August 21, 2018

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Kimberly Cannon, Graduate Assistant

VSU Unveils the Dr. Robert N. Owens Collection

Marcia McRae and John McRae donated the Dr. Robert N. Owens Collection to Valdosta State University. 
VALDOSTA— Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections recently unveiled the Dr. Robert N. Owens Collection, which features books published six centuries ago.
The Dr. Robert N. Owens Collection includes 18 books that date from 1507 to 1891. Part of the collection is displayed on the first floor of Odum Library near the south entrance.
Dr. Robert N. Owens’ children, Robert M. Owens and Rev. Marcia McRae, along with Marcia’s husband, John McRae, donated this collection to VSU. Marcia McRae said her father collected many of these books while researching for his doctorate and when traveling around the world working in international trade.
Among the books in the collection is a 1536 edition of the poem “Comedia Del Divino” by Dante Alighieri, or as it’s known in English, “The Divine Comedy.” This edition includes the rare Cristoforo Landino commentaries. The collection also includes the first edition of a rare Spanish book of emblems, “Emblemas Morales de Don Ivan de Horozco y Couarruuias,” from 1589.
Books of such age are much different than those printed today, from the bookbinding to the vellum paper pages, said Deborah Davis, director of VSU Archives and Special Collections. She said these books are windows to history.
“When you hold one of these books in your hand, you are linked directly to all the other readers from over 500 hundred years who have touched that book,” Davis said.
Most of the books in the Dr. Robert N. Owens Collection are written in Spanish, with some in Latin. For this reason, Davis said the collection serves as an “exceptional resource” for VSU’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages and students studying Spanish.
Dr. Robert Owens had an extensive career teaching Spanish, part of which was spent as chairman of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages from 1961 to 1964 at VSU, which as the time was called Valdosta State College.
“It seemed appropriate for this place — since we have such profound connections here — to be the place for the books to reside,” Marcia McRae said of the donation.
Marcia McRae, her brother, Robert Owens, and her husband, John McRae, are all VSU alumni.   
During the unveiling, Dr. Richard Carvajal, president of VSU, said this collection would have a positive impact on VSU and the students it serves for many years to come.
Anyone interested in viewing a book from this collection may visit the William Mobley Reading Room of VSU Archives and Special Collections on the fourth floor of Odum Library. The books must remain in VSU Archives and Special Collections and cannot be checked out.
Please contact Deborah Davis at (229) 259-7756 or to learn more.