Special Collections

To learn more about our collections, please visit our Collections Blog.

Access to the different collections is readily granted to all the members of the University community and visiting researchers by appointment.

Requests for interlibrary loans are not accepted. We welcome correspondence regarding holdings or limited research from available sources. Printed material is fully catalogued and searchable on the Library's Catalog.

Our Collections

Baxter Collection

John E. Baxter donated over 311 volumes representing almost all the published works of four American authors: Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907), William Dean Howells (1837-1920), Henry Van Dyke (1853-1933), and Edith Wharton (1862-1937). There are approximately a dozen inscribed or presentation copies among these volumes bearing the author's signature.

Many of the books in this collection (the collection has grown to over 360 titles), first editions in their original binding, provide support for comprehensive research in late 19th- and early 20th-century American fiction and literary criticism.

Carofano Collection

In 1969 Mrs. Edward Carofano donated two 16th-century Venetian majolica jars to St. John's University. Several years later 49 books followed on apothecary pottery and on history of pharmacology, works that reflect the Carofanos' special collecting interests. The oldest European book in the group is the 1557 Greek and Latin edition of Theriaca and Alexipharmaca. Americana in this field is represented by a hand-colored copy of Samuel Henry's A New and Complete American Medical Family Herbal, 1814.

The entire collection of some 400 majolica jars and pharmacy-related artifacts came to SJU in March 1987.

Children's Historical Collection

The primary emphasis of this collection donated by Anne Thaxter Eaton is children's books of the 19th century. There are some 18th as well as a few 20th-century items among the 500 volumes in the collection. Judging by the very poor condition of the books they must have been uniformly well used and abused regardless of their age.

There are examples of original Caldecott picturebooks, McGuffey's readers, as well as first editions of fables and stories illustrated by Arthur Rackham. In its entirety the collection reflects a good cross-section of the variety and types of educational and recreational periodicals, storybooks, primers and novels available to the children of the past century.

Faculty Publications

At present over 650 books chronicle STJ faculty's scholarly output over the years.

Fischer Lawn Tennis Collection

William M. Fischer, an accountant by profession, was an avid tennis enthusiast. Starting in 1897 he built a varied collection of over 2,000 items including books, scrap books, periodicals, yearbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, souvenir programs and memorabilia. In addition to the printed materials available, he kept accounts in large bookkeeping ledgers on players' personal data and game performance. Two of the earliest monographs on the game of tennis date back to C.F. Peile's Lawn Tennis as a Game of Skill, 1884, and Lawn Tennis by James Dwight, 1886. The collection's emphasis is on material through the early part of the century up to 1955. Several of the early books are signed by one or more tennis players. The archival aspect and the scope of this collection makes it a particularly valuable working collection for historical and sociological studies of the game.

The collection since Mr. Fischer's death has had a few temporary stops. In 1947 through a trust indenture the title to the library went from Mr. Fischer to a board of trustees. In 1964 the trustees gave the collection to New York University (Bronx campus) with the understanding that it would be kept intact and made available for reference to serious students of the game. Ten years later NYU disposed of the collection to The New York Public Library where no separate facilities could be provided for it, nor did they guarantee keeping the collection intact. In 1976 the trustees initiated procedures to remove the books from NYPL, and finally in April 1978 the William M. Fischer Lawn Tennis Collection was officially opened in St. John's University Library, its permanent home.

Since its opening, the splendid collection of over 1000 photographs has generated the most research interest. They have been used to illustrate encyclopedias and tennis history books currently being published.

In addition to scholars interested in this popular sport, fiction writers have also visited the collection in search of historical settings and interesting characters from the pages of periodicals. The several drawers of vertical file folders hold invaluable treasures for students in search of original documents: letters, score cards, minutes of meetings and an unpublished novel. Fifty years of newspaper clippings carefully pasted into notebooks make it possible to follow a player's career with a minimum of research. Some of the memorabilia, a silver cup, several medals and a few of Bill Fischer's personal effects, bring a personal touch to the collection.

Gottscheer Heritage Preservation Collection

Gottscheers are the descendents of people from the German-speaking area of Gottschee in the Austrian Duchy of Carniola, presently part of Slovenia. The Slovene name for this district is Kocevje. By 1945, most Gottscheers had left their homeland, and many settled in Queens, New York. In 1997, the first books relating to Gottschee were donated to the University Libraries by representatives of the Gottscheer Relief Association of Ridgewood, New York. The collection has grown to approximately 7 linear feet of primarily published material, in addition to audiocassettes, photographs, and other documents. Subjects covered include the language, literature, music, history, and culture of Gottschee. Newsletters and newspapers such as the Gottscheer Zeitung are also part of the collection. Few volumes have been catalogued to date, but a print guide to the collection is available.

Halpern Collection of Popes and Saints Letters

Congressman Seymour Halpern's gift of 40 autograph letters written by popes and saints of the Catholic Church constitutes a much valued collection at St. John's University.

