Special Collections

Rare Books

The Rare Books unit of Special Collections contains more than 30,000 volumes, with strengths in theology, philosophy, Church history, English recusant history, and works written by or about members of the Society of Jesus. Items of note include incunabula (books printed before 1501), including a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, many works by the seventeenth-century Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher, works by Peter Ramus, and the 1662 Atlas maior of Joan Blaue in eleven hand-colored volumes. 

Resources for Accessing the Pre-1820 Rare Book Collection - This is a printer-friendly overview and guide to searching our early printed books.

Rare Book Image Bank

A growing repository of illustrations, decorative elements, and full text works from the Rare Book Collection, freely available for download.

Moore Carpenter Recusant History Collection

Contains approximately 1,600 books, pamphlets, and manuscripts on the history of English Catholics and Catholicism between 1534 and 1829.

Emblem Books

A genre of book popular in Europe during the 16th through 18th centuries containing texts of a moral nature and typically accompanied by corresponding emblematic images.

Follansbee Collection

Collection formed by George Follansbee on exploration and travel.


In addition to our leaf from the Gutenberg Bible , the library has twelve other books printed before 1501.

Jesuit College Catalogs

A collection of annually published catalogs representing 51 Jesuit high schools and colleges from the period 1853-1914, typically listing their institution's officers, students, courses, and programs.


Works on Jesuit history, spirituality, biography, and missionary activity published by or about the Society of Jesus (1534–1773, 1814–present) and its members from its earliest period. See also the exhibit Spiritual Journeys: Books Illustrating the First Two Centuries of Contemplation and Action by the Society of Jesus.

Saint Louis Literary Award Collection

A collection of signed examples of the works of recipients of the Saint Louis Literary Award, established in 1967 by the Saint Louis University Library Associates to honor writers of outstanding literary merit.

Faculty Book Collection

Monographs written by SLU faculty members while employed by the university.

Works of Athanasius Kircher

Fourteen books by the seventeenth-century Jesuit scientist and polymath Athanasius Kircher.

Works of Peter Ramus

Numerous works by Peter Ramus (1515–1572), including a copy of Ramus’s Arithmetices (1569) annotated by Ramus himself. Many of these volumes were acquired by the Saint Louis University faculty member Walter J. Ong, whose work on literacy and orality originated with studies of Peter Ramus and the rhetorical tradition. Walter Ong’s personal annotated copy of his Ramus and Talon Inventory is part of the collections.

Use the following broad profiles to browse by subject:

Department of Special Collections, Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University  3650 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO  63108