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Rare Book Collection List

Baldwin (James) Book Shelf

James Baldwin (1841-1925), teacher, school superintendent, editor and author wrote more than fifty books, including the Baldwin School Readers for grades 1-8, published in a variety of languages, and fables, folk tales, myths, legends and histories re-told for children.  Baldwin's first book was "The Story of Siegfried", written in 1882 and by 1921 the "Baldwin Book Shelf" included twenty-four titles which were sold to libraries and schools as a set. Illustrators of Baldwin's works included Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth. This collection includes twenty-eight of Baldwin's works together with advertisements for the works.  The collection was assembled, described and donated to the Libraries by Dr. Nancy Verhoek-Miller, professor Emeritus of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education.

Block (John Robinson) – MaxxSouth Broadband Collection

The John Robinson Block - MaxxSouth Broadband Collection is the finest collection of Mississippi Territorial laws and early laws of the State of Mississippi in the world. The collection contains 60 volumes that have been finely bound in quarter leather and marble boards using archival standards. These beautiful bindings resemble a style that would have been used during the period. Seven of the volumes of Mississippi Territorial laws, all published in Natchez before 1816, are the only known complete existing copies in the world. Also included in the collection is a near complete run of Mississippi State session laws running form statehood in 1817 thru the end of the Reconstruction era. Included in the collection are the rare Civil War imprints printed during the war. The Mississippi Territorial laws include examples of the printing work of most of the earliest printers in the Mississippi Territory and all are of great rarity. These printers include T. and S. Terrell, John Shaw, William O. Winston, Peter Isler and the earliest printer in the Territory, Andrew Marschalk.

John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade, has been a journalist and newspaper editor since leaving Yale in 1977, serving in numerous reporting and editing jobs. He is also vice chairman of Block Communications, which has television stations and cable systems in five states. An independent, he has been involved in planning coverage and editorials in every presidential race since 1980. During his career he has lived and worked in Miami, New York, Washington, New Jersey, Monterey, London, Toledo, and Pittsburgh.

Brigance (Louise) Collection

The Brigance Collection comprises 19th and 20th century monographs, reference volumes, journals, ephemera, manuscripts and music. The subject coverage of the collection ted includes Mississippi history and literature, southern history and politics, and maritime history and ship models. The collection includes many volumes collected by the French, Robinson, Hogt and Dent families. Manuscript and ephemeral items are available in a separate manuscript collection. The collection was donated by Mrs. Louise Brigance.

Cole (Hunter McKelva) Collection

The Hunter Cole Collection primarily consists of correspondence, monographs, publicity and promotional materials, photographs, newspaper clippings, audiovisual material, and other memorabilia from the life and literary career of Eudora Welty. Ms. Welty was a colleague and friend of Mr. Cole, who was Associate Director of Marketing at The University Press of Mississippi during the time when the press published many editions of Ms. Welty's works. The Welty collection includes 61 signed or inscribed books and journals; 23 signed letters, Christmas cards or postcards; 12 signed miscellaneous pices; more than 100 unsigned books; 110 photographs; and more than 75 books of criticism and biography. There are more than 1000 other items in this collection, including posters, programs, photographs, newsletters, pamphlets, magazines, essays, clippings, letters, journals, and book reviews.

Also included in the Hunter Cole Collection is an important collection of over 300 items relating to Carrollton, MS author Elizabeth Spencer, one of Mississippi's most important but underappreciated authors. The Elizabeth Spencer collection includes books, letters, notes, cards, and photographs.

The remainder of the Hunter Cole Collection contains works by many of the prominent Mississippi authors writing during the 1970s-1990s, including books, photographs, and letters of authors including Walker Percy, Shelby Foote, Ellen Gilchrist, Richard Ford, Willie Morris, Margaret Walker, and poet James Seay.

Cooper (Horace Polk) Collection

Horace Polk Cooper was a professor of English and foreign languages at Mississippi State College.  On his death in 1945, his extensive personal collection came to the library.  Included are travel books, volumes on art, and grammars, dictionaries, and readers in a wide variety of modern languages.  Cooper's leisure reading consisted largely of mysteries, and the collection is rich in first editions from the golden age of British and American mystery fiction.  Cooper also has the distinction of being the model for a fictional amateur detective in books written by Margaret Yates, a cousin.

Dabney (Lucius Bryan) Collection

Lucius Bryan Dabney of Vicksburg spent a lifetime collecting books, historical documents, letters, business records, and manuscripts. In 1972, MSU Libraries purchased three library buildings full of books from Mr. Dabney and his family, including more than 10,000 hardback books. This collection contains many of the rarest and most valuable books in our Rare Book Collection, strong in material about slavery and the slave trade, the Civil War, military history, early political works, early travel and exploration, and Southern history. The collection also contains religious books, friendship books, children's books and world history. The most valuable books are 18th and 19th century books relating to Americana with particular emphasis on the Lower Mississippi Valley region.

Elliott (John P.) Collection

In 2000, Dr. John P. Elliott presented the library with a small but valuable collection of signed and other significant editions by William Faulkner. He added to this collection in the following year.  In addition to the works by Faulkner, there are volumes by Faulkner's brother John, their grandfather William C. Falkner, and by Eudora Welty, as well as some biographical and critical studies of Faulkner.

