Major Donors, Named Collections, and Provenances

The range and strength of Wesleyan’s rare book and special collections holdings are testaments to the combined efforts of librarians and donors since the founding of the University in 1831.  Listed here are some of the substantial gifts, named collections, and provenances that have shaped our book collections over the past nearly two centuries.  Many of these acquisitions were built, given, and/or supported by Wesleyan alumni, faculty, other affiliates, and their families.  Several were donated in the late 1920s and early 1930s in celebration of the opening of Olin Memorial Library in 1928.

  • Angling Collection

    Joseph Waldo Hosdowich (1898-1972), Class of 1921, was a sales executive at the International Silver Company in Meriden, CT, for decades.  As an avocation, he collected books about fishing.  Wesleyan acquired the collection of about 150 books around the time of Hosdowich’s retirement in the 1960s.
  • Henry Bacon Library of Books on Architecture

    Best known as the architect of the Lincoln Memorial, Henry Bacon (1866-1924) designed several Wesleyan buildings, including the original concept for Olin Memorial Library.  In 1927, his widow donated Bacon’s library of about 150 books and a large collection of his papers, including blueprints, building documentation, correspondence, photographs, and sketchbooks.  Bacon’s book collection offers a window into the professional library of a prominent American architect working in the beaux-arts style.

  • Caroline Clark Barney, Class of 1895

    One of seven women in the Class of 1895, Caroline Clark Barney’s passion was poetry.  After graduation, she taught high school English in Willimantic, Conn., and Lynn, Mass., and later served as the Massachusetts state supervisor of religious education.  Barney died in 1948.  Her gifts to the University included her personal poetry library and a large endowment for the purchase of additional poetry books.  Although the fund has been fully spent, it enabled Wesleyan’s librarians to build an exemplary poetry collection, much of which is held in SC&A.
  • Baskin Collection of Victorian Bindings

    prominent artist, printer, and founder of the Gehenna Press in Northampton, Mass., Leonard Baskin (1922-2000) was also a Friend of the Wesleyan Library.  In 1974, he donated a collection of nearly 200 books with decorative, Victorian style bindings.  The collection includes many gift books, which are 19th century literary anthologies intended for presentation to friends and family.
  • Hugh Lancelot Beales

    Lance Beales (1889-1988), a social and economic historian specializing in 19th-century Britain, taught for half a century at the London School of Economics.  In 1968, Wesleyan purchased a substantial portion of his vast library of books and pamphlets.  The collection numbers more than 10,000 items, most of which are housed in SC&A.
  • John Cage Book Collection

    Experimental composer John Milton Cage, Jr. (1912-1992) began his connection with Wesleyan with a controversial concert in 1955.  He had appointments at the Center for Advanced Studies in 1960-1961 and the Center for the Humanities in 1969-1970, and he collaborated with members of the Wesleyan music faculty, composing and performing on campus, until the end of his life.  Beginning in the mid-1970s, John Cage donated to Wesleyan a large collection of his manuscripts, ephemera, and more than 1000 books and pamphlets from his library.  The John Cage Book Collection offers a window into the avant-garde art scene of the 1960s-1980s, as well as Cage’s own wide-ranging interests.
  • George Bartlett Curtis, Class of 1916

    An administrator at Lehigh University for most of his career, George Curtis (1893-1950) was a firm believer in the theory that Shakespeare’s works were actually written by Francis Bacon.  Curtis collected 1500 books related to the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy, including works on cryptography, which some believed would unlock the mystery of Shakespearean authorship.  The Curtis collection includes works published from the late 16th century through 1950.  His widow and son presented the collection to Wesleyan in 1960.
  • George Willets Davison, Class of 1892

    One of Wesleyan’s most generous benefactors, George W. Davison (1872-1953) had an illustrious career in banking and served as the chair of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees.  Among his many gifts to the University were the Davison Art Center (and his own superb collection of prints), the Davison Health Center, and the Davison Rare Book Room in Olin Library.  As a book collector, Davison’s particular interests centered on early printed books, monuments of the history of printing, and English literature, especially drama.  The four Shakespeare folios are often considered the pinnacle of Davison’s gift.
  • George Seymour Godard, Class of 1892

    George S. Godard (1865-1936) was the Connecticut State Librarian from 1900 until his death.  In 1937, his family donated his library of over 30,000 volumes to Wesleyan.  Many books from the collection, which is rich in Americana, are housed in Special Collections & Archives.

  • Frank Kirkwood Hallock, Class of 1882

    A physician specializing in psychiatry and neurology, Frank Hallock (1860-1937) focused his book collecting on sixteen leading 19th-century literary authors, nearly all of them American.  He collected these writers in depth, building a library of many first editions, as well as scarce and unusual editions.  The 1600-volume Hallock collection was presented to Wesleyan in the early 1930s.
  • Hamill & Barker Endowment

    Many 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 and special collections librarian Elizabeth Swaim (1933-2000), Hamill & Barker wanted their money to go to several institutions where it would make a difference.
  • Jacob F. Huber

    Jacob Huber (1801-1878) was Wesleyan’s first professor of modern languages.  His library of more than 2000 books and extensive holdings of pamphlets and periodicals was a bequest in 1878.  This wide-ranging collection is especially rich in literary works in both ancient and modern languages, religious publications, instructional materials, and singing books.
  • 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.
  • Albert Sanford Hunt, Class of 1851

