The library’s facsimiles of Blake’s work have been acquired in a variety of ways, but the majority were gifted by generous donors for the purpose of enhancing student research at Union. Three particular donors are acknowledged here for their foundational support in building the collection.
Dr. Hans Rozendaal
Dr. Hendrik (Hans) M. Rozendaal donated his personal collection of some 39 Blake books to Schaffer Library in the 1980s. His enthusiasm for Blake, and for the Trianon Press facsimiles in particular, was only one of his many avocations. Born in the Netherlands, Rozendaal graduated in medicine from the University of Leiden in 1928. He moved to America in 1930 and to Schenectady in 1937, when he began his own private practice while also serving as an assistant professor at Albany Medical School. In 1940 he became a naturalized American citizen; during World War II he served in the Army Medical Corps. After the war he returned to Schenectady, taking a position as a physician and manager of Life Sciences Studies at the General Electric Company’s Research and Development Center. In 1965, a few years before he retired from GE, he resumed his private practice and also joined the faculty at Union College. Rozendaal’s services to the community took many forms, ranging from volunteering his medical services, to raising funds for a variety of institutions and causes, to donating his Blake collection to Union College.
Walter Tower graduated from Union College in 1953. While at Union, he wrote for and had particular influence on the development of The Idol, the College literary magazine. Although it dated to 1928, Tower increased the magazine’s readership by expanding its scope to include student polls and analytical articles about the College. He joined and later became the president of Nimrod Press in Boston, a commercial printer of high quality hardcover books and other material. With his wife June, Tower built an extraordinary collection of rare works representing the history of printing. From this collection and other personal holdings, Tower made a number of significant donations of early printed books and other material to the library, including several Blake facsimiles. Tower was also one of the principal founders of Union College’s Friends of the Library and made many generous contributions in support of its activities.
The Friends of the Library
The Friends of Union College Library was founded in 1966 under the leadership of Walter Tower ‘53 in consultation with College Librarian Edwin Tolan. The goal of the group was to raise funds to allow the library to acquire books that otherwise could not be purchased within the limits of the annual budget, especially items representing the history of printing. The Friends also started an intermittent publication series showcasing items in the collection and addressing related topics. In 1980 the fund was slightly altered to focus more directly on building Special Collections. It was initially imagined as a way of supporting the purchase of “books not directly related to the curriculum.” In practice, however, all items acquired with Friends of the Library funds, including past and recent acquisitions of Blake material, are used to support student research and create connections with ground-breaking works, either as they were first published or as they have been re-imagined by subsequent authors, artists, and printmakers.