The Chapman University Leatherby Libraries Special Collections houses over 6200 books. The collections focus on first editions of literature, fine and small presses, Orange County and California history, California Indian tribes, book art, the history of printing and book plate collecting.
Over 200 books on book plate history and collecting. Named for Audrey Spencer Arellanes
who authored, Bookplates: a Selective Annotated Bibliography of the Periodical Literature in 1971, which is a landmark text in the field. She was also the third President of the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers from 1968-2000.
Special Collections documents the history and art of small and fine press books, both historic and contemporary, produced by noted printers and designers. The art of the book is reflected in the many limited editions, examples of letter press printing, miniature books, pop-up books, and especially books that reflect the art of handmade paper and fine bindings.
Over 100 volumes of rare books and bibles collected by Charles Clarke Chapman, university namesake, donor and lifelong trustee. This collection includes books and bibles printed from 1505 to the 20th century. Notable are De Civitate Dei (Latin, 1505) and a Matthew’s Bible (“Bugge” bible) (Latin, 1549).
Over 400 books and pamphlets on cities, regions, and special interest topics relating to California. Roberta Dale is a retired teacher and Chapman alumna ’68, who traveled throughout California and purchased material on every city and town she visited. The collection of almost 400 books and pamphlets reflect her deep interest in history. Many of the volumes are signed, limited and out of print editions.
Over 500 books and periodicals. The Disciple Collection which dates back to the California Christian College campus in Los Angeles. Many of the books in this collection documenting the history of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Over 400 books on Abraham Lincoln’s life, presidency, and the Civil War. Former Trustee Harmon Wilkinson was a lifelong admirer of Abraham Lincoln. His treasured library, collected since he was a young man, reflects Mr. Wilkinson’s fascination with Lincoln. Many of the editions are rare, from small presses, are out of print, and signed.
Over 100 books focusing primarily on poetry, fiction, and the art of writing, many of which are signed, limited and fine press editions. Douglas Messerli, PhD., is a writer, editor, former literature professor, and founder and publisher of Sun & Moon Press and Green Integer Press. Mr. Messerli donated over 550 books to the library, 100 of which reside in Special Collections.
Mr. Tomlinson is the donor of the Ralph L. Tomlinson antique toy collection which is housed on the third floor of the library. The children's book collection, along with the toy collection, demonstrate Mr. Tomlinson's philosophy of "learning through play."