Don Cameron Allen, a professor of English literature at The Johns Hopkins University, assembled his 5,000 volume library over forty years of collecting to support the study of Renaissance literature and culture. UCSD acquired the collection from Prof. Allen in 1967 to build up its library's research collections in the humanities, and many titles were added to the library's circulating collection at that time. The rare books from Allen's library, which form the Don Cameron Allen Renaissance Collection, number nearly 1,300 titles dating chiefly from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and comprise classical, Romance and English language literary texts, contemporary studies on textual and literary criticism, as well as books on philosophy, philology, theology, politics, history, classical studies, and both ancient and early modern science. With emphases on English and Italian literature and on Renaissance studies of antiquity, these materials as a whole represent an exceptionally rich and broad collection for the study and teaching of Renaissance thought, learning, and letters, and they provide exemplary humanistic texts for research in Greek and Latin literature, patristic thought, Greco-Roman art and archaeology, philosophy, history, politics, theology, and religion.
Because Allen acquired these books for their academic value, and because they were primarily published by and for scholars, the collection documents Renaissance learning through both the contents of the works and the physical characteristics of the books themselves. Most were edited, annotated or published by the leading authorities of the time, and Allen often acquired editions for their revised introductions or notes, or for their importance in the history of textual transmission, rather than for their basic texts. Manuscript notes contemporaneous with the century of printing are common throughout the margins and blank leaves of many of the books and provide additional indications of the scholarly legacy that these works represent.
Titles that reflect the broad range of the collection include: Pius VI's copy of the Bible (Rome, 1598); the first edition of Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World (London, 1614); Sebastien Mnster's Cosmographiae Universalis (Basel, 1554); Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalium (Frankfurt, 1585-1604); John Dee's A True and Faithful Relation (London, 1659); Tonson's edition of Julius Caesar's works (London, 1712); printings of classical works edited by the Aldine and Estienne families of printers; the first English edition of Erasmus's collected letters; Thomas North's rare 1579 edition of Plutarch's Lives; the scarce collections of British history sources known as the Somers Tracts and the Harleian Miscellany; Leandro Alberti's Descrittione di tutta l'Italia (Venice, 1596); and Giovani Pontano's collected works (Venice, 1505).
A catalog providing bibliographic descriptions of selected items in the collection has been published: A Selected Catalog of Books from the Library of Don Cameron Allen, compiled by J. M. Edelstein (La Jolla, Calif.: University Library, University of California, San Diego, 1968). The entire collection has been cataloged, and bibliographic descriptions are available online in ROGER WEB. Additionally, researchers can retrieve the full data set of bibliographic records for the collection by searching the author heading: "Allen, Don Cameron, 1904- former owner".