Special Collections and University Archives


World War II Era Homefront Propaganda Poster

Created and first distributed in 1943, this poster conveyed the attitude of winning the war effort through cooperation and collaboration.

Rare Books

The Novel That Created the Genre: The Castle of Otranto, A Gothic Story

Generally considered to be the first gothic novel at its initial publication in 1764; Horace Walpole added both his name as the author and the subtitle “A Gothic Story” by the second edition. This book served as the model in settings, tone, characterizations, and plots for future gothic works. The copy in Rare Books is the sixth edition, printed in London by Bodoni for John Edwards in 1791. Some copies of this edition have two states of a view of the castle of Otranto, a portrait of Lady Mary Coke, and six plates representing different scenes from the play. These plates were not printed by Bodoni, but added in 1793 in England. This copy has the frontispieces and four of the six plates and was rebound in half red morocco binding with pink marbled boards and matching endpapers by the Harcourt Bindery by the previous owner, W. Wellington George, MD.

Title Page
Tipped-in image

The Other Vampire Book Published in 1897

Appearing the same year as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Florence Marryat’s novel, The Blood of the Vampire, is fascinating for its engagement with many of the issues affecting Victorian society. Marryat weaves ideas regarding heredity, race, women’s roles, Spiritualism, and the occult into her sensational plot featuring Miss Harriet Brandt, daughter of a mad scientist and voodoo priestess who leaves her home in Jamaica for Europe. Rare Books’ copy is of the first edition, published in London by Hutchinson & Co. and housed in a custom clamshell box.

Title Page
Clamshell Box

A Key Piece of Witchcraft Canon : The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, A Study in Anthropology by Margaret Alice Murray

It is hard to overstate the impact of this work on academic and literary discussions surrounding witchcraft and paganism. The study, which has been described in style as “fantastic scholarship”, puts forward the theory that medieval European witchcraft represented the survival of the pre-Christian nature cult of Cernunnos, the Horned God.

Although immediately controversial in its claims and methodology, it proved widely popular due to its optimistic and timely presentation of a fulfilling female-led religion, and has since been key in the development of 20th-century Wicca and Neo-Paganism. Murray followed this thesis with her The God of the Witches (1933) in which she cites the late Palaeolithic cave-drawing known as the Sorcerer, found at Trois-Frères in 1914, as “the earliest known representation of a deity”. These two texts eclipsed her previous reputation as an Egyptologist and established her as a fundamental name in the fields of folklore and witchcraft.

This work uses methods common to the study of folklore at the time, which saw folk practices, especially those in rural communities, as potential living fossils, handed down, potentially from pre-history, within inherited traditions. Rare Books copy is the first edition, first impression, of this hugely influential work, inscribed with a blessing by the author on the second blank, “All your cross and troubles go to the door. M. A. Murray 1950”.

Cover and inscription
Title page

Special Collections

Before “Jack the Ripper” there was The Edgware Road Murderer

A fascinating assemblage of printed material relating to the cause célèbre of 1837, the brutal murder and dismemberment, on Christmas Eve 1836, of Hannah Brown by James Greenacre, forever after known as the Edgware Road Murderer. This collection was compiled by someone eagerly following the case and the variety of materials attests to the grip that it exerted on the public mind. Included in the approximately 100 leaves of clippings are the scarce Paddington Murder Sheet, and other decidedly uncommon pieces, including Fairburn’s comprehensive coverage of the trial and an issue of The New Doctor, with the front page dedicated to the phrenological aspect of the Greenacre case.

Interior page of scrapbook

Women Veterans Historical Project

Recruiting posters for the U.S. Navy WAVES and U.S. Coast Guard SPARs. [1943-1944]

Recruiting Brochure: Get free training with pay in the world’s proudest profession  Join the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps  High School Girls Plan Now to join when you graduate  GPO Undated [1943].

Recruiting Brochure WAVES Reserve Officer Candidates School  United States Naval Training Center Great Lakes Illinois. [circa 1950] 

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