Rare Books

Service Guidelines

The Hugh Thomas Miller Rare Book Room houses early and rare books, as well as manuscripts, prints, maps, classical and popular music scores, newspapers, and memorabilia, in all fields of liberal arts and sciences, education, pharmacy, and the fine and performing arts. The William F. Charters South Seas Collection and the Madame de Staël Collection, described in the links below, are two of the significant collections. The rare books collection dates back to 1473.

Miller (1867-1948) was one of Butler University's most notable alumni, faculty members, and benefactors. He was president of the Irwin-Union Trust Company and the Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, Indiana, and he was elected lieutenant governor of Indiana. For nearly fifty years he served on the Board of Trustees of Butler University.

In 1889 Miller joined the Butler faculty as professor of history and romance languages. He recognized the central role of an academic library in the process of education and was responsible for the marked growth of the university's collections during his years on the faculty (1889-99). He also introduced the then very modern practice of cross-referencing for all Butler library collections.

Collection strengths include such areas as: South Pacific Islands during the 18th and early 19th centuries, herbology and botanists, Native Americans, American authors in first editions (many of them signed), African American poets, American westward expansion, American natural history, and early educational materials.

Listed below are major collections of books housed in Irwin Library's Special Collections and Rare Books room. Materials are described in the University's on-line catalog. Some collections also have supplementary access lists; these are available on-site and, as they become available, via the Special Collections and Rare Books webpage.

For descriptions of the collections, appropriate search strategies, and available access lists, click on the appropriate links.

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Last updated June 28, 2012.