Rare Books and Special Collections
There are approximately 26,204 titles in the rare book collection. This includes all items stored in the vault, the original copies of all TCU theses and dissertations stored offsite in the Annex, the Erisman–Odom collection stored in on–site storage in the basement, and the James C. Wright library also stored in the basement.
There are approximately 141 maps, 227 audio–visual items and 145 serial items.
A few very significant titles:
- Abraham Ortelius, Theatrvm orbis terrarvm, 1573
- Thomas a Kempis, De Imitatione Christi, 1473
- Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1849-1850, a novel in parts
- William Shakespeare, The Pavier Quartos, 1619, the so-called False Folio, the first attempt to collect Shakespeare's work in a single volume
Other highlights of the rare book collection
American and British literatureThe core of this collection is the William Luther Lewis collection. Collected in the 1930s and 1940s, this collection contains the major highlights of literature in English. Particular areas of interest are drama of the 17th and 18th century, especially Shakespeare; 19th century literature, especially Dickens, Trollope, Eliot, and Thackeray; and poetry of 19th century Britain is represented by Tennyson, Shelley, Byron, and Clough to name a few. The collection also contains quite a number of 19th century works in original parts in excellent condition. A generous gift of a collection of Anthony Trollope works by the Friends of the TCU Library in the early 1980s led to this author being a major collecting interest. There is a small but interesting collection of 19th century manuscripts which includes works and letters of Shelley, Hogg, and Byron. There is also a typescript of "The Ideal Husband" corrected by the author, Oscar Wilde.
Texas and Southwest historyBeing a Texas institution, the department has long collected rare and interesting books about Texas and the Southwest and books written by Texans and other Southwesterners. The collection is particularly strong in county and municipal histories. There are also a number of items about the ranching industry.
Mayfield collectionOne of the named collections, Mayfield built his collection around Ramon F. Adams's bibliography Six-guns and saddle leather; a bibliography of books and pamphlets on western outlaws and gunmen. The collection contains approximately 1,200 items.
Nineteenth century British periodicalsA small but useful working collection of periodical issues and bound volumes.
The Erisman–Odom collectionA collection of children's serial fiction primarily published in the first half of the 20th century. The collection contains approximately 3,448 titles.
The Varley collectionA new collection which is the on-going gift of Mary Kay Varley. The focus is children's literature, with emphasis on the graphic arts. It contains a good selection of pop-up books and other examples of paper engineering. As of 23 November 2016, 596 titles had been catalogued.
Artists booksSpecial Collections holds a representative group of artists books including unique works by Donna and Peter Thomas, TCU alumna Candace Hicks, and Amanda May Maciuba.
Fine Printing and the Book ArtsThere is a quite large collection of fine printing and works by small presses spanning all subject areas but especially literature and the book arts. This group of books contains works on all aspects of the book arts, including type, printing, papermaking, marbling, and binding.
The history of the BibleThis collection consists of both facsimiles and actual editions of important versions of the Bible. There are also two Torah scrolls.
Books and other material relating to the Campbell–Stone movementSurprisingly this is a relatively small group of books considering TCU's history and its association with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). However, early works of important figures in the history of the denomination can be found here including one Alexander Campbell manuscript.
Latin American historyThis is the newest of the department's collecting interests. Material centers on colonial Mexico and contains both printed sources and manuscripts. The intent of collecting in the area is to offer students, both undergraduate and graduate, primary source material so that they might appreciate the physicality of actual items from their period of study.
Vietnam war novelsA small collection, approximately 128 titles, with the Vietnam conflict as its setting. There are a hundred or so titles not catalogued.