The Oxford Collection encompasses the world of Oxford University, the city of Oxford, England, its men and women, and their influence on the outside world. The collection began with William W. Clary’s (1888–1971) “respect for learning and a veneration of age.” He believed “that the importance of Oxford as an educational institution and the similarity of our plan of organization at Claremont to that of Oxford ought to make a study of Oxford's history and methods of direct and immediate value to us.” It was Mr. Clary’s desire that the collection be used for active reading and study; and by the very fact of bringing books together on the subject of Oxford, that the whole would be of greater use to students and scholars than the scattered parts.

The collection has grown to include a wealth of material on the history and governance of Oxford University, its system of education, Oxford reforms, and student life. Literature, poetry, prose, and drama which relate to the University, as well as biographies of prominent Oxford men and women may be found in the collection. There are books on philosophy, religion, and science at Oxford from the 13th century to present times. The works of John Wesley and the Methodist and Tractarian Movements are well represented.

Though developed as a useful rather than antiquarian collection, there are many rare items. These include incunabula relating to Medieval philosophy; 16th century imprints of the Oxford University Press; Daniel Press publications; first editions; undergraduate manuscript notebooks written by John Abbott at Balliol College, ca. 1599; and books whose bindings, illustrations, inscriptions, or provenance confer special value. An endowment and gifts from the Clary family make possible the continuing growth of the collection.

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