The gift of wonder: Rare book collection coming to Carolina

Florence Fearrington ’58, one of the preeminent female rare book collectors of our time and a longtime supporter of UNC-Chapel Hill, has donated nearly 4,000 books and objects valued at $6.2 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Libraries, where they will become part of the Wilson Special Collections Library.

The collection includes 1,900 rare books, most on the subject of natural history, including beautifully illustrated books on malacology the study of shells and mollusks and books, catalogs and prints on Wunderkammers, or “cabinets of curiosity.” The collection also includes a number of pre-1915 children’s books, 13 color-plate costume books and thousands of reference books that complement the subject matter of the rare books.

“Florence Fearrington’s legacy of generosity and commitment to Carolina has been instrumental to our University Libraries,” said Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. “This collection of rare books, with the love and dedication that went into its curation, will enhance our special collections and will draw future generations of students, researchers and experts from around the world. We are grateful that Florence has trusted Carolina as a home for her invaluable collection.”

All of these books will soon be available to patrons students, faculty, researchers and the general public. Once catalogued, the collection will also be available online.

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