Rare Books

The Library's collection of rare books is international in scope, diverse in subject and dates from the earliest period of printing in the 15th century to the present. Particularly notable are the collections in:

  • New York State history
  • law, including
    • over 20 editions of Blackstone's Commentaries
    • a large part of the library of Chancellor James Kent
    • many editions of early English law and commentators
    • early laws and legislative proceedings for nearly all the states and territories
  • medicine
  • natural history, including
    • authors such as Catesby, Audubon, Michaux, Redouté, Sowerby, and Curtis
    • Biologia-Centrali-Americana survey
    • New York State Natural History Survey
  • pamphlets
  • almanacs (over 10,000 from the 17th to 20th centuries)
  • Shaker imprints
  • sermons
  • early newspapers, to the year 1821, of New York State cities and other places


Other smaller but notable collections include:

  • incunabula (books printed before 1500)
  • fine bindings
  • fine printing
  • fore-edge paintings
  • a collection of about 4,000 early 20th century polemic and radical political pamphlets (open for research with some access restrictions due to fragile condition)
  • 19th century children's books
  • trade catalogs of New York State companies
  • early travel accounts of New York State and the nation
Last Updated: May 1, 2009