Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES
- 20 -- GENERAL LITERATURE -- (Including the Berg Collection and the Arents Collection of Books in Parts)


The Arents Tobacco Collection was deposited in the library in 1944. In 1923 George Arents had started a companion collection of books in parts which he gave to the library in 1957, adding to it each year until his death in 1961. Since that time this collection has doubled in size to 1,273 pieces, including books and associated items; it is housed in the room adjacent to the tobacco collection and is open to the public upon presentation of an admission card obtained from the Research Libraries Administrative Office. In the description and checklist of the collection published by the library in 1957, the first curator, Sarah A. Dickson, pointed out that "So far as has been ascertained this is the only library assembled on the principle that the books therein appeared serially in separate numbers and are still in their original state. Books in parts may be defined as works by an author or authors which are published piecemeal over a period of time, each unit having its separate cover." From the beginning it was the policy to collect also associated material such as manuscripts, original drawings, and illustrations.

Only items in the English language were acquired at first, but in time the policy was relaxed (with Arents's permission) to include items in other languages. Dr. Dickson remarked that "the most striking feature of the literature which was issued in parts is its great diversity. Almost every type of book and author is represented in the Arents collection."

The earliest item in the collection is Musica Transalpina, Madrigales Translated of Foure, Five and Sixe Parts by Yonge (1588). The excessive rarity of seventeenth-and eighteenth-century books in parts has interested the collection in endeavoring to build up its resources in this area. The Victorian authors Dickens, Charles Lever, Thackeray, and Anthony Trollope are heavily represented, as is Sir Walter Scott. Twentieth century works issued in parts are also included. The checklist of the collection appeared in 1957,9 supplemented in 1964.10