Colleges River Collection
assembles rare books, documents
includes first edition Twain works
Lela Jane Bradshaw
HANOVER, Ind. (February 2011) Located on a
bluff overlooking the Ohio River, Hanover College provides an ideal
showcase for a rapidly growing collection of books and documents related
to life on and along rivers. From a first edition copy of Thoreaus
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers to the letters
of an 1800s riverboat captain, the Rivers Collection is certain to capture
the interest of dedicated researchers and casual book lovers alike.
by Lela Bradshaw
Colleges Rivers Collection
is a valuable resource and library
officials encourage their use.
Established in 2004 with a grant from the Lilly Foundation,
the Rivers Institute at Hanover College is dedicated to promoting an
understanding of the natural and cultural history of river environments.
As part of this mission, the Institute has begun to assemble an enviable
collection of rare sources to assist scholars in their studies. Presently,
the Rivers Collection includes more than 1,200 works ranging from rare
first edition books to unique manuscripts.
Over the past two years, the Institute has begun taking a liberal
arts approach to teaching about river environments, explains Marissa
Austin, Director of External Relations. Rivers Collection Librarian
Doug Denne explains that there has been a focus on adding materials
that highlight rivers as a mode of transportation and exchange in the
past, noting that rivers were really the superhighways of
Those interested in river studies or those simply wanting to get a glimpse
into the past are invited to visit the Rivers Collection, housed in
the archives at the Duggan Library at Hanover College. The archives
are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Denne is also developing
a class on the History of the Book for Spring Term at Hanover that will
be making use of some of the materials acquired through the Institute.
Austin cites the Rivers Collection as a bridge between the Rivers
Institute and the college its useful to both.
In any collection dedicated to river literature, Mark
Twain is certain to be a popular figure. Naturally, the copies of Twains
Life on the Mississippi tend to come up in discussions of
the assembled works. The collection includes both the London first edition,
first issue of Twains classic and the later American first edition
of this famous account of steamboat life. Denne points out that the
London edition includes a woodcut picture of the author engulfed in
flames, but that this image so distressed Twains wife that it
was removed from the American release of the book.
Austin admits that, Im a big Mark Twain fan and cites
this first edition as a book that particularly stirred her imagination.
Its just so neat getting these pieces 150 years
old and you get to flip through them, she says with
a smile, I get excited about it and we hope other people will
get excited as well.
Denee acknowledges that some people, even those doing research, have
a bit of a fear when it comes to handling rare volumes. He notes that
One of the things I hope to do in our History of the Book class
is to dispel that fear. He encourages visitors to the archives
to handle the books and appreciate the look, feel, and even the smell
of the old paper and leather.
A lot of people think that when you come into a rare book library
that youre supposed to wear white gloves. We dont do that
here, he explains. While certainly encouraging careful and respectful
use of the materials, he sees them as items to be studied and enjoy
and are not meant to be used as museum pieces. He hopes
that as more people learn of the treasures available in the Rivers Collection,
they will stop by and see the works for themselves.
Austin agrees, saying, We would love for people to to come and
check out the collection. Its such a unique resource. No point
in it just sitting on the shelf.
For more information, visit: http://rivers.hanover.edu.
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