Cuneiform Tablets

This cuneiform tablet, which is a receipt for cattle, measures 2.5 x 2.5 cm.

While cleaning out an old filing cabinet, I came across three odd-looking pieces of clay. I was going to toss them, but the collector in me decided against it. After doing some research, I soon discover they are artifacts depicting one of the earliest systems of writing…

Books have existed for more than four thousand years, but hardly in the forms have we known them today. These peculiar bits of clay, Cuneiform Tablets, were first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia (current day Iraq and Syria) c. 3500-3000 BCE. This region created many things later adopted by what is called “Western Culture” as well as Near Eastern civilization, including written language, the wheel, the seven-day week, the 24-hour day, the 360-degree circle and many other things we take for granted.

The name comes from the Latin word cuneus for ‘wedge’ owing to the wedge-shaped instrument used. In cuneiform, a carefully cut writing tool known as a stylus (no, not the one on your smartphone, but close!) is pressed into soft clay to produce wedge-like impressions that represent word-signs (pictographs) and later phonograms or ‘word-concepts’ (closer to a modern-day understand of a ‘word’).

When the ancient cuneiform tablets of Mesopotamia were discovered and deciphered in the late 19th century, they would literally transform the human understanding of history. Prior to their discovery, the Bible was considered the oldest book in the world. The Gutenberg Bible (in Latin) was the first major book printed in Europe with movable metal plates by Johannes Gutenberg in 1455.

This cuneiform tablet is a record of workmen, measuring 3 x 3.5 cm. Cuneiform writing is not alphabetical but a mixture of ideograms (one sign is one word) and syllabic. If a tablet is only slightly damaged, such as this one shown, complete words are illegible, and a surprisingly large part of modern scholarly literature is devoted to simple questions as “what is this or that sign?”

Apparently these items were acquired in the winter of 1985/86 from the Babylonian Collection at the Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, for the purpose of illustrating the history of books and printing. The tablets are from the second millennium before Christ (Third dynasty of Ur, 2112 to 2004 B.C.) and contain records of workmen, receipts for sheep and goats, and receipts of cattle. Of the two tablets shown, the first is a receipt for cattle, which measures 2.5 x 2.5 cm, and is from the ninth day of the twelfth month or the forty-six year of reign of Shulgi (2094-2047 B.C.). The second tablet is a record of workman, measuring 3 x 3.5 cm, and is dated from the ninth day of the sixth month in the seventh year of the reign of Amar-Sin (2046-2038 B.C.). The third tablet, not shown, is a receipt of sheep and goats, measuring 2 x 2 cm, and is dated from the twenty-ninth day in the third year of the reign of Amar-Sin (2046-2038 B.C).

Want to write like a Babylonian?  😆  Click here to see your monogram in Cuneiform, the way an ancient Babylonian might have written it!

God’s Love for Man

God’s Love for Man. Who really wrote it?

     When the Review and Herald Publishing Association had the Copyright for Steps to Christ transferred from the Fleming Revell Publishing Company in 1896, Ellen White added a new chapter, God’s Love for Man. This chapter appear as the first chapter in the book. This was done to secure copyright.

Though Ellen White had many literary assistants throughout her life, none seemed more highly valued to her than Marian Davis

     Some critics’ argue that the first chapter was not written by Ellen White, but her long-time secretary, Marian Davis. Davis worked for Ellen White for 25 years, from 1879 until her death in 1904. Davis was assigned the task of finding and assembling White’s various writings on Christian experience into a book manuscript. Davis searched through Ellen White’s published articles in the Review and Herald (now Adventist Review) and Signs of the Times, as well as chapters in her previously published books, personal letters, and her unpublished manuscripts. In some instances Ellen White wrote new material to complete chapters, or rewrote things she had written earlier so they would fit better in the book.

     Critics base their claim upon a statement found on page 11, where Ellen White says the following:-

“He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and  iniquity; but tears were in his voice as he uttered his scathing rebukes.”

