Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2001

Library collection adds rare texts

January 7, 2001


— A rare book collector has left Wichita State University his collection of more than 2,000 first-edition Nazi propaganda books and pamphlets.

Henry Amsden donated the books before he died at age 83 of leukemia on Dec. 27.

The Nazi propaganda books and pamphlets give the Ablah Library one of the more prominent rare book and manuscript collections in the Midwest, said Michael Kelly, curator of special collections for the library.

The Amsden collection is rare because similar works were often destroyed after World War II, Kelly said.

"Those German-era pamphlets and books are important resources," Kelly said. "They are one of a kind, and we are indebted to him for his work."

Amsden, a retired co-owner of Amsden Lumber Co. and Sun Enclosure Inc., was an avid reader. At one time his collection contained more than 10,000 books.

Amsden went to the University of Wichita, completed his master's degree at the University of Iowa and was working on his doctorate at Yale when World War II began.

He returned to Wichita and was working for Boeing Airplane Co. when he was drafted. He served as a captain and directed a field artillery battery throughout Germany, central Europe and northern France.

After the war, he returned to Wichita to work for the family business. He became an avid collector of rare books as well as an authority on World War II.

Amsden also helped develop the Wichita State University Special Collections Assn., a fund-raising group dedicated to acquiring and supporting the acquisition of rare material for Ablah Library.

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