About the Collections


by Ralph W. Klein

There are two parts to the LSTC rare books collections. The Gruber Collection was acquired by L. Franklin Gruber (1870-1941), the president of Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary in Maywood, Illinois. To view this site, click on “Gruber Collection” in the Category Bar above.

The General Collection is the result of acquisitions made over the last 150 years by LSTC and its predecessor seminaries or by generous contributors to the seminary library. To visit these books click on the bulleted items in blue on the right side of this page. This general collection includes some 133 medals issued on various anniversaries of the Lutheran Reformation of the 16th century.

There are more than 300 books from the 15th to 18th centuries in the Gruber Collection and the General Collection, with the vast majority coming from the holdings of L. Franklin Gruber.

The works fall into the following categories: works written by Luther himself (about 80) and original copies of several of his letters; copies of Luther’s Bible translations from 1522-1534; works, including original letters, by Phillip Melanchthon; other Reformation era documents; Lutheran confessions of the 16th century; pre-Reformation Bibles; and English Bibles of the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, there are fourteen Greek New Testament manuscripts from the 9th to the 13th centuries.

Each of these manuscripts documents an important moment in our Lutheran cultural and theological legacy, with these stellar highlights: The Theologia Germanica, Luther’s first publication in 1516; a copy of the 95 theses from 1517; Luther’s translation of the New Testament published in 1522 (the September and December Testaments); Erasmus’s 2nd edition of the Greek New Testament, 1519, which was the basis for Luther’s translation of the New Testament; Luther’s publication of the entire Bible in 1534, containing 128 woodcuts that have been hand colored by a later artist; original editions of the Large Catechism 1529, Augsburg Confession 1530, the Apology 1531, and the Book of Concord of 1580; the first Lutheran hymnal of 1524; Pope Leo X’s accusation of errors against Luther; Luther’s 1520 essays on the Christian freedom, the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and the Address to the Christian Nobility; Henry VIII’s defense of the seven-sacrament system; the English Bibles from the 16th and 17th centuries; and the Saur Bible, the first Bible published in the United States in 1743, 1763, and 1776.

This website containing pictures and descriptions of all of these works is being developed by Ralph W. Klein. Individuals or groups that would like to see these books in person should contact Professor Klein (rklein@lstc.edu).

LSTC welcomes contributions of rare books or medals dealing with the Reformation, which will be added to this website and shown to visitors. Donors are invited to contact Professor Klein at rklein@lstc.edu.