Award « Prix de la Ville de Lausanne » 2021

2007, in order to strengthen its links with its university and polytechnic, the City of Lausanne set up the award “Prix de la Ville de Lausanne”. This award is given to a student or doctoral student who aims to reward an innovative research work (from any discipline) on the city of Lausanne and which is of particular interest for the development, functioning or history of Lausanne. This distinction is important because it symbolises the strong relationship that exists between the city and the university, which continues to grow stronger: scientific expertise is essential to the city and the city is a fantastic field for researchers.

The “Prix de la Ville de Lausanne” was awarded in 2021, during the UNIL “Dies academicus” online ceremony , to Caleb Abraham, for his master’s thesis in humanities who made it possible to trace the history of the “Academic Library of Lausanne” in the 16th century, and thus to shed light on the history of Lausanne itself, which was a key place for Protestantism at the time. Until now, the books that belonged to this library were scattered among various collections of the current Cantonal and University Library (BCU) and there was nothing in the current catalogue to indicate that they belonged to the original core of the Academic Library.

Caleb Abraham has succeeded, thanks to an extraordinary work of patience and precision, by physically observing one by one all the printed volumes of the BCU's precious collections dating from before 1601, in finding the handwritten ex-libris and other marks indicating the membership of the Academic Library, and in making a catalogue of them which includes 578 volumes in five languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French and Syriac).

Just as a private library reflects the interests of its owner, this 16th century Academic Library reflects the interests and schools of thought of the professors of the time: the catalogue shows what they read, not only in theology, but also in history, classical literature, philosophy or law. By observing the composition of the Library, Caleb Abraham has shed light on a part of the intellectual history of the Academic Library of Lausanne in the 16th century, a renowned and pioneering trilingual institution (Latin, Greek and Hebrew) in Europe that combined pedagogy and humanistic philology with the emerging Protestant scholarship.

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