Please Help Us Preserve Our Collection

The Adopt-a-Book Program encourages donor support of library conservation efforts for fragile and damaged items. Your tax-deductible contribution enables us to preserve volumes for Vassar's current and future scholars. All donors will be recognized on this website and with special bookplates if requested.

Other Ways of Supporting Our Conservation Efforts

If you would like to support our conservation efforts but do not see a book on this page that interests you, please feel free to contact Ronald Patkus, Head of Special Collections, at or 845-437-5798. There are many books and manuscripts in a variety of subject areas and price ranges (starting at $200) that need treatment but are not listed here. Please note that it is possible to make a contribution over a period of time, or in collaboration with others.

Subject Index:

Fine Printing
Geography and Travel
Jewish Studies
Medieval Studies
Natural History
Women's History

The Workes of the Most High and Mighty Prince, James. London, 1616.

King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England after the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, initiating the Stuart dynasty in England, and ruling from 1603-1625. As king he authored a number of works on political and other matters, and these were collected in this early edition. James’s works provide insight to an important phase of English history.


John Foxe, Acts and Monuments of Matters Most Special and Memorable. Happening in the Church: With an Universal History of the Same... London, 1684. 3 vols.

More commonly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, this is a chronicle of the persecution of Protestants, especially English Protestants. First published in 1563, the work went through many editions; this ninth edition is the first to appear in a Roman font.


William Camden The History of the Most Renowned and Victorious Princess Elizabeth... London, 1688.

William Camden (1551-1623) was a historian who authored several works, including a review of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, which was first published in Latin in 1615. The first English edition appeared in 1625; this later but still early edition features an interesting frontispiece of the queen. The book shaped the way many viewed Elizabeth after her death.


The Athenian Gazette. London: Printed for John Dunton at the Raven in the Poultry, 1691. 2 vols.

This journal, which later became known as the Athenian Mercury, was published by John Dunton’s Athenian Society. Known for answering questions on a wide variety of topics, it marks an important point in the history of the English periodical press.


Georgius Everhardus Rumphius, D‘Amboinsche Rariteitkamer. Amsterdam: Printed by François Halma, 1705.

Georg Eberhard Rumphius was a 17th century German botanist who for many years lived in the Dutch East Indies. This first edition of this classic work of natural history is a “curiosity cabinet” of tropical shellfish, rocks, minerals, and fossils featuring many wonderful plates of these items.


Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu, Persian Letters. London: Printed for J. Tonson: and sold by Thomas Combes ... and James Lacy ..., 1722. 2 vols.

Montesquieu was an important early figure of the Enlightenment; his Persian Letters offers epistolary exchanges between two Persians traveling through France, and includes critiques of western politics and society. This is the first English edition of the work.


J.J. Fux, Gradus ad Parnassum. Vienna, 1725.

The author of this highly influential book on counterpoint was Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741), an Austrian composer and music theorist of the Baroque period. He produced during his lifetime operas, masses, and a number of other musical works, but he is especially known for Gradus ad Parnassum, which was read by Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart, and is still used today. Vassar’s copy is a rare first edition, dedicated to the Emperor Charles VI.


Bernard Picart, The Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations of the Known World... London: Printed by Wiliam Jackson for Claude Du Bose, 1733-1739. 6 vols.

This is the first English edition of Picart’s encyclopedic (though sometimes fanciful) work. Vassar’s set has been used by faculty and students with particular interest in plates dealing with the worship practices of eighteenth century Jews.


Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. London, 1749.

This multi-volume comic novel by Henry Fielding follows the life and adventures of Tom Jones from infancy to adulthood. It is an important work in the development of the English novel. Vassar’s


Samuel Johnson, The Rambler. London: Printed for J. Payne and J. Bouquet, 1751. 2 vols.

One of the great serial publications of eighteenth century England, The Rambler appeared twice a week from 1750-1752. This first edition is a nice complement to our collection of Johnson dictionaries.


J.-P. Rameau, Fragments Représentés Devant le Roi a Fontainebleau. (Ballets. Librettos. Selections). Paris, 1754.

