The Rare Books Collection owes its existence to the generosity of the College founders, as it was established with the most significant treasures of the Durants' own collection. Throughout his lifetime, Mr. Durant acquired books and manuscripts for the College Library.
Among these are a large papyrus fragment of the Book of the Dead, ca. 500 B.C.E., a vellum charter signed by Holy Roman Emperor Otto III in 997 C.E., an Italian 15th century gradual, early German Bibles, and tracts by Martin Luther. The Rare Books Collection has been augmented substantially over the years by purchases and gifts from faculty, alumnae, and friends, increasing its size to about 12,000 volumes in a variety of fields. Illuminated manuscripts, incunabula, the Milne Collection of English Bibles, works in the history of science, philosophy, classics, and first editions of major literary works make this an unusually rich resource for scholars and visiting classes.
The ongoing restoration of rare books and manuscripts has been made possible by the generous gift of Walter C. Klein, who established the Mary Eddy Klein '42 and Margaret Kennedy Klein '72 Preservation Fund for Special Collections.
Pictured: Augustin Pyramus de Candolle. Plantarum succulentarum historia. Paris, 1804.