Book missing for more than 150 years returned to Kentucky library

A history book overdue at a Kentucky college library for at least 150 years has finally made it back to the circulation desk.

Centre College in Danville, Ky., received the 185-year-old book last week after a student intern found it while taking inventory of books in exhibit rooms at the Jacobs Hall Museum at nearby Kentucky School for the Deaf.

The book was published in 1828, but "there's no way of knowing when the book might have been checked out," according to Stan Campbell, director of library services at Centre College.

"It's been out of the library for at least 150 years," Campbell told

The book is the second in the volume of a collection titled "Ancient Civilizations," by Charles Rollin, a well-known 18th century French scholar whose works are still widely read in France. The book was originally published in 1730.

Campbell said a barely legible note found in the back of the book might provide a clue as to when it was taken and by whom.

The handwritten note, dated July 1854, reads: "From this date, I shall eat neither meat nor gravy."

He said the book is one of eight volumes in the collection -- all of which have disappeared.

"It is unusual for something to be gone this long and come back to us," he said, adding that the college's library is nearly 200 years old.

Centre College helped establish the Kentucky School for the Deaf, and many of KSD's first instructors were graduates of Centre College.

"It’s fascinating," said Campbell, noting that "you never know what you'll find in an old book." The director of library services said he once found a bullet inside an 18th century encyclopedia at the school's library.

"I have no idea who was trying to shoot whom," Campbell quipped.