In the spirit of that New Year wanderlust, Reese Library’s Special Collections & Institutional Archives will be highlighting the multi-volume set of William Coxe’s Travels into Poland, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark: illustrated with charts and engravings in honor of this month’s focus on rare books from the Heritage Unit. The first edition of Coxe’s Travels was published in 1784. This fourth edition, published in 1792, is held by only 12 other libraries worldwide, and by only 5 other libraries in the U.S. The author, William Coxe (1748-1828), was an English historian, and later a deacon, who often worked as a traveling companion and tutor to English nobility. It was during one such trip with Lord George Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke, that Coxe collected his observations and later published them as the five-volume Travels into Poland, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark: illustrated with charts and engravings. The volumes are notable for their illustrations and fold-out maps, but also because Coxe’s access to various government officials provides his account with a unique “behind-the-scenes” perspective of each of the regions he visits.
-Kara Flynn, Special Collections Librarian
The oldest book in the Greenblatt Library’s rare book collection is Gerald of Cremona’s 1608 Latin translation of Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine. Ibn Sina, known to the western world as Avicenna, was born in 980 in Central Asia. He was a renowned physician, philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer in his time and was a prolific writer. His Canon of Medicine, written in Arabic, was a massive medical encyclopedia. It was widely translated and used in the study of medicine. Latin translations of Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine were the textbooks for medical education in Europe from the 12th to the 18th Centuries. The influential Canadian physician, Sir William Osler, described the Canon as “the most famous medical textbook ever written” noting that it remained “a medical bible for a longer time than any other work.” (Sir Osler’s book The Principles and Practice of Medicine is considered to be the most influential medical work of the 19th Century.) Dr. Louis A. Dugas, one of the Medical College of Georgia’s founding faculty members, served as the keeper of the school’s library from its formation in 1834. Cremona’s 1608 Latin translation of Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine was one of the books Dr. Dugas purchased in Europe for the MCG library.
-Renée Sharrock, Historical Collections & Archives Curator
About the Heritage Unit: The University Libraries have a department devoted to the preservation and archival keeping of the campus’ unique histories. The Historical Collections & Archives (HCA) is located on the 2nd floor of the Greenblatt Library on the Health Sciences campus. Special Collections & Institutional Archives is located on the 3rd floor of the Reese Library on the Summerville campus.