Category Archives: Rare Book Room

Bible of Omar ibn Sayyid

Cover imageOmar Ibn Sayyid was a Muslim African slave who lived in the southern states in the early 1800s. He was likely the most educated slave in North Carolina, as well as the author of the only known slave autobiography written in a native language. Lastly, he is one of the best documented examples of a practicing-Muslim slave.

His Bible resides in the Davidson College Rare Book Room, with additional material in the Davidson College Archives. Donated by Mrs. Ellen Guion in 1871, this Bible is a 1811 Newcastle-upon-Tyne translation into Arabic. This particular volume has Arabic notations written by Omar.


Emblem books were popular during the 16th and 17th centuries. Woodcuts or engravings (the “emblems”) pictured moral tales or allegories, accompanied by a mottoor brief sentence. One of the most famous and influential of those creating emblem books was the Italian Andrea Alciati, a teacher at the University of Bouiges. His “Emblemata” were heavily influential… Continue Reading

William Patterson Cumming Map Collection

William Patterson Cumming (1900-1989), Davidson College graduate of the class of 1921, and long time professor of English at Davidson College, was also an avid collector and historian of the mapping of North America. In fact, his interest in the history of the cartography of North America earned him a reputation as an international expert… Continue Reading

Rare Book Room Use

Location: Second Floor of the Library Capacity: 40 Room configuration: Conference Table and Chairs for 12 people + additional Chairs Equipment: Wireless Network Who can use the Rare Book Room? Preference will be given to requests that require the unique resources of the room. *Please note that it may occasionally be necessary to change or… Continue Reading

General Collection

The General Collection of the Smith Rare Book Room contains a wide array of unique and interesting books. Of particular note is a parchment-bound edition of Seneca printed in 1492. This book is one of the library’s three incunabula, or books printed prior to 1501. The second is the Life of St. Thomas a Becket, a small book… Continue Reading

Bibles and Encyclopedias

The Smith Rare Book Room is fortunate to have 3 copies of the Geneva or “Breeches” Bible. This bible was printed in 1615 and received its name from its translation of Genesis 3:7 which reads “and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves breeches.” Favored by Calvinists, the “Breeches” Bible won approval for use… Continue Reading

Wilbur L. Fugate Collection of 100 First Editions

In the Spring of 1992, Wilbur Lindsay Fugate, a graduate of Davidson College, class of 1934, and the University of Virginia Law School, donated his collection of one hundred first edition books to the E. H. Little Library. The collection includes works by eighty-three authors and represents the “best” in English and American literature. A… Continue Reading

James Henry Hall, Jr. Collection on Thomas C. Wolfe

A magnificent addition to the library’s holdings in literature is the Thomas C. Wolfe Collection of James Henry Hall, Jr. This collection was presented to the library in 1988 by Hall’s daughter, Mrs. Richard Huddleston, and her husband. Hall graduated from Davidson College in 1927 and was a professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic Institute… Continue Reading

Golden Cockerel Press Collection

The Smith Rare Book Room has in its collections some beautifully printed, limited editions published at private presses in the early decades of the twentieth century. In addition to literary works of art from such presses as Ballantyne, Montague, Centaur, and Kelmscott, the Smith Rare Book Room boasts one of the finest existing collections of… Continue Reading