The Julia Stover and Milton Washington Carothers Memorial Bibles and Rare Books Collection
Milton S. Carothers was a native of Tallahassee, Florida, graduating from Leon High School in 1950 and from Florida State University in 1954. While at Florida State, he was elected permanent class president as well as president of the student body. Having earned his Master of Divinity at the Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and holding pastorates at Salisbury, North Carolina (1958-1963) and Covington, Virginia (1963-1969), he acted as a university minister as both Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill prior to his return to Tallahassee. Upon his homecoming, he became Presbyterian campus minister for FSU and served as such for seventeen years until his retirement in 1999.
Upon discovering that the oldest Bible in the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina had belonged to a direct ancestor, Milton S. Carothers became fascinated with the idea of owning an early Geneva Bible. After purchasing a 1606 edition from a collector in Atlanta, he began his intentional collecting of early Bibles and other rare books. His collection was donated to Florida State University in 1982 as a memorial collection for his mother, Julia Stover, and his father, Milton Washington Carothers.
The nucleus of the memorial Bible collection is a group of early English Bibles which were bought from Blackwell’s in Oxford, England during the summer of 1977. With the momentum gained from the acquisition of these “Fry Bibles” he was able to continue on and assembled his collection in less than a decade. However, Mr. Carothers also secured a North African Torah as well as a copy of the Koran—bringing together works from three great religions which originated in the Middle East.
Beyond the religious books included in his collection, there are also a variety of other publications which were meant to illustrate the range of intellectual interests of the nineteenth and early-twentieth century South.
The Carothers Catalogue bears witness to the noble genealogy of Protestant Humanism, especially as cultivated in the American South through intellectual aristocrats among the early English and Scottish settlers.
This expansive collection brought him many hours of enjoyment and he hoped that people who find joy in the appreciation of such treasures will benefit from his assortment of texts. This online exhibit along with the physical exhibit which was featured in the Exhibit Room of Strozier Library act to showcase twenty-seven of the early print Bibles contained in the memorial Collection and call attention to the collection in its entirety.