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Concordia Seminary Receives Gift of Reformation Works

The Concordia Seminary Library recently received the Smithey Collection of Reformation works, a collection much sought-after by prestigious theological libraries. The collection was named for the late Theodore Smithey, a dedicated Lutheran layman from the Detroit area who served as a personal secretary to Henry Ford II for many years.

A generous gift by Robert and Lorraine Duesenberg of Oakton, Va., made the acquisition possible. The Duesenbergs chose Concordia Seminary to receive the collection in order to keep it together, to have it at a Lutheran institution, to have it used for research, and to keep the Smithey name with the collection.

“Such gifts increase the depth of primary resources in Reformation theology and history which make Concordia Seminary Library one of the primary Reformation research collections in the nation,” commented Prof. David Berger, director of library services at Concordia Seminary.

The Smithey collection contains many Reformation-era publications, including nearly 100 of Luther’s publications, most printed during his lifetime. These include a 1529 Large Catechism, a 1526 Deutsche Messe and a very rare, pristine copy of Passional Christi with woodcuts done by Lucas Cranach. The woodcuts, accompanied by text by Luther, present side-by-side representations of contrasting scenes from the life of Christ and the life of the Pope. Other unique pieces contained in the collection include a complete letter by Philip Melanchthon, letters by Georg Spalatin and Cyriacus Spangenberg, papal bulls, a 1517 papal indulgence, the 1717 “vinegar Bible” that weighs 40 pounds and a miniature Bible (approximately one cubic inch) printed in Glasgow in 1901.

“There are volumes in the Smithy Collection that will provide raw material for studies in a number of areas of Reformation research,” commented Dr. Robert Kolb, mission professor of systematic theology and director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary. “The collection provides rich supplement to the excellent collection of Reformation sources the Seminary has built over the years.”

Of special interest to Lutherans is a 1730 commemorative emblem book published for the bicentennial of the Augsburg Confession. It has many interesting features, such as tipped-in pages from the Confession, large pictorial engravings that fold out to twice the size of the already oversized volume and notices of events celebrating the presentation of the Confession.

For more information about the Smithey Collection, contact Prof. David Berger at (314) 505-7040 or