An essay towards the reconciling of differences among Christians...

Roger Williams
circa 1645

Lacking a title page providing an exact date and imprint and filled with inscrutable manuscript annotations, this item was known for many years at the Library as the “mystery book.” An early 19th century provenance statement attributed the mysterious penmanship to Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, but this had not been verified—until 2012, when an intrepid team of Brown undergraduates undertook the deciphering of the annotations as part of an independent study project. Within a semester, the students taught themselves 17th century shorthand (the basis for the script) and managed to both verify Williams as the author and uncover a previously unknown treatise written by Williams on the topic of infant baptism.

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