Preserve the history of controversial ideas for the future by  supporting banned books in our collection. The censorship of books has a long history, dating back to the fifteenth century. Milestones in science and natural philosophy by intellectuals such as Galileo, Locke, and Darwin disseminated new ideas that challenged old convictions and were considered dangerous by religious and government institutions. These books—and many others in our stacks—illustrate Bernard Malamud's assertion that there are "no wrong books. What is wrong is the fear of them."

Support Banned Books

An adoption in our Banned Books collection helps ensure the care of and access to these materials. Theme collection books are available for multiple adoptions. When you contribute towards the preservation of this collection, you join a family of adopters supporting Banned Books and the freedom of ideas. Some of our banned books are showcased below:

Charles Darwin. On the Origin of Species. 1859.

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Darwin’s work remains the foundational text of evolutionary biology. Through study and observation of the biology and geology of the Galapagos Islands, Darwin recognized that advantageous and heritable changes in the structure and function of livings beings would help their survival, eventually resulting in new species. It is here that Darwin first lays out his theory of “survival of the fittest” (though this phrase would not be used until the fifth edition). Darwin’s astonishing summary of his biological studies also exhibits a very high standard of scientific prose. The book was banned from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, where Darwin had been a student, and later in the Americas, where from 1925-1967, Origin was banned in Tennessee schools.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

John Locke. An essay concerning humane understanding. In four books. 1694.

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Philosopher and physician John Locke’ began his greatest work in 1671 and first published it in 1689, The book posited that people have no innate principles including no sense that God existed or should be worshipped. Locke was the first "to attempt to estimate critically the certainty and the adequacy of human knowledge when confronted with God and the universe," (Printing and the Mind of Man, 98), and concludes that man has a means of controlling his own destiny. His work was foundational for 18th-century philosophers Hume, Berkeley, and Kant, and critical to the development of modern philosophy. Locke’s Essay was placed on the Catholic Index in 1700 for its controversial content.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Mary Ware Dennett. The sex side of life. c1919.

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Birth control activist Mary Ware Dennett wrote The Sex Side of Life because she found existing sexual education literature to be confusing and dishonest. First published as an article in the Medical Review of Reviews in 1918, Mary Ware Dennett’s educational pamphlet was later distributed by mail as a pamphlet. While the pamphlet was endorsed by doctors, churches, and social organizations, its forthright description of sexuality proved controversial. In 1922 the Post Office deemed the pamphlet obscene, and in 1928, Dennett was tried by a federal court and found guilty of distributing obscene materials through the mail. A Mary Ware Dennett Defense Committee was organized under the American Civil Liberties Union, and the conviction was overturned in 1930.

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Adoption Price: $ 150.00

Other banned books from our collections include:

Aristoteles master-piece, or, The secrets of generation displayed in all the parts thereof…1684.
 
The book of the thousand nights and one night / rendered from the literal and complete version of J.C. Mardrus, and collated with other sources, by E. Powys Mathers. 1923.
 
Leonhart Fuchs. De sanitate tuenda libri sex. 1541.
 
Galileo Galilei. Dialogo di Galileo Galilei Linceo matematico sopraordinario dello stvdio di Pisa. 1632.
 
Nicolaus Copernicus. De revolutionibus orbium coelestium…1566.
 
Erasmus Darwin. Zoonomia; or, The laws of organic life…1794-1796.
 
Radclyffe Hall. The Well of Loneliness. 1928.
 
Helvétius. De l'homme, de ses facultés intellectuelles et de son education. 1773.
 
Charles Knowlton. The Fruits of Philosophy : or the private companion of adult people. 1839.
 

Support Banned Books

Please note: multiple people are able to adopt a book in the New Ideas that Challenged Old Convictions: Banned Books collection.