About Us | Becker Collection

My love for reading and delight in browsing through libraries and rare book shops have occupied large segments of my free and travel time. A naturalconsequence of this hobby was the modest purchase of occasional gems that intrigued and interested me. This permitted further study at home in leisure moments. When the acquired items filled all available corners of my study, and even some extra bookcases, I found it necessary to develop an alphabetical list of authors. It never occurred to me, however, that this was more than just personal fun and an exciting hobby. As the collection grew, I began to feel rather selfish about the possession of these rare and sometimes unique books and developed the need to share the experiences they offered with others. It has always been my firm conviction that books, like ideas, do not belong to individuals: they must be available to everyone...

Bernard Becker, M.D.

from the preface to the first edition of the Becker Collection Catalog

This unique collection of books, manuscripts and graphics is housed in the Archives and Rare Books Section of the Washington University School of Medicine Library. The collection was donated by Professor Bernard Becker, former Chair of Ophthalmology and now Professor Emeritus at the department, and includes volumes dating from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. The collection includes many rare items and provides a fascinating insight into the parallel evolution of modern ophthalmology and the science of optics. The collection can be viewed by appointment with the Rare Book Librarian or accessed on line through the Medical School library's website. Cloth-bound illustrated catalogs of the collection are also available for purchase. The full text of this catalog is available online.

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