There are 38 manuscript letters signed and two typescript pieces of correspondence. Of the 36 papal letters the oldest is on vellum from Pope Alexander IV, dated 1256; the most recent typewritten one is from Pope Paul VI, signed G.B. Montini on April 6, 1938. The four remaining letters are from St. Francis de Sales, St. Gregory Barbarigo, St. John Leonardi, and St. Vincent Maria Strambi.

In spite of its limited size, this collection of original documents bridging eight centuries can afford students a small sample of primary resources not ordinarily available outside of Church archives.

Heller Collection of Stenography and Shorthand

Although most of the Saul Heller Collection's 185 volumes still await cataloguing, it is available to students with the aid of a handlist of titles. This collection consists of 18th-and 19th-century English and American textbooks and workbooks representing both the practical and theoretical aspects of stenography and shorthand.


 

Limited Editions

This largest of collections takes up an entire wall of shelving in Special Collections. Some of the more unusual items are art exhibit catalogues and folders containing original lithographs and etchings. The Colophon (1932-1938) and the New Colophon (1948-1950) are examples of limited editions periodicals.

Manuscript Collections

Records of the American League for an Undivided Ireland (ALFUI), 1940-1965
Finding Aid (PDF)
These records document the activities of the American League for an Undivided Ireland, founded in 1947. The aim of the organization was to make every possible effort to abolish the partition of Ireland. The members of the organization tried to influence U.S. foreign policy in relation to the desired unification of Ireland. Primarily correspondence, but also includes a certificate of incorporation, Irish and U.S. publications, speakers’ notes, news clippings, membership lists, printed Congressional papers, press releases, and mailing lists. Correspondents include Frank Aiken, Tom Barry, Emmanuel Celler, John A. Costello, Eamon de Valera, Everett Dirksen, Jacob Javits, Paul O’Dwyer, Henry Cabot Lodge, Charles Rice and Joseph Scott.

Alfred Politz Papers, 1942-1983
Finding Aid (PDF)
This collection documents the career of Alfred Politz, founder of the market research company Alfred Politz Research Incorporated (ARPI). He was known especially for developing new techniques in polling and opinion analysis. The collection includes biographical and autobiographical information, correspondence, speeches, news clippings, articles, research studies and other published and unpublished material written by, or about, Alfred Politz and ARPI. 

 

Records of the Bernadette Devlin Defense Fund, 1968-1971

Finding Aid (PDF)   
These records document Paul O’Dwyer’s efforts to solicit funds on behalf of the Bernadette Devlin Defense Fund. Bernadette Devlin [McAliskey], born in 1947, was an activist in Northern Ireland. The records include news clippings, correspondence, financial records, and publications.

Myer Collection of Accounting

The Joseph C. Myer Collection consists of over 300 monographs, journals and ledgers on the theory, history and practice of accounting. Publication dates span four centuries. The strength of this collection is primarily 17th-and 18th-century Continental and 19th-century American books on methods of bookkeeping and business procedures.

Periodicals

Although not catalogued for, nor housed in Special Collections, a few 18th-and 19th-century periodicals fall within its administration.

History, social customs, short fiction, scientific observations and children's stories as they appeared on the pages of Atlantic MonthlyBadminton MagazineCornhillDouglas Jerrold's Shilling MagazineEdinburgh ReviewGentleman's MagazineScribner's Monthly and St. Nicholas Magazine, document the changing literary tastes, commercial interests and educational values of over a century.

Rare Books

The St. John's University Libraries own one of the ten extant copies of the third edition of the first German Bible printed in America. In 1776, all but a few copies of the Saur Bible were destroyed when the British invaded Germantown and converted the freshly printed leaves into litter for their horses and paper for their cartridges; hence its name--Gunwad Bible. Christoph Saur's daughter Catherine rescued a handful of copies which she had bound for members of the family.

Among the Rare Books the Libraries also count an Ethiopian Psalter. This Amharic manuscript on vellum is attached to wooden boards and housed in its own goat-hide carrying case. Our holdings of three incunabula, a Bible printed in Venice 1492 and two different editions of St. Augustine's works (1486 and 1497), represent the earliest Western printed book production efforts.

Much of the collection (over 800 volumes) consists of transfers from the general circulating collection and donations from parish, seminary and private clerical libraries. As a result there are several 16th- and 17th-century editions of works of the Church Fathers and 18th- and 19th-century writings of missionaries.

Special Collection

In 'Special Collection' within Special Collections we collect volumes of no specific designation but of special interest. In this group are autographed copies of John F. Kennedy's The Strategy of Peace; William White's biography of Lyndon B. Johnson The Professional; a complete run of The Yellow Book, as well as expensive facsimile volumes, original color-plate, fragile or unusual publications, and some gift books.