OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU alum donates rare book collection to university

08/09/2012

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new collection of rare books with an appraised value of more than $320,000 has been added to the Oregon State University Special Collections & Archives Research Center. 

The collection, donated by OSU alumnus Albert Parr and his wife Ruth, contains more than 350 titles, ranging in subject from religious thought to literature to the history of science. Highlights include a 1498 printed version of the Bible and the first English translation of Sir Isaac Newton’s “Principia, titled “A Treatise of the System of the World,” and dating from 1728.

The Albert and Ruth Parr Rare Book Collection will join the McDonald Collection, OSU’s original rare book collection, which contains more than 2,500 rare books, artifacts and fine bindings.

The Parrs spent more than 30 years collecting the titles, and were impressed when they visited the OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center last year, especially when they viewed the McDonald Collection. Parr, who graduated with a bachelor’s of science in 1964, went on to work as a physicist in the Sensor Science Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He and his wife wanted their collection to be used for research and teaching purposes, and felt that OSU would both carefully preserve their donation as well as make it available for educational purposes.

“This is a superb collection that has significant research value for students and scholars in a wide range of disciplines,” said Faye Chadwell, the Donald and Delpha Campbell University Librarian and director of the OSU Press. “We are honored that the Parrs chose Oregon State as the recipient of this gift. Their generosity allows the students and faculty of Oregon State to benefit for generations to come.”

Larry Landis, director of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center, said the Parr Collection fits particularly well with existing rare book collections in the center’s holdings.

“Like the McDonald Collection, the Parr Collection will be of interest to students of book history and print culture, art history and illustration, scientific invention and discovery, and the history of travel,” Landis said. “We look forward to making the Parr Collection available to support teaching and learning at OSU.”

Spanning seven centuries and diverse subjects, the collection is particularly strong in the history of printing, the history of science and technology, travels and exploration, and literature. Notable highlights include:

  • A 1571 edition of Strabo’s Geographia with woodcuts by Sebastian Munster;
  • A first edition of the monumental Cambridge edition of the King James Bible, printed in 1659 and 1660 and illustrated with splendid engravings by John Ogilby;
  • Numerous art nouveau publishers’ bindings.

Many volumes are the only recorded copy in Oregon or the Pacific Northwest. 

The collection will be cataloged and made available to scholars and students. OSU Libraries is planning a celebratory display and reception to observe the gift during fall term.

The Parrs’ gift is part of The Campaign for OSU, the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. Guided by OSU’s strategic plan, the campaign has raised more than $840 million of its $1 billion goal to provide opportunities for students, strengthen Oregon communities and conduct research that changes the world.