    Albert S. Hunt (1827-1898) served as a Methodist Episcopal minister and had a distinguished career as the secretary of the American Bible Society.  At his death, Wesleyan received his extensive library of more than 6000 books, most of them on religious subjects, along with a large endowment that funded library purchases for many decades.  Many Hunt titles, as well as his collection of Methodist letters, are housed in SC&A.
  • Jarvis Nichols Husted Medical Library

    Jarvis Nichols Husted, MD, (1823-1893), graduated from Wesleyan in 1845.  He earned his medical degree from New York University in 1850 and practiced medicine in New York City (and in Middletown, NJ, during the Civil War) until his death.  Husted bequeathed his library of about 1500 medical books to Wesleyan.  The collection, which is divided between SC&A and the Science Library, includes both historical texts and contemporary volumes that supported his medical practice.
  • 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.
  • Albert Wheeler Johnston, Class of 1893

    Albert W. Johnston (1871-1952) had a varied career in management of manufacturing, mining, and publishing of the Greenwich Time newspaper.  The grandson of Wesleyan’s early natural science professor, John Johnston, he was a long time member of the Board of Trustees and chair of the Building and Grounds committee.  As a collector, he focused on travel and exploration, donating in the late 1930s through early 1940s a large collection of maps, more than forty European and American atlases, and a vast number of travel narratives, including a fine set of first editions of the voyages of Captain James Cook.  Johnston’s gift is also rich in American history.
  • Kallir Family Collection

    Art historian Otto Kallir (1894-1978) played a key role in promoting modernist Austrian and German art and literature.  Kallir founded the Neue Galerie in Vienna in 1923 and the still-extant Galerie St. Etienne in New York in 1939.  He and his wife, Fanny Kallir, built a superb library of Austrian and German literature.  In 2006, the Kallir family donated about 600 volumes from Otto Kallir’s library in honor of Barbara Kallir, Class of 1983.  Most of the books date from the 1890s through the 1950s (including some later editions of works written during this time).

  • Harry Wellington Laidler, Class of 1907

    Harry Laidler (1884-1970) founded Wesleyan’s first student socialist society and went on to a career with the League for Industrial Democracy and the National Bureau of Economic Research.  Throughout his adult life, he wrote extensively on socialism, and he built a substantial collection of related books and pamphlets.  Shortly before Laidler’s death, Wesleyan made arrangements to purchase about 250 volumes from his library.
  • Methodistica

    Wesleyan’s beginnings as an institution affiliated with the Methodist church are well reflected in the thousands of Methodist publications acquired from the early years through the end of church ties in the 1930s.  Many of the older or rarer Methodist holdings are housed in SC&A, including a collection of the writings of John and Charles Wesley.
  • Fred Benjamin Millett Collection of D.H. Lawrence

    The Millett D. H. Lawrence collection includes numerous first and early editions along with translations and criticism, totaling more than 150 books and about 100 pamphlets.  The Lawrence collection was part of the bequest of Fred Millett (1890-1976), an English professor at Wesleyan from 1937 until his retirement in 1958.  The collection is complemented by numerous volumes by other 19th and 20th century literary authors donated to the library by Millett over the years, along with Millett’s own voluminous papers.
  • Harold M. Moulton

    Harold M. Moulton (1894-1960) lived his life in the theater.  An actor with Eva Le Gallienne’s celebrated Civic Repertory Theatre in the 1920s and 1930s, Moulton was also a devoted collector of theatrical books and manuscripts.  Moulton bequeathed his collection to Wesleyan in honor of Jonathan F. Abel (1932-2013), a theater major who graduated in 1954 and combined a military career with acting and singing.  The Moulton Collection numbers upwards of 1000 volumes divided between the circulating collections and Special Collections & Archives.
  • Nathan Comfort Starr Collection of Arthuriana

    A descendant of one of Middletown’s oldest families, Nathan Comfort Starr (1896-1981) was a scholar of the Arthurian legend.  After his death, Wesleyan received a bequest of 900 books from his collection.  The Starr collection is especially rich in modern reinterpretations of the tales of King Arthur and his knights.
  • William Aldrich Tateum, Class of 1884

    William Aldrich Tateum (1862-1957) was a lawyer who served briefly in the Michigan House of Representatives.  An avid sportsman and traveler, Tateum also collected books about hunting, fishing, travel, and outdoor life.  In 1929, he donated his collection of several hundred volumes from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Clarence Seymour Wadsworth

    A prominent Middletown resident, Colonel Wadsworth (1871-1941) practiced law and served in the New York National Guard.  A Latinist who studied at Harvard, Wadsworth collected five thousand or more books, a majority of them in Latin or Greek.  The collection, which was presented to Wesleyan by his family in 1942, is especially rich in 16th and 17th century editions of classical authors.
  • Rufus Phillips Williams Chemistry Library

    Rufus Phillips Williams (1851-1911) taught chemistry in a Boston secondary school and wrote chemistry textbooks.  He bequeathed his extensive library on the history and teaching of chemistry, alchemy, and the metric system to the New England Association of Chemistry Teachers (NEACT), an organization he founded and served as president.  In 1936, the collection came to Wesleyan on permanent deposit through the good offices of Williams’s widow and Elbert C. Weaver, Class of 1922, a high school chemistry teacher in Hartford and later at Andover.  The books are divided between Special Collections & Archives and the Science Library.  In 2011, NEACT donated its organizational archives to SC&A.