Our Special Collections contain almost 3000 volumes of rare books, some of which date back to the 1500s, including theological and scientific texts, local history, European history, geography, and Czech language volumes. These volumes are cataloged in our main library catalog.
Special Collections includes papers and records from people and entities outside of the university, though some may have a connection to Benedictine, its areas of study, the Benedictine order, and the Lisle/Naperville communities. Areas of concentration include:
- The Czech population in the U.S. and in Illinois
- The Benedictine order and St. Procopius Abbey Lisle and Naperville area history, including the history of Benet Academy.
- Catholic history and early Catholic writing and teaching
- Scientific research and history of science
These collections collections include archives and manuscript papers and records, musical scripts, ephemera, maps, posters, manuscripts, photographs, and memorabilia. Finding aids for some of the larger collections are linked below.
John N. Erlenborn represented the 14th Congressional district of Illinois in the United States Congress between 1965 and 1985 (89th to 98th Congresses). He retired after serving in the 98th U.S. Congress.
William P. Jesse was a nuclear physicist who assisted on the Manhattan Project during World War II. After the completion of the war, Jesse continued his work at Argonne National Laboratory, and upon his retirement continued his research at St. Procopius College.
James George (Vaclav) Kanka was an author and a reporter for the Chicago Czech-language newspaper Daily Narod. He was born in 1896, probably in Bohemia or Moravia, and moved to Chicago in the early 1920s. Collection consists of correspondence received by Kanka from political and military figures in various countries. Kanka sent copies of Czech-language books he authored to these individuals and received their responses of thanks, which he then compiled.
The Lincoln Society of Philately was organized in 1962 to promote Abraham Lincoln in philately (stamp collecting) and to develop the exchange of thought, experience, and education in the Chicago area. In addition to the notes and papers relating to the society itself, this collection also includes a stamp collection belonging to Leland B. Adams and miscellaneous stamps which cannot be conclusively linked to Adams.
Originally from Illinois, David Karl Probst studied and conducted research at the University of Chicago and the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. He was awarded the Hertz Foundation Fellowship in the late 1960s. Probst studied the history of science, eventually completing his doctoral thesis Francis Bacon and the Transformation of the Hermetic Tradition into the Rationalist Church in 1972. He also corresponded with significant academics such as Karl Popper.
Thomas J. Dyba was executive vice-president of Illinois Benedictine College, Lincoln scholar and a member of the Abraham Lincoln Society. Dyba constructed two scale models of the Lincoln home, one model of the Lincoln funeral train, and edited the newsletter The Lincoln Chronicle.