Friday, February 7, 2014

The Manuscript Society

Since 1948 there have been annual meetings at various US cities as well as London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Tallinn Estonia, and Quebec City. The 2014 Annual Meeting will be May 21-25 in Pittsburgh, organized by Michael Dabrishus, Assistant University Librarian at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Manuscript Society Trustee. We will visit the great institutional and private collections of “The Steel City” and also visit “Fallingwater.” As usual, there will be behind-the-scenes access and insights from experts not available to the casual visitor. Collections range from botanical books and art at Carnegie Mellon University’s Hunt Institute, to Stephen Foster’s sketchbook at The University of Pittsburgh’s Foster Memorial Hall, to six floors at the Senator John Heinz History Center, and Civil War Items at the Soldier and Sailors Memorial Hall and
Museum. The Meeting schedule and registration form are on the Society’s website (

 Besides the Annual Meeting, regional events take place at the Fall Board of Trustees meeting (various cities) and, occasionally by local chapters in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. A special tour of Paris arcIVEhives and libraries is planned for November 2014; those interested should contact Dr. Shirley Sands, Recently Philadelphia members visited the archives of the Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. A special exhibit from the archives was set up by archivist Eric Schnittke, who had extraordinary documents displayed. Included were nineteenth-century field journals from expeditions to Babylonia and Egypt, ethnographic photographs from Asian tribes as well as Native North Americans, original artwork from several continents, and signed letters by Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas A. Edison, and Woodrow Wilson (among others). The interesting Pennsylvania Museum visit is a prelude to the visit of New York-area members to the Morgan Library in Manhattan on Wednesday, February 19. On that day we will see the Morgan’s exhibition of the sketch book and original art of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. Our host for the visit will be Christine Nelson, Manuscript Society member and the Drue Heinze Curator of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at the Morgan. Registration with Society past president Barton Smith is required for the event. (

A unique and important activity of the Manuscript Society is working to uphold the rights of collectors versus actions of replevin. This effort has been spearheaded by Dr. Elizabeth Dow of Louisiana State University, whose recent book Archivists, Collectors, Dealers, and Replevin is an authoritative picture of the problem. Our replevin committee, chaired by Michael Dabrishus, has worked with government archivists for a few years to develop a policy fair to all concerned.

Finally, the Manuscript Society is supporting academic research that utilizes documents by its Maas Grant. A $5,000 grant has been given yearly for 14 years to a student of a member institution. The grant comes from funds donated to the Society for the purpose.
We hope that this précis of our activities will stimulate some FABS readers to join the Manuscript Society; they will not be disappointed if they do.

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