Collections and Digital Highlights
Selected Rare Book Collections
- Several thousand books, brochures, periodicals, anniversary publications, almanacs, and personal papers of Czechs and Slovaks who have lived outside of Czechoslovakia for some portion of their lives. Much of the material found in the archives was published in North America in the past 150 years, although titles from the countries of eastern and western Europe, Australia, and South America are also represented.
- About 5,000 volumes of American drama with particular emphasis in the period 1875-1924.
- The initial collection, acquired by bequest from Delia Austrian in 1928, consisted almost entirely of late 19th and 20th century publications dealing with the history of the drama, playwriting, theatrical biography and autobiography, stagecraft and related theatre arts, the text of modern English and American dramas, and certain other related ephemera. It has since grown to include extensive holdings of 18th-century British drama, and extends to continental European works as well.
- In 1932, the University of Chicago Library acquired the library of Lincolniana collector Rev. William Eleazar Barton (1861-1930). The collection includes thousands of historical books and documents associated with Lincoln and Lincoln studies; a signed broadside copy of the Emancipation Proclamation; letters of Lincoln and other figures of the Civil War era; Lincoln portraits, photographs, and paintings; and a large amount of ephemeral and artifactual material related to Lincoln, his parentage, Lincoln sites, and the Civil War.
- One of the foundational collections of the University of Chicago Library, the collection was formed in 1891 when first University president William Rainey Harper, with the financial support of nine Chicago businessmen, purchased en bloc the stock of the S. Calvary and Company bookshop in Berlin. The Berlin Collection includes nearly 100,000 books and manuscripts on a wide range of topics including Renaissance humanism, the history of science and technology, and the German Enlightenment. The collection is located in both the circulating collections and Special Collections.
- In 2007 M. C. Lang gave his collection of editions and translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey, collected with the goal of tracing Homer's transmission in printed form. The Library continues to acquire Homeric editions and translations, illustrated and graphic editions, and versions for children to add to the collection.
- Our collections showcase a wide variety of skills related to book production, from traditional skills like papermaking, bookbinding, letterpress printing, to cutting edge artistic experiments with book design.
- Zines are small-circulation self-published print works, often with a focus on self-expression made possible by their non-commercial nature. While the majority of our collection consists of zines by or about Chicago people, places, things or events, we also collect zines on important issues for people in Chicago, such as those of people of color, LGBTQIA, and migrant communities.
- Over 25,000 rare or notable volumes from the John Crerar Library ranging from incunabula to the 20th century, which include classic works of Vesalius, Galileo, and Newton.
- Formed by a Chicago businessman and private collector, Henry C. Friedman (1872-1945), who began collecting children's books just after World War I; by the time of his death, he had collected over 5,000 volumes that were purchased from his estate by Encyclopaedia Britannica and presented to the University of Chicago. The collection focuses on children's books published before 1917.
German Almanacs and Taschenbücher
- Around 1,650 volumes of small-format literary almanacs, calendars, and other annual publications published in Germany from around 1750 to 1850. These publications were aimed at an increasingly literate middle class and growing numbers of women readers. For a list of publications in this collection, consult A Catalog of the German Almanacs and Taschenbücher in the Department of Special Collections of the University of Chicago.
Maurice H. Grant Collection of English Bibles
- Acquired in the 1940s, this collection includes 191 folio editions and 106 smaller editions of English Bibles ranging in date from 1537 to 1835.
- Over 3,000 rare and scholarly titles in the history of economics, with particular strengths in the economy of Spain and the life of John Law of Lauriston. Also included are works on commerce and manufacturing in England, Italy, and the Mediterranean.
- Samuel Northrup Harper (1882-1943), son of the University’s first president, William Rainey Harper, was a Professor of Russian Language and Institutions at the University of Chicago and the first American-born scholar to devote an academic career to the study of Russia. Over 18 trips to Russia, he amassed a collection of pamphlets on topics including agricultural workers societies, the army, art, banks, health, collectivization, commerce, communist party activities of all kinds, economic planning, education, foreign affairs, industry, labor legislation, police, religion, women and youth.
- Over 15,000 volumes of children's books ranging from the 18th century to the modern day.
- About 40 volumes printed during and about the Reformation, consisting of works written or containing commentary by Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, and Philip Melanchthon.
- The Islamic Lithographs Collection, acquired by the University of Chicago Library in 2004, consists of approximately 330 nineteenth- to twentieth-century Arabic lithograph printed books, mostly published in Iran and India, through Egypt, Turkey, and the Levant are also represented.
Alma S. Lach Culinary Library
- Chicago chef, cookbook author, and food consultant Alma Lach amassed a collection of cookbooks during the course of her culinary career that numbered well over 3,000 volumes. The collection ranged from classic American works like Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book (1950) and Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (1941) to volumes on cuisines from around the world such as Russian, Indonesian, Finnish, and Tibetan. The collection also includes over 100 cookbooks produced by church groups.
- The Linckesche Leihbibliothek was a rental library founded in 1791 in Leipzig by the bookdealer and publisher W. Lincke. In 1930, the University of Chicago acquired (from the Leipzig bookseller Otto Harrassowitz) a collection of 8,500 titles in 15,000 volumes that had been part of the Linckesche Leihbibliothek und Buchhandlung. The collection provides an extraordinary record of popular literature published in German between 1775 and 1875 (principally 1820 to 1850).
