Recent Rare Book and Manuscript Acquisitions


Lindseth Russian Fable Collection

Last fall, alumni Jon and Virginia Lindseth (both Class of 1956) gave the library a spectacular collection of Russian fable literature. The collection includes more than 2,500 items published over three centuries and offers scholars and students an unparalleled view of the development of this genre.

Fables, which use humor, satire and anthropomorphism to tell dramatic tales with a moral message, first appeared in Greek literature during the 8th century B.C. These short stories have been employed to poke fun at human frailties, convey political messages and to teach the young moral lessons on ethics, religion or statehood.

The Lindseth Russian Fable Collection is important not only for the light it sheds on the history of fable literature as a whole, but for its illumination of the cultural, political and religious aspects of life in Russia from the beginning of the 18th century through the end of the 20th century.

The collection contains the earliest Russian-language versions of the fables of the ancient world, including the oldest printed Russian translation of "Aesop's Fables," published in Amsterdam in 1700; the first edition in Russian of Bidpai's fables (1762); and the first edition in Russian of "Phaedrus," published in St. Petersburg in 1764.

The collection also contains the earliest printings of original stories written by Russian authors. There is a first edition of poetic fables by Alexsander Petrovich Sumarokov, the creator of the Russian fable as a national and original genre, published 1762-1769 in St. Petersburg. The entire history of the fable genre in Russia is chronicled in the Lindseth collection, from the works of I.A. Krylov, who is widely considered to be one of Russia's greatest poets and fabulists, to multiple Russian interpretations and translations of the fables of Western authors, to early 20th-century Russian fabulists who addressed overtly revolutionary themes, and the work of Sergei Mikhalkov, who employed fables in the Cold War era to ridicule the external enemies of the Soviet Union.

Many of the items in the Lindseth collection are scarce, and in some instances represent the only copies outside of Russia. "Scholars owe an enormous debt to collectors like Jon Lindseth," says Katherine Reagan, the library's curator of rare books and manuscripts. "New knowledge depends upon the creativity, imagination and hard work of collectors like Jon, who are willing to scour the world to locate and collect important, scarce and fragile materials -- especially those that document topics off the more commonly trod collecting paths."

For more information about the Lindseth Russian Fable Collection, contact Reagan at (607) 255-3530 or e-mail

Lavoisier Collection

Since the early 1960s, CUL has been home to the largest collection outside of Paris of material by and about Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, the 18th-century French scientist known as the father of modern chemistry. Thanks to gifts from several generous donors, the library has now acquired hundreds more books and manuscripts. Lavoisier (1743-1794) developed the basic nomenclature and theoretical structure of chemistry as we know it today. After his death at the guillotine during the height of the French Revolution, his widow spent years assembling and preserving material related to his life and work. When she died in 1836, the collection was passed down through her brother's family. Beginning in the 1850s, her descendents began to disperse that material, and in 1956 what remained from Madame Lavoisier's collection was sold at public auction in Paris. The bulk of the material dispersed in that sale, including hundreds of manuscripts and more than 600 volumes from Lavoisier's personal library, became the nucleus of the collection Cornell later acquired in 1962.

The core of the private collection CUL recently acquired is the other "half" of Madame Lavoisier's collection that had been earlier dispersed. It includes hundreds of pages of additional manuscripts and every printed item not already held by Cornell. Perhaps the most exciting addition is Madame Lavoisier's personal copy of what is arguably the most famous chemistry treatise ever published: her husband's 1789 Traité Élémentaire de Chimie. Illustrated by Madame Lavoisier herself and bound in her distinctive personal style, this unique volume has particular significance for students and scholars of the history of science.

Among the historic manuscripts are numerous letters to and from Lavoisier and his scientific colleagues, many of which have never been published. There is also correspondence to and from Madame Lavoisier, including a 1788 letter in which she recounts an explosion in the couple's laboratory that nearly killed them both.

Many other items in the new acquisition provide insight into the social and political unrest surrounding the French Revolution. The most dramatic example is a two-volume diary kept by Lavoisier's colleague Auguste Denis Fougeroux de Bondaroy, in which he meticulously recorded daily observations of events in the streets of Paris in the days immediately preceding and immediately following the fall of the Bastille in July 1789.

