» Collections

Book Collection

The Chapman University Leatherby Libraries Special Collections houses over 6200 books.  The collections focus on first editions of literature, fine and small presses, Orange County and California history, California Indian tribes, book art, the history of printing and book plate collecting.

Arellanes Bookplate Collection

Over 200 books on book plate history and collecting.  Named for Audrey Spencer Arellanes who authored, Bookplates: a Selective Annotated Bibliography of the Periodical Literature in 1971, which is a landmark text in the field. She was also the third President of the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers from 1968-2000.

Book Art

Special Collections documents the history and art of small and fine press books, both historic and contemporary, produced by noted printers and designers. The art of the book is reflected in the many limited editions, examples of letter press printing, miniature books, pop-up books, and especially books that reflect the art of handmade paper and fine bindings. 

Online Archive

Charles C. Chapman Collection of Rare Books and Bibles

Over 100 volumes of rare books and bibles collected by Charles Clarke Chapman, university namesake, donor and lifelong trustee.  This collection includes books and bibles printed from 1505 to the 20th century.  Notable are De Civitate Dei (Latin, 1505) and a Matthew’s Bible (“Bugge” bible) (Latin, 1549).

Roberta Dale California History Collection

Over 400 books and pamphlets on cities, regions, and special interest topics relating to California.  Roberta Dale is a retired teacher and Chapman alumna ’68, who traveled throughout California and purchased material on every city and town she visited.  The collection of almost 400 books and pamphlets reflect her deep interest in history.  Many of the volumes are signed, limited and out of print editions.

Disciple Collection

Over 500 books and periodicals.  The Disciple Collection which dates back to the California Christian College campus in Los Angeles.  Many of the books in this collection documenting the history of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Paulo Freire Collection

Of 20th century educational philosophers and theorists, the first half belongs to American John Dewey and the second to the Brazilian Paulo Freire. His initial work focused on the development of an educational practice whereby the marginalized poor learned to read and write in order for them to vote in presidential elections. Rejecting traditional text-based reading methods and creating small groups or “cultural circles” the lived experiences of the poor became the “text.” In this manner, literacy and knowledge become an act of creation rather than something thrown at the students. In 1962, he embarked on a campaign to teach literacy to poor workers in Brazil, enabling them to vote and thus participate not only in the policies that affected their lives but also to challenge the oppressive conditions in which they found themselves. Through a participatory process characterized by small group dialogical “cultural circles” that linked literacy with the political, formerly illiterate adults learned to read and write quickly. For example, 300 sugarcane workers were taught to read and write in just 45 days. Subsequently, the Brazilian government began a national program for 2,000,000 illiterates. However, under the military coup of 1964, the program was cancelled and Paulo, after being accused as an international subversive and a “traitor to both Christ and the Brazilian people” (Gadotti, 1994, p. 34-35) was imprisoned for 70 days. Upon release, he left the country for a 15-year exile only to return in 1980. His internationally acclaimed book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, translated into at least 18 languages, has sold over 750,000 copies worldwide. Additionally, he authored two dozen books either individually or, as he often said, “in dialogue” with others. He conducted seminars, workshops, and lectured internationally in North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa. His legacy includes numerous worldwide Paulo Freire Institutes/Centers in Austria, Canada, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain, and the USA (UCLA and Chapman). He holds 16 international honorary doctorate degrees (Chapman in 1998), as well as the Belgium King Baudouin Award ($190,000) for his adult literacy work.

Tom Wilson
Director of the Paulo Freire Democratic Project
Chapman University, College of Educational Studies

Gadotti, M. (1994). Reading Paulo Freire: His life and work. (J. Milton, Trans.). Albany: State University of New York.

Abraham Lincoln Collection

Over 400 books on Abraham Lincoln’s life, presidency, and the Civil War.  Former Trustee Harmon Wilkinson was a lifelong admirer of Abraham Lincoln.  His treasured library, collected since he was a young man, reflects Mr. Wilkinson’s fascination with Lincoln.  Many of the editions are rare, from small presses, are out of print, and signed.

Douglas Messerli Collection of Literature

Over 100 books focusing primarily on poetry, fiction, and the art of writing, many of which are signed, limited and fine press editions.  Douglas Messerli, PhD., is a writer, editor, former literature professor, and founder and publisher of Sun & Moon Press and Green Integer Press.  Mr. Messerli donated over 550 books to the library, 100 of which reside in Special Collections.

The Ralph L. Tomlinson collection of children's books

Mr. Tomlinson is the donor of the Ralph L. Tomlinson antique toy collection which is housed on the third floor of the library. The children's book collection, along with the toy collection, demonstrate Mr. Tomlinson's philosophy of "learning through play."

Graphic Collection 

The photograph and graphic collections encompasses a variety of research materials, including photographs, postcards, historical maps, and ephemera covering a wide variety of topics from Second World War propaganda posters to antiquarian maps. 

Photograph Collections 

Special Collections houses two photographic collections: the Chapman University Photo Collection and the UPI Photo Collection. Arranged by subject, the Chapman University Photo Collection includes images of the University from its inception to the present, faculty, students, administration as well as photographs of various academic programs and buildings. 

The UPI Photo Collection of over 35,000 stock photographs was given to Chapman University from the Los Angeles branch office of United Press International (UPI) upon its closing in 1980. These photographs capture many historical moments from the 1960s and 1970s and are arranged into the following categories: Charles Lindbergh, Blacks in America, U.S. Presidential Campaign (1972), the Nixon presidency, Henry Kissinger, the Ford presidency, Arab/Israeli Conflict (1969-1975), Vietnam War, U.S. Presidential Campaign (1976), the Carter presidency, and miscellaneous files including sports and entertainment personalities of the time. 

One can access the UPI collection by visiting the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives. Additionally, select photographs are made available for viewing in our online digital collection. In addition, many manuscript collections in Special Collections also include photographs such as the Laura Scudder Papers, Frances Fay Brunstein Levine Papers and the Chapman Family Archive. 

Photographs in Special Collections must be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room and may only be photocopied, photographed, or scanned with the permission of the Special Collections Staff. For all questions regarding digital reproductions please contact us. 


Antiquarian maps in Special Collections cover early California and North America with the oldest being a map of the Holy Land from 1588

Pamphlet Collection and Ephemera 

We have an extensive pamphlet collection that covers a wide range of subjects. 

Our ephemera collection is found among our manuscript collections as well as in our flat files. Please contact us for more information on the material that is available.