ARBA Hall of Fame Library
1997: In The Beginning
In the fall of 1997, Kevin Whaley met with Secretary Glenn Carr at the ARBA headquarters with the sole purpose of starting an official ARBA Library and Archives. After receiving Glen’s blessing, Whaley sought to build a Library by securing seed money to motivate others in a major fundraising drive. It was in October, 1998 at the Portland, Oregon ARBA National Convention and Show that a check for $10,000.00 was presented to the ARBA Library by Mrs. Marylouise Cowan, Don Hoeft, President of the Ohio State Rabbit Breeders Association, and Kevin Whaley of KW Cages.This contribution would formally kickoff a fund raising drive to construct a library within the walls of the national headquarters at 8 Westport Court, Bloomington, Illinois. Over the next year, Whaley, the original Libray chair, created a concept drawing and raised an additional $35,000 with the generosity of companies, clubs, individuals and estates.
1999: Breaking Ground
Construction finally began in July, 1999. A room measuring 20 x 30 feet in size was built to house the library’s publications and items of historical note that made up the existing collection. The room was furnished with beautiful solid cherry wood bookcases, filing credenzas, curio cabinets, a huge conference table and leather chairs, which all add to the attractive decor. It was also at this time that an ARBA History Committee was established with Ellie Bonde of Maryland as chairman to secure and catalog items for the collection.
A milestone was reached on the evening of October 5, 2002 during the Peoria, Illinois ARBA Convention and Show when the ARBA Hall of Fame Library was officially dedicated. The ARBA Hall of Fame Library, was so named for the highest honor that may be bestowed upon a member of this association as an ARBA Hall of Fame inductee. The library that evening was also officially dedicated to Oren R. Reynolds, our Mr. ARBA and the late Dr. Terry Reed, both past ARBA Presidents and Hall of Fame members. The long sought out dream by so many had finally come to fruition as we began preserving our past for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.
2004: The Bob Whitman Collection
In early 2004, Library Chairman Bob Whitman learned of a major collection of books and periodicals that were being offered for sale in England by a private collector. Negotiations began, as well as fund raising efforts being launched to secure the entire collection and bring it to America. Nearly $12,000.00 would be raised in just three months. These donations were made possible due to the ARBA members, her affiliated clubs and our corporate friends within the industry. The British collection from George Scott arrived by sea freight in early August 2004, but it would take until the next February to unpack and display the many items from within their shipping crates.
2008: Looking Back
In 2008, Kevin Whaley created a column in the Domestic Rabbit magazine entitled “Looking Back”. Appearing on the last page of each issue the articles written by Whaley and Ellie Bonde feature a photo of a relic from the ARBA archive and a brief description. The goal is to share as many of the historic treasures as possible with the membership.
2019: Moving Forward
The ARBA’s Hall of Fame Library is without question, one of the world’s largest single collections of rabbit and cavy publications in the world. There are over 9,000 items/pieces, which are housed in the collection, and it continues to constantly grow. The next largest collection of similar note; is located in Maryland at the United States National Agricultural Library which houses just over 1,300 pieces. The British National Library, London also has an extensive collection.
Hall of Fame
All 25 inductees to the ARBA’s Hall of Fame are proudly displayed with their portraits on the east wall as you enter the library. On the fine cherry wood furniture which house national specialty club guide books and historical documents and photos are a number of rabbit prints by the famous British animal artists Ernest George Wippell. Two pelts from the European Wild Rabbit are also displayed to show in part how far the domestic rabbit has evolved.
The collection includes feed crocks from the 1920’s and scrapbooks. It includes two oldest illustrations of the Angora rabbit from the French author Buffon (1757).. To the far right is a picture of Mabel Illingworth, the first woman to develop a new breed of rabbit in 1896 called the Blue Imperial. She also shipped a number of rabbits to this country, (Blue Imperials, Lilacs and Havanas).
Old pedigrees, registrations, photos, convention ribbon badges, etc. are housed on the south wall of the library. The cabinets house many hundreds of pictures, ribbons, patches, files and tapes which all trace the history of the ARBA.
Part of the ARBA Hall of Fame Library collection, this section is to the left as you enter the library.
Throughout the library the visitor will find old pictures of the early rabbit pioneers that helped
make the ARBA what it is today. In addition, many valuable prints from Bob Whitman’s collection are displayed on the library walls.
Not only does the library house the world’s largest collection of rabbit printed matter, but a host of other rabbit and cavy related artifacts of historical note; the lamp that sat on the desk of ARBA Secretary James Blyth, judging coat of Hall of Fame inductee Darrell Bramhall, exhibitor hat of Jack Wireman, exhibitor show coat made of prize ribbons going back 50 years by the late Marge Lawton , and other special finds.