Special Collections

Special Collections (Oakland) is home to rare books (with an emphasis on fine press books, artists’ books, and early printed books), manuscripts, and archives, which are available in the Elinor Raas Heller Rare Book Room in the F. W. Olin Library. The collection includes printed books from the 15th century to the present, as well as the Mills College Collection (the archive of Mills College dating back to the 1850s). Books are cataloged on the library’s online catalog:


For finding aids to many of the archival collections, see: https://oac.cdlib.org/institutions/Northeastern+University+(Oakland)

For more information, please email: [email protected]


Bender (Albert M.) Collection

A collection of books (approximately 5,600) with strengths in literature, poetry, bibliography, book and printing history, fine press editions, art, and items pertaining to the San Francisco Bay Area. This is the largest and most general book collection.

Special Collections also has a similarly named archival collection, the Albert M. Bender Papers.

(Call Number = Coll.)

Bookbinding Collection

This collection consists of approximately 250 examples of different types of bindings, illustrating technical, artistic, and historical features. Includes some unique bindings by important bookbinders such as Rose Adler, Paul Bonet, and Henri Creuzevault.

(Call Number = binding)

Early Printed Books

This collection consists of over 1,000 books printed from the mid-15th century until about 1800. There are over twenty incunables (books printed during the first 50 years of printing), including a leaf from the 42-line Bible probably printed by Johann Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany. This is considered to be the first book-length work printed by means of movable metal type in the western world. Other early printers represented in the collection are Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer, Wendelin and Johann de Spira (the first printers to work in Venice), Erhard Ratdolt, Anton Koberger, and Aldus Manutius. Other important works include a Florentine edition of Dante’s La divina commedia with commentary by Landino, hand-colored engravings after Botticelli, and illumination (1481); the corrected 2nd issue of the King James Bible, the “she” Bible (1611); John Gerard’s The herball, or, Generall historie of plantes (1633 edition); Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible (1539); Pierre Simon Fournier’s Manuel typographique (1664–1766); the Geneva quarto edition of Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopedie.... (1778–1779); and several 18th-century works printed by John Baskerville, the Didot family, and Giambattista Bodoni.

(Call Number = earlyprinted)

Fine Press Collection

The Fine Press Collection consists of fine and private press, limited edition, and artists’ books, including examples of unique books, and ephemera. Books are generally shelved by press or printer name. The collection is especially strong in books written or made by women and local artists. Fine press bibliographies, exhibition catalogues for fine press printers, book artists, the book arts, and printing history are well represented. The collection includes books and broadsides by students from the Mills College Book Art Program.

Highlights of this collection include books from the Kelmscott Press printed by the father of the Arts and Crafts Movement, William Morris (1834–96) in the late nineteenth century. The Kelmscott Press produced fifty-three books from 1891 to 1898. The Fine Press Collection contains 36 Kelmscott Press books, including the masterpiece of the Press:The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, designed by Morris and illustrated by his friend and colleague, Edward Burne-Jones, issued on June 26, 1893 in an edition of 438 copies.

The Fine Press Collection also has an outstanding group of books and ephemera printed by Claire Van Vliet at the Janus Press in West Burke, Vermont (founded in 1955).

Local presses and printers represented include Arion Press (Andrew Hoyem), Book Club of California, Colt Press (Jane Grabhorn), Flying Fish Press (Julie Chen), Grabhorn Press, Peter Rutledge Koch, John Henry Nash, Pacific Editions (Charles Hobson), Poltroon Press, Rather Press, and Adrian and Joyce Wilson, among many others.

The Fine Press Collection includes a comprehensive collection of Eucalyptus Press books and ephemera. Rosalind Keep founded the Eucalyptus Press at Mills College in 1932. The press was an integral part of the rich tradition of fine press printing in the San Francisco Bay Area that continues today. Materials are still being printed under this imprint under the auspices of the Book Art Program.

(Call Number = P [press name])

James (Elias Olan) Collection

A subject collection consisting of approximately 100 books about or by Shakespeare, including Shakespeare’s source material. The collection contains a number of British histories, as well as Edward Hall’s The union of the two noble and illustre famelies of Lancastre & Yorke…, also known as Halle’s Chronicle (London, 1548).

Special Collections also has a similarly named archival collection, the Elias Olan James Papers.

(Call Number = James)

Juvenile Collection

Historical examples (starting in the 18th century) and first editions of children’s books, with a strength in illustrated books and books about pigs. This collection of almost 1,000 books is comprised of both fiction and non-fiction and includes pop-up books, alphabet books, picture books, and periodicals for children such as The Girl’s Own Annual and St. Nicholas. Illustrators represented include Kay Nielson, Valenti Angelo, Edmund Dulac, Kate Greenaway, Arthur Rackham, and Beatrix Potter, among others.

(Call Number = juv)

Parton (Jane Bourne) Collection

This is a comprehensive subject collection of 450 books and other materials on the history of ballet and modern dance and allied subjects. In addition to the book collection, there is a subject file of articles and clippings.

The collection includes early books on dance such as Fabritio Caroso’s Il Ballarino (Venice, 1581), Thoinot Arbeau’s Orchesographie (Lengres, 1588), and Cesare Negri’s Le Gratie d’Amore (Milan, 1602). There are a number of 20th century illustrated limited edition books such as The Designs of Léon Bakst for The Sleeping Princess (London, 1923), George Barbier’s Designs on the Dances of Vaslav Nijinsky (London, 1913), and Arnold Genthe’s The Book of the Dance (Boston, 1920).

Other collections of interest are the Dance Department archives in the Mills College Collection, the Marian Van Tuyl Papers, the Molissa Fenley Papers, and the Darius Milhaud Collection.

