The College of St. Benedict has amassed a collection of rare books and books on specialized topics. Within this collection, some were the gifts of generous donors. Almost all of the College of St. Benedict Special Collections items are housed in a restricted-access room in Clemens Library; a very few especially fragile items are owned by the College of St. Benedict but housed in the St. John's University facilities for rare books.
One of the largest recent additions to the College of St. Benedict's Special Collections was the donation of hundreds of books by the College of Saint Teresa in Winona, Minnesota, when that institution closed in 1989. The College of Saint Teresa Collection includes many primers and schoolbooks from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, books by women authors, and books by twentieth-century poets. Some of the rare books in this collection are: a sixteenth-century Latin treatise on "practical arithmetic"; an early seventeenth-century Italian book on the same topic; and a lavishly illustrated two-volume French Imitatio Christi, printed in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century, owned, to the best of our knowledge, by only two other libraries. We also received from the College of Saint Teresa the O'Neill turn-of-the-century collection of Irish and Irish-American dance music; while several editions were printed, a musicologist has stated that we are lucky to own such a treasure. The College of Saint Teresa's donation includes books autographed by Pearl S. Buck, Willa Cather, Dorothy Day, and François Mauriac.
In 1996, the College of St. Benedict Special Collections received 49 books from the Musser Collection of Little Falls, Minnesota. The Musser Collection contains several works dealing with musicians and Native Americans, along with some first editions or authors' presentation copies of English and American literature. We have, for example, in this collection, a first edition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
Inquiries about the College of St. Benedict's Special Collections may be directed to David Wuolu, Collection Development Librarian ([email protected]).