Over the last year, DePaul University’s Special Collections and Archives acquired a number of rare printed items, ranging from leather-bound sixteenth century hagiographies to 1960s underground newspapers. With every new acquisition we not only grow our library’s collections but we broaden our potential for hosting exciting instruction sessions and expand the scope of research our students can perform on campus. While sadly there is not space in this blog to detail each of our remarkable new items, here are some highlights from a year in collecting:

The Frugal Housewife


Originally published in England as early as 1765, this 1802 cookbook by Susannah Carter was frequently reprinted for English, Irish, and American audiences. Known as one of the earliest cookbooks printed in America, this work is chock-full of interesting (although not always appetizing) recipes and influenced generations of American cookbooks and cuisine. Carter explained how to cook everything from pastries and pies to the best methods of pickling and drying. Anyone looking to make a fricassee of calf’s feet or collar an eel are welcome to visit Special Collections and consult with Mrs. Carter.

A Closed Convention in a Closed City


Although DePaul’s Special Collections are mainly comprised of books, we also actively collect ephemera, such as buttons, pamphlets, and other evidence of material culture that was not originally intended to last. This striking poster was created by Andrew J. Epstein for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) while he was a student at Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1968. This was one of two posters Epstein made for SDS in the lead-up to the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention and which caused his eventual expulsion. In this poster, keen-eyed Chicagoans might notice iconic buildings like The Water Tower, John Hancock Center, and the Marina City towers, not to mention the unmistakable face of Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Daniel Deronda


Thanks to a generous donation from Rabbi Laurence L. Edwards of the Department of Religious Studies, Special Collections now holds a first edition of George Eliot’s 1876 novel, Daniel Deronda. Born Mary Ann Evans, George Eliot was one of the most influential women of the Victorian age, penning bestsellers such as The Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch. In this, her final novel, Eliot explores issues of morality and religion while viciously satirizing Victorian society. Daniel Deronda perfectly fits in with DePaul’s collection of Victorian novels and has already been used by a DePaul class studying nineteenth century literature.

A Dozen Deaths

dozenPurchased with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, this artists’ book takes advantage of its atypical format to physically express the confusing and often conflicting narratives that emerged after the 2012 killing of 17 year old African-American high school student, Trayvon Martin. The structure of the book allows readers to manipulate the order of the 12 first-person narratives and in doing so, asks readers to create their own interpretation. DePaul has been collecting artists’ books for many years and this poignant work by School of the Art Institute student Nia Easley is a moving example of how format can be as expressive as text.

The Anatomy of Melancholy


First published in 1621, Richard Burton’s masterpiece The Anatomy of Melancholy defies modern book genres. At its face, it is a medical textbook which explores the relatively understudied ailment of melancholy (or what we might be tempted to characterize today as depression). However, Burton’s hugely successful book could equally be defined as a work of literature, philosophy, or astronomy. DePaul’s “new” edition dates from 1660 and is the final edition that underwent Burton’s notorious habit for last minute editing and correction. In his text, Burton observes that Melancholy is as much a physical ailment as a spiritual one and notes that “I write of melancholy by being busy to avoid melancholy.” Burton’s work was a favorite of eighteenth century lexicographer Dr. Johnson, who wrote that it “was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise” (Lowndes I:328). For anyone wishing to follow in the steps of Dr. Johnson, Special Collections is open Monday through Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm.

To learn more about DePaul’s rare books collections, contact Special Collections and Archives at 773-325-7864, or archives@depaul.edu


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