From the floor of Congress, during secret balloting that would decide the presidential election of 1800, one representative wrote “Burn this,” on his letters. Yet his letters survive today unscorched. And they’re not alone. Many objects in the Rosenbach collections have survived for decades or centuries despite the destructive actions of man and nature.
What secrets could have been so dangerous, what ideas so threatening, what revelations so potentially embarrassing that authors wanted thier works destroyed, altered, or coded? How did nature spare some rarities, while man himself sought vengeance on other objects, leaving few examples behind?
This exhibition looks at books, manuscripts, and art that endured censorship, self-censorship, secrecy, and episodes of natural and human destruction and survived to tell us stories of the past.