The Hiram Olsan Memorial Fund was established in 1947 by relatives and friends of Dr. Hiram Olsan, Class of 1905. The purpose of the fund was to purchase rare books, specifically 15th and 16th century volumes for the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. In the first thirty years of the fund, the Library was able to purchase significant and beautiful additions to the Library's holdings of incunabula (books printed before 1501) and 16th century books. The first purchases from the Olsan Fund was a copy of Diogenes Laaertius' Vitae et sententiae philosophorum published in Venice in 1493, a pamphlet titled Epistola de C. Plinii Secundis patria by Matthaeus Rufus in 1496 (the only known copy existing in the United States), and a 1486 Venetian edition of Flavius Josephus' Opera.
Robert Metzdorf, renowned librarian, wrote that from "a biographical standpoint, probably the most interesting purchase from the Olsan Fund is a puzzling little book by Francesco Negri, entitled, Epistole, sive opusculum scribendi epistolas, published in Paris by Michael le Noir, probably about the year 1493. This handbook to letter writing was written by Negri, a Venetian who taught at Padua and died in the latter place in the year 1513. Since the book was a popular compilation, very few examples of this edition have come down to us, and the only other copy recorded is in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris."