Enoch Brooks Signs His Name

Inside the Library of Congress' copy of a rare children's Bible, someone carefully wrote "Enoch Brooks' Book, Princeton, March 13th, 1789" in permanent ink.

The inscription likely refers to Enoch Brooks of Princeton, Massachusetts, though he may have been too young to write it himself. Now a rare artifact of Americana, Brooks' book is one of only a few known copies of A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible, printed in 1788 by Isaiah Thomas in nearby Worcester, Massachusetts. This book was the first American version of a novelty Bible that replaced some words with pictures to encourage children's interest as well as their reading skills. With nearly five hundred woodcuts by American artists, this Bible was also the most ambitious woodcut volume produced in America up to that time.

A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible is one of more than a hundred children's book titles published by Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831). A preeminent early American printer and pioneer publisher of children's literature, Thomas began his apprenticeship as a young boy in Boston, working under Zechariah Fowle. Over the course of a long career, Thomas published more than four hundred titles in many editions, for adults as well as for children, including the first dictionary printed in America. Also a bookseller, he eventually owned more than twenty bookstores in several states.