Access to More Rare Books

Lisa Lacher

Grinnell students have access to nearly 5,000 more rare books and historic documents, thanks to the College’s recent acquisition of the Des Moines Salisbury House’s library collection that includes first editions and historic documents. Among the rare items in the collection are:

  • A leaf from the original printing of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455.
  • Galley proofs of Tales Told of Shem and Shaun, the working title of Finnegans Wake, with handwritten edits by James Joyce; and a 1935 limited edition of Joyce’s Ulysses with original illustrations by Henri Matisse.
  • Signed books and documents by Thomas Jefferson, King Louis XVI, Marquis de Lafayette, Queen Elizabeth, John Hancock, Joshua Reynolds, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Cardinal Richelieu, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and many other renowned individuals.

“The College invested in this treasured Iowa resource to keep it intact within the state and to make it more accessible to researchers, faculty, students and the general public,” says Mark Christel, Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Librarian.

“The College will perform any needed preservation work, catalog the entire collection, and begin to digitize unique items from the collection,” Christel adds.

Faculty members are starting to explore the collection in hopes of incorporating elements of it into their classes and research.

“There are so many rare — and even one-of-a-kind — treasures in this collection that, on a first visit, one flits from book to book like a butterfly after nectar in a field of flowers,” says Jon Andelson ’70, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Prairie Studies. “The potential uses of the collection by students and faculty are literally endless.”

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