For more information about the Lavoisier Collection, contact David Corson, curator of the library's History of Science Collections, at (607) 255-5477 or e-mail

Ann Jackson Collection, major addition to the George Bernard Shaw Collection

Two generous alumni have given more than $60,000 to help purchase the estate of Ann Jackson, George Bernard Shaw's secretary, to be added to our Shaw Collection. Ann Jackson, née Elder (1892-1992), was introduced to Shaw by her sister Eleanor, an actress. She worked as Shaw's secretary from June 1912 until January 1918, when she left to train as a solicitor. In March 1919 she decided against this change of career and returned to work for Shaw for a further sixteen months, until her marriage. The Jackson collection includes autograph letters, notes, and postcards from Bernard Shaw to Ann Jackson. The letters give insight into Shaw's daily working routines, as he continually wrote Miss Jackson with instructions and queries during his trips around England and abroad. Some letters are in Shaw's distinctive shorthand. Other highlights of the collection include sketches, press clippings, and drafts of other letters to to be sent; hand-written itineraries giving details of Shaw's journeys abroad, his holidays and weekends away, first nights of plays, publication dates, locations of lectures, electioneering speeches, and formal dinners; letters from Shaw's wife, Charlotte Frances Shaw, to Miss Elder; letters from Lucy Carr Shaw, Shaw's sister; letters from Georgina (Judy) Gillmore (later Judy Musters), Shaw's first cousin. Mrs. Musters was a lifelong and close friend of Ann Jackson and wrote frequently regarding Shaw and other personal matters.

165 letters from Sir Sydney Cockerell, a close friend of Shaw, the former secretary of William Morris, founding member of the Arts & Crafts movement, and for three decades the director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Cockerell wrote to Judy Musters for many years, especially after Shaw's death in 1950. Visual materials include photographs and portraits, including a miniature of Mrs. Jenny Patterson painted on ivory, and Shaw's writing case.

Elizabeth Holahan Collection on Architecture, Art & Historic Preservation

When Elizabeth Gibson Holahan, an authority on the restoration of period interiors and a preservation leader, historian, and scholar, died in 2002, she left her extensive collection of more than 3,400 books to the Rochester, New York Area Community Foundation. In October 2004, the foundation distributed the collection to six institutions, giving the Cornell University Library 386 titles on interior design, decorative arts, and architecture. Valued at more than $195,000, the gift includes many historically significant titles, including Architecture de Philibert de L'Orme (1626), Johann Fischer's Architectural History (1721) printed in both French and German, Jean Mariette's four-volume French Architecture with Elevation Plans (1727), and James Gibbs's A Book of Architecture Containing Designs of Buildings and Ornaments (1728).

The Huntington Free Library's American Indian collection

On June 15, 2004 the Huntington Free Library's American Indian Collection, located in the Bronx, NY, transferred its holdings to Cornell University Library. The Huntington collection, appraised at $8.3 million in 2001, contains more than 40,000 volumes on the archaeology, ethnology, and history of the native peoples of the Americas. The Huntington Free Library contains spectacular treasures that will provide students and scholars with a rich resource for the study of Native American cultures. Collection highlights include early printed books on travel and exploration containing accounts of encounters with native peoples; rare dictionaries of native American languages; an album of original drawings of American Indians by the artist George Catlin; field notes by 19th century ethnographers and papers of archaeological expeditions; an original manuscript peace treaty between the Delware Nation and Johnson Hall; the Stockbridge Indian papers; the Joseph Keppler Iroquois Papers; and the papers of the Women's National Indian Association.

Records of the Human Rights Campaign

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections was chosen as the permanent home for the historical records of the Human Rights Campaign. The collection is being added to the Division's noted Human Sexuality Collection. Founded in 1980, the Human Rights Campaign is the largest national organization working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights. The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, with more than 460,000 members and a staff of over 100, works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.

Records of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections is pleased to announce that the historical records of one of the first professional women's associations will be added to Cornell's extensive archives documenting the history of the field of home economics. The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) has chosen Cornell Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections as the repository for its records. AAFCS was founded in 1909 as the American Home Economics Association (AHEA), one of the first national organizations to represent professional women. Early on its members researched and developed public education programs focusing on home economics, including: food and nutrition, parenting and early childhood development, consumer science, family finances, art and interior design, and textiles and construction. With more than 10,000 members today, AAFCS is the only national organization representing family and consumer sciences professionals across practice areas and content specializations. The AHEA/AAFCS archives include rare books, manuscripts, publications, photographs, sewing samplers, scrapbooks and other records documenting the operation of the association, including the correspondence of early leaders, such as Ellen Swallow Richards and Martha Van Rensselaer. These materials will complement and enrich the library's extensive collection that documents the history of the College of Human Ecology at Cornell.

