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Rare Books

Named Rare Book Collections

In addition to the general rare book collection, the University Library acquires books from individual collectors and builds collections relating to certain topics. The books in these named collections and all other rare books can be found in the Library Catalog. These books cannot be checked out and must be read in Chicago in the Special Collections and University Archives reading rooms in Richard J. Daley Library or in Library of the Health Sciences-Chicago.


At Daley Library Heading link

The primary focus of the Rare Books Section at the Daley Library in Chicago is the political, social, architectural and literary history of Chicago. We also have collections that pertain to military history, Native American culture and the Caribbean.

  • Atlantic Slave Trade Collection consists of over 300 years of legal, religious and secular publications documenting the Atlantic slave trade, including works issuing from Spain, France, Portugal, England, Africa, and the Americas.
  • The Mary Hastings Bradley book collection contains over 1,500 works from the personal library of this Chicago socialite, adventurer, author, and big game hunter. Bradley’s bibliography includes On the Gorilla Trail (1922), Incident in Berlin (1944), and Murder in the Family (1951). Her Alice in Jungleland (1927), and Alice in Elephantland (1929) are about her daughter, Alice Bradley Sheldon. Sheldon wrote award-winning science fiction under the pen name James Tiptree, Jr.
  • The Burnham and Hammond Architectural Library collection reveals the sources and inspirations of this prominent Chicago architectural firm of Daniel Burnham, Jr., Hubert Burnham, and C. Herrick Hammond, whose commissions include exhibit halls and ethnic villages at the Century of Progress World’s Fair of 1933 and 1934, and the Carbide and Carbon Building.
  • The H.D. Carberry Collection of Caribbean Studies contains almost 1,000 volumes of English language literature and non-fiction by Caribbean authors. The works in this collection are generally first editions, published in Britain during the second half of the twentieth century.
  • The Richard F. Casper Military Research Collection of around 2,000 titles includes materials on the American Revolution, World War I and World War II, and the American medical corps and service academies, literary works and military biographies plus first editions of works by C. S. Forester, Bruce Catton, John Hersey, and Sir Winston Churchill are among the treasures.
  • The Ernst Cassirer Collection consists of over 1,000 volumes from the German philosopher’s personal library. It includes books about philosophy and literature, mostly in German.
  • The Lawrence J. Gutter Collection of Chicagoana consists of more than 6,000 items including printed books, periodicals, maps, prints, and manuscripts relating to the history of Chicago. This collection, amassed by Mr. Gutter beginning in 1948 was acquired by the UIC Library in 1982 and is the foundation for the Daley Library’s Rare Book Collection.
  • The Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe Collection contains approximately 600 volumes from the architect’s personal library. It includes works about art and architecture, science, history, ethics, and philosophy, primarily in English and German.
  • The Political and Social Activism Pamphlet Collection totals around 11,000 pamphlets, published nationally and internationally between the mid-19th and late-20th centuries, and covering such topics as trade unionism, race relations, and left and right-wing political movements.
  • The Ellen Gates Starr Bookbinding Collection contains 21 examples of Starr’s work as a master bookbinder. Starr (who co-founded the Hull-House settlement with Jane Addams) learned the art of hand bookbinding in England in 1897 from master craftsman T.J. Cobden-Sanderson. When Starr returned to Chicago in 1898, she set up the Hull-House bookbindery where she practiced her craft and taught others the art of bookbindery.

At the Library of the Health Sciences-Chicago Heading link

At Library of the Health Sciences-Chicago, the strengths of the Rare Books Section are neurology, urology, dermatology, and the history of medicine. We also hold collections of early anatomies, herbals, pharmacopeias, and formularies.

  • The Percival Bailey Collection consists of more than 600 rare and important works in neurology and psychiatry. A printed, annotated catalog, A Catalog of the Percival Bailey Collection of Neurology & Psychiatry, compiled by Alexander M. Cain, lists all publications in the collection.
  • The William C. Beck Collection consists of 52 rare books on anatomy, surgery and other aspects of medicine. William C. Beck, a surgeon and book collector, was the son of Carl Beck, a member of the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
  • The Chicago Prefire (1871) Medical Imprints Collection contains health-related items published in Chicago before the Great Fire of 1871. A printed, annotated catalog, A Catalog of Prefire Chicago Imprints (1844-1871), compiled by Edward P. Rich, D.D.S., lists the publications in the collection.
  • The Francis J. Gerty Collection includes a wide range of material on the history of medicine, concentrating on Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois medical history.
  • The Joseph H. Kiefer Collection contains rare books in urology, surgery, and general medicine published before the Twentieth century, focusing on the subjects of bladder stones, venereal diseases, and the history of uroscopy. The collection also includes works about human sexuality, medical history, medical biography, and art and humor in medicine. A printed, annotated catalog, The Joseph H. Kiefer Catalog of History of Urology of Medicine, compiled by Richard Y. Meier, lists all publications in the collection.
  • The Lloyd M. Nyhus Collection contains a wide range of material on the history of medicine. The collection focuses on surgery, particularly the fields of gastroenterology and herniology. Professor Nyhus was Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine from 1967 until 1988. Four of his over 100 monographs received special honors: three editions of Mastery of Surgery, three editions of Surgery of the Stomach and Duodenum, five editions of Hernia, and nine editions of Manual of Surgical Therapeutics. These titles along with works by other prominent surgeons over the last century comprise the majority of the collection.
  • The Public Health Pamphlet Collection contains over 200 public health-related publications published both nationally and locally, primarily from the 20th century. The collection has items pertaining to topics such as hygiene, communicable diseases, nutrition, and family planning, among others.

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