Old University Books
When the University of Chicago reopened in 1892, it did so with an extensive research collection for its Library already in place. In her Decennial Report to the President, Zella Allen Dixson, the first librarian at the new University of Chicago, reported on the collections that "form the nuclei of the University Library." Included in this list were the books from the Old University of Chicago. (University of Chicago. Library, and Zella Allen Dixson. The University Library. [Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1904], 230.) Dixson spent the first months of 1893 unpacking and shelving the books from Morgan Park, which would have included the Old University's books, along with cataloging and distributing them between the General collection and the Departmental Libraries. In the 1930s, this work was still not completed.
The Old University of Chicago Library was a broad collection of standard academic publications, almost entirely in English and published in the mid-19th century. In 1912, Harper Memorial Library opened, which held the General Collection. In 1970, the Joseph Regenstein Library opened and the General Collection for undergraduates was merged with the departmental libraries. At this point, most of the volumes of the Old University of Chicago Library were reunited under one roof.
In March of 2019, there were 32 known volumes from the Old University collection, identified from their bookplates by Catherine Uecker. Since then, Anne Knafl and Nancy Speigel have identified another 70 volumes. Patricia Williams is adding notes to the catalog records of any identified volumes. You can see the growing list of the Old University of Chicago Collection in the catalog. In June, 2019, Anne Knafl located Accession logs for the bulk of the Old University collection. Accession Book 20001-30000 has been digitized by Kathleen Feeney. It records approximately 4800 titles from the Old University of Chicago Library or "Chicago University," which were added to the collection starting in 1891.
Volumes from the original collection can be identified by the presence of a bookplate from the original library or a gift acknowledge plate added later. Below are images of all the types of plates that have been identified thus far. If you find a book with such a plate in our stacks, please alert Anne Knafl or Nancy Speigel .