Faulkner (William) Collection

In 1972, the library purchased a collection of 110 volumes by and about William Faulkner.  The collection includes numerous valuable first editions in their original dust jackets and fifteen signed limited editions as well as some foreign or special editions. There are also reference works and volumes of criticism that help place Faulkner in the context of twentieth century culture. Highlights include:

  • A fine condition copy with the original dust jacket of Faulkner's first novel Soldiers' Pay
  • A fine copy of the rarest Faulkner signed limited edition Go Down, Moses (only 100 copies of this edition were printed)
  • An Armed Service Edition of A Rose for Emily
  • Aa Japanese edition of New Orleans Sketches
  • A limited printing of Faulkner's Nobel Prize acceptance speech

Lenoir (Whitman) Collection

The Lenoir Collection is a selection of volumes (1744-1972) from the library of the Lenoir family of Lenoir plantation in Prairie (Muldon), Monroe County, Mississippi. Highlights of the collection are the medical library of Sterling L. Paine (1824-1890), father of Julia Paine Lenoir (1851-1918). Sterling L. Paine was a doctor who practiced in Aberdeen, Mississippi from 1847 and took care of Confederate wounded during the Civil War. Thus, among Payne's library of volumes on anatomy, diseases and surgical techniques is an 1861 edition of Chisholms' Manual of Military Surgery presented to Payne and signed by G.S. Bryan, Surgeon, 5th Mississippi Battalion. Other volumes include philosophical, religious, geographical and other works from the libraries of Blanchard family members, including several that belonged to William A. Blanchard (1812-1862), Mary Elizabeth Blanchard Lenoir's brother who was a Columbus lawyer and plantation owner A few of these volumes contain the signatures of early plantation owner Absalom Blanchard (1771-1854), father of Mary Elizabeth Lenoir and William Blanchard. The remainder of the collection comprises Mississippi imprints, yearbooks and annuals, hymnbooks and other historical volumes. A related manuscript collection complements the book collection. The collection was acquired from Mr. and Mrs. Whitman Lenoir in 2001.

Montgomery (William B.) Collection

The library of Starkville resident William B. Montgomery (1829-1904) and his descendants, including Joseph Pressley Montgomery (1896-1967), contains agricultural, religious and denominational, scientific, historical and general interest books used and handed down in the family. William B. Montgomery was a prominent plantation owner, promoter of dairy farming and helped establish the MSU dairy herd and the animal husbandry department and also promoted the textile program. A separate list of fifty-one books (1833-1899) that probably were in the original library of William B. Montgomery was created from the signatures and dates of the titles in the collection. Volumes from William B. Montgomery's library which are of special interest include American Jersey Cattle Club registers, and agricultural, horticultural and animal husbandry texts. A small related manuscript collection includes a few materials that were found in the books. The collection was donated by Melanie Montgomery McGown and Callie Montgomery Faulkner.

Polk (Noel) Collection

Noel Polk was an internationally recognized literary scholar, regarded by many as the preeminent William Faulkner scholar of his generation. He also authored the standard bibliography on the works of Mississippi author Eudora Welty. At the time of his death, he was Professor Emeritus and editor of The Mississippi Quarterly at Mississippi State University. He began donating his collection of over 2000 items (including monographs, journals, offprints, and magazines, many signed or inscribed by their authors) in 2008. After his death, his children donated the remainder of his library, greatly adding to Special Collections' holdings of scholarly research material in the field of Southern literature.

Collection highlights include:

  • Many of Noel Polk's personal copies of books that he either authored or edited
  • Numerous editions of all the writings of William Faulkner, including foreign editions
  • Most of the important works of criticism, bibliography and biography relating to William Faulkner that have been published over the past 50 years
  • An almost complete collection of first editions and signed limited editions of the works of Eudora Welty
  • Many variant printings and foreign-language editions of Eudora Welty's books
  • The only known copy of Eudora Welty's first book, A Curtain of Green, signed by Welty and Katherine Anne Porter, who wrote the introduction to the book

Starling (William) Collection

William Starling was a civil engineer who worked for the Mississippi Board of Levee Commissioners and later for the Mississippi River Commission at the end of the 19th century. At the time of his death in 1901, he had the largest known personal library in the state of Mississippi. His collection appears to have been amassed through his association with a wide circle of rare book dealers in the United States and Europe. The collection came to Special Collections as a gift from Starling's family and the Greenville Public Library in 1948.

The William Starling Collection includes approximately 3000 volumes (as well as a related manuscript collection), covering a wide variety of Starling's interests: Greek and Latin classical literature, religion, witchcraft, political treatises, world history, engineering, and technical books. Many of the books were printed between 1510 and 1800, and many of the early volumes are bound in vellum. The collection contains many rare and important volumes in Greek and Latin that are not held by any other Southeastern institution.

The oldest book in MSU's rare book collection is part of the Starling Collection - Suidas, a Greek lexicon published in Milan in 1499 in an edition of 800 copies and originally sold for 3 gold ducats. This volume is considered to be an incunabula, a book published in the first 50 years of movable type.

Williams (Tennessee) Collection

In the early 1970s, the library acquired a collection of 97 pieces related to Tennessee Williams. Among the pieces are American and British first editions of his plays, several signed, limited editions, and editions printed in French, Japanese, and German. In addition, there are a number of periodicals containing articles on Williams, as well as playbills from many early productions of his plays.