Swem Library’s Special Collections holds the library of St. George Tucker. The library has been described by Jill M. Coghlan (“The Library of St. George Tucker” (M. A. Thesis College of William and Mary. Department of History. 1973.) In her work, she revealed that the library holds a bit more than one-half of the books listed in Tucker’s estate. As would be expected from a person who was a professor of law and judge, one-third of the books were legal. But Tucker’s tastes also encompassed poetry, astronomy, travel, and history. There were only four theological books and, for the most part, Tucker steered away from political works.
Tucker was into binding! He not only rebound books that he owned, but he also compiled pamplets into bound sets – the most important of which were his collection of proceedings and ordinances from the 1775 and 1776 Virginia conventions. Like Jefferson who felt the Declaration of Independence was primal to the American experiment, Tucker recognized the importance of this period in Virginia to the creation of the United States.
Tucker usually wrote his name on the endpaper of his volumes and he either noted the cost of the book or the name of the person who gave him the book. His legal books were his most annotated and the practice he had of marking passages with a pointing finger led the Library’s staff to put that pointing hand on the call number tags.