Charles Lucas Collection

In May of 2004 Cornell Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections acquired the working library of Charles Lucas (1803-1889), the most famous 19th century authority on French prison reform. The collection contains 306 books and pamphlets from Charles Lucas's own collection. Included are over 100 titles written by Lucas over a period of 65 years, and approximately 200 works by 120 additional authors who published works related to the administration of prisons, criminal behavior, and punishment. Lucas was appointed Inspector of Prisons in France in 1830, and he was the founder of the Society for the Patronage of Liberated Youth. Many of Lucas's ideas continue to influence modern Western penal systems today. The Charles Lucas collection provides an essential resource for the study of the history of penal reform. It builds on Cornell Library's rich collections on 18th century France, and 19th century reform movements.

Rare Contemporary Poster Collection

In June of 2004 Cornell Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections purchased a spectacular collection of several thousand posters documenting contemporary culture in the areas of heath policy, sexuality, politics, and music. Key components of the collection are: more than 700 posters on AIDS prevention and awareness from 37 different countries; more than 2,000 posters, flyers, and magazines documenting the techno, house, and electronic music and club culture movements in Europe; and several hundred posters issued by various health and human services organizations to raise awareness on issues such as anti-smoking, nutrition, and pregnancy prevention. The collection will provide an important resource for students and scholars studying in the areas of popular culture, graphic design, health policy, and sexuality.

James Goldman Papers

In 2003 Cornell Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections acquired the complete archive of author and playwright James Goldman, a gift from his estate. James Goldman (1927-1998), American author, playwright and screenwriter wrote the play The Lion in Winter. He won the academy award for his screenplay version of Lion in Winter in 1968. He also wrote the book for Follies with Stephen Sondheim. The collection includes Goldman's original handwritten notebooks containing his earliest conception of Follies in 1964-65, and all successive drafts through the play's premier on April 4, 1971. Also present are manuscripts and related materials for Goldman's other theatrical works, The Lion in Winter, A Family Affair, They Might Be Giants, and Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole. His screenplays include The Lion in Winter, They Might Be Giants, Nicholas and Alexandra, Robin and Marian, and White Nights, and numerous works for television.

Records of New York State Wine Makers, 1860 - 1950

On May 4, 2004, The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collection's Eastern Wine and Grape Archive rescued more than 200 boxes of winery records from a barn slated for demolition on the property of Bully Hill Vineyards in Hammondsport, NY. A gift from the Bully Hill Wine Museum, the boxes contain the records of the Pleasant Valley Wine Company, spanning from the 1860s to the 1950s. Also present are boxes of records of the Urbana Wine Company, and others. These records have now been transferred to Cornell Library's Eastern Wine and Grape Archive. We welcome donations to help support the rehousing, organization, and description of these important historic records, which will be essential to our future understanding the early history of wine making in the Northeast.

Papers Documenting the American Civil War Era

Cornell Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections is received two significant collections of family papers documenting the Civil War period in 2004:

    a. In May 2004 we received a collection of more than 200 letters written to and from the abolitionist Samuel J. May, George E. May, and other members of the May family. These letters were presented to the Library by "Julia L. Eccleston and Robert C. Eccleston in honor of Howard B. Eccleston for his lifetime commitment to education." They make a spectacular addition to Cornell Library's renowned collection of abolitionist materials, which includes the personal Library of Samuel J. May.

    b. In June of 2004 the Library received papers of the Wells family of Glenn Falls, NY, covering the years 1862-1866, a gift of the descendants Marjorie and George Peacock. The heart of the collection is a group of nearly 100 letters between members of the Wells family, particularly one of the Wells daughters, Sarah Wells (called Sate), and her sister and mother. Sarah Wells sailed for China to marry her husband-to-be, Thomas W. Stillman, in 1862. The rich correspondence that follows documents Sarah Wells Stillman's life in China, and the progress of the Civil War back in America. While sailing to China, Sarah Wells met and became a close friend of Jane C. Burlingame, who was sailing for Shanghai to join her husband, Anson Burlingame, Minister to China in the Cabinet of President Lincoln. The collection also includes letters between Jane and Sarah.

Nathan Zimelman Children's Literature Bequest

In May of 2003 Cornell Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections received a collection of books and papers from award winning children's book author Nathan Zimelman. Nathan Zimelman was born May 8, 1921, in San Francisco. After earning his BA degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1939, he worked for many years helping his parents run their family-owned general store in Sacramento, California. In 1964, he began writing children's books, publishing more than 30 books between 1964 and 1990. Zimelman's award winning titles include I Will Tell You of Peach Stone (1976); Positively No Pets Allowed (1981); and Mean Chickens and Wild Cucumbers (1983). Cornell received approximately 50 books and 4 cubic feet of papers from Nathan Zimelman, along with a bequest in honor of his mother, Sarah Zimelman, for the acquisition and support materials relating to the history of children's literature.