Carleton receives rare, first-edition collection of books

Carolyn Nelson ’63 and Bob Nelson ’62 recently donated their collection of rare, first-edition books to Carleton’s Laurence McKinley Gould Library.

May 2, 2019

First-edition books from the Nelson collection.

Supporting Carleton can take many forms, and Carolyn Nelson ’63 and Bob Nelson ’62 have done just about all of them. They’ve given to the Alumni Annual Fund for 41 continuous years, established an endowed scholarship and an endowed fund for library resources, and joined the Heywood Society by adding Carleton to their will. And recently they donated their collection of rare, first-edition books to Carleton’s Laurence McKinley Gould Library.

“The Bob and Carolyn Nelson First Edition Collection is a wonderful addition to Gould Library’s special collections,” college librarian Brad Schaffner said. “It provides students and faculty with the opportunity to directly experience outstanding first editions of important literary works, and we are extremely fortunate to receive such a generous gift from Bob and Carolyn.”

The collection contains 200 titles and 289 volumes, such as original printings of The Great Gatsby, the King James Bible, and Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary. It took about 20 years for them to acquire the collection, Carolyn and Bob say, and they hope that beyond serving as a resource for faculty members and students, it may inspire students to also begin book collecting.

“When you acquire a book, you want to know more about it and its history and author,” Bob said. “We learned a lot about these texts, including little quirks like two reversed chapters in Henry James’s The Ambassadors and a misspelling in Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, that are now part of our literary heritage.”

The collection will be formally dedicated May 10.