Brookens Library’s Special Collections Receives Ethel Gingold Gift
Recently, Brookens Library’s Archives and Special Collections unit received a notable memorial gift of books from the family of Ethel Silver Gingold (1918-2012).
Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, Ethel Gingold received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1940. She was an early student and longtime supporter of Sangamon State University (now UIS), receiving Masters of Arts degrees from the new institution in Justice and Social Order (1973) and Human Services (1979).
Ethel Gingold had a tireless lifelong passion for social justice and was active the areas of fair housing, corrections, civil liberties and race relations. Among the many organizations in which she served in leadership positions were the Springfield Jewish Federation, the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, Amnesty International, Urban League, the Springfield and Illinois Human Relations Commission, the State Prisoner Review Board, and the Illinois Department of Corrections Adult Advisory and Administrative Review. She reviewed over 1000 prison inmate grievances and was appointed to a Citizen’s Review Board to screen applicants for judge positions in Illinois. Gingold was declared an “Illinois Treasure” by the Illinois Alliance on Aging, and in 2003 received the Copley “First Citizen Award” from the Illinois State Journal-Register.
Gingold received the Loyalty Award from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2000 and was a life member of the UIS Chancellor’s Capital Council. In 2007 she was the first recipient of the University of Illinois Humanitarian Award. In 1995, the ACLU and other donors established the Ethel Gingold Scholarship as an annual award for undergraduate students attending the University of Illinois-Springfield.
The 55 volumes donated by the Gingold family cover a wide variety of subjects, but the most notable collecting theme is the English writer Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). The collection includes a fine copy of the 1824 edition of James Boswell’s four-volume biography of Johnson, and also a fine copy of the 1836 edition of the biography’s supplement, Johnsoniana.
Also included is a six-volume edition of Shakespeare’s plays, based on an original 1765 edition edited and annotated by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens. The set included in the Gingold gift dates from 1807, and is lavishly bound with numerous engraved illustrations.
The oldest and probably most valuable volume in the gift is All the Works of Epictetus, which are now Extant…, the first 1758 edition of a translation of the Greek Stoic poet’s works by Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806). Carter, an English poet, writer and translator, was as friend of Samuel Johnson and one of the only woman classicists of note in the Eighteenth Century. Johnson once remarked that “[my] old friend, [Miss] Carter could make a pudding [just] as well as translate Epictetus.” Her translation of Epictetus brought her considerable fame and £1000 in subscription fees, an enormous sum at the time.
Elizabeth Carter was also a member of the Blue Stocking Circle, a group of mostly upper-class women who met to discuss literature and their reading, artwork, and writing projects.
Other books in the Gingold gift include works of Thomas Huxley and Herbert Spencer, biography and memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, and a variety of books pertaining to literature and art.
Ethel Gingold once remarked that “My parents instilled in all of us a love for books, knowledge, and learning that would last a lifetime.” This gift of books, to be preserved in Brookens Library Special Collection, continues that legacy.