Wide-ranging and eclectic in nature, the Rare Book Collection contains more than 25,000 books that are rare, valuable, or otherwise in need of special handling or protection. Particular strengths include: travels and voyages, eighteenth-century British history and literature, economic history, agriculture and horticulture, the history of the book, and fine printing and book design (with comprehensive collections of books printed by Circle Press, Janus Press, and Bruce Rogers).
The Description de l'Égypte (1809-21), an illustrated chronicle of the antiquities and natural history of Egypt produced by French scholars accompanying Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt, is one of the collection’s most notable items. Highlights in the field of English literature include first editions of Edmund Spenser’s The Fairie Queene (1590) and John Donne’s Poems (1633), the second folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays (1632), and the Kelmscott Chaucer (1896). A first edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776) came to LSU as part of the library of economist Richard T. Ely. Other highlights of the collection include Diderot’s Encyclopédie (1751-1765), Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (1755), Newton’s Opticks (1704), and the Doves Press Bible (1903-1905).
For detailed guides to published materials in selected subject areas, see Tips for Finding Books.
In addition to the Rare Book collection, Hill Memorial also holds the following associated collections: