Major Donors and Provenances (Books)
Wesleyan's library holdings, one of the University's largest capital investments, represent the activities, hopes, and visions of hundreds of donors and collection builders over more than 17 decades. The quality of an individually-built collection, resulting from a subject focus and knowledge, often enriches the library disproportionately to its quantity. Gifts of such collections, as well as of endowed funds to support a particular interest, are what gives character to an academic library, and one of SC&A's primary objectives is to provide permanent caring stewardship for these intentions.
A perennially useful feature of the 1942 Library Handbook is the chronological list of "Endowment Funds, Gifts and Special Collections in the Library." Most of these contributed to the general library holdings, but some are partially or entirely in SC&A. The following names, mostly not included in the 1942 listing, have particularly shaped the character of Wesleyan's Special Collections in the 20th century.
- George Willets Davison, class of 1892
- His rare book collection, received after his death in 1953 as well as earlier, serves as the nucleus of Wesleyan's rare books. One of Wesleyan's principal benefactors in many areas, Davison long served as president of the Trustees, Among his collecting interests were early printed books, illustrated books, fine typography, and first editions of English literature and thought.
- Albert Wheeler Johnston, class of 1893
- The donor of spectacular early atlases and remarkable examples of Americana, Johnston served as a Trustee from 1914 to 1949, leaving a lasting imprint on the Wesleyan campus through his devoted attention to its buildings and grounds. Something major should be named for him.
- Clarence Seymour Wadsworth
- A prominent Middletown resident, Colonel Wadsworth collected five thousand or more books, mostly 16th and 17th century editions of classical authors, which were presented to Wesleyan by his family in 1942.
- Frank Kirkwood Hallock, class of 1882
- A physician specializing in psychiatry and neurology and a Trustee, Dr. Hallock avidly pursued books by and about most of the leading figures in 19th-century American literature. The 1600 volumes, most of which he purchased at very small cost, were presented in the early 1930s and include many obscure editions.
- George Seymour Godard, class of 1892
- Connecticut State Librarian for a quarter of a century and a Trustee, his library of over 30,000 volumes, mostly Americana, was presented by his family in 1937 and includes many Special Collections items.
- George Bartlett Curtis, class of 1916
- His 1500 books on the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy, published from the late 16th century up to 1950, were presented by his widow and son in 1960.
- Foster Macy Johnson, class of 1921
- His 1973 gift of books and ephemera from the Kelmscott, Doves, and Ashendene Presses considerably augmented our holdings of these major influences on modern fine printing.
- E. Harold Hugo, Hon. 1970
- The longtime president and director of the standard-setting Meriden Gravure Company gave over the years numerous examples of fine typography and illustrated books from many centuries.
- Hugh Lancelot Beales
- Beales, who taught for half a century at the London School of Economics, amassed about 10,000 books and pamphlets dealing with social and economic reform in Great Britain, particularly in the 19th century. Selections from his library, which was purchased by Wesleyan in 1958, are kept in SC&A.
- Caroline Clark Barney, class of 1895
- Her 1949 bequest included her personal library of poetry and a substantial endowment for the purchase of additional poetry. During the 1960s and early 1970s the fund's accumulation allowed hundreds of splendid Special Collections acquisitions.
- Hamill & Barker
- Most of our current purchases are made through an endowment fund established in 1987 with a gift from the estates of Chicago antiquarian booksellers Frances Hamill and Margery Barker "exclusively for the acquisition or preservation of rare books and manuscripts." Longtime friends of the Wesleyan Library, Hamill & Barker wanted their money to go to several institutions where it would make a difference; it certainly has at Wesleyan.