William Bennett Bizzell, president of The University of Oklahoma from 1925 to 1941, purchased his first old Bible for one dollar while a college student in Boston. That Geneva Bible is just one of the 665 Bibles included in the Bizzell Bible Collection.
In addition to more common European languages such as Greek, Latin, German, French and Spanish, President Bizzell collected many Bibles in numerous other languages such as Cherokee, Muskogee, Hindi, Swahili, Javanese, Mongolian, Tartan, Mooltan, and Turkish. Additional related works include commentaries, textual studies, illustrations, geographies and histories of the holy land, works on the life of Christ, prayer books and hymnals. The collection includes several incunabula (books published in the infancy of printing, before 1500). The oldest book is a handpainted manuscript prayer book written on vellum in the fifteenth century.
The collection was given to the University in 1949 by Bizzell's family, with the provision that it be kept intact. Since 1987 the collection has been housed in the beautiful Gaylord Room of the Bizzell Memorial Library. President Bizzell's love for scholarship and books is reflected in his drive to complete the University Library in 1930. A statue of President Bizzell now gazes perpetually on the south entrance to the library which now bears his name.