TEARS comes from the EYES, not from the VOICE!!!

     Analysts say that Ellen White knew better than to say that “tears were in his voice”, for tears come from the eyes, not from the voice. In the September 22, 1896 issue of the Review and Herald, there is a notice that the publishing house bought the copyright and printing plates from the Fleming Revell Company, and that the new edition would have an added chapter. It is evident that Ellen White knew about this transaction, and most likely wrote the first chapter herself.

Steps to Christ: A Look Back Over 125 Years of Publishing History

                  Steps to Christ, written by Ellen G. White, prolific author and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was first published in 1892. As part of the 125th anniversary celebration, The Heritage Research Center will highlight Steps to Christ through the display of numerous editions culled from our collection – domestic and international – published during the last 125 years. The viewer will be able to follow the success of one simple book from the artistic publisher’s bindings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to the mass-market paperback editions of the late 20th century.

          In the summer of 1890, The Seventh-day Adventist Church asked Ellen White to prepare a small book on the Christian experience. To attract the widest readership possible, including those from other denominations, the Church recommended Ellen have the book published by Fleming H. Revell of Chicago, a well-established publisher of Christian materials. The book was an instant best seller with seven editions printed in its first year alone!

         There is no accurate count of the total number of copies of Steps to Christ printed during the last 125 years. The number is thought to be in the millions. Translated into more than 165 languages, this little book took the world by storm and remains a best seller.

          Those who wish to view the exhibit may do so for free! The items will be on display at the Heritage Research Center located within the Del E. Webb Memorial Library at the Loma Linda University campus until the end of March, 2018 during normal library hours.

One of the four display cases exhibiting the items at the Heritage Research Center.

Quack ‘o’ Rama on display now at the Heritage Research Center

        The Heritage Research Center is pleased to announce the opening of Quack ‘o’ Rama: A Collection of Questionable Medical Devices, a solo exhibition of quackery devices collected by the late LLU professor, William T. Jarvis, Ph.D. Selected items are now on display in the lobby of the Heritage Research Center located within the Vernier Radcliffe wing of the Del E. Webb Memorial Library, across the breezeway from Magan Hall.

         It is shocking to believe that anyone would take these medical devices seriously. In decades past, a combination of scientific ignorance and hope for a magical cure-all allowed quack gadgets to thrive. In these modern times, a look at late-night infomercials on television shows medical quackery is still going strong. Consumers can even find quack gadgets on the “As seen on TV” shelves of their favorite retail chain stores. Quack ‘o’ Rama exhibits a selection of both handheld and large, cumbersome devices developed during the 1910 – 1950s used to fool and rob the consumer. Items on display include, the Radium Ore Revigator, a ceramic water crock lined with radioactive materials. This was marketed as a simple means to prevent illnesses including arthritis, flatulence, and senility. Also on display is the Ultra Violet Ray device which claimed to treat acne, alcohol and drug abuse, arthritis and cancer. Other items include antique medicine bottles, a sunlamp from the Battle Creek Sanitarium, rare first editions and out of print books from Loma Linda University’s own Department of Archives and Special Collections, and vintage snake oil posters.

The exhibition is currently on display in the lobby of the Heritage Research Center located within the Vernier Radcliffe wing of the Del E. Webb Memorial Library

          Many of these medical devices were proven to be either ineffective or unsafe and seized by the courts. Some of the inventors of these gadgets faced criminal charges too. During the 1980s, the equipment on display was turned over to the care and supervision of Dr. William T. Jarvis, President and founder of the California Council Against Health Fraud. Jarvis was also a professor at Loma Linda University with dual appointments in the Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and a secondary appointment in the School of Dentistry. He authored numerous articles, mainly on consumer health fraud. He also co-authored The Health Robbers, the textbook Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions, and authored Quackery and You. Dr. Jarvis died in March 2016 at the age of 80.

