The Daphne & Eugene Berenbach Collection
One of the largest and most valuable gifts to the Middlebury College Library, the Berenbach Collection, a gift of Daphne and Eugene Berenbach, contains more than 500 French and English books from the late 16th through the early 20th centuries. Highlights include nearly 100 books about Paris and its history, numerous works from the 17th century, and an impressive collection of writings on the French Revolution.
Daphne and Eugene Berenbach, of Wolfeboro, NH, parents of Anne Danila Berenbach Raku, Middlebury Class of 1975, donated the collection in memory of Mrs. Berenbach's mother, its original collector. Elsie Sperry Dosch-Flerot, wife of foreign correspondent Arno Dosch-Fleurot lived for many years in western France and spent many of those years acquiring these books for her library in a restored 14th century chateau in the village of Montmoreau. The collection reflects the broad knowledge and interests of this extraordinarily cultivated women. Also motivating the gift were Anne Berenbach's fond undergraduate memories of Middlebury and her parents' high esteem for the Summer Language Schools.
Among the collection's treasures are D. Michel Feliben's Histoire de la Ville de Paris (1725), Pierre Duval's Les Acquisitions de la France par la Paix (1682), Jean Mocquet's Voyages en Afrique, Asie, Indes orientales, & occidentales (1665), all exhibited here, and Pierre Mathie's Histoire de la mort deplorable de Henri IIII Roy de France et de Navarre : ensemble un poeme, un panegyriqve, & un discours funebre dressé. A sa memoire immortelle (161 ?), Cardinal Richelieu's Traitté qui continent la methode la plus facile et la plus asservrée pour convertir ceux qui se sont separez de l'eglise (1663), and Honoré Riouffe ‘s Mémoires d'un détenu, pour servir à l'histoire de la tyrannie de Robespierre (1795).
The William H. Prescott Collection
Originally assembled to support research on the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy, the Prescott Collection comprises the College Library's most valuable comprehensive collection of 16th and 17th century literature. The original library belonged to Dr. William H. Prescott who collaborated closely with Dr. Orville Owen, in working out a complicated system for decoding hidden meanings in the works of Shakespeare and other 17th century English authors that would prove that Sir Francis Bacon (1562-1626) was indeed the author of Shakespeare's plays. The fact that the theories of Owen, Prescott, and other "Baconists" have been universally debunked, does not diminish the passion and fervor with which these highly intelligent but misguided scholars pursued their fruitless quest, nor does it impact the extraordinary value of Prescott's library, equally as fascinating for its Baconian curiosities as for the rare 17th century literary masterpieces, acquired in that pursuit.
In 1992, the Prescott Collection was given to Special Collections by William H. Prescott, Class of 1967. Prescott is the grandson of William H, Prescott, the collector, and one of the dedicatees of his grandmother book Reminiscences of a Baconian.