Special Collections & University Archives

Books & Publications

Books & Publications

The Special Collections of the Grand Valley State University Libraries contains approximately 35,000 books and other publications, which include children's stories, mysteries, modern first editions, author collections, fiction and nonfiction. Notable publications include:

Michigan in the Novel

Michigan in the Novel is the most comprehensive collection of novels with Michigan settings existing in any institution. Comprising more than 2,600 titles with additional copies in different formats, editions, and bindings, this collection includes the first novel that used Michigan as a setting, Champions of Freedom (1816), Hemingway's first novel, Torrents of Spring (1926), and L. Frank Baum's rare Tamawaca Folks (1907) that he wrote under the pseudonym "John Estes Cooke." All genres of fiction are represented including juvenile literature, mysteries, romances, and science fiction.

Limited Editions Club

Limited Editions Club publications are a nearly complete accumulation of all the books, newsletters, catalogs, prospecti, and ephemeral items issued during the first sixty-five years of the Club's existence. It was founded in 1929 by George Macy, a New York entrepreneur and promoter of fine printing. The Club published a dozen books each year, each carefully chosen, edited, illustrated, and printed by renowned craftsmen and limited usually to 1000 copies. The books illustrated by Picasso, Rackham, Matisse, and Grant Wood are particularly noteworthy in this series.

Little Blue Books

The series of inexpensive booklets called Little Blue Books printed by the thousands by the Haldeman-Julius Company from the 1920s through the 1960s and sold through the mail, were conceived by the Kansas publisher, Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1889-1951). These booklets reprinted many classics and a number of original works and were influential in bringing literature and the joy of reading to the masses. Present in this collection are hundreds of Little Blue Books , periodicals, and other items relating to this enterprise.


The German publishing company Insel Verlag was founded in 1899 by Anton Kippenberg in Leipzig. In its early years the firm only printed expensive, beautifully-produced volumes. However, to answer the demand from readers of more modest means, the Insel-Bücherei series was begun in 1912. Relatively inexpensive but with the same careful sense of design and typography, these smaller-format books reprinted shorter works from a variety of German, European, and world authors. The series numbers considerably more than a thousand titles and is still being issued.

Fore-edge paintings

A fore-edge painting is a type of graphic art that is a miniature watercolor executed on the fanned edge or edges of a book; when the book is closed the art disappears, now hidden by the edge gilding. This genre of painting dates from the 1500s, flourished in the 1800s, and is still practiced today. In Special Collections there are a few examples of this type of work, some showing landscapes, some illustrating episodes in the book to which they are appended, and some portraits of authors. View images in the Digital Collections database.

Decorated Publishers Bindings

From the early 1870s to roughly 1930, many publishers issued their commercial book covers with a remarkable variety of graphic designs and illustrations. This sixty-year period saw many artists and designers contributing to this art form. While some can be identified from their style or initials, others remain unknown. View images in the Digital Collections database.

Mystery and Detective Fiction

Mystery and Detective fiction is represented by a variety of authors, including the French master of the genre, Georges Simeon. Other authors present in significant number include Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, J.J. Marric, Robert B. Parker, Ellis Peters, and Ed McBain. There are also a significant number of novels in the sub-genre "bibliomysteries."


Rivers of America

The Rivers of America Series was issued by Farrar & Rinehart, later Holt, Rinehart & Winston, from 1937 to 1974. In this 37-year period sixty-five volumes were published. The series was initially conceived by its first editor, Constance Lindsay Skinner as a literary and historical series that would provide a view of America through the lens of America's rivers.

Illustrated Books

Illustrated Books includes a significant number of books illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Rackham, William Hogarth, and George Cruickshank. Illustrations by the contemporary master of wood engraving, Barry Moser, are well represented by many of the publications from his Pennyroyal Caxton Press.

Comic Strips and Graphic Novels

Special Collections contains a modest assortment of comic strips and graphic novels, for the most part concentrating on the work of two author-illustrators. George Herrimans (1880-1944) Krazy Kat , which ran in William Randolph Hearsts newspapers from 1916 to 1944, is considered to be one of the classics of the genre. More recently, the Nebraska native and Wisconsin resident, Chris Ware (b. 1967) has become known for his carefully-drawn graphic novels (e.g., his Acme Novelty Library series and Jimmy Corrigan ) that explore the anxieties of modern life.

The Newcomen Society

The Newcomen Society was founded in 1923 to promote the American system of free enterprise. The Newcomen Award was established to applaud American businesses and organizations. Published transcriptions of award acceptance speeches comprise the largest collection of unique, first-person narratives of representatives of nearly 1,600 award-winning organizations.

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll, the pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898), English author, mathematician, clergyman. The Lewis Carroll Collection, although concentrating mostly on Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and the variety of editions that were published over the years, also contains the author's other literary and mathematical books as well as significant biographical and critical studies on Carroll and the inspiration for his children's classic, Alice Liddell.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). English novelist of one of the most well-known detective characters, Sherlock Holmes. His works, which include such classic Holmes stories as A Study in Scarlet , The Hound of Baskervilles , and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes , were published in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Besides Conan Doyle's stories of his famous detective, this collection includes other works of fantasy and historical fiction, biographies and literary analyses of his work.

Anthony Powell

Anthony Powell (1905-2000). English novelist, reviewer, memoirist, and diarist best known for his twelve-volume sequence of novels collectively entitled A Dance to the Music of Time (1951-1975). This roman-fleuve follows the narrator, Nicholas Jenkins (Powells alter ego), his friends and family from his schooldays, through service in the Second World War, to the early 1970s and is considered a masterpiece that depicts British society during the twentieth century. Present in the collection are a number of editions, both English and American, of the Dance as well as Powells other novels, diaries, essays , and memoirs. Also included are critical studies of the author and runs of periodicals published by two societies devoted to the study of Powell and his works.

Christopher Morley

Christopher Morley (1890-1957). American novelist, poet, essayist, journalist, newspaperman, playwright, and literary editor. His erudition and wit made him a popular author during the 1920s and 1930s. This collection consists of not only his literary works in many editions, but also some manuscript material and books about Morley.

H. Rider Haggard

H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925). English author of a wide variety of popular adventure novels set in exotic lands, published in the late 1800s to early 1900s. He is best known for his novel King Solomons Mines , and for his character Allan Quatermain, who has been resurrected in several movies and in the graphic novel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen . This collection includes Haggards novels and literary analyses of his works.

Presidential Writings Collection

Under the auspices of the University's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, the Presidential Writings Collection contain published works of the U.S. Presidents, including diaries, letters, speeches, memoirs, and official papers.


Donald Markle Espionage Collection

Under the auspices of the University's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, the espionage collection includes published works that deal with espionage, military intelligence gathering, cryptology, and policy studies from the nineteenth century forward.




Page last modified August 27, 2013