Recognizing the Beauty in Books

Quayle Bible Collection

Quayle 2020-2021 Exhibit

Religion and the American Presidency: Featuring the Signed Bibles of the Quayle Collection

Is America a Christian nation? What does separation of Church and State actually mean? When did we add “In God We Trust” to our legal tender? How far does Freedom of Religion extend? Does an American President have to be religious? These are long-disputed topics in American politics, and from Thomas Jefferson to Donald Trump, the religious belief of almost every American President has been called into question. In light of the election season, the 2020-2021 exhibit of the Quayle Bible Collection will address many of these questions. The exhibit will also feature our Bibles signed by every President from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Barack Obama.

Exhibit Hours

September 12 – November 22 & January 30 – May 15 (closed March 13, 14, 20, 21; April 3, 4)

Saturdays & Sundays 1-4 p.m.

By appointment: email npoell@bakerU.edu or call 785.594.4582

Religion and the American Presidency, photo of Gerald Ford signing a Bible

Bishop William Alfred Quayle, for whom the Quayle Bible Collection is named, graduated from Baker University in 1885.

Quayle treasured books and his collection reflects his interest in the history of printing and Bible translation. Today the collection holds more than 800 Bibles and other religious and historical documents, some dating as early as 2000 BCE.

Quayle Bible Collection illustrated manuscript

The Collection

The original collection reflected Quayle’s wide interests. The earliest is a 13th century illuminated manuscript; the latest, a 20th century King James Bible published by the Dove’s Press. Bible highlights include a New Testament of Tyndale (1549), a Great Bible made for Henry VIII (1539), a Geneva Bible (1560), two King James Bibles (1611), a Genoa Psalter (in which Arabic characters first appeared in print), and a leaf of John Eliot’s Algonquin New Testament (1661). But he also collected historical texts by Josephus and Luther, prayer books, books of hours, sermon collections and treatises.

Under the watchful eyes of Hattie Osborne, the first Quayle curator, and President John Scarborough who took a special interest in the collection, it grew quickly. Gifts and purchases filled out and enhanced the collection under Mary McCormick, Ray Firestone, John Forbes, and Kay Bradt. These later additions include a leaf of the Gutenberg Bible (1456), the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), William Blake’s illustrations for the book of Job (1825), illuminated breviaries (eleventh through fourteenth centuries), clay tablets from Ur (2000 BCE). The collection now numbers over six hundred volumes.

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The Spencer Wing

In 1925, the collection was housed in an alcove in the library in Case Hall. When the Collins Library was built in 1960, Kenneth A. Spencer, who had served on the Baker University Board of Trustees from 1944-1956, became aware of the need for an environmentally controlled and secure facility. He and his wife, Helen Foresman Spencer provided this wing to house the collection in a controlled and secure environment. Mr. Spencer died before the building was completed, but Mrs. Spencer took an exceptionally active part in the project, furnishing it with a seventeenth century drawing room, the Urishay Room, which provides a wonderful atmosphere and space for special events.

Bishop Quayle

Bishop William Alfred Quayle was, by all accounts, an exceptional man. He was born in Parkville in 1860, the son of Manx immigrants en route to the Colorado gold fields. They left the infant with his uncle’s family not far from Baldwin City. He enrolled in the Baker Academy at the age of 14 and graduated from the University in 1885. He was ordained in the Methodist Church in 1886, but continued to teach ancient languages at Baker until 1890, when he became President serving until 1894.

He left academia in 1894 for the church although he maintained strong ties to Baker for the rest of his life. After serving a number of large congregations in Kansas City and Indianapolis he was elected Bishop by the 1908 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. All the while, he wrote prolifically, publishing over twenty books on literature, nature and the spiritual life (more information below).

Quayle treasured books for both their contents and their aesthetic qualities. The books he authored were designed and illustrated with care and his favorite volume from the collection was a beautiful volume, a 13th century Italian manuscript bound in a silver cover. Quayle’s interest in the history of printing and bible translation is evident in the number of early printers and early examples of the milestones of bible translation.

In addition to these rare books, his personal library contained books about books – rare books, early book collectors, the rare book business – all marked in his distinctive hand. In his travels, he met rare book dealers who helped him build the collection, but he seems to have enjoyed the rough-and-tumble of the rare books world as well, bidding on books at auction, himself.

At his death in 1925, he left his collection, which numbered about 250 volumes, to Baker University.

Bishop William A Quayle sitting in a chair

Bishop Quayle’s Writings & Sermons

List of publications by William Quayle

Includes all known editions.

Catalog search for William Quayle as an author

Includes local holdings and electronic versions (view now link).

List of sermons by William Quayle

Includes available copies in the Quayle, the Library, and the Archives.

The Baker University & Kansas Area United Methodist Archives have four boxes of papers associated with Bishop William Alfred Quayle (1860-1925) that consist of correspondence, books by Quayle, letters and documents regarding Quayle’s literary works and sermons, Baker University related documents, and photographs. The collection is arranged first by initial donation, and then by a later accession. The initial donation consists of correspondence, books by Quayle, letters and documents regarding Quayle’s literary works and sermons, and photographs. Correspondence is arranged chronologically (1891-1922). Two books by Quayle are included, God’s Calendar (1907) and In God’s Out-of Doors (1902). There is also a print titled “Young Aspens” by C.A. Seward.

Photographs in the collection are stored separately under call number PH127. There are two photographs, a snapshot of an unidentified elderly couple in a garden, and a gathering of Methodist bishops at Bethany Methodist Hospital, 1920. Also contains Baker University documents including the University Quarterly (a course catalogue), 1906-1907; clippings regarding the university; correspondence between the University and Quayle’s daughter, Allie Quayle; and also a personal ledger of William Quayle’s that contains genealogical information, recipes, and a detailed listing of meals eaten between 1920 and 1923. There are also two manuscripts that may have been written by Quayle: one is titled “Con Amor,” which reads as a love letter to a woman, and one is titled, “The Story of Margaret,” which reads as a letter to a daughter who is battling a debilitating disease. There is also correspondence between Quayle family members (1922), and correspondence addressed to Bishop Quayle. This accession also contains a poem that has someone marked, “possibly a Woodsworth poem.”

Past Exhibits

From Creation to Apocalypse: The Bible in America from the Pilgrims to the Civil War

Beyond a Text: The Life of Scripture Outside of the Words | 2018-2019

Revolution, Rebellion, and Reformation: 500 Years After Luther | 2017-2018

More than Matriarchs: Women in the Book of Genesis | 2016-2017

King David: Poet, Warrior, Seducer, and Murderer | 2015-2016

Books and Culture | 2014-2015

Illuminating the Bible : Woodcuts & Engravings | 2013-2014

The Secret Life of a Jacobean Drawing Room | 2012-2013

The Impact of the King James Bible, 1611-2011 | 2011-2012

400 Years of the King James Bible | 2010-2011

The Bible – Acted, Sung and Given Ornament | 2009-2010

History of Writing & Publishing | 2008-2009