In Honor and Memory:

Acquisition of the Rubinstein Collection

Why is a collection of account books from the Orsetti family of Lucca called the Rubinstein Collection? The collection is named in honor of Joseph Rubinstein, the first curator of the Department of Special Collections at KU Libraries from 1953 to 1963. After Rubinstein left KU he entered the rare book trade, often collaborating with his friend and fellow bookdealer Bernard Rosenthal in San Francisco.

In 1970, Rosenthal was informed of the possible sale of the “Guinigi Orsetti” archive by a colleague in Europe and asked Rubinstein to visit Lucca to assess the collection. Rubinstein recommended purchase, and what followed was a multi-year correspondence among Rosenthal, Rubinstein, and Alexandra Mason, Head of Special Collections at Spencer Research Library, to set a price and secure funding for its purchase. After Rubinstein’s death in 1973, Rosenthal revised the collection description and continued negotiations with the University of Kansas. When the Orsetti family papers finally came to Spencer Library the following year, the collection was named in honor of KU’s first special collections librarian.

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Provenance statement documenting the acquisition and purchase of the Orsetti family papers. Bernard M. Rosenthal, February 28, 1975.


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Special Collections Librarian Alexandra Mason, n.d., University Archives, 41/0.


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“Joseph Rubinstein examines books, 1956”: University Archives, 41/0.


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The Orsetti Family Papers

Image of the large collection of Orsetti family account books at Bernard Rosenthal’s storeroom in San Francisco, circa 1973. This image was sent to KU Libraries staff as part of documentation on the sale of the material.

Special Collection accession files.