There are two publications associated with this collection both available in the F.W. Olin Library:

The Jane Bourne Parton Collection of Books on the Dance: A Selected Bibliography. Compiled by Flora Elizabeth Reynolds. Oakland: The Eucalyptus Press, 1977. P Eucalyptus (Special Collections)

Roatcap, Adela Spindler. The Book of the Dance in the 20th Century: Selections from the Jane Bourne Parton Collection of Books on the Dance. Exhibition catalog. Oakland: Mills College Library, 1984. 792.8016 R682b 1984 oversize

(Call Number = Parton)

Reinhardt (Aurelia Henry) Collection

This is a subject collection of about 325 books, journals, and ephemera on topics pertaining to women, with a strength in women’s suffrage, birth control, and social issues. Items of interest include leaflets on suffrage, etiquette and domestic manuals, and a first edition of the six volume The History of Women Suffrage, edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, published by the notorious phrenologists Fowler & Wells (New York, 1881–1922).

The Library also has the similarly named Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Papers which is the archive of Reinhardt’s presidency at Mills College.

(Call Number = Reinhardt)

Torres-Rioseco (Arturo) Collection

Dr. Arturo Torres-Rioseco (1897–1971) was a Chilean poet, scholar, translator, historian, and diplomat who taught extensively in the United States and Latin America. He was full professor of Spanish American Literature at UC Berkeley (1936–1969), professor of summer sessions at Columbia University, University of Mexico, University of Guatemala, Stanford University, Duke University, and Mills College. Dr. Torres-Rioseco worked closely with Mills College’s Casa Panamericana Program and its School of International Relations in the 1940’s. In 1961, he was appointed by John F. Kennedy as a member of the Advisory Committee on Latin American Relations. He also wrote several books of poetry, translated the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and wrote a book on Gabriela Mistral.

After Dr. Torres-Rioseco’s death his wife, Rosalie Godt Torres-Rioseco, began to donate books and manuscripts, including letters, non-fiction, poetry, novels, and journals from Arturo Torres-Rioseco’s private collection to the Special Collections Department of the F.W. Olin Library, Mills College. This department now houses the Arturo Torres-Rioseco Collection, consisting of over 400 volumes of literature of major 20th century Latin American poets and writers, as well as correspondence from political and literary figures.

The Collection contains works by Jorge Luis Borges, Arturo Capdevilla, Jorge Carrera Andrade, Joaquin Edwards Bello, Manuel Gálvez, Gabriela Mistral, and many others. Most of these books are in their original wrappers, many with beautifully designed pictorial covers, and most are inscribed by the authors to Arturo Torres-Rioseco. There is also a run of the influential Spanish Loyalist magazine Hora de Espana, (Jan. 1937–Sept. 1938) with poetry and prose, contemporary accounts, and military affairs. Authors include: Rafael Dieste, Pablo Neruda, Manuel Altolaquirre, Antonio Sanchez Barbudo, and others.

Letters to Arturo Torres-Rioseco from several major Latin American writers and political figures, such as Gabriela Mistral, Juan José Arévalo (President of Guatemala), Camilo José Cela, Manuel Gálvez, Cecília Meireles, and others are housed within the General Manuscripts Collection in the Special Collections Department.

A selection of letters to Arturo Torres-Rioseco has been published in a book entitled Literary and Cultural Journeys: Selected Letters to Arturo Torres-Rioseco,edited by Professor Carlota Caulfield and Professor Miguel Angel Zapata and published by Mills College Center for the Book (1995).

(Call Number = Torres-Rioseco)

Walter (Florence) Collection

This is a subject collection of over 300 books and journals on bookbinding and paper. Books include surveys on the history and technique of bookbinding, studies of individual bookbinders, and exhibition and auction catalogs. Also present are many of Dard Hunter’s books on papermaking, specimen books of Japanese paper (washi), marbled and other decorative papers, and a run of Bookbinding and Book Production (1938–1952) and The New Bookbinder (1981–present).

(Call Number = Walter)

West Coast Print Center Collection

A collection of almost 700 books printed at the West Coast Print Center (Berkeley, California) from the 1960s–1990s; rich in poetry and literature. Many of the books are volumes of poetry from the 1970s that were funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

(Call Number = West Coast Print Center)

Archives & Manuscripts

Baker (Charlotte) Papers

Bender (Albert M.) Papers

Bundschu (Barbara) Papers

Cameron (James and Emma S.) Papers

Catalano (Joe) Papers

Clark (Emma) Papers

Coolidge (Dane) Papers

Fine Press Ephemera

The General Manuscript Collection

Global Fund for Women Collection

Gordon (Beate Sirota) Papers

Harrison (Lou) Manuscripts

Hitchcock Coit Collection

James (Elias Olan) Papers

Keep (Josiah) Papers

Keep (Rosalind) Papers

Latimer (Rebecca) Papers

Lee (Barbara) Congressional Papers

Lyon (Israel Whitney "I.W.") Family Papers

Milhaud (Darius) Collection

Mills College Collection

Mills College Historical Photographs

Mills (Susan and Cyrus) Papers—Mills College President

Nevada (Emma) Collection

Oliveros (Pauline) Papers

Parton (Jane Bourne) Papers

Prall (David W. and Margaret C.) Papers

Reese (Mary Lou Hutton) Scrapbooks

Reinhardt (Aurelia Henry) Papers—Mills College President

Ringo (James) Papers

Rothwell (C. Easton) Papers—Mills College President

Shere (Charles) Papers

Smith (Ethel Sabin and Willard) Papers

Smith (Patti) Collection

Spearman (Glenn) Papers

Van Tuyl (Marian) Papers

Wert (Robert) Papers—Mills College President

White (Barbara McClure) Papers—Mills College President

White, (Lynn Townsend Jr.) Papers—Mills College President