This volume celebrates an early event in the history of the University of Chicago. The event is described in a short narrative which tells as much about the atmosphere surrounding the founding of the University as it does about a number of books which moved across the Atlantic from Berlin to Chicago. But it is the books which are our primary concern. They were at the core of the Library's collections and have had an abiding influence on the course of scholarly investigation at the University as well as on the growth of the Library.
The books selected for exhibition were the result of a long process. There is no complete or partially complete list of books in the Berlin Collection, so the books had to be rediscovered, and it soon became a matter of reducing many worthy examples to a manageable number. While we wished to present some of the outstanding individual works and those which have a visual charm, we also hoped to select representative works which give the collection its underlying strength. These latter works are rarely on exhibit, and when seen they are usually in the hands of the solitary scholar in the reading room.
The books in this collection are formidable ones, and it is impossible to take them lightly. Their vast range also challenged the succinct requirements of this catalogue. The difficult task of selecting, researching, and writing the descriptions for the books represented here went to Glen A. Hayes, a graduate student in the Department of History of Religions, who probably received a part of his education he never envisioned. We hope his contact with Reuchlin, Valla, Lipsius, Heinsius, Montfaucon, Wolff, Buffon, Humboldt, and all the others will stand him in good stead. Ann Koopman delved into the University Archives to establish many of the facts regarding the purchase. Edith Brinkel, the Library's Exhibition Coordinator, guided the exhibition and this catalogue to fruition keenly aware of her responsibilities both to the books themselves and their audience. Lynn Martin's design of this catalogue captured the spirit of the whole with artistic appropriateness. They were all very patient with the writer of these words.
Even though they are now part of history, we also have to thank William Rainey Harper for his entrepreneurial zeal and the nine donors who made the purchase possible. They provided the genius and the means to allow a great library to begin its course.Robert Rosenthal