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The Foundations of our Special Collections: Anthony J. Drexel

April 24, 2009

Part two of a three part series

The core of Drexel University Libraries Special Collections consists of a several gifts of rare books donated to the Drexel Institute by Anthony J. Drexel, George W. Childs and George M. Standish. Anthony J. Drexel, the founder of the university, envisioned an institute not only for practical training, but also for a wide appreciation of art and culture.

From its inception the Institute hosted free public meetings on a wide range of topics, and included a museum of art and ancient artifacts. The book collection donated by A.J. Drexel focuses, in large part, on examples of typography and art. Included in the collections is a hand press translation of Virgil printed by Pierre Didot, a famous typesetter and printer in 18th Century France, as well as books on artists such as Hogarth and Rubens. There are also books ranging from natural science to history to illustrated children's books.

The variety of books in Mr. Drexel's collection reflects his views on the importance of art and culture in addition to practical training for students. This tradition is carried on by the Libraries' special collections today as we continue to make available these rare works from Drexel's founder. For more information on this collection and to see specific books contact the archives at