The one wish from individuals who have given their collections to the UC Riverside Library Special Collections is remarkably simple and consistent: I want scholars and students to use and add to my gift.
Melissa Conway, head of the collection located in the Rivera Library, couldn't agree more. "Our collections are not sequestered nor restricted for the use of advanced scholars only. We encourage our undergraduates and people from the university community to visit Special Collections and use our resources for their papers and research projects. The more people who are aware of our varied collections - and the more people who produce publications using our resources - the better chance for us to add to them. Each collection is a source of tremendous historic and intellectual value to students, researchers and scholars." Why do people decide to donate personal collections that often took decades to build?
The Tomás Rivera Collection
Tomás Rivera was the chancellor of UCR from 1979 to 1984. He was an educator, writer, poet and administrator. He was involved in literature, education, and politics in Riverside and beyond. When he died in 1984, his widow, Concepçion (Concha) Rivera, had to decide what to do with the shelves and files of material that filled his office.
"From the time of his Ph.D. program," noted Mrs. Rivera reflecting on the task and the past, "we saved anything we thought would be of value to someone else studying Hispanic and Chicano literature."
After the Austin, the San Antonio and the El Paso campuses of the University of Texas contacted her, she realized that donating the archive to a university made sense. "Wherever the archive went," she said, "a seed would be planted for a Hispanic Chicano Literature Center." It became evident that UC Riverside would provide such a place with Tomás Rivera as the anchor.
Today The Tomás Rivera Collection contains more than 85,000 items: books, manuscripts, pamphlets, correspondence, photographs, broadsides, videotapes, audiotapes, chapbooks and certificates. Mrs. Rivera wants the archive to grow as other Hispanic and Chicano writers discover it, explore it and add their work to it. She envisions a Rivera Collection that will continue to grow in size and significance and become a central resource for the study of Hispanic and Chicano literature.
The Butterworth Collection
Elizabeth Butterworth met her husband, Dr. John R. (Ray) Butterworth, at the University of Nevada when he was a young instructor of English and she was a student.
"When Ray was a graduate student at UCLA," Mrs. Butterworth recalled, "it was a struggle to obtain books after World War II, as graduate student enrollment in English literature jumped from four students to forty. That is when Ray began buying books, which soon turned him into a collector."
With a Ph.D. in English literature from UCLA, his collection soon focused on his area of teaching and research - twentieth-century American and English literature, with a focus on first editions.
Dr. Butterworth spent most of his career as a professor of American and English literature at Cal Poly Pomona. In considering an ultimate home for his collection, he decided he wanted a university where his collection would be made available to students, particularly undergraduates. "He wanted the books to be used," Mrs. Butterworth emphasized.
He donated several volumes specific to existing collections at The Clarke Library of his alma mater, UCLA. Mrs. Butterworth donated the majority of her husband's collection - more than 4,000 twentieth-century American and English literature titles - to UC Riverside because of her friendship with Diane Miller, Executive Director of Gift Planning and Policy at Riverside. In addition, she knew that it would be a collection in which undergraduates would be given full access to the books.
Mrs. Butterworth plans to donate her own, smaller collection of works on Greek and Etruscan history to UC Riverside through a bequest, and like her husband, she is pleased that students will explore and learn from them.
Medieval Medical Leaves
After reading an article written by Conway in the Fall 2002 issue of Fiat Lux, John Fiacco, '70, was motivated to donate four medieval medical leaves to Special Collections.
"I thought that Special Collections might find these apothecary notations of interest and appropriate to the needs of researchers," he noted. Apothecaries would have consulted these 600-year old leaves, which provide a glimpse into every day life centuries ago. Conway, whose Ph.D. studies at Yale were focused on medieval manuscripts, was delighted with the addition to the small but choice collection of pre-1600 manuscripts.
Fiacco's father-in-law, Dr. I. J. Pincus, was a physician and professor of medicine at the University of Southern California. In 1960 Pincus began collecting leaves from books and manuscript from scientific texts. Within a short period of time he narrowed his focus to pre-1600 manuscripts and early printed books in various scientific fields. His grandson, Stephen, a graduate student in molecular biophysics at UC Santa Barbara, began to show an interest in science at an early age so the grandfather gave the collection to the family nearly 15 years ago. Fiacco, himself now a passionate collector, continues to add to and refine the holdings.
He hopes that his gift of the four manuscript leaves will "give a scholar an insight into the period and provide a comparison and contrast to other pertinent material that is being studied." He added, "I realize that during this period of economic difficulty in public funding that alumni should be helpful whenever the appropriate situation presents itself."
In addition to his gift to Special Collections, Fiacco became a member of the Watkins Society by including UC Riverside in his estate plans.
To learn how to make a gift of your collection to UCR, contact Melissa Conway, Head of Special Collections at 909-787-3233 or Melissa.Conway@ucr.edu.