Rare Book of the Month

A Portrait of Domestic Slavery in the United States, by Jesse Torrey (1817)

At the age of 17 years, convinced of the inestimable benefits of reading useful books, I anxiously desired that they might, if possible, be extended to the great mass of the human family; and endeavored to discover some effective plan for this purpose. . . . Hence the suggestion occurred that governments, or associations of... more

Picturing the Gothic: “Leonora,” by Gottfried Augustus Bürgher, illustrated by Diana Beauclerk (1796)

If you’re feeling Gothic in 2017, you’ll have an extra month to visit ZSR’s classic works of Gothic lit like The Castle of Otranto, Frankenstein, and Dracula. The ZSR Special Collections exhibit Deep Into that Darkness Peering has been extended until March 1. Stop by Special Collections & Archives (ZSR 625) any time during our... more

The New-England Farmer; or, Georgical Dictionary, by Samuel Deane (2nd edition, 1797)

Agriculture is justly thought to be the most ancient art; and it is certainly by far the most useful, necessary and beneficial. The subsistence and welfare of mankind depend more on it than on any, or all others: And all other arts would soon be useless, were the culture of the surface of the earth... more

The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

In the fall of 1787 Alexander Hamilton was facing a crisis. The recently concluded Constitutional Convention had been charged with revising the Articles of Confederation to provide a framework for the government of the newly independent United States. But after four months of contentious debate in Philadelphia, the delegates presented to the American public a... more

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (1847)

April 21, 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Bronte. Her best-known novel, Jane Eyre, was first  published in 1847. ZSR Special Collections’ copy of the first edition of Jane Eyre was part of Charles H. Babcock’s collection and is currently on view in the Special Collections & Archives Reading Room (ZSR625)... more

Orlando Furioso in English Heroical Verse, by Sir John Harington (1607)

The Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto’s epic Orlando Furioso first appeared in print exactly 500 years ago. Taking inspiration from the French Chanson de Roland, Ariosto recounted the fantastic adventures of one of Charlemagne’s knights, Roland (Orlando) and his associates. The main stories concern Orlando, who has been driven mad by his unrequited love for the... more

Report on Meteorology to the Secretary of the Navy, by James P. Espy (1850)

Weather forecasts are something that we take for granted in the 21st century. Most of us don’t give much thought to the science behind our weather apps, websites, or 24-hour television channels. But in fact the science of meteorology is a fairly recent one. Two hundred years ago there was very little understanding of the... more

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde (1899)

In the winter of 1895 Oscar Wilde was the toast of the London stage. A production of his An Ideal Husband opened in January to critical and popular acclaim. His new play, The Importance of Being Earnest, had its premiere at the fashionable St. James’s Theatre on February 14. The opening night audience was delighted... more

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville (1851)

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick has one of the most recognizable opening lines of any American novel. Everyone knows about Ishmael, Captain Ahab, and the Great White Whale. But how many readers have actually made it to the end of Melville’s epic? Moby Dick; or, The Whale is today a staple of Best American Novel lists... more

The Playboy of the Western World, by J. M. Synge (1907)

A dramatist once wrote a play about an Irish peasant, We heard some of the audience say “The motive is not pleasant.” Our own opinion, we admit, Is rather—well—uncertain, Because we couldn’t hear one bit From rise to fall of curtain. The Abbey Row (Dublin: Maunsel & Co., 1907) John Millington Synge’s drama The Playboy... more