Special Collections


In addition to various prints, maps and periodicals, Special Collections comprises primarily rare books.

American Humor Collection

A gift (in 1952) of Thomas Yost Cooper, Phillips Academy class of 1902, this is a collection of American humor material including periodicals, books and comic books from the 19th and 20th centuries. It contains some first editions of Twain and other American authors. A large part of the original donation went into the circulating collection, and most of the whole collection appears in the online catalog. Printed catalogue of collection online.

Americana Collection

This is a collection of American history books published in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and comprises mostly primary source material dealing with the American Revolution. The majority of it appears in the online catalog.

Andover Imprints

This collection contains publications of the town’s publishing industry and the Draper family, local publisher and philanthropist to both Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy. The collection is not in the online catalog. It contains many publications of the Andover Theological Seminary and its professors. Duplicate copies of some of the publications appear in the library’s circulating collection.


Currently this collection is split between the Addison Gallery of American Art and the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library. The library’s collections are split as well with the octavos for the birds and the quadrupeds shelved with the rare books and the rest in the 5th floor stacks. The sets were a gift of Thomas Cochran.

Authors Collections

The authors included are Sir Richard Burton, Lord Byron, Joseph Conrad, Dickens, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Surtees, Daniel Webster, Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams. There is a small collection of books inscribed to Sarah Bernhart as well. Oliver Wendell Holmes’s copy of “The Schoolboy,” which he read at the Phillips Academy centennial, is a part of this collection. The Burton books do not include the 17-volume set of his translation of the “1,001 Nights,” which do not appear elsewhere in the inventory. With few exceptions the collection appears in the online catalog.

Bromfield School

This is the library of a school, headed by first Phillips Academy principal Eliphalet Pearson, once located in North Andover. Primarily 19th-century books, this collection is largely religious in orientation but also includes other subjects.


This collection comprises largely the gifts of Benner, Bancroft, and Ballard. It contains the library’s incunabula and has material from the 15th through the 18th centuries of the classic authors such as Homer and Cicero. The early curriculum of this school was heavily weighted toward the classics, and these texts were part of that curriculum. These books are listed in the online catalog.

Farrar Law Library

A gift of Samuel Farrar, treasurer of Phillips Academy from 1803 to 1840, this is a collection of English and American law books from the 17th and 18th centuries. It includes a copy of Blackstone’s Commentaries and a set of Massachusetts Laws. It contains many books which could be of interest to teachers looking for primary source material on issues such as slavery or other legal topics. Also included is an account book for Farrar, which includes entries regarding the Phillips family. These books appear in the online catalog.

Fore-Edge Paintings

The eleven books in this set represent a unique style of book decoration. A painting is done along the fore-edge of the book, covered in gilt to make it disappear, to magically reappear when the book is fanned. The items appear in the online catalog.

Illustrated Books

These books appear in the online catalog and represent a wide range of subjects as it is the illustrations that represent the thematic core of the collection. Some of the artists represented are William Blake, Edmund Dulac and Rockwell Kent.

Miscellaneous Rare Books

These books represent as wide a range as the title of the collection suggests. The leaf of the Gutenberg Bible, the miniature book, Shakespeare’s 1st and 4th folios and the Jansson’s Atlas are all a part of this collection. Also in Special Collections is a John Eliot New Testament along with his Indian Tracts and related material. The majority of the collection is in the online catalog.

Old Library

This collection represents what could be found of the Phillips Academy library as it existed in 1819. This is the date on the handwritten catalogue book that resides with the collection. It may be that other books from this collection could be scattered through the library’s various collections, both public and closed. A numbering system on the inside cover helps with identification as it can be matched to the catalogue. The items do not appear in the online catalog.

Phillips Family Collection

These books were owned by various members of the Phillips family. None of them appears in the online catalog, and no list of them exists at this time.

Forbes Virgil Collection

Donated by Charles Forbes, a Latin teacher at Phillips Academy from 1891 to 1933, this collection contains books dating from the 15th through the 20th centuries. Most of the collection appears in the online catalog. It, along with the Audubons, is considered a cornerstone of the Special Collections. A catalogue of the collection, which was published in 1931, is listed in the online catalog.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Library || Phillips Academy