By 1975, DePaul University Libraries owned approximately 7,000 volumes that were considered “special” by virtue of their rareness, value, or format. The result of both judicious purchases, as with the Otto Lempke Napoleon Library, and of gifts from individuals who often had deep associations with the university, these titles formed the basis of the rare book collections at DePaul. With support and encouragement from alumnus Abel E. Berland, DePaul board trustee, donor, and noted book collector, the first Department of Special Collections was born on the fourth floor of the Schmitt Academic Center. Its mission was to organize these rare volumes, improve awareness and accessibility to them, and foster long-term preservation.
With the completion of the new John T. Richardson Library in 1992, Special Collections & Archives had its own department designed with climate-controlled stacks and a reading room, named in honor of longtime champion of Special Collections, Abel E. Berland.
Today, Special Collections contains almost 17,000 volumes of rare books. This exhibit highlights a selection of the core collections and contributors, many of which have been made by those closely associated with the academic mission of the university, that have shaped DePaul’s Special Collections.
Chronology of Rare Book Donations to DePaul University:
1927 Illinois Chapter of the American-Irish Historical Society
1936 Otto A. Lempke Collection (Napoleon)
1946 Stuyvesant “Jack” Peabody Collection (Sports)
1964 Otto Eisenschiml Collection (Civil War/Lincoln)
1969 Veronica Williams Derr Collection (African-American)
1971-1993 Abel Berland (individual contributions & endowment fund)
1972 Samuel Baldwin Bradford Collection (Charles Dickens)
1984 Dr. Max Thorek Collection (Napoleon)
1995 Opening Day Collection
1998 Jonathan Stern Collection (Chicago-related)
2001 Berrigan Library
2001 Rosalie Gingiss Collection (Chicago-related)
2004- Vincentian Heritage Collections
2005- William and Irene Beck Collection (Chicago/Illinois Authors)
2007 Robert S. Gruhn Collection (Chicago-related)
2011 Leslie H. Kuehner Collection /
Christian Brothers University (Napoleon)