On Nov. 13, 1918, The Campus, SMU’s student newspaper, reported that the library received Bohemia. This autobiography was written by the Czech immigrant, abolitionist and doctor, Anthony Michael Dignowity. He was born in Bohemia in 1810 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1832. His stories about selling pretzels during Lent and as a snail salesman during boyhood are charming. His descriptions of Austrian military justice are chilling.


The headline of the student newspaper article was “The Libarary [sic] has an interesting book.” This particular book was a part of a very large collection from Methodist minister, publisher, magazine editor and bibliographer E.L. Shettles. At the time, Librarian Dorothy Amann “considers it a most valuable addition to the library.” DeGolyer Library still has this copy of the book, and it is still interesting, still a valuable addition to the collection, and still worth traveling to the Library to read in person.


There are several options of how to read Bohemia under Austrian Despotism: Being an Autobiography. It was reprinted by Books on Demand in 2013 and is available on Amazon for $44.95. It was digitized by the Internet Archives and is available free online. The 1859 edition was recently sold at auction for $245. Thirty other libraries in the U.S. have the 1859 edition including Harvard, Yale, and the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem Pa.


The question remains, why is important to visit the DeGolyer Library and why is it important to read Bohemia or any rare book in person? By visiting the DeGolyer, unplugging from a computer, focusing solely on reading and turning the 158 year old pages, you are transported into another time. You can immerse yourself into the words and read deeply. You feel the paper in your hands. No distractions. Time travel is yours at the DeGolyer Library.