Literature & Book Arts

The Literature and Book Arts collections include some 20,000 items ranging from a 4,000-year-old Sumerian clay tablet to contemporary artists’ books. Costume and botanical books, natural histories, travel accounts, miniature books, and significant early works on photography distinguish the collection. Learn more about our Literature and Book Arts collections below.
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History of the Book

Cover of Flora Sinensis The history of the book collection at USF illustrates broad concepts in the history of the Western book, beginning with the manuscript era and moving through the invention of the printing press, the mechanization of printing, and the development of the fine press and the artist’s book. The collection includes resources for four main epochs in European and American book history: illuminated manuscripts, incunabula, the hand press era, and the machine press period. Collection highlights include a complete Carthusian missal, an English indenture with original wax seal, an Ethiopian prayer book, and an Islamic manuscript with a contemporaneous binding. Botanicals, natural histories, and travel books are particularly well represented and include prints by Catesby and Michael Boym. Also included are annuals and story papers, novels by authors such as Charles Dickens in their original parts, and representative examples of 19th-century literature and history.

Book Arts and Fine Press Printing

Cover of Ediciones Vigia publicationThe Book Arts and Fine Printing collection  includes examples from William Morris’ Kelmscott Press, as well as an extensive selection of titles printed by the Mosher Press. Another high point in the collection is the repository of 100+ Ediciones Vigía titles. Ediciones Vigía, a Cuba-based books arts group, publishes approximately 16 titles a year in editions of 200 copies or less.  

Dobkin Collection of Americana

Cover of Girls Series Book The Dobkin Collection of Americana reflects holdings in North American history and culture, with a strength in 19th century publications. Primarily consisting of fiction, poetry, religious tracts, works of history, domestic arts, and science by American authors, the collection also includes numerous periodicals, some in complete runs, as well as a group of literary annuals and gift books. Named for Jay Dobkin, long-time director of Special Collections at USF Libraries, the Dobkin Collection includes extensive holdings not only in American literature but also American reprints of British literature, early American school books, and fine examples of publisher’s bindings.

Anglo-Irish Collection

Cover of The Cat and the Moon and Certain Poems by W.B. YeatsThe Anglo-Irish Collection reflects the research and personal interests of Dr. Francis J. Thompson, whose library was donated to Special Collections by his wife Marjorie after his death in 1989. The materials mainly encompass Irish history, literature, politics, and art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a focus on Fenianism and the Irish Literary Revival—the topic of Dr. Thompson’s doctoral dissertation from NYU. The collection has a number of first-edition, autographed volumes of poetry and prose works, translations by Douglas Hyde (the first President of the Irish Free State), an assortment of books written by infamous Fenians, bilingual texts, and editions of turn-of-the-century journals devoted to the promotion of the Irish language, literature, and customs. The Anglo-Irish Collection is generously supported by donations from Dr. Thompson’s children, Sally, Dan, and John.