Special Collections holds many treasures, each with its own special story. Some of these stories we know, some we can only guess at. One of these is the Valentine's Manual of Old New York, no. 6, New Series 1922, edited by Henry Collins Brown. What makes this volume particularly "special" to Special Collections is the inscription on one of the prelimiinary pages, "To our friend, Dr. C. H. Fisher, from Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Donovan. Many happy returns of the day, April 25th, 1928. Bellingham, Washington."
Dr. Fisher served as Western's president from 1923 to 1939. Mr. Donovan was a "civil engineer, lumberman, and financier," who arrived in what became Bellingham in 1888 and served on the Board of Trustees between 1905 and 1913. Their official involvement on campus did not overlap, but clearly they formed some bond of friendship that warranted this gift. The book had been published in 1922, what prompted the Donovan's to choose this book as a gift in 1928? Was there a particular article that the Donovan's thought that Dr. Fisher would enjoy? Dr. Fisher had attended the Union Theological Seminary in New York City perhaps the volume was intended to bring back memories of that time.
Valentine's Manual of Old New York is itself beautifully bound in blue binding with gilt decoration and edging on the front and back covers and printing on the spine. The featured illustrations include many "rare old prints, engravings and colored lithographs." Of particular note is the color fold-out of Forty-Second Street in 1876 accompanying the first article, "Fifty Years on Old Forty-Second Street, 1870-1920." The editor, Henry Collins Brown was born into New York's high society and embraced its art, history and culture, authoring and editing several related books, founding the Museum of the City of New York, and serving as its first director. This volume is a lovely tribute to the city that he knew and loved.
Special Collections Manager