Our rare books collection of 50,000 volumes focuses primarily on Virginia history but covers many other subjects from the 15th-21st centuries. Among our treasures are seven beautiful incunabula (books printed before 1501), the 2nd largest collection of books about dogs in this country, and a 1st edition of The Book of Mormon.
How to Find Rare Books & Periodicals
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- Virginiana: Volumes about Virginia, written by Virginians, or printed in Virginia. The collection begins with early pamphlets of the Virginia Company (1609) and comes up to the present with books covering the local region.
- Francis Nicholson Library: An attempt to recreate the originial library of the College given by colonial governor Francis Nicholson and destroyed by fire in 1705.
- Ralph Green Collection: Books on the mechanics of printing, serials, and histories of the craft.
- Joseph Hennage Collection: Books on printing, including early printed works and books on the history of printing. Included is the oldest book in Swem Library: Johannes Gritsch's Quadragesimale (1479).
- Carol Beinbrink Collection: 20th-century illustrated books on papermaking.
- Ralph H. Wark Collection: Books featuring fore-edge paintings; late 18th - 19th century.
- The Chapin-Horowitz Collection: Books on dogs dating back to the 16th century.
- Personal collections of Virginia families