Literary Answers to Theological Questions

By Tristan Navarro
Wednesday April 10, 2019

What would it be like to talk to God? The Whitmore Rare Books inventory features a few answers to this profound question. Thomas Aquinas valued the use of academic study and the written word as a way of coming into conversation with God, while Thomas à Kempis rails against the...

Vicious Valentines and True Tales of Writerly Romance

By Miranda Garno Nesler
Wednesday February 6, 2019

Saint Valentine’s Day. A celebration of the kind of romance that not only sweeps us off our feet in the beginning, but endures and keeps us warm like a strong flame. There are plenty of literary couples who help us fantasize about this kind of lasting love—couples like Elizabeth Barrett...

A Buffet of Rare Culinary Books Leads to Lessons in History

By Miranda Garno Nesler
Monday August 13, 2018

Historical culinary texts offer us ample opportunities for exploring the world of food and drink. But they also contain additional information,  teach us how to do more than prepare a delicious coq au vin or pair the right wines with the right oysters. When we delve into the material production...

Roadtrips and Reading – A Proven Summer Formula

Miranda Garno Nesler
Thursday June 28, 2018

Summertime. Road-trips. The two things fit together for a reason, reaching back as far as August of 1888, when the first motorcar was taken on the first long-range drive. As warm weather and wanderlust set in, it seems timely to consider: what are the origins of the summer road trip


Literary Lineage, Historical Connections: Modernist Reactions to Victorianism

Miranda Garno Nesler
Monday April 2, 2018

Literary movements are undeniably inter-relational phenomena. Rather than revealing a line of progress, they operate almost like a family tree, showing how multiple generations approach and express human concerns. The Victorians and Modernists are a prime example of this—two generations that looked to each other’s methods with some disdain, and...

Evolving Strategies in the Fight for Women’s Equality

Miranda Garno Nesler
Thursday February 1, 2018

The achievement of women’s enfranchisement in the U.S. was not the straightforward process that some history books would have us believe. No clean line connects the dawning of the official suffrage movement at Seneca Falls in 1848 to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The documents left behind...

The Fine Art of Reading Cocktail Culture

Miranda Garno Nesler
Wednesday January 3, 2018

Cocktails and story telling go hand in hand. While the consumption of spirits at its best can lead to what Oscar Wilde called “the musings of great minds,” the etymology of the term itself is also wrapped in oral history and questionable narrative. At times attributed to English sailors’ translation...

Observing the Seedling On Whitman’s First Leaves of Grass

By Z. Smith
Friday April 1, 2016

This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and water is

This is the common air that bathes the globe. - “Song of Myself”


In 1855, in the small shops and stalls of New York, a slim, tall, elaborately fashioned volume appeared on shelves. The book was void of...

Dust Jackets: A Historical Perspective

Trevor Schwartz
Friday February 26, 2016




Go back a hundred years in the history of the book, and dust jackets were treated with the same care and solicitude that consumers currently apply to candy wrappers. Existing solely for the simple utility they provided, and not considered an actual part of the books they...

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