          Those who wish to view the exhibit may do so for free! The items will be on display at the Heritage Research Center located within the Del E. Webb Memorial Library at the Loma Linda University campus from May 01 – September 29, 2017 during normal library hours.

EGW Estate Branch Office Director publishes new book!

ISBN: 9780816361984 | 96 pages | Pacific Press Publishing Association | Copyright 2017 | $11.99 US

          Loma Linda, California – School of Religion professor and director of the Ellen. G. White Estate Branch Office at Loma Linda University, Theodore N. Levterov, just publish his second book. Accepting Ellen White: Early Seventh-day Adventists and the Gift of Prophecy Dilemma.  The mid-nineteenth century was a time of spiritual enlightenment and it was not unusual to attend a religious meeting or observe someone experiencing visionary and charismatic manifestations from God. Ellen (née: Harmon) White received her first vision in December 1844, a few months after the Great Disappointment on October 22, 1844. Many Millerites were skeptical of such visionary claims during this time.

          So, how did Sabbatarian Adventists come to accept her gift as truly prophetic in comparison to others whom were claiming similar gifts at that time? It came about through four developmental stages in early Adventism from 1844 to 1889. In Accepting Ellen White, Dr. Levterov examines each stage, its challenges, and the conclusions that eventually led Seventh-day Adventists to a complete acceptance of Ellen White’s prophetic gift.

          Dr. Levterov has been director of the EGW Estate Branch Office and faculty at Loma Linda University since November 2011. He has worked as a pastor in his native Bulgaria and in the United States. He holds a BA in theology from Newbold College, England, an MDiv, and a PhD in Religion with an emphasis in Adventist history from Andrews University, Michigan. He has published numerous articles and several book chapters related to the history of Seventh-day Adventism and Ellen White. He also authored The Development of the Seventh-day Adventist Understanding of Ellen G. White’s Prophetic Gift, 1844-1889, published by Peter Lang in 2015.

His book can be purchased online at


Hacksaw Ridge

Doss's Army Service Uniform with his replacement Medal of Honor. These items were received in 2007 and will be on display in our department exhibit cases.

Doss’s Army Service Uniform with his replacement Medal of Honor. 

     Our department has been busy lately. We were invited to set up an exhibition at the advance private screening of the film, Hacksaw Ridge, hosted by Loma Linda University Health on November 3, 2016. The movie tells the true story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist conscientious objector, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions at the Maeda Escarpment during the Battle of Okinawa (Apr 1 – Jun 22, 1945), the largest and bloodiest battle of the war. Desmond Doss was credited with single-handedly saving 75 wounded soldiers off the escarpment over a 12-hour period under enemy fire, and was the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Doss was awarded two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star.

Various certificates for Doss's heroic efforts.

Various certificates for Doss’s heroic efforts.

     In June of 2007, the collection was acquired as a donation from the Desmond Doss estate through the Georgia-Cumberland SDA Conference. Housed in approximately 60 archival boxes, the Desmond Doss Collection includes personal correspondence written to and from Doss, medals, certificates, uniforms, scrapbooks, memorabilia and more collected by Doss during his lifetime. Within the collection is a replacement Medal of Honor (one of two) that was given to Doss for his courageous and heroic efforts. The original medal awarded to Doss on October 12, 1945, was lost in 1969 during a visit to Okinawa. The medal was later recovered, but Doss had already requested this replacement medal. His original Medal of Honor was donated to the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1990 by Desmond and wife Dorothy. However, we believe the bars and ribbons are originals.

     Shown are a few snapshots of items exhibited at the film premier. The department of Archives and Special Collections plans to create a larger exhibit highlighting Desmond Doss and his remarkable achievements. Check back soon for more information.

Helmet, knapsack and canteen of Desmond Doss.

Helmet, knapsack and canteen of Desmond Doss.