Jean-Phillipe Rameau was one of the greatest figures of 18th century music. This very rare book appeared at the height of the composer’s powers, and contains an opera-ballet and two acte de ballets performed to mark the birth of the future King Louis XVI. Included are three works, each featuring Rameau’s music: La Naissance d'Osiris; ou, La Feste Pamilie; Les Incas du Perou [from Les Indes Galantes]; and Pigmalion.


Sir Isaac Newton, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Coloniae Allabrocum (Geneva): Sumptibus Cl. Ant. Philibert, 1760. 3 vols.

This is a later printing of Newton’s classic work, which was originally published in 1687. The 1760 edition features extended commentary as well as additional works by other mathematical thinkers.


J.J. Rousseau, Dictionnaire de Musique. Paris, 1768.

This is the first octavo edition of the Enlightenment philosopher’s famous work on music. The dictionary displayed the philosopher’s radical views on this subject, and remained very popular, well into the romantic period. The text is accompanied by a number of interesting engravings.


État Actuel de la Musique du Roi et des Trois Spectacles de Paris. Paris, 1770.

This rare title offers a review of music, theater, and dance in Paris during the Old Regime, not long before the revolution. It is part of a series of works that were issued regularly during the 18th century. The book is quite small, and was covered in patterned paper, most likely at the time of publication.


Fanny Burney, Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance Into the World. London, 1779.

Evelina was Fanny Burney’s (1752-1840) first novel, published anonymously in 1778. The work presents a series of letters, written by a young woman, which together satirize 18th century English society. Evelina became very popular; our edition is the fourth, published just a year after the first edition.


John Latham, General Synopsis of Birds. London, 1781-1801. 8 vols.

Latham was a physician and a founding member of the Linnean Society. This work was his first on ornithology and features over one hundred colored plates and descriptions of many new species.


The Botanical Magazine; or Flower Garden Displayed. London, 1787.

The Botanical Magazine was first published in 1787, and today it is considered one of the greatest botanical serials ever published. William Curtis, a botanist at Kew Gardens, put out 13 volumes, including this one, to familiarize readers with various plants. The small format made the magazine available to a wide audience.


Thomas Bewick, A History of British Birds. Newcastle: Printed by Edward Walker, for T. Bewick: sold by him, and Langman and Co. and J. White, London, 1809. 2 vols.

Bewick was a talented wood engraver who produced illustrations for a number of books. A History of British Birds was his greatest work; our copy is the third edition.


Marie-Gabriel-Auguste-Florent Choiseul-Gouffier, Voyage Pittoresque de la Gréce. À Paris. De l’imprimerie de Leblanc, 18--. 2 vol.

Authored by a French diplomat and scholar, Voyage Pittoresque features many impressive engravings. This large, multi-volume work helped stimulate a revival of interest in ancient Greece in France during the late eighteenth century.


Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Philadelphia, 1836-1837. 5 vols.

This is the first American edition of Dickens' first book. It is preserved in the original boards and spines, and features printed labels.


William Hogarth The Works of William Hogarth from the Original Plates – Restored by James Heath, essay by John Nichols. London, 1882.

This large book features plates of the English artist William Hogarth (1697-1764). Much of his work presents realistic scenes of early 18th century England. The binding in this edition of his work is half calf and marbled papers, with gilt edges.


Holy Bible. The Doves Press, no. 1 The Terrace Hammersmith, 1903.

The Doves Press was one of the most important English fine presses of the early twentieth century. Its Holy Bible is a masterpiece of Arts and Crafts printing.


Hours of the Virgin. France, probably Paris, 1420-1443.  Adopted!

This early book of hours was written in Gothic script and includes a number of large and small miniatures. It features colorful borders that depict vines, flowers, and birds.

Adopted by Jeannette Harper, VC 1960.


Hours of the Virgin. France, for use of Amiens, circa 1500.  Adopted!

Written in Gothic script, this volume includes large and small miniatures, colored initials, and decorated borders.

Adopted by Madge Baker, Katherine Johnson, Nancy Beal, Adele Gignoux, and Nancy MacKnight, all VC 1962.


Geoffrey Chaucer, The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed. London, 1542.  Adopted!

This volume of collected works is Vassar’s earliest by Chaucer. It is one of the so-called “blackletter folios,” so named for the heavy Gothic type that was used.

Adopted by Frances B. Hogg, VC 1962.


