cultures conference, held on the OU campus in Sept. 2013 and organized by Dr. Janet Ward (Department of History).   









Languages & Lexicons (Cases 7 & 8)

Darwin Across the World (Case 10)


  Case 10





Examples of Darwin in Translation:

Exploratory Encounters (Case 11)


  Case 11 (left panel)




  Case 11 (middle panel)







Case 11 (right panel)






Viewing America (Case 12)


Case 12 (left panel)










Case 12 (middle panel)



Case 12 (right panel)




Science Across Cultures (Case 13)

 Case 13 (left panel)




Case 13 (middle panel)




Case 13 (right panel)







The Bible in Translation (Cases 14 & 15)

Case 14 


Case 15 

Crossing Cultures: Additional Reading

In addition to primary source materials, the History of Science Collections has recent scholarly work on themes associated with the Crossing Cultures Exhibit.  Here are some examples:

Exhibit History