GEMS IN ARELLANO UNIVERSITY’S BOOK COLLECTION
Pío Andrade, Jr.
If you go to the Graduate School library of Arellano University, you will certainly notice bookshelves with the label “Rare Books Collection.” On these shelves are books published before 1939. You will find books on various fields: literature, home economics, engineering, history, biography, science, business, the arts, and many others.
Most of the titles in the 360-book collection are in either literature or home economics.
The books on home economics may have been part of the personal collection of Mrs. Elisa Esguerra, wife of Florentino Cayco, Sr., the founder of Arellano University. She was a teacher of home economics, then called domestic science.
Old books they are but many are “goldies;” they are worth your reading time. The first time I browsed through the collection, I found the following outstanding books:
1. Home Economics in Education by Isabel Devier — Do not be misled by its title, for the author did not only discuss the importance of home economics in education but also the history of home economics education through the ages.
2. Perfumes, Cosmetics, and Soaps by William Poucher — This is a classic book on perfumes and cosmetology. It is a must-read for perfume makers and cosmetologists. The College of the Holy Spirit, which had an outstanding science program before, has three volumes of the 1953 edition of this classic. AU has a volume of the 1929 edition.
3. Leonardo the Florentine by Marlon Taylor — This is an outstanding biography of the greatest genius that ever lived: Leonardo da Vinci.
4. Gardening with Herbs by Helen N. Fox — This books is an outstanding reference on herbal gardening. This writer knows, because he has been doing gardening of herbs for over a decade now, and has his own collection of the best books on herbs and herbal gardening published in the last ten years. Fox’s herbal gardening book is better in many respects than the new herb books, even though it was published in 1933. It has been reprinted several times over the years. The AU copy is a 1949 reprint. The book is outstanding in that it does not only deal with cultivation but also with the history and lore of herbs. Its bibliography is the most outstanding feature of the book, for its goes as far back as the Middle Ages.
5. Year 1948; Year 1949 — These are yearbooks and they are outstanding pictorial chronicles of key events in all countries of the world during the year. The pictures and text give the reader a good grasp of the progress, as well as the problems, of the postwar years.
6. Secretos de la Política Española by J. Villamala (ed.) — This book is among the few Spanish editions in the AU Rare Book Collection. It is a criticism of the political activities of the Masons in the 1930′s. What is surprising though about this book is that it devoted 140 of its 195 pages on the question of José Rizal’s retraction before the discovery of his alleged retraction note in 1935. I found in this book many details that have neither been discussed nor written about by both the pro- and anti-Rizal retraction among our historians and Rizal biographers.
Had I dwelt more on other topics, perhaps, I would have found many more gems. I am sure, today’s hotel and restaurant management as well as tourism students of the university would find the old books on home economics still relevant to their lessons.
Leaf through their pages and you will certainly find them worth your while.
(First published in Arellano University’s website)