Martin Luther, Der achte Teil der Bücher des Ehrwirdigen Herrn D. Martini Lutheri. Vol. 8. Wittenberg: Hans Luft, 1556.  Adopted!

This is a set of the collected works of Martin Luther, the printing of which began during the reformer’s lifetime. Volume 8 features several of Luther’s biblical commentaries.

Adopted by Jeannette Harper, VC 1960.


The Bible, Translated According to the Ebrew and Greeke... London: C. Barker, 1582.  Adopted!

The “Geneva Bible” marked a mileston in Reformation printing. It was first printed in 1560 for English Protestants who had escaped to Switzerland to avoid persecution in their homeland. Hundreds of editions of the text were available; some, such as this one, were printed in London.

Adopted by Phoebe Anderson McCarthy, VC 1969, in honor of Stephen McCarthy, VC 2010.


Richard Hakluyt, The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation… London, 1589.  Adopted!

Richard Hakluyt (1552 or 1553-1616) was an important English writer whose works promoted the settlement of North America. The London-based Hakluyt Society, which publishes texts relating to travel and discovery, is named after him. The Principall Navigations is one of his most important books.

Adopted in honor of the marriage of James Kautz and Mary Nickerson.


Geoffrey Chaucer, The Workes of Our Ancient and Learned English Poet... London, 1598.  Adopted!

This edition of the works of Chaucer was edited by Thomas Speght, an English schoolmaster. Speght’s editions presented a unique scholarly apparatus, and added four works to the Chaucer canon. These editions were the books read by English writers like Pepys, Milton, Dryden, and Pope.

Adopted by Laura Scileppi, VC 2004.


Choir Psalter and Cistercian Gradual. probably Spanish, n.d.  Adopted!

Two large manuscript volumes, each written on vellum and housed in their original bindings. The choir psalter features the Book of Psalms and other devotions. The gradual is composed of music used in the celebration of the Mass.

Adopted by Margo Zitin, Elaine Romberg, Emily Ellen B. Mudryk, Marianne Buchenhorner, Hazel Tishcoff, Marily Kaplan, Sarnia H. Hoyt, and Mary Jean Winter in memory of Lynn Marie Cabot, VC 1960.


Geoffrey Chaucer The Workes of Our Ancient and Learned English Poet... London, 1602.  Adopted!

This book is the second edition of Chaucer put out by Thomas Speght. It featured a number of changes to his 1598 edition, including an anonymous poem about the role of the scholar.

Adopted by John B. Wolf, VC 1974, in memory of his mother Harriet Malina Wolf.


King James Bible. London, 1640.  Adopted!

The King James Bible, also known as the “Authorized Version,” was first printed in 1611. Since that time it has exerted an enormous influence on the English language and literature. This 1640 edition is Vassar’s earliest copy of the landmark work.

Adopted in memory of Cecil Augustus Brown, by his granddaughter, Heather R. A. McClean, VC 1997.


Alexander Pope, The Dunciad, Variorum : with the Prolegomena of Scriblerus. London: Printed for A. Dod, 1729.  Adopted!

Pope was perhaps the most significant poet of his age, and The Dunciad was one of his greatest satires. The Dunciad, Variorum was based on the original Dunciad, but included additional material.

Adopted by Houhynhnm, VC 1963.


Daniel Defoe, Roxana. London, 1742.  Adopted!

This is an early edition of Defoe’s final novel, first published in 1724. It followed Moll Flanders, another work of fiction by the author that focused on a female character striving to attain economic stability in a rigid society. The frontispiece provides an early introduction to the novel’s main character.

Adopted by Yuki Sato.


Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Vedute di Roma. Roma, 1748. 2 vols.  Adopted!

Piranesi’s views of Rome are gathered here in two large folio volumes. The eternal city’s great buildings are depicted, often in ruins.

Adopted by Debra Fagel Treyz, VC 1974, in honor of James Treyz.


Virgil, Publii Virgilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica et Æneis. Birmingham, 1757.  Adopted!

This is a printing of Virgil by the famous English printer John Baskerville. The book is known for its beautiful typography, and also for the fact that it is printed on two kinds of handmade paper: laid, and wove. Wove paper eliminated the presence of the long chain lines that were a common feature of early printed books, thus offering a background that allowed the typography to stand out.

