Drew University Library’s special collection of 19th century printed material is large and complex. More than 15,000 items cover scores of subjects, both secular and sacred. Besides individual pamphlets, there are partial runs of serials including annual reports and minutes of numerous organizations, as well as fragile monographs. There is a strong emphasis on religious materials, where the holdings have particular range and depth. With the exception of about 30 volumes of German and Latin dissertations, most of the works are in English.
Religious materials include a significant denominational representation. There are histories, minutes, annual reports, tracts, and various miscellaneous publications from about 30 different religious bodies, among them the Presbyterian, Congregational, and Lutheran Churches; the Churches of England and Scotland; the Reformed Episcopal, Protestant Episcopal, Dutch Reformed, Christian Catholic, and Catholic Churches; and the Mennonites, Shakers, Baptists, Moravians, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Mormons, Quakers, Unitarians, Universalists, and Swedenborgians, as well as Judaism and several eastern religions.
Religious benevolent societies are also significantly represented, including Bible societies, foreign and home missionary societies, organizations working for social reform, and The Salvation Army. In addition, there are 17th, 18th, and 19th century sermons, works on spiritualism, comparative religion, Martin Luther, Calvinism, and publications of at least 30 Sunday school and Sabbath organizations.
Non-religious materials cover a wide range of subjects, including African-American history, slavery, World War I, witchcraft, the American Indian, Masonic orders and secret societies, criminals and criminology, the YMCA, the WPA, Ireland, India, temperance, women’s suffrage and anti-suffrage, and U.S. history. There is also a significant collection of almanacs, with single issues or partial runs of roughly 50 different British and American publications. Work on the collection is on-going.