Library Collection

The Original Collection

The Guildford Institute has always owned and loaned books to its members. This library grew to over four thousand volumes; those that remain from the early years are preserved as our Original Collection.

The range of our members’ interests clearly went beyond the educational to much wider horizons; hobbies and pastimes, current affairs and even children’s books for their families. Exploration, in a fast expanding world, was of particular interest, resulting in a rich collection of travel literature published during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Titles such as In Darkest Africa by Henry M. Stanley (1890), The Romance of Early Exploration (1907), India by Victor Surridge (1909), Russia with paintings by F. de Haenan (1908), Tramps in Dark Mongolia (1910) and Through the Alps to the Appennines (1911) give a fascinating insight into a time where maps were largely coloured “Pink”. The emerging technologies of engineering, radio and electricity were of intense interest, reflected in titles such as The Wonders of Wireless Telegraphy (1913), The Romance of Modern Mechanism (1910), and Every Boy his Own Mechanic (1918). Ladies were also catered for with instructional tomes such as Three Hundred and One Things a Bright Girl Can Do (1911). We have always held an impressive collection of biographies and autobiographies, a legacy that continues in our current collection. While many of the great and the good celebrated in the Original Collection biographies were prominent in their day, most are rarely written about now, so these books offer a particularly useful information source. One of the joys of browsing these shelves is that many of the titles were published in beautifully illustrated and coloured covers; a few examples are reproduced here. Much of this collection can be borrowed by members.