- This collection of modern poetry, with particular emphasis was formed Harriet Monroe presented the University of Chicago Library with her poetry library, papers and the editorial files of Poetry magazine in 1931. The scope of the Modern Poetry collection now encompasses poetry written in English from 1900 to the present, with writers ranging from W. H. Auden and Rupert Brooke to William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas, and Allen Ginsburg. Canadian, African, British, Australian, and American authors are represented along with translations of foreign poets who exerted particularly strong influence on writers in English. The collection is located in both the circulating collections and Special Collections.
- In 1979, the University of Chicago received a gift of 1,200 volumes from the Chicago printing company R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company. The collection, previously part of the Training Department Library of the Donnelley Company, includes works on the history of printing and printing processes and examples of bindings, finely printed books, advertising art, and graphic design.
- In 1965 Helen and Ruth Regenstein, the wife and daughter of Joseph Regenstein, Sr., established the Helen and Ruth Regenstein Collection of Rare Books in order to secure for the University of Chicago Library excellent copies of important works of literature and the humanities in first or early editions. The Regenstein Collection has grown to include nearly 3,000 books that represent a core group of English, American, and continental European literary and humanistic texts.
- Ludwig Rosenberger, a Chicago businessman, spent a lifetime collecting an estimated 22,000 volumes pertaining to secular Jewish life and culture. The collection's chronological and geographic ranges are broad, from incunabula (a total of twenty-six) to contemporary works, from Western Europe and the United States to India and Yemen. Its strongest concentrations, however, are in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century materials from Germany, France, and the English-speaking world. Thematic areas of greatest depth are emancipation, antisemitism and Jewish responses to it, Zionism, and socialism/Marxism.
- More than 1,600 books on the history of golf that reflect an avid golfer's interest in the historical, social, and technical aspects of the game.
- The collection consists of 34 volumes of printed and manuscript music acquired by successive Duchesses of St. Albans between 1780 and 1860, providing an unusually complete picture of the musical life of an aristocratic English family in Georgian and early Victorian times . The bulk of the music consists of songs and piano music popular in London during the period, but there are also orchestral scores, vocal scores of operas, chamber music, harp music, a harp tutor, a volume of violin parts, glees and madrigals, and church music.
- In 1991, the University of Chicago Library received a gift of more than 15,000 volumes on the history and culture of the Hungarian people, donated by Louis Szathmary, a noted Chicago bibliophile and restaurateur. The majority of materials are in the Hungarian language, but the collection also contains nearly 1,500 volumes in German, Latin, French and English. The collection is located in both the circulating collections and Special Collections.
- Close to 900 titles of nineteenth century English poetry, nearly all "special" copies: in splendid condition, often with a presentation inscription that reveals a personal association, and sometimes one of very few known copies. Also included are works of Anglo-Indian poetry published by people of British origin living in India.
Lillian A. Wells Collection of Montaigne Editions
- Around 500 volumes of works of French language and literature, including three of the four editions of Renaissance philosopher Michel de Montaigne's Essais published during his lifetime, later editions, works that influence Montaigne, and scholarship on Montaigne.
- Over 1,200 paperback volumes of African-American popular fiction, chiefly romance novels, collected by Alfred Willis, a 1986 graduate of the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago.
- Around 450 publications on the history and practice of paper marbling and related book arts, collected by rare book librarian, practicing paper marbler, and book arts historian Richard J. Wolfe.
Rare Book Collections Digital Highlights
- Adventures in the Soviet Imaginary: Children's Books and Graphic Arts
- Art in the Stacks: Selections from Special Collections
- The Berlin Collection
- A Book by Its Cover: Decorative Book Bindings from the Medieval Codex to Contemporary Artists' Books
- Book Use, Book Theory, 1500-1700
- But Is It a Book?
- Censorship and Information Control: From Printing Press to Internet
- The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age
- Chopin Early Editions
- Concrete Poetry, Concrete Book: Artists' Books in German-Speaking Space after 1945
- Eastern European Jews in the German-Jewish Imagination
- En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I
- Firmness, Commodity, and Delight: Architecture in Special Collections
- The Graphics of Revolution and War: Iranian Poster Arts
- Homer in Print: The Transmission and Reception of Homer's Works
- Images of Prayer, Politics, and Everyday Life from the Harry and Branka Sondheim Jewish Heritage Collection
- My Life is an Open Book: DIY Autobiography
- Poetic Associations: The Nineteenth-Century English Poetry Collection of Dr. Gerald N. Wachs
- Printing for the Modern Age: Commerce, Craft, and Culture in the RR Donnelley Archive
- Race and the Design of American Life: African Americans in Twentieth-Century Commercial Art
- Reading the Greens: Books on Golf from the Arthur W. Schultz Collection
- Recipes for Domesticity: Cookery, Household Management, and the Notion of Expertise
- Red Press: Radical Print Culture from St. Petersburg to Chicago
- Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae
- The Taschenbuch Collection
- Tensions in Renaissance Cities