Rare Books and the Bicentennial: Part I

Letter by U of M Alum Capt. William Wirt Wheeler of the 6th Michigan Volunteers to his former professor of Greek, James Robinson Boise. New Orleans, September 29 1862

I am frequently asked by students and faculty: where do our rare book collections come from? While we have purchased many extraordinary books since the early years of the University of Michigan, many of our treasures were bequeathed by grateful alums and faculty. The reasons why they donated these artifacts are often fascinating, revealing little-known stories that shed light not only on the history of our institution but on our country at large. The book featured in this post is a rare...

Abracadabra!

Quintus Serenus (fl. 2nd c. AD). Liber medicinalis. Southeast Germany (Bavaria) or Austria; ca. 1500. Mich. Ms. 291.

The Liber medicinalis (Book of Medicine) is a medical treatise of around 1,200 dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to the second-century Roman author, Quintus Serenus Sammonicus (d. beginning of 3rd c. AD). It contains sixty-four therapeutic recipes, divided into two sections: recipes for illnesses affecting individual organs listed from head to toe, and recipes for general ailments like injuries, fevers, fractures and dislocations, insomnia, toothache, and poisoning.

Picturing Gulliver's Travels

Front cover of Gulliver in Brobdingnag, showing Giant King and Queen holding a magnifying glass

Today we celebrate the final day of Picture Book Month and also the 349th birthday of Jonathan Swift, English satirist and poet, most famous for his authorship of Gulliver’s Travels. In honor of both, this post highlights two picture book editions for children from the Hubbard Collection of Imaginary Voyages.

Federico Arcos Papers now open

Photograph of Federico Arcos

An unforgettable figure of the anarchist and syndicalist communities, Federico Arcos (1920-2015) was known for his generosity and the unabating commitment with which he pursued his ideals. Friends of the Labadie Collection remember Arcos as a long-time benefactor and collector. Federico and his wife Pura curated in their home in Windsor, Canada, an important library of anarchist books, newspapers, and archives that never failed to impress their many guests. In addition to the many items he...

Artists' Books: Structures for Instruction

Several artists books on a table - each described in the post below.

Last Friday, I was privileged to welcome students from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit to the Special Collections Library. As part of a class on exploring the book, attendees were preparing for an assignment to create a one-of-a-kind artists’ book. The instructor had asked me to find examples of unusual artists’ books with interesting structures, offering me an opportunity to explore new dimensions of Special Collections’ artists’ book holdings.

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