Adopted in honor of Mary Arista White, VC 1958, by Molly Batchelder, Ann Dunipace, Patty George, Kaki Robinson and Gail Wilson.


Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations. London, 1776. 2 vols.  Adopted!

This is a first edition of one of the most important texts in the field of economics. Smith’s book, which advocated free markets, had a great influence on individuals and governments.

Adopted by Paul Greenberg, VC 1983.


Rigobert Bonne, Atlas de Toutes les Parties Connues du Globe… Geneva? 1780?  Adopted!

This atlas was published with a work by Guillaume Thomas Francois Raynal (1713-1796) titled Histoire Philosophique et Politique des Etablissemens et du Commerce des Européens. The maps were produced by Bonne, an important cartographer of the 18th century who served as Royal Cartographer to France. His maps are especially known for their precise levels of detail.

Adopted in honor of the marriage of James Kautz and Mary Nickerson.


Lady’s Magazine. London: Printed for GGJ and J:Robinson, 1792 and 1811. 2 vol.  Adopted!

This British magazine for women was published between 1770 and 1837; it features stories, poetry, music, and colorful fashion designs.

Adopted by Madge Baker and Katherine Johnson, both VC 1962.


Thomas Paine, Common Sense Addressed to the Inhabitants of America... 1792.  Adopted!

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was born in England and came to America in 1774, on the advice of Benjamin Franklin. Common Sense was published early in 1776, and influenced many by its call for American independence. This edition came out in 1792, attesting to its ongoing popularity. It is bound with other works that first appeared in that year, including Paine’s The Rights of Man.

Adopted by friends of John Brown, with gratitude for his peerless Common Sense.


Humphrey Repton, Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape and Gardening. London: printed by T Bensley for J. Taylor, 1816.  Adopted!

Repton, one of Britain’s most significant landscape architects, published three works on gardening. Our Fragments is a first edition and features over forty color aquatints and other engravings.


John James Audubon, Ornithological Biography. Edinburgh, 1831-39. 5 vols.  Adopted!

This is the valuable first edition of the text companion to Audubon’s Birds of America (Audubon published his text separately to avoid British copyright law).

Adopted by Lorraine Willis Stevens, VC 1942.


Andrew Jackson Downing, A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening… New York & London, 1844  Adopted!

Downing (1815-1852) is one of the key figures in the history of American landscape architecture and gardening. He authored several books and edited The Horticulturalist. He produced designs for many rural houses, including Matthew Vassar’s residence, Springside. This copy belonged to Matthew Vassar, and features his autograph.

Adopted in Honor of President’s Advisory Council Members Debra Fagel Treyz, VC 1974 and Lorna Bade Goodman, VC 1963, Parent 1988.


Strong, Asa. The American Flora, or History of Plants and Wild Flowers... New York, 1846.  Adopted!

This is a copy of the first issue of the first volume of Asa Strong's American Flora. Other issues and volumes appeared in later years. This title features remarkable color plates of botanical subjects.


Maria Mitchell, Maria Mitchell Papers. 1853-2007 (bulk 1853-1889).  Adopted!

Correspondence, manuscripts, research material, and photographs relating to Mitchell's work as an astronomer and member of the faculty of Vassar College.


Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species. London, 1859.  Adopted!

A landmark in the history of science, this book details Darwin’s theory of evolution. It was written for a general audience, and attracted wide attention from the beginning. Our 1859 copy is a first edition.

Adopted by John B. Wolf, VC 1974, in honor of his daughter Amy I. Wolf.


William Shakespeare, Shakspere’s Works. London, 1864.  Adopted!

In 1864, the 300th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, the Complete Works of Shakspere [sic] were published in London in “fortnightly parts.” The publications made the works of the dramatist available to a wide reading public. Vassar’s set contains 30 parts, featuring steel engravings by Kenny Meadows.

Adopted by Dorothy Candib, VC 1976, and Edward Engel in honor of Mr. Arthur Candib.


Le Monde Elegant. 1866-1868.  Adopted!

This is a wonderful set of mid-nineteenth century colored fashion plates which, despite the title, seems to derive from a London-based periodical.

Adopted by Madge Baker and Katherine Johnson, both VC 1962.


Flaxman’s Dante. London, 1867.  Adopted!

