Between 1950 and 1974, John L. Raymond donated over 2,000 volumes to the then College of St. Francis library. He also donated various art objects and furnishings for the special collections room in which many of these items were housed, often still referred to as the JLR Room. Among the items donated was a full service silver tea set now on display in the Presidents Room in Tower Hall. There are few records of his visits to the College, however, we do have many of his letters and cards that tell of a new purchase or outline the "hunt" for a particular book he wanted to donate. It is clear when one reads his letters and cards that he had a sincere love and respect for the Sisters of St. Francis
Mr. Raymond was born in Windsor, Wisconsin. He attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and lived for many years in both Chicago and Lake Forest, IL. In 1970 he moved to Waukegan, IL and was elected President of the Waukegan Historical Society. He was also a member of the Men's Club of Immaculate Conception Church in Waukegan. He died in 1974 and was buried in the Fairview Cemetery at Fairchild, Wisconsin.
The John L. Raymond Special Collection houses more than 1,500 titles donated by Mr. Raymond to be kept together in a separate space. Titles in this collection include works by John Masefield, Poet Laureate for England from 1930-1967. An article in The Interlude issue of Oct 20, 1950 (the campus newspaper prior to The Encounter) reports that the initial donation was 140 volumes: seventy volumes of books by John Masefield plus more than sixty volumes of modern poetry. The JLR collection also includes books on the topics of art, music, poetry, nature, animals, religion, geography, and English and American literature. Mr. Raymond was an ardent book collector who showed a remarkable ability in his choice of titles. Many of his books are first editions, limited copies, early printings, autographed copies and books with fine bindings.
All of John L. Raymond's books have a bookplate designed by Mr. Raymond and created by Ralph Seymour, a Chicago artist. Perhaps it gives a clearer explanation of the man who gave so much to the Sisters of St. Francis. In the center is a map of Wisconsin, his home state, an eagle with wings outspread (representing the reaching out for culture and learning), and grasped in his claws a bunch of darts (representing the shooting up to people through his love of literature), a Yankee hat above the eagle (Raymond as a Yankee), a plow and tools show that he descended from a laboring class, an open book and lyre represent his love for books and music, and a tree show his interest in nature.
Along with the ‘JLR’ prefix in front of the call number on the spine of the book, JLR materials in the online catalog are designated as being located in the JLR Collection. The books and materials in this Special Collection are non-circulating and may only be used in the Archives Reading Room located on the second floor of the Brown Library adjacent to the Academic Resource Center (ARC).
Some of the items available in the JLR collection have been highlighted in JLR Subject Bibliographies. Bibliographies are available for American and British Literature, Book Collecting, Nature, Poetry, Religion, Cooking and The Arts.