Hair care in the 19th century

1920s advertisement for Danderine hair tonic. Available at your local Drug Store or Toilet Counter.

1920s advertisement for Danderine hair tonic. Available at your local Drug Store or Toilet Counter.

     It seems more and more these days, we are having national holidays to celebrate just about anything. Let’s see, on April 10, we celebrated (not me, I’m an only child) National Siblings Day, on April 22 was Earth Day and on April 30, we celebrated National Hairstylist Appreciation Day. Curious about this unfamiliar day, I did some research and discovered on this day we honor hairstylists everywhere who make artful hairstyles possible. A Talented hair stylist will not only make you look good but also make you feel good as well. I was unable to locate the creator (No it wasn’t Paul Mitchell or Vidal Sassoon) of National Hairstylist Appreciation Day but saw this as a unique opportunity to feature a book from our Rare Books and Manuscript collection.

     Hairdressing is one of the oldest professions dating back thousands of year. Greek writers Aristophanes and Homer both mention hairdressing in their writings. Haircutting is also mentioned in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 11:6, “For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.” I’m sure we all recall the tale of Samson from the Book of Judges Chapter 13 – 16, when Delilah cuts his hair.

Frank's Barber Shop now known as University Barber Shop is conveniently located on Anderson Street.

Frank’s Barber Shop now known as University Barber Shop is conveniently located on Anderson Street.

     In the ancient world, parasites and scalp issues ran rampant. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians often shaved their heads to ward off these infestations. Some may say this is when the trade of “barbering” was born. In the centuries to follow, hairstyling evolved slightly. As the ability to manufacture tools and machines grew during the Industrial Revolution, the actual art of coiffing the hair with irons and clippers became possible. Ladies could go into the salon, or have their hairdresser come to their home before a soiree. The first appearance of the word “hairdresser” came in 17th century Europe and this is when hairdressing was considered a profession.

Marie-Antoinette, ca. 1775 in a court dress showcasing her infamous porf

Marie-Antoinette, ca. 1775 in a court dress showcasing her infamous pouf.

     Women’s hair began to grow taller in style during the 18th century mainly due to Marie Antoinette’s pouf. The late Queen first debuted the popular creation in June 1775, at the coronation of her husband Louis XVI. This started a trend of young French women wanting to wear their hair in the same matter. The hairstyle would last for about two weeks until it was no longer hygienic. Coated with animal fat and powder mixed with wheat flour, which was a common recipe for a styling pomade, the hair would become rancid and would often attract vermin – ostensibly the origin of the term “her hair is a ‘rat’s nest’ “.

     Ellen White was outspoken about the use of wigs and hairpieces commonly worn by women. The artificial chignons and braids then so popular during the 1860s were distasteful to her. Not only a breeding ground for vermin, Ellen White saw even more terrible consequences – “horrible disease and premature death” – resulting from wearing wigs. Addressing “Christian Mothers” in the Health Reformer, she described the dire physiological effects:

          “The artificial hair and pads covering the base of the brain heat and excite the spinal nerves centering in the brain. The head should ever be kept cool. The heat caused by these artificial coverings induces the blood to the brain. The action of the blood upon the lower or animal organs of the brain causes unnatural activity, tends to recklessness in morals, and the mind and heart are in danger of being corrupted.”

     The end of the 1800s saw the transition from barbershops to salons all over the world. But women were still having their hair styled by their servants. Salons started advertising in a big way to get women out of their homes. Around, this time, a self-made entrepreneur, Martha Matilda Harper opened the first public salon called ‘The Harper Hair Parlor’. She invented the salon recliner chair but never patented her invention. She started training schools and employed the girls in her salon. The roaring 20s saw almost 25,000 hair salons open in the U.S. From the 1900s to 20s, bobby pins, hair dryers, perms, and hair color became popular.

