BY ANDREW OLDEN
Taking a trip to the basement level of Holman Library is not in the general travels of most members of the McKendree community. A little known secret is that there are a variety of books housed in a Special Collections unit in one of the lowest floor’s corners. One of these collections contains over 800 books which once belonged to Irving Dillard. This collection was given to McKendree to house in their Special Collections by his daughter Mary Sue. Dillard was a 30 year veteran of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where he wrote over 10,000 editorials and served as an editor from 1949-1957.
While observing Dillard’s collection, one can gather he was a history enthusiast. A majority of the collection is lined with American-themed books, and one in particular focuses on former presidents, spanning from the fore-fathers to Eisenhower. There are other works covering the American political parties and justice system, but a specific interest in Illinois and Missouri shines through. The collection pays homage to legendary American authors such as Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway, among other literary and poetic classics.
Dilliard’s war and journalism experience are mirrored in portions of his collection. There are books pertaining to the American allies in World War II, but there is a great deal more pertaining to Russian culture and Cold War rhetoric. Dilliard’s love for history and journalism shines through when viewing the varied collection residing in the basement of Holman. One can pick up a new book and instantly be drawn to a new point in history. It is truly amazing what you can discover when you continually search for McKendree’s hidden treasures.