Berea College Special Collections materials fall within these thematic categories:
Curio (Rare Book) Collection
Berea's Rare Book Collection consists of over 12,000 valuable books dating from the earliest period of printing in the 15th century to important first editions and beautifully illustrated books of the 20th century. Most of the important rare books have been gifts from friends of the College.
The collection is distinguished for its centuries-old Bible, its first editions in English and American Literature, ballad books, hymnals, and 19th century works on the anti-slavery movement and Black history. The rare books, used in library displays and in teaching, provide a great depth and richness to the holdings of Hutchins Library.
Berea's rare and antiquarian books are a great resource for a college with a strong liberal arts program. As a part of the record of civilization, they delight and instruct in various ways. There is no substitute, for example, for turning the pages of the first edition of the King James Bible (1611), or holding in one's hand a Shakespeare folio. Rare books stimulate the imagination and foster an appreciation for the great tradition of the written word.
The library does not engage in an active collecting program for the rare book collection, either through gift solicitation or purchase.
Shedd/Schwarzschild Abraham Lincoln Collection
Berea’s collection of works on Abraham Lincoln began with a gift to the Library in 1935 of John A. Shedd Lincoln collection. Shedd, a New York attorney, was an avid collector of Lincolniana, and his estate bequeathed his collection to Berea College. In 2000, the Lincoln Collection of Henry Schwarzschild, a well-known civil-rights attorney, was added to the holdings in Special Collections. Schwarzschild’s important collection of printed works, government publications, and other contemporary pieces came to the College through the generosity of Berea alumna, Katherine Jett Schwarzschild, ’46.
The Shedd/Schwarzschild Abraham Lincoln Collection consists of over 1800 books and other materials. Included are Eastman Johnson’s famous picture of “The Boy Lincoln,” a gift to the College in 1908; two handsome bronze plaques; and an original Lincoln letter. An Abraham Lincoln Collection in Historical Collections includes numerous photographs, printed memorabilia, and other period pieces supplementing the book collection. New books about Lincoln are regularly added to the collection.