Well known to the book-sellers of New York, London, and Paris, J. Rives Childs' collection of Casanoviana and related 18th century authors is adjudged one of the most comprehensive in existence. The collection of over 2000 items is housed in Special Collections at Randolph-Macon College.
Childs wrote the definitive Casanova: A Biography (1961) and was a self-proclaimed defender of Casanova as something other than the caricatures drawn of him by the mythmakers.
In a dedicatory address at the opening of the college's new library on May 30, 1962, Mr. Childs proclaimed that,
Giacomo Casanova has the distinction of having written what is perhaps the most remarkable autobiography in world literature. It is not alone a conspectus of his adventures, of manners and customs about which at times he offers us unique testimony, of medical practices, of music and musicians but, in addition, he gives us a picture of unique completeness of the author, as well as of the men and women he met in every station in life. They included almost every European sovereign, notably Frederick the Great and Catherine the Great, the chief men of letters of his day, among whom might be mentioned ...Benjamin Franklin in whose company and at whose invitation he attended a meeting of the French Academy of Science in 1783 to hear the first communication made to that society on the subject of aeronautics following the Montgolfier balloon ascension in that year. But there is more than history and literature in the Memoirs. They may be consulted with profit even by scientists. Casanova was one of the most eminent mathematicians of his age.
All of the books in the Casanova collection are cataloged and can be found using the library's online catalog, MaconCat.