Walking into the library provided some relief on this gloomy morning. Leaving the rain behind me, I ascended the steps to the second floor–I was headed to the archives run by Sister Anne Marie Burton, IHM. Among the hundred years of history in the form of photographs, news releases, and memorabilia, there lies a special first edition book collection not known to many students. I wanted to know more about the story behind the collection, how it arrived on campus, and to gauge a better understanding of the collection’s worth.
Sister Anne Marie greeted me with a smile, and, with a purpose in her step, led me to the back room of the archives. Among the tan and cream neutral-colored boxes that were neatly stacked, was a little corner filled with colorful books. It was the collection.
Sister explained that the collection consisted of all first edition children’s books. The titles began to pop out; Fox in Socks, A Wrinkle in Time, Glinda of Oz.
“There is a true value to this work,” Sister AnneMarie noted as she began to carefully show me each individual book. That statement could not have been better said. From the way the books were bound, the materials they were made from, the illustrations inside, and of course the stories themselves, there was something precious about these books.
When asked how they arrived on campus, Sister Anne Marie had one answer: Barbara Traveglini.
Traveglini was an adult student who graduated in 1991. Her family has always been very involved with Immaculata and are generous donors, even to this day! They support the annual writing contest on campus too. Over the years, Traveglini started the collection from her own personal interest and purchased the books of her own accord, many of which are first edition.
“It’s amazing that she had the interest to pursue them. She had to really research them and try to find the ones that were the best,” Sister commented while taking down a box filled with the titles of the books that were donated. Next to the titles of each book, the date the book was published as well as a price for how much each book was bought for was noted for archival purposes. If the research aspect alone doesn’t showcase Traveglini’s dedication to the collection, the price tag certainly does. Original Wizard of Oz books published in 1905 were purchased for $1,750. First edition Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol was purchased for $2,200. The most expensive book in the collection? Mother Goose in Prose published in 1905 was purchased for $7,500. And the collection was copious–there were well over 20 books. “They may not look significant, but she paid a lot of money to have these books,” Sister said.
As we continued to marvel over the collection, Sister introduced me to a few of her favorites. One of them being Goody Two Shoes, which is argued to be the first children’s book ever published in 1776. Early Dr. Seuss books, before the author was famous and just doing advertisements for the Exon Oil Company, was another Sister flipped through. My personal favorite was a book entitled, The Story of a Jap. Published in 1906, it is a children’s book about a little girl who finds a Japanese doll, but all the doll wants is to go back home to Japan. Detailed, beautiful, colorful, illustrations flooded each page as well as traditional kanji. The book even came with a tiny, porcelain, Japanese doll for the reader!
For a collection that was important to Traveglini, I was curious as to why she donated them. The answer was rather simple. In 2012, she was moving and had to downsize her collection. So, she donated part of her collection to Immaculata. “She donated them with the idea that they would be here in the archives and be able to be of use to the students,” sister explained. Traveglini’s intentions have not gone unserved. The children’s literature class always comes for a tour of the books. Sister mentioned that all students are welcome to inquire about the use of the books for research purposes.