Skip to main content

Special Collections and Rare Books: John Caldwell/Irving Windt Checker Books Collection

Teaching a class that would benefit from using Special Collections Materials?

John Caldwell/Irving Windt Checker Books Collection

The John Caldwell/Irving Windt Checker Books Collection at the Loras College Library is the largest collection of checker books in the United States according to its creator, Don Deweber. The collection consists of roughly 7,500 items, including:

  • 3,800 books about the game and it’s history
  • 850 books detailing individual matches and tournaments,
  • 500 very small books
  • 300 souvenir booklets and tournament programs
  • Over 2,000 issues of magazines related to the game

Don Deweber is a charter member of the International Checker Hall of Fame, a frequent contributor to its magazine, Checkers, and the premier expert on checkers books in America. He began collecting books on the game over 30 years ago, initially purchasing books at estate sales and used bookstores. Eventually he became known for his passion and joined a community of checkers fanatics who bought, sold, and traded these unique books. Two members of this community, John Caldwell, and Irving Windt, both believed they had the largest collection of books in the U.S., Don decided to put an end to the controversy and purchased both of their collections and then donated the bulk of the materials to Loras College in 2004. He has continued to add to the collection, especially through subscriptions to various checkers related magazines.

Notable items in the Collection:

  • Canalejas, Juan Garcia. Libro del ivego de las damas, dividido en tres tratados. Caragoca, Ivan Nogves, 1650. 
  • Payne, William.  A Game of Draughts.  1756.  First English language book on the game of draughts or checkers.

The collection is currently uncatalogued, but open to the public. Contact Heidi Pettitt to arrange a visit to this distinctive collection.

Checkers Photos

Checkers Collection Part 1

This is only half of the collection!

Basic Checkers

The oldest book in English in the collection

Title page of the oldest book in English

This is how they notated a game in 1756

The oldest book in the collection

This is how they notated a game in 1650

Match information from the 1908 London Championship

Some of our 500 very small books

The newest book in the collection