Charles Dickens at 200

Helen Dunbar Holmes, class of 1909

Class of 1909 Ivy Day Parade


Helen Dunbar Holmes attended her 55th reunion at Smith College; she is pictured in the Ivy Day alumnae parade with three classmates on the front page of Northampton's Daily Hampshire Gazette, June 4, 1964 (Mrs. Holmes is second from the left). In a letter to Dorothy King, curator of rare books, dated October 23, 1964, Mrs. Holmes announced her decision to give "Mr. Holmes's first edition Dickens to the college." She immediately added, "because I think they will be safer there than in my two hundred year old house I have decided to put them in your hands at once." The gift became official on January 1, 1965, and was on exhibition in the library just one month later, in February 1965.


[Click image to enlarge]


Helen Dunbar Holmes


Mrs. Holmes also gave a very different sort of book to the rare book collection at Smith: a 15th-century manuscript book of hours, a collection of texts, prayers, and psalms for Christian devotion. The manuscript, bound in 15th- or 16th- century brown calfskin, consists of 229 vellum leaves and is written in Latin. There are numerous red, blue, and gold ornamented initials and eight pages with full floral borders in gold and colors. In the photograph, Mrs. Holmes can be seen in the rare book reading room, viewing this precious manuscript.

Catholic Church. Book of Hours. ca.1460
Smith College MS 288


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