The Claybourn Rare Book Collection consists of numerous books with publication dates ranging from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries along with a number of signed first editions. Subjects include history, law, religion, education, grammar, and fiction. Although the overwhelmingly large majority of the books are written in English, some of the books with publication dates from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are written in Greek and Latin. The main strength of the collection lies in their marginalia signatures, stamp markings, stickers, and handwritten notes which provides information about their historic ownership and use.
Among the early works in the collection (those predating 1890), the subject of religion is dominant. Bibles, books of sermon, psalm and hymnbooks (some of which include musical settings), as well as works of theological, ideological, or scholarly interest are prevalent. But professional and practical works, and historical writings also appear, particularly among the titles published during the nineteenth century. Educational works are particularly abundant. Among these, instructional works on mathematics and language and writing predominate. There are also works on history and politics, including general works on Ancient Rome and Greece. Of particular interest are several biographies of political, military and religious leaders, the latter of which includes specific works on the lives of American ministers, missionaries, and religious women.
In addition to the Rare Book Collection, we also maintain several other collections of historic printed or published writings. These include: newspapers, photographs, bibles, pamphlets, and maps. There is a very significant degree of overlap between all of these collections, particularly in terms of provenance.
The condition of the Rare Book Collection varies widely from item to item, with some in very poor shape and others in excellent condition. Covers and spines tend be dirty and worn; many exhibit varying degrees of separation from the bindings. The pages in almost all of the books are yellowed, some to a significant degree. Pages are also often otherwise discolored or stained, with some tearing evident, particularly around the edges. Some books have loose or missing pages as well. A brief selection of highlights is listed below and ordered by publication date.
Love Poems and Fiction
- Letters of the Celebrated Abelard and Heloise (1755) with the history of their lives prefixed. This book of letters documents their various misfortunes, and the fatal consequences of their amours, to which is added Eloisa to Abelard, a poem by Alexander Pope, Esq.
- In Memoriam by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1856). A love poem completed in 1849 and now considered among the best poems of the century.
- Poems by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1859). The seventeenth edition of a classic collection of poems.
- Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace (1880). A first edition printing of the classic tale of Christ.
- Circuit Rider: A Tale of the Heroic Age by Edward Egglestong (1882). Based on the author’s own life as well as the life of Ohio itinerant preacher Jacob Young, this 1874 novel of a frontier Methodist minister and Bible agent presents a rollicking yet realistic view of early American life in the Midwest. Corn-shuckings, camp meetings, revivals, revels, and highwaymen color this novel-as-social-history.
- Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (1890).
- The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter Scott (1908). This is a reprinting from September 1908 of the first edition in July 1906.
Education Books (fiction and non-fiction)
- An Introduction to Mensuration and Practical Geometry by John Bonnycastle (1812). Bonnycastle was a prolific writer and Professor of Mathematics at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.
- Tom Brown’s School Days by Thomas Hughes (1857). The story is set in the 1830s at Rugby School, a public school for boys. A main element of the novel is Rugby School, with its traditions, and the reforms that were instituted there. The central theme of the novel is the development of boys.
- The Hoosier School Boy by Edward Eggleston (1883). The book is consciously nostalgic, recreating the Indiana schoolhouse and the typical boyhood amusements of the first half of the 19th century.
Religious Books (emphasis on Quaker and Methodist)
- The Works of George Fox, Vol. IV (1831). Contains principles essential to Christianity and salvation held among the people called Quakers by Rev. George Fox.
- Friends’ Miscellany, Vol. VII (1835). A collection of “essays and fragments, biographical, religious, epistolary, narrative, and historical.”
- A Memoir of the Life of Edward Stabler by his son William Stabler (1846). Stabler was a prominent Quaker pharmacist and an avid abolitionist who used his own resources to purchase slaves in order to grant them freedom.
- Memoirs of the Life and Religious Labors of Edward Hicks by Edward Hicks (1851). Hicks was an American folk painter and distinguished minister of the Society of Friends. He became a Quaker icon because of his paintings.
- Holy Bible (1872). This is a large leather-bound Bible printed in 1872 with the name W.D. Claybourn engraved on one side and E.J. Claybourn on the other. This Bible belonged to William Divine Claybourn and his wife Elizabeth. William and Elizabeth, born in 1819 and 1820, respectively, are the ancestors of all Americans who spell their name “Claybourn.”
- Hymnal of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1878). This leather-stamped hymnal belonged to James H. Claybourn, my great-great grandfather. Six generations of Claybourns have been members of the Methodist and like the faith, this hymnal has been passed down through the generations.
- Rules of Discipline and Advices of Illinois Yearly Meeting of Friends (1878).
- Wilmore’s New Analytical Reference Bible (1904). A rare edition that has been passed down in Allyson’s Baynes side of the family, who were prominent and active Quakers.
History and Civil War Books / Writings
- The Life of William Penn by Samuel M. Janney (1853). A second edition, revised.
- A Memorandum of the 80th Illinois Volunteer Infantry (October 1863 – June 1865). This work is an original, handwritten regimental log by Armstrong McGee.
- The Leading Facts of American History by D.H. Montgomery (1897).
- Wall’s History of Jefferson County by John A. Wall (1909).
- The Light and the Glory (1980), From Sea to Shining Sea for Children (1993), Sounding Forth the Trumpet (1998) by Peter Marshall and David Manuel. Personalized by Peter Marshall.
- My Life by Bill Clinton (2004). Personalized by the 42nd President of the United States to Allyson Claybourn.
- South Park Conservatives by Brian C. Anderson (2005). Personalized by the author.
- There I Grew Up: Remembering Abraham Lincoln’s Indiana Youth by Bill Bartelt (2008). Personalized by the author.
- Paperboy by Vince Vawter (2013). A signed, personalized first edition copy.