MARBL holds several hundred thousand volumes of rare books and serials dating from the 13th to the 21st centuries. The collection includes significant works on diverse subjects, from human anatomy to global exploration.
A significant percentage of MARBL’s rare book holdings is devoted to the Library’s two main strengths, 20th-century English literature and African American collections, but MARBL has important holdings in other areas, too.
The world of art
The diverse world of art from ancient to modern times is well represented in MARBL’s holdings. The Library holds notable examples of illustrated Flemish and Dutch books from the 16th and 17th centuries, including volumes designed by Rubens and engravings by masters of the genre such as members of the Wierix and Galle families. Modern and contemporary art are also represented by our broad collection of artist and fine press books which include productions by such noted artists as Sol Lewitt, Philip Ruscha, Tracey Emin and Gilbert & George.
19th-century British literature
Emory has one of the largest collections of 19th century British literature in the United States, including first editions of such classics as Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein and David Copperfield. Notable among these holdings is author Graham Greene’s collection of Victorian detective fiction, which includes the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes in The Study in Scarlet (1887). The Library also boasts one of the world’s largest collections of Victorian popular literature, known as yellowbacks because their cheap bindings are usually yellow.
MARBL also holds a significant collection of works printed in the South before 1870. At the heart of this area is the J. Durelle Boles Collection of Southern Imprints which includes many early or unique books printed in the South. One of the most notable volumes in this collection is Nicholas Trott’s landmark legal work, The Laws of the Province of South-Carolina, printed in Charleston in 1736. MARBL also houses a major collection of Confederate imprints, which are books printed in the South during the Civil War. These range from the expected legal and military works to historical works, novels and school textbooks.
The French Revolution
The period of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1799 produced a vast amount of printed material as the population struggled to learn about the dramatic events occurring around them and the new government attempted to establish itself. MARBL has one of the largest collections of this literature in the United States with over 3,000 pamphlets and books from the period. They range from official publications relating to religion or the army to scandalous political satires, usually written and printed anonymously.