at Grinnell College Special Collections & Archives

Category: Collection news

News for the Salisbury House Library Collection

Incunabula at Grinnell Project

A resource site on incunabula in the holdings at Grinnell Special Collections is now LIVE! Incunabula (or incunables) are books printed using metal type in Western Europe between the 1450s, its invention, and 1500. Grinnell College Special Collections is home to twenty-two incunabula as of the spring of 2024. Fourteen of these titles were acquired with the Salisbury House Library Collection acquisition in 2019. Hosted on Scalar, this publicly accessible resource is designed for undergraduates and scholars new to book history to explore and learn about early printing and these rare examples in Grinnell’s collections. The start of a longterm project, forthcoming are digitized scans of the remaining titles, further research, and guides for scholars as well as updates to the international Incunabula Short Title Catalog (ISTC) Database and Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI) Project databases. This project is among the first of a publicly accessible digital library of incunables at a liberal arts college, curated in collaboration with student scholars and hosting full digitization of these rare materials.

Explore Incunabula at Grinnell College

This project has been made possible through collaboration and support from the Grinnell Digital Liberal Arts Collaborative (DLAC)Vivero Digital Fellows Program, and facilitation by Special Collections & Archives, including our invaluable student staff and researchers who make this project possible. The 2023-2024 focus on this project began with a summer research project by Lu Johnston ’24 and Laura Michelson, Project Archivist.

Interested in learning more? Join us for an on campus talk Thursday April 25th!

Event Announcement: Book panel at Salisbury House!

The Magic of the Book

2024 panel on the Salisbury House Library Collection

hosted at historic Salisbury House & Gardens, 4025 Tonawanda Drive, Des Moines, Iowa 

Sunday April 21, 2024 | 2pm doors open, 3pm panel and Q&A 

Join us for the second annual book talk in collaboration with the historic former home of this unique collection to learn more about the ongoing work with the Salisbury House Library Collection at Grinnell College Libraries. This event is FREE but RSVP’s are required as space is limited. Register at

The 2024 panel will be hosted by Project Archivist Laura Michelson and welcomes Lu Johnston ‘24, Professor Carolyn Jacobson, and Professor Erik Simpson to chat research in the collection on early printing, extra illustration, book history, and more, as well as interacting with the collection in the classroom, conservation updates, and beyond. Selections from the Library Collection will be on site for viewing.  

Note: This event will take place in the historic estate’s Common Room and is accessible by three steps. Accessible parking/drop off is located on the circle drive on the north side of the house. For questions on the facility, please email and for event questions, email

Event Announcement: Book Talk at Salisbury House

For the Love of Books: the Salisbury House Library Collection’s New Chapter
Book Talk Series with Grinnell College Libraries

THURSDAY, April 27, 2023 at historic Salisbury House |4025 Tonawanda Drive, Des Moines, Iowa

Doors open at 5:00pm, Talk 5:30-6:30pm

Join us for the first in a series of book talks with Grinnell College Libraries on the next chapter of the Salisbury House Library Collection. Hear more about the state of the collection, its life at Grinnell so far, current projects, collection mysteries, favorite finds, and more. For this extra-illustrated talk, select materials from the collection will be onsite for viewing and handling. Presented by Grinnell College Special Collections: Laura Michelson, Project Archivist; Christopher Jones, Special Collections Librarian and Archivist of the College; and Allison Haack, Library Assistant. Light refreshments will be served.

Buy an advanced ticket and learn more at

poster image of historic library with event description and details (see post)

Event Announcement: Iowa Bibliophiles

Salisbury House Library at Grinnell College: Collection History, Present, and Next Chapter

An Iowa Bibliophiles Talk
When: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 7-8 p.m. CST
Where: Hosted live on Zoom

Learn more about the ongoing work with the Salisbury House Library Collection through a virtual talk with Iowa Bibliophiles hosted by the University of Iowa and by Grinnell librarians Chris Jones and Laura Michelson. Find out about this unique Iowa collection, its original home in a 1920s Des Moines estate, its 2019 move to Grinnell, ongoing projects, and the next chapter. Meet some of the ‘greatest hits’ and favorites from the stacks and find out more about collection holdings, projects ahead, and visiting Grinnell to see more.

See more about this and the Iowa Bibliophiles series from the University of Iowa Special Collections. A recording of the event will be made available on University of Iowa Special Collections YouTube (uispeccoll).


Please contact Laura Michelson (, Project Archivist, Grinnell College Libraries, or Elizabeth Riordan (, Lead Outreach and Instruction Librarian at UI Special Collections.

Event Announcement: Spring Open House

Grinnell College Special Collections is hosting a Salisbury House Library Collection open house on Thursday May 12 from 4-7pm, with opening remarks at 4:15 in Burling Gallery. Drop in and experience selections from the Salisbury House Library Collection to learn more about some our favorite discoveries from the stacks this year, SHLC in the classroom, current projects, and the next chapter for the collection.

Can’t join us? Open house items will be featured over summer 2022 online (here!) or contact us to schedule a visit to see material in person. 




Exhibit announcement | Book Fool: Reading a Bibliophile’s Library

Book Fool: Reading a Bibliophile’s Library

is installed now in the Burling Library Gallery (lower level). The exhibit features the Salisbury House Library Collection material ranging from 1483 to the 1940s. Visit the gallery anytime during library open hours. Book worms, book fools, bibliophiles, and all lovers of books will find something to enjoy. Learn about the bibliophile who built the Salisbury House Library Collection, the range of material that calls it home, and how it came to Grinnell College Special Collections. 

Visit this fall exhibit during Burling Library’s open hours September – December 2021. Join us for a glimpse into the Salisbury House Library Collection and its exciting new chapter at Grinnell College. 

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