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Medieval Religious Texts of the Rare Book Room: Home

This guide was created for students in Dr. Vicky McAlister's classes. This guide will provide students with an introduction to six early religious texts from the Charles Harrison Rare Book Collection.

Visiting the Rare Book Room

Any student or group of students may make an appointment for a tour of the Rare Book Room. The Rare Book Room is located at Kent Library, Room 306. Advance appointments for visitation can be made by calling (573) 651-2245 or emailing

Roxanne Dunn and Tyson Koenig of Special Collections and Archives are always happy to accommodate students wishing to visit the Rare Book Room. 

Inside the Rare Book Room


Subject Guide

Roxanne Dunn's picture
Roxanne Dunn
Kent Library
One University Plaza
MS 4600
Cape Girardeau, MO

About Charles L. Harrison

Charles Luce Harrison (1883-1946) came to southeast Missouri from Ohio with his family in 1898.  His father, William, was involved in the timber operations in the lowlands around Morehouse, Missouri.  As an adult, Charles became an officer in the Himmelberger-Harrison Lumber Company founded by his father and John Himmelberger, and headquartered in Cape Girardeau.

Charles Harrison played a prominent role in the business and civic life of Cape. He was actively involved in the construction of the Hotel Marquette, the Mississippi River Traffic Bridge, the Cape Girardeau Public Library, and an extensive addition to the St. Francis Hospital.

A business man by day, Harrison's passion was books and book collecting.  He described book collecting as his "inexpensive hobby" and allowed himself only $50 a month for the enterprise.  He confessed that this method resulted in books occasionally purchased on the "installment plan." Despite the frugality of his method, Harrison's collecting, which he began in earnest in the 1930s, produced a wonderful library that continues to delight students, scholars and other visitors to Kent Library.  When Harrison passed away in 1944, he willed the collection to the Southeast Missouri State Teachers College.

The Rare Book Room was established in 1968, in Charles Harrison's memory, by a gift from his family. 

What's in the Collection?


The Charles Luce Harrison Collection contains over 800 rare or unusual books, reflecting the "history of the book" from the 13th-early 20th centuries.. 

The collection contains examples of:

  • Manuscripts, 13th century and later
  • Incunabula (1450-1501) and other hand-press period works (through circa 1850)
  • Fine printing
  • Fine binding
  • Illustrated and extra-illustrated works
  • First editions, signed and association copies

Individual titles in the Harrison Collection can be located through searching the Kent Library catalog.  Use the Advanced Keyword option to limit your search Location to "SEMO Special Collections."