Special Collections
Rare Books

The Archives and Special Collections Department collects and preserves in its Rare Books collection over 8,000 titles ranging from a ca.1450 South Netherlands Book of Hours to the newest collectible or limited-edition publication.

The collection is cataloged and available through Franklin & Marshall College's on-line Library Catalog. The South Netherlands Book of Hours has been digitized and is available online here. Strengths of the collection include :

  • Natural Science
  • Exploration (United States and Global)
  • U.S. Civil War and European Military History
  • 17th through 19th-Century European and World History
  • Ancient History and Classical Literature
  • Lexicography
  • 19th-Century American and English Literature
  • Criminology (18th- and 19th-century)
  • Lancaster County Imprints
  • Art of the Book
  • Central Pennsylvania fine press publications
  • Books of martrydom

  • The Department maintains two distinct subject collections within rare books as well as the earliest core collection owned by the Library:

    The collection of German-American Monographs,a component of the larger German-American Imprint Collection consists of approximately 2,700 titles published in North America in the German language in the eighteenth and nineteenth-centuries. This collection is especially rich in materials printed prior to 1830 from the South-Central Pennsylvania area. The Unger-Bassler and Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center collections comprise the two major sources of the collection. Approximately one third of the monograph collection is cataloged and available for searching through the library's online catalog. Access to the monograph collection can also be provided through The First Century of German Language Printing in the United States of America, Publications of the Pennsylvania German Society, Vol. XXI and XXII, 1989.

    Watts de Peyster Collection: Napoleon Buonaparte--General John Watts de Peyster developed this collection of monographs about Napoleon Bonaparte and the Napoleonic era. The 1,182 title collection is rich in 19th century imprints on Napoleon, European military history, and anti-Bonaparte writings. The collection is completely cataloged and also available via the Library Catalog. In 2007, a comprehensive collection analysis and descriptive bibliography was compiled by senior French major Nick Way. Please link to the bibliography (.pdf) here.

    The William Reichenbach Collection is the oldest library collection. It was bequeathed to Franklin College in 1821 by William Reichenbach, Professor of Mathematics from 1787-1821. It consists largely of latin language texts by classical authors as well as contemporary 17th-19th century works on ancient history, science and religion.


    In addition to these larger subject collections, there are several subcollections of books related by provenance. Most of these works are individual or family-owned books acquired by the library as part of a larger manuscript collection.

    These books can be searched by visiting the library catalog and entering the full name of the collection (as shown in italics) in the keyword box or by viewing the parent collection's finding aid for an inventory (if available) at the link provided.

    Thomas R. Brendle Collection -8 titles; associated with the Thomas R. Brendle Collection of Pennsylvania Germania

    J. William Frey Collection -23 titles; associated with the J. William Frey Collection of Pennsylvania Germania

    Johannes Schwalm Historical Association Collection -90 titles; part of Johannes Schwalm Historical Association Collection

    Leinbach Family Collection -23 titles; part of the Leinbach Family Papers

    Lloyd Mifflin Collection -8 titles; associated with the Mifflin Family Papers

    Muench Family Collection -34 titles; part of the Muench Family Papers

    Reynolds Family Collection -44 titles; part of the Reynolds Family Papers


    For questions concerning the value of your rare book you may try some of the sources listed here


    Return to top of page

    updated 03/17/06 mrl