SHREVEPORT – James Smith Noel amassed hundreds of thousands of books throughout his life, but not all of them were for his benefit.

Wife Ruth Noel was an avid gardener, and James Noel would often acquire books in that realm to offer as gifts.

The rose was the most frequent topic in those books, which have formed the backbone of The Noel Collection’s current exhibit, “Petals of Importance and Influence: An exhibit regarding the Rose.”

The exhibit is viewable until Aug. 11 in The Noel Collection on the third floor of the Noel Memorial Library on LSUS’s campus.

“This exhibit is not only pertaining to the rose in a gardening sense, we’ve displayed works that feature the rose throughout history and literature,” said Rachel Sherman, cataloger for the James Smith Noel Collection. “We have selections that detail Rose Windows in Gothic architecture.

“There’s also horticulture and different uses of the rose and similar plants throughout history, such as medicinal use.”

The centerpiece of the collection is about the War of the Roses, a 15th-century English civil war that resulted in the creation of the Tudor dynasty.

That history is related through Hall’s Chronicle, a 16th-century work that details that turbulent time in England’s history and served as an important source to inform William Shakespeare’s work. The displayed version is a 19th-century printing, the only complete modern edition.

Part of Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy is on display as well as the advent of the Tudor rose, a red and white rose representing the unification of the houses of York and Lancaster following the War of the Roses.

The oldest piece of literature in the collection is a 13th century work by Persian poet Sa’di (1865 reproduction on display) titled “Gulistan” which translates to The Rose Garden. The work, a collection of poems and short stories, is heralded in both the East and the West.

Not all of the pieces are internationally-based.

On display is the second edition of the American Rose Annual published in 1917 by The American Rose Society. That society, which operates the American Rose Center, has called Caddo Parish home since 1974.

The James Smith Noel Collection is one of the largest collections of antiquarian books, prints, and maps in the United States.

Appointments to view the collection can be made between 8-4:30 p.m. or by appointment.