The basis of this collection was a 1969 donation of 3,000 books from George Pinne, an Omaha physician and book collector. Among the treasures are first editions of Darwin's Origin of Species, Hobbes' Leviathan, Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Dickens' David Copperfield in the original parts, and Thomas De Quincey's anonymously published Confessions of an English Opium Eater. In 1997, Marie-Louise Rosenthal donated a copy of the famous Lectern Bible, a masterpiece of 20th century printing, created by Bruce Rogers. Other generous donors have continued to add to the rare books collection throughout the years.
Fraker Collection of Iowa History
The Fund for Excellence provided money to purchase the library of Fleming Fraker, a collector specializing in Iowa history, which added over 600 new titles to our strong local history holdings. Included are county histories, maps, biographies, and town chronicles. A separate collection of post cards from communities in every Iowa county adds a unique dimension to this collection.
A collection of over1500 historic post cards is available through Grinnell's Pioneer Digital Image Database (PDID). Post cards from 1900 to the present are included, although the bulk of the collection is from the early 20th century. PDID allows keyword searching as well as browsing or searching by subject, town, county, publisher, and printer. Most images are either true real photos or real photo reprints in Sepia, Black & White and Color. The database is updated regularly.
Fine Press Publications
Examples of the fine art of printing from Iowa and Midwestern presses are an important part of Special Collections. Included are the works of Harry Duncan (Grinnell College class of 1938) who was one of the finest American printers of the 20th Century. Founder of the Cummington Press, Duncan published several first editions, including Rainer Maria Rilke's Five Prose Pieces, and a previously unpublished work of William Blake, Genesis.
How to locate Rare Books
Rare books are listed in the library catalog with the designation "VAULT".