Pvt. George R. Rome’s Personal New Testament

Collection ID



Bible - Printed Book




United States




Printed on Paper


4.7 × 3.1 × .75 in. (12 × 8 × 1.9 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

This New Testament was given to George R. Rome upon his enlistment in the Union Army in 1864. Rome was born in 1835 to free African American parents living in Providence, Rhode Island. He later moved to Worchester, Massachusetts. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he and other African Americans were initially denied enlistment. The US government reversed its policy in 1863, however, and Rome became one of nearly 180,000 African Americans to fight for the Union. He eventually joined the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, participating in several campaigns, including Sherman’s famous March to the Sea. Rome carried this Bible with him during his service, recording several notes in its pages about his location and encounters.

Printed in 1864 by the New York Bible Society, New York;[1] Acquired by an anonymous collector, United States;[2] Consigned in 2010 to Swan Auction Galleries, New York; Acquired in 2010 by Seth Kaller, Inc., White Plains, New York; Privately purchased in 2010 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] New York Bible Society’s bookplate, along with the quote “To the defenders of their country!” is present on the front pastedown. [2] The Bible and several other items associated with Rome were consigned to auction at Swann Auction Galleries in 2010. The collection went unsold. A representative from Swann was unable to provide any further information about the seller. See Swann Galleries, New York, Printed & Manuscript African Americana, Feb 25, 2010, Lot 281. (Email from Swann Auction Galleries to Museum of the Bible, June 4, 2019).

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