The Rare Books are listed in the Clemson University Libraries’ catalog where additional details on individual titles can be found. The core of the book collection in Special Collections and Archives was founded upon the generous donations of local authors and collectors, funds from the William J. Latimer bequest and other beneficiaries, and gifts from individuals such as Mrs. Bernard Behrend, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Coker, Mrs. J. Henry Fair, Louis Rubin and the family of Adlai Robin Yates. Some manuscript collections also included portions of the donor’s libraries as well, most notably those of James F. Byrnes, the Pendleton Farmer’s Society, Strom Thurmond, and Benjamin R. Tillman. Other collections, such as that of noted children’s author Betsy Byars, have been augmented by the purchase of numerous domestic and foreign editions of their works.
While the rare book collection runs the gamut from history to social sciences to agriculture, it is particularly strong in the sciences and literature. Among the scientific works in the collection are Audubon’s Birds of America (1840-1844) and Quadrupeds of North America (1849-1854); Einstein’s explanation of the theory of relativity, Uber die spezielle und die allgemeine Relativitatstheorie (1919); and first editions of Galileo’s Dialogo di Galileo Galilei (1632) and Isaac Newton’s Opticks (1704). The literature collection boasts a large number of items by William Makepeace Thackeray, including Vanity Fair (1848). South Carolina authors are represented in the collection by works such as Julia Peterkin’s Scarlet Sister Mary (1928), William Gillmore Simms’ Yemassee (1854) and Ben Robertson’s Red Hills and Cotton: An Upcountry Memory (1942).
The collection also includes pamphlets on the nullification and secession controversies, antebellum women’s literature (donated by the Class of 1915 in memory of Clemson college Librarian Katherine B. Trescot) and genealogical works. Family history, as well as volumes on a variety of subjects relating to South Carolina, also are well represented in the collection.