John Flaxman was an English artist who lived from 1775-1826. He created over 100 illustrations of Dante’s great work in 1793. The drawings, reproduced here in a mid-19th century edition, are known for their simplicity of form.


Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass; Passage to India. [New York : J.S. Redfield and 3 others]; Washington, D.C. : [Sold by Walt Whitman], 1871.  Adopted!

Though many editions of Leaves of Grass appeared during Whitman’s lifetime, our copy of this classic work is especially prized because it features a handwritten inscription from the poet to his friend, the nature writer John Burroughs.

Adopted by Cathy Baer, John Mihaly, VC 1975, Ryan Hart, Jen Dahnert, Mary Carole Starke in honor of Barbara Vogelstein, VC 1976.


John Burroughs, Wake-robin. 1871.  Adopted!

In the preface to this work, local naturalist John Burroughs described Wake-robin as “mainly a book about the Birds, or more properly an invitation to the study of Ornithology…” Inspired by the title of this book, Vassar formed a Wake Robin Club in 1895 for students interested in the study of birds. This copy is preserved in its original binding, and includes an 1894 handwritten letter from the author to a friend in Hartford, Connecticut.

Adopted by John Mihaly, VC 1974, in honor of the 80th birthday of Mary Pick Hines, VC 1953, mentor and friend.


Le Petit Messager/Le Bon Ton. Paris. Société des journaux de modes réunis, n.d.  Adopted!

This is another set of colored fashion plates that derive from two French fashion periodicals popular in the mid-nineteenth century.

Adopted in memory of Aquilla Mahalith Evans Brown, by her granddaughter, Heather R. A. McClean, VC 1997.


Poliphili Hypnerotomachia... London, 1904.  Adopted!

The original copy of this book was printed in Venice in 1499 by the famous printer Aldus Manutius. It is known for its wonderful illustrations and beautiful typography. This 1904 printing is a facsimile made using handmade paper.

Adopted by Dr. Ellen Marmur, VC 1991, in memory of Professor John W. Moore and Dr. Betty L. Moore.


Leo Tolstoy, Zhivoĭ trup. Moskva, 1912.  Adopted!

This book is an early Russian printing of a posthumously-published play by Leo Tolstoy titled "Zhivoi Trup," translated into English as "The Living Corpse." It includes several images of Tolstoy.

Adopted for Peter Holodny (VC 1986) and Alexander Holodny (VC 2010) with thanks for their hospitality to the President's International Advisory Council in London.


Boccioni, Pittura Scultura Futuriste. Milan, 1914.  Adopted!

This book has been called “the Bible of Futurism.” It represents an important statement of early 20th century art. There are 51 plates which reflect the futurist aesthetic, by artists like Boccioni, Carra, Russolo, Balla, Severini, and Soffici.

Adopted by Leslie Shih, VC 1990.


The Art Work of Louis C. Tiffany. Garden City, NY, 1914.  Adopted!

This is a limited edition in its original binding. The work features a chapter on glass painting and staining. Vassar’s copy is a gift of Tiffany, who autographed it.

Adopted by President Catharine Hill and the Vassar Sesquicentennial Committee in honor of Leslie Jackson Chihuly, VC 1983, and Dale Chihuly, with gratitude for their friendship and hospitality.


Pencil drawings by William Blake, first and second series, edited by Geoffrey Keynes. London: Nonesuch Press, 1927 and 1956.  Adopted!

Though published almost thirty years apart, these two volumes together represent Blake’s output of pencil drawings. In addition to the plates, there are helpful essays in each. Both books are limited editions.

Adopted by Joan Jewett, VC 1952, in memory of Nancy Spofford Yerkes, VC 1952.


1971 Vassar Sit-In Films. Poughkeepsie, NY, 1971.  Adopted!

Three 16 mm films produced during the Vassar Sit-In, which took place in April and May of 1971, in protest of college tenure decisions. There is also a workprint of a film about the event titled "Endless Bummer," by Bruce Styne, Vassar Class of 1974.

Adopted by Theodore M. Lieverman, Susan Anable and Andrew Cohn, all VC 1971.


Vassar College Libraries Archives & Special Collections, Box 20, 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY, 12604-0020

845.437.5799 |

Libraries Home Archives and Special Collections Home