Collection Overview

The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection arrived at Rubenstein Library in April 2015. Carefully assembled over forty-five years by noted bibliophile, activist, and collector Lisa Unger Baskin, the collection is a transformative body of material documenting women at work. In Baskin’s own words,

"The unifying thread is that women have always been productive and working people and this history essentially has been hidden."

The collection includes many well-known monuments of women’s history and arts, as well as lesser-known works produced by female scholars, printers, publishers, laborers, scientists, authors, artists, and political activists. Taken together, they comprise a mosaic of the ways that women have been productive, creative, and socially engaged over more than five hundred years.


Pseudo Petrarch, Vite dei Pontefici e Imperatori Romani, 1478
Annotated entry on Pope Joan
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Isotta Nogarola, humanist, 1418-1466, from Jacopo Philippo Bergomensis' De Claris Mulieribus, 1497
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Detail from Antonius Augustinus' Dialoghi Intorno Alle Medaglie, 1592, showing the signature of Geronima Parasole, which includes a knife to indicate that she cut the woodcut illustrations herself
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Title page of the first book on obstetrics to be published by a woman. Written by French midwife Louise Bourgeois, 1642.
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Memorandum book of the Hausley family of Oxfordshire, c. 1649
Embroidered binding; erasable pages
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


First folio edition of Maria Sibylla Merian's De Europische Insecten, 1730
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Susie Thompson's Alphabet Illustrated, Kennebunkport, ME, manuscript, ca. 1830
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Harriet Beecher Stowe's blurb for the Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave, ca. 1850
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Cabinet card sold by Sojourner Truth to support her work, 1864
Photographer is unknown
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Alfred Lord Tennyson's In Memorium
Manuscript illustrated and bound by Phoebe Anna Traquair, 1889-1892
90 leaves total, including the page from which this detail was taken
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


English Lyrics from Spenser to Milton, 1898
Binding design by Granville Fell, executed by Alice Shepherd of the Cedric Chivers bindery
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Women's Social and Political Union banner, Ilford (London), ca. 1909
Silk and linen with applique and needlework, 42 inches x 88 inches
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University


Viriginia Woolf's Writing Desk
Painted by her nephew Quentin Bell, c. 1929
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University
Photograph by Annie Schlechter


Selections from the Emma Goldman Collections
Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Supporting the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection

The Duke University Libraries are grateful to the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation for its lead gift to support the acquisition of the Baskin Collection.

To make a donation please visit this page.