Notice: All students, staff, and faculty must scan their MSU ID to access the MSU Library building between 10:00 pm – 7:30 am on Sunday - Thursday.
Notice: All students, staff, and faculty must scan their MSU ID to access the MSU Library building between 10:00 pm – 7:30 am on Sunday - Thursday.

Catalogue of Rare Veterinary Books & Allied Subjects in Allied Husbandry in the Michigan State University Library

by Henry C. Koch

About the Collection

This catalogue has been compiled to illustrate the extent of the “Veterinary Collection” housed in the Special Collections Division of the Michigan State University Library. Contemporary works and works to support curricular needs are housed in the stacks of the Main Library and the Veterinary Medical Center Library. While this catalogue is by no means exhaustive of the subject, it should be a guide and a finding list for librarians, book dealers, collectors, veterinary faculty, and students.

The “Veterinary Collection” began soon after the establishment of the university, around 1857, when the librarians and faculty encouraged the donation of books from alumni and friends of the college. This small collection was housed in the veterinary college where it received scant bibliographic attention. A professor of anatomy, Dr. J. Fred Smithcors, took the collection under his wing and increased its size, value, and usefulness. In the 1960’s, Smithcors went to Rutgers University to negotiate the purchase of the library of Dr. Fred Beaudette, Smithcors’ mentor and professor. Most of Beaudette’s 150 books, manuscripts and incunabula, which were acquired, were rare and valuable. The next significant addition to the collection came when the library received an auction catalogue from Munich for the library of J.H. Anderhub. Fortunately, a friend of the library was a resident in Munich at the time, and the university was able to obtain some real treasures at reasonable prices.

In the late 1960’s, the library received a notable gift through Mark Crum, director of the Kalamazoo Public Library, which had no need for the over 200 volumes of books on horsemanship, donated by Gurdon and Virginia Dimoc, local equestrians and horse lovers. Most of the remaining books were slowly collected by Dr. Ronald S. Wilkinson, Jannette Fiore, and Dr. Peter Berg, successive heads of the Special Collections Division of the library. Henry Koch and Robert Runser were also active in buying from dealers’ catalogues and the frequent offers of Dr. Emil Offenburger. The faculty of the Veterinary College showed interest at various times, but Dean Willis Armistead gave financial support for publication of a small catalogue in 1972 for a display at a veterinary conference of some of the collection’s treasures. Dean John Tasker gave encouragement, as did Professor Charles Cunningham. Local veterinarians, Drs. Kevin Harris and David Schinsky, have shown a lively interest throughout the years.

As a model for this work I had hoped to use John Podeschi’s catalogue of the Paul Mellon collection and Ellen Well’s bibliography of horsemanship. A few month’s labor showed me the folly of this dream. Ellen took lunch hours to give her critiques to this neophyte, never losing her patience. Jannette Fiore, head of Special Collections for fourteen years until 1989, was always a source of sage advice and calm recommendations. Dr. Richard E. Chapin, Director of Libraries for thirty years, gave constant support to the information of the collection, and has supported me with confidence in my projected catalogue during the most important period of the library and this collection, as does his successor, Dr. Hiram Davis. To him I shall always be grateful. Robert Runser, printer and designer, has been a great friend and a model of good taste and hard work.

After a year’s labor on the catalogue I had a serious and debilitating illness, which delayed further work for months. When I returned to this work I found that I could no longer operate my computer and I was fortunate to find two graduate students in succession who continued to record the entries and corrections I had written. Laura Climber and especially Mildred Jackson made the completion of the project possible. When I began this project I was joined by Mary Ann Tyrell who did much of the research for verification of the titles and added a much needed sense of order, but she was lured away by an interesting position in collection preservation. Another role model I should mention was Norman Comben, English veterinarian, book collector and friend. His splendid catalogue of the collection he donated to the Imperial College Science Library in London is a great example of what condition and completeness can mean to a book collector.

The catalogue is in alphabetical order and I have used chronological order of publication for similar titles under one author. Where a publisher has printed a title without diacritical marks, I have left them as printed and not attempted to add the marks. Not every title is strictly veterinary; some are interesting or unusual items in animal husbandry. The earliest item is the last.

Dedicated to Dr. R. E. Chapin, a generous mentor and a model, and to Emma, an old and understanding dog.

Signature of Henry C. Koch

Henry C. Koch