Early editions of William Butler Yeats, along with businesslike letters from the poet’s sisters. World War II propaganda posters. A nearly complete collection of works by contemporary book artist Werner Pfeiffer. Photos of covered bridges. These are just a few of the eclectic objects sprinkled throughout Bucknell’s Special Collections/University Archives. This spring, Bucknell Magazine editors Sherri Kimmel and Matt Hughes paid
a visit to Isabella O’Neill’s neat, elegantly woody environ on the lower level of the Ellen Clarke
Bertrand Library. From all the treasures the University archivist revealed in the LaFayette
Butler Reading Room, the editors chose their 10 favorites from a collection that includes
10,000 rare books tucked away behind the scenes in a back room.
Admittedly, it’s a “very broad collection,” as O’Neill puts it, with many items donated
by alumni or others interested in Bucknell. Some works are specially purchased, often in
consultation with faculty, through the generosity of the James A. Russell Memorial Book
Fund, the Friends of the Library and a small departmental budget to support the curricular
purpose of the Special Collections/University Archives.
O’Neill keeps an eye on acquisitions that support classics & ancient Mediterranean studies,
for instance. “We need more Virgil and Homer texts,” she notes. She also seeks supplements
to the manuscript-leaf collection, which are used by Professor Janice Mann, art history, and
other faculty, and the print-study collection that was developed with input from Mann’s
colleague Christiane Andersson, who uses works in some of her classes. “Students get to see
the real thing,” O’Neill says of the colorful illuminations from the medieval books of hours.
“Undergraduate institution collections are made to be used,” she observes. “At a larger
institution, the collection is not always as accessible. Our students respect the material and
get a lot out of it by coming in here.”
Special Collections/University Archives
presents a tangible history of an institution
and much more …
By Sherri Kimmel & Matt Hughes • Photography by Dustin Fenstermacher