PHILADELPHIA, August 17, 2022—The Rosenbach Museum and Library is honored to have been awarded a grant totaling $248,953 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The funding from IMLS will support “the Rosenbach Library Discovery Project,” which will create a modern, online, and publicly discoverable library catalog that will expand access to the Rosenbach’s diverse holdings.
“The Rosenbach’s collection is internationally important, and the materials housed here are outstanding in their uniqueness or rarity.” says Director Kelsey Scouten Bates. “Thanks to this grant from IMLS, anyone with an internet connection will be able to access information about tens of thousands of historic books and documents including one of the most important American history collections in the country, a highly significant British literature collection including manuscripts by Geoffrey Chaucer and Charlotte Brontë, and letters in the hand of Miguel de Cervantes and Emily Dickinson.”
This project will update and make digitally accessible catalog records for approximately 21,000 rare books, newspapers, and maps; will add 800 new, individual manuscript records to many thousands that will become accessible; and will make accessible 18,000 records for large, archival collections such as the Marianne Moore Papers and the Rosenbach Company Archive. Among the Rosenbach’s library holdings that will become publicly accessible:
- American history: One of the most important in the country, with focus on European exploration and settlement of the new world, including the first extant book printed in North America, Doctrina Breve (Mexico City, 1544), and the extraordinarily rare Bay Psalm Book (1640), as well as letters and other writings by Cortés and Pizarro, to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, including the earliest extant letter by Washington and letters by Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Grant.
- British literature: includes two 15th-century manuscripts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; the largest extant collection of Robert Burns’s letters, manuscripts, and early editions; Letters … of Ignatius Sancho …, the first book published in England with a Black author and a Black printer; a growing collection of Romantic literature including five of Mary Shelley’s novels including a first edition of Frankenstein; one of the most important Lewis Carroll collections in the world, including more than 600 of his letters, his early drawings and his own copy of the first edition of Alice in Wonderland; Bram Stoker’s notes and outlines for Dracula; the manuscripts of two thirds of Joseph Conrad’s literary works and 60 letters in his hand; and the manuscript for and early editions of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
- American literature: includes first editions by Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, and Nathaniel Hawthorne; first editions and letters by Emily Dickinson and Christopher Morley; and a peerless collection of first editions of novels by Herman Melville recently bolstered by additions from the bequest of author-illustrator Maurice Sendak.
- Poet Marianne Moore’s personal and literary papers: includes drafts of and source material for her poetry and prose, as well as correspondence with more than 3,000 people including William Carlos Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Langston Hughes, and E.E. Cummings.
- Continental European literature: includes works of Cervantes, including the finest known copy of the first edition of Don Quixote as well as letters in his hand.
- Judaica: includes the first Hebrew grammar printed in the U.S. (1731) and important 15th – century Hebrew Bibles, prayer books, and works of philosophy and literature.
“This transformative, three-year funding from IMLS will finally bring to light world-wide the vast majority of the Rosenbach’s exceptional library collections.” says Curator and Senior Director of Collections Judy Guston. “It will aid researchers and potential visitors, museum and library professionals, book dealers and collectors, and, importantly, our own staff who create on-site and online public programs based on our collections. Additionally, the project aims to update descriptive cataloging language to reflect modern standards of inclusivity and to better share works by and about artists and historical figures that reflect the broad diversity of human experience.”
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. IMLS advances, supports, and empowers America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities.
The Rosenbach Museum and Library creates unique experiences for broad audiences through programs inspired by its world-class holdings of literature and history. The Rosenbach is located in Center City Philadelphia and is open to the public with growing content available at all times on Rosenbach.org. The Rosenbach is affiliated with the Free Library of Philadelphia.