Books & Periodicals

Our rare books collection of 50,000 volumes focuses primarily on Virginia history but covers many other subjects from the 15th-21st centuries.  Among our treasures are seven beautiful incunabula (books printed before 1501), the 2nd largest collection of books about dogs in this country, and a 1st edition of The Book of Mormon.

How to Find Rare Books & Periodicals

Notable Collections

  • Virginiana: Volumes about Virginia, written by Virginians, or printed in Virginia. The collection begins with early pamphlets of the Virginia Company (1609) and comes up to the present with books covering the local region.
  • Francis Nicholson Library: An attempt to recreate the originial library of the College given by colonial governor Francis Nicholson and destroyed by fire in 1705. [Search now]
  • Ralph Green Collection: Books on the mechanics of printing, serials, and histories of the craft.  [Search now]
  • Joseph Hennage Collection: Books on printing, including early printed works and books on the history of printing. Included is the oldest book in Swem Library: Johannes Gritsch's Quadragesimale (1479). [Search now]
  • Carol Beinbrink Collection: 20th-century illustrated books on papermaking. [Search now]
  • Ralph H. Wark Collection: Books featuring fore-edge paintings; late 18th - 19th century. [Search now]
  • The Chapin-Horowitz Collection: Books on dogs dating back to the 16th century. [Search now]
  • Personal collections of Virginia families

Rare Books

Use the Swem catalog to search our rare book collection.  More...