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Thomas A. Cahill Papers--Crocker Historical and Archaeological Project [DOC MSS 67]

Identifier: DOC MSS 67

Scope and Contents

Thomas Cahill became involved with research on the Gutenberg Bible in the 1980s while he was director of the Crocker Nuclear Lab at the University of California, Davis. He, Richard Schwab, and a number of other colleagues applied nuclear physics to history by developing a non-destructive technique of analysis that used a beam of accelerated protons to examine the ink of the Gutenberg Bible. By this means they were able to establish for the first time the chemical composition of the printing ink used by Gutenberg. This ink was and remains extraordinarily glossy and black, thanks to high levels of copper and lead, a formulation known only to Gutenberg and utterly distinct from other printers who followed him in the fifteenth century. Cahill and his colleagues carried out experiments on further copies of the Gutenberg Bible and were able to shed light on their printing process. Their research program became known as the Crocker Historical and Archeological Project, and they went on to apply their method of analysis to other documents, such as the Vinland Map and the Freeman’s Oath. Much of this research has been published in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America. The material in this collection consists of Professor Cahill's research papers and other data generated from these experiments.


  • 1981-2009



2.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection is organized into 4 series:  1. Thomas A. Cahill Research Papers; 2. Gutenberg Leaf:  Elemental Analysis of Paper, Ink, Red and Blue Rubrication; 3. Slides of the Gutenberg Project; 4. Presentation of the Gutenberg leaf.

Source of Acquisition

Gift of Thomas Cahill

Thomas A. Cahill Papers--Crocker Historical and Archaeological Project [DOC MSS 67]DOC MSS 67
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Saint Louis University Archives Repository

Pius XII Memorial Library
3650 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis Missouri 63108 United States