     How to Care for the Hair at All Times by Juliet Marion Lee was published by the Juliet M. Lee Hair Culture Company of New York in 1904. The volume is the outcome of numerous requests of personal friends, patients and countless correspondents who trusted Ms. Lee with the daunting task of hair care. The writer tells of cases where baldness has been made to disappear and other cases where the original hair color has been restored by massage of the scalp in order to promote arterial circulation to preserve the hair roots. It is finely illustrated by reproductions of photographs made for use in a series of lectures on the treatment of the hair.  This book is an excellent example of holistic healing and 19th century Health Reform.

Written by a professional hair masseuse, Ms. Lee book provide the reader with copious photographs and gives detail accounts of each method.

Written by a professional hair masseuse, Ms. Lee book provides the reader with copious photographs and gives detail accounts of each method.

#ThrowBackThursday – The Nurse’s Cap

          The vocation of nursing has been around for centuries, but the official development of nursing as a career took off in the 19th Century. Florence Nightingale sometimes called “The Lady with the Lamp” for her effort of nursing British soldiers during the Crimean War, saw the need to care for the sick. She was instrumental in developing standards and techniques for nurses and helped design the uniform look. In particular, the nurse’s cap.

We have a collection of nursing uniforms, caps, and dresses which showcase different styles of nursing attire worn throughout the decades. This picture, circa 1907, is the first nursing class at the College of Medical Evangelist with baby Richard Edward Abbott.

Figure 01: We have a collection of nursing uniforms, caps, and dresses which showcase different styles of nursing attire worn throughout the decades. This picture, circa 1907, is the first nursing class at the College of Medical Evangelist with baby Richard Edward Abbott.

          The cap was based on the habit, as worn by Catholic nuns, to distinguish those women who worked in the service of caring for the sick. The nurse’s cap has undergone several changes throughout the years. Originally, the cap was more of a veil covering the head, but it later evolved into a white cap during the Victorian era, and later the form we see in figure 01.

          The nurse’s cap has also had a ceremonial purpose. For example, as seen in figure 02, the nurse’s cap was used in a ceremony for new nurses. The capping ceremony was established as a way to present a nurse’s cap to students who have completed school work prior to beginning hospital training. Over the course of time, the nurse’s cap has been phased out, mainly due to a concern of bacteria collecting in the cap. Also, with the increasing number of men in the nursing profession, the historical nurse’s uniform has gone away, being replaced by the ubiquitous scrubs and stethoscope.

A photograph of student nurses in uniforms performing the capping ceremony, which is part of the graduation ceremonies.

Figure 02: A photograph of student nurses in uniforms performing the capping ceremony, which is part of the graduation ceremonies.

          What started as a quick #ThowBackThursday, #TBT update for our department’s Facebook page, and a quest for knowledge, became an opportunity to highlight aspects of our collections. The History of Nursing Collection includes photographs of students and graduation ceremonies from the College of Medical Evangelists, actual nursing uniforms – including wool capes, aprons, dresses and caps – historical nursing texts and manuals, to rarely seen publications by Florence Nightingale. To see one of the nursing photographs and more, head on over to the Loma Linda University Photo Archive at:


You can also visit us in person, Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Friday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

We’re back!

After a two-year hiatus, we are finally back! Make sure to mark your calendars for Monday, February 29 to Friday, March 04, as we will be having our book sale. As always, we have a large selection of SDA books, periodicals and more. Please see the flyer for further details. We hope to see you there!

We're back! Mark your calendars for the book sale.

There is still time!

Gift of Prophecy Banner

Just a reminder there is still time to register and attend the upcoming Gift of Prophecy Symposium at Andrews University. Head on over to to register for the early bird rate of $55.00. Hurry this offer ends on August 31. Sponsored by the Ellen G. White Estate, The Center for Adventist Research, the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, the Biblical Research Institute, and the General Conference Ministerial Association, this symposium will continue the commemoration of the centennial of Ellen White’s death and examine the contemporary relevance of the gift of prophecy in the post-modern world.