Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Manuscript Society

Go places with the Manuscript Society! Our events invariably involve rare books as well as manuscripts, and what could be better than autographed books? Well, the written manuscript that becomes the book could fill the bill. So far this year we’ve seen examples in New York and Pittsburgh, and still to come, Paris in November and Kansas City next May.
In Manhattan in February Christine Nelson, Drue Heinz Curator of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at The Morgan Library personalized her marvelous display of items in the exhibit she designed, featuring the manuscript of Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, 35 original drawings by the author, and the only one of six known signed copies of the book inscribed to a child. Our small group was privileged on the same afternoon to visit the Grolier Club exhibit of “pop-up” books by Czech author/artist Voitech Kubasta. We were guided by the owner of the books Ellen G.K. Rubin.
Our Annual Meeting, over four beautiful days in May was in Pittsburgh, meticulously arranged by Michael Dabrishus, Assistant University Librarian at the university. Society veterans felt that the tour equaled any past meeting. Pittsburgh University’s special collections, the Stephan Foster Memorial Museum, the Carnegie Mellon University (The Posner Center and the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation), the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, and the Heinz History Center exhibited their best rare books, manuscripts, and art. We found time to visit the Frick Art and History Center and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. It was all special, but there was more, such as a soirée at the beautiful home of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher and chief editor John Block and his wife Susan. They treated us to refreshments as well as a marvelous exhibit of John’s collection of books and manuscripts related to Anglo-American legal history. A unique feature of this meeting was a visit to the industrial facility of Preservation Technologies, a leading company in deacidification of books and manuscripts, as well as preservation of audio and visual recordings. We finished the week with a banquet featuring an erudite talk by Dr. Franklin Toker on the history of Fallingwater, the architectural icon that Frank Lloyd Wright created for Pittsburgh’s Kaufmann family.
Future Manuscript Society events include a tour of Parisian Archives and Libraries arranged by Alfred Lemon. Lead by Lemon and a French guide, venues not usually seen by the casual tourist such as the Library of the French Senate and the archives of Breguet watch makers will be featured as well as the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Library of the Musée Nationale d’Histiore Naturelle. Those wishing to join the tour should check
The website will also have information about next year’s Annual Meeting, to be held in Kansas City. Those wishing to be informed of local Manuscript Society meetings in Los Angeles should contact Past President Beverly Hill (, and for New York or Philadelphia, Past President Barton Smith (

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