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Celia Olney Goodale Collection on James Carleton Young

Identifier: M/A 0090

Description of Contents

The collection contains biographical materials, newspaper clippings, catalogs of book collections, and correspondence.


  • Creation: 1901 - 1991



The collection is available for use in Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library during the department's open hours.


James Carleton Young was an internationally-known book collector. Born July 29, 1856, in Marion, Iowa, Young died on January 7, 1918 from having been “stricken by apoplexy” (such as a stroke, embolism, or thrombosis). He graduated with an M.A. from Cornell College in 1876, and in 1909 Cornell presented him with its first-ever Doctor of Literature degree. In 1880, he stood on the steps of the Parthenon and wondered why the world’s best literature had not been collected under one roof. To build this envisioned library himself, and without financial means at that time, he decided to raise the necessary fortune by conducting a large land and colonization business to buy up vacant acreage in Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas, often for less than $1.00, which he then sold for hundreds of dollars per acre in order to purchase first editions. In 1913, he retired to devote himself to building his collection, with the intention of either presenting it when completed to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, or to an American university, or instead constructing a library in Loring Park.

Indulging his lifelong love of literature, Young collected first editions of both contemporary and non-contemporary works (including pre-inscribed works by Hugo, Daudet, Dumas, Kipling, and Hans Christian Anderson) then sent the contemporary monographs to their authors with a request that they likewise inscribe them, earning Young the term “bibliophile,” and in Europe, “Le Roi des Livres” (“King of Books”). Young was named honorary commissioner to the Paris exposition of 1878, elected as one of the three foreign members to the Société Des Amis Des Livres in Paris, awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor in 1910, and made a Fellow to the Royal Geographical Society of London, as well as many other important American book clubs and societies. The books in his library ultimately numbered in the tens of thousands and required the services of a full-time librarian and bookkeeper, several assistants, catalogers, translators, and agents. His sent up to 5,000 letters a year seeking autographs, and insisted upon responding personally to each reply, resulting in bad health, which prompted his physician to advise him to end his work.

Mounting obstacles to his dream of keeping the collection together forced him to allow it to be auctioned off in installments by the Anderson galleries in New York in 1916. Young took consolation that his books would “pass into the possession of my fellow collectors and enrich hundreds of public and private libraries.” He ended up being better known abroad than in America, and relatively unknown in Minneapolis. He was survived by his wife, Etta May Rogers, and one daughter, Marguerite.


1.25 Linear Feet (1 box, 1 oversize)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was compiled by Celia Goodale, great niece of James Carleton Young, and donated to the library in 1997 as accession 1998.61.

Related Materials in Hennepin County Library Special Collections

See the Autograph Collection for inscribed books from the James Carleton Young Collection.

Separated Materials Note

Inscribed books from the James Carleton Young Collection were removed and moved to the Autograph Collection in May, 2015.

• Allen, James Lane. Summer in Arcady. New York: MacMillan and Co., 1896. • Atherton, Gertrude. His Fortunate Grace. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1897. • Bangs, John Kendrick. Mr. Bonaparte of Corsica. New York and London: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1899. • Corelli, Marie. Barabbas: A Dream of the World's Tragedy. London: Methuen & Co., 1902. • Corelli, Marie. Master-Christian. London: Methuen and Co., 1902. • Corelli, Marie. Temporal Power: A Study in Supremacy. London: Methuen and Co., 1902. • Hale, Edward E. Mr. Tangier's Vacations. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1888. • Hale, Edward E. Ups and Downs. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1894. • Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. New World and the New Book: An Address with Kindred Essays. Boston: Lee and Shepard Publishers, 1892. • Matthews, Brander. Action and the Word. New York and London: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1900. • Matthews, Brander. Aspects of Fiction and Other Ventures in Criticism. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1896.

Celia Olney Goodale Collection on James Carleton Young
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Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.