Special Collections in Denison Library

By Maureen Cowhey '19 & Layne Wells '19
Staff Writers

Denison Library is home to Scripps College’s Special Collections, which consists of as many as 85,000 pieces. These pieces include ancient papyrus scrolls, unique artist books, an array of mini books, dolls, photographs, letters, and more. The diverse collection is open to all Scripps students for research or simply personal interest.

 Director of Denison Library and Scripps alumna Judy Harvey Sahak ‘64 encourages Scripps students to utilize the resources of the Special Collections. Sahak loves showing students her favorite pieces, such as an accordion fold book with pop-ups and pulp painting,  as well as primary sources that would further their academic research. She welcomes drop-ins as well as appointments by email.

Sahak explained that the collections primarily consist of gifts to the College. One of the earliest and most significant donations was from a Los Angeles book collector named John Perkins who donated his primary selection of rare books and documents to Scripps in the 1940s. Many of the other rare books and miscellany are gifts from friends of the College and trustees, explained Sahak. Scripps also uses donated funds to purchase books to further their academic reserve.

Among the most interesting pieces in this extensive series of rare and aged pieces is the collection’s oldest document: a 5,000 year old clay tablet. The collection also holds a selection of artist books-- including one that incorporates miniature books into cosmetics in order to make a statement on women’s beauty and the harms of nonregulated and unlabeled makeup. Within Denison there exists an archive of Gertrude Stein memorabilia, including books, photos, recordings, magazine articles, newspaper clippings and more.

The library is also home to the Scripps College Archives, which holds transcripts, yearbooks, newspaper articles, and senior theses dating back to the founding of the college. All documents within the Archives and Special Collections are open to students.
For more information or to make an appointment contact Judy Sahak at judy.sahak@scrippscollege.edu.