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Rare Books and Manuscripts

Rare Book Image, Florida Collection

The Rare Book Collection of the Jacksonville Public Library primarily features items from the Sixteenth through the early Twentieth Centuries related to Florida and Floridians. Most of the books were published in the Nineteenth century, but there are items from as far back as 1643.

Our collection concentrates on materials relating to Florida history with a particular interest in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Our books range from dime novels and city directories to 18th century travelogues and photographic souvenirs of the area. Most of the items in the collection are books, but we also have manuscripts, maps, and realia.

We also have an extensive collection of postcards and photographs, again, concentrating on Jacksonville and Northeast Florida.

The Florida Collection stacks are closed to the public. If you wish to access materials in the collection, you must request them at the Florida Collection reference desk and use them in the reading room provided. We ask all customers to sign a register when requesting materials.

Merritt Collection

A notable addition to the Rare Books section is the Dr. J. Webster Merritt Collection. The collection includes nineteenth century and earlier Floridiana, purchased by the Library in 1966 from Dr. Merritt's heirs. At the time of the purchase, his assemblage was considered the second most comprehensive private collection in the state. Many materials from this collection have been incorporated into the Florida books, while some of the more rare items are being evaluated for future digitization and preservation.


  • Floridiana - Books and other materials that are about Florida or created by Floridians. In our collection, these items are primarily of historical interest.
  • Manuscript - a hand-written document or book.
  • Typescript - a typed version of a document or book, usually made by or for the author.
  • Rare Book - one that exists only in a small quantity, due to either age or limited print run.
  • Limited Edition - only a small, set number of copies were printed.
  • Realia - Three dimensional objects that can not be classified as books or other traditional library materials (sculpture, building materials, etc.).