Monday, April 6, 2015

Yale buys huge, major Lincoln collection

The Beinecke at Yale bought a huge collection of prime Lincoln photographs from the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation. The collection includes 73,000 items, books, pamphlets, maps, theatre broadsides, and photographs. It is the biggest collection of images of Lincoln and his associates. Prior to this the Beinecke did not collect Lincoln. However, Yale bought the collection after the opening of Yale's Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. I'm sure someone with political clout applied some pressure here. Price paid is unknown but was a significant part of the acquisition budget.

Wm. N. Meserve was a Union soldier who kept detailed diaries, and later suffered post-traumatic stress and left his family. Years later his son, Frederick H. Meserve, offered to built a photograph collection to compliment his father's Civil War diaries if his dad would translate them.  They both succeeded in this join project with the end goal of improving their relationship. The son found a number of prints and then 10,000 discarded glass negatives from Brady's studios, including seven life negatives of Lincoln. He bought them all. Many of the plates went to the National Portrait Gallery in D.C. in 1981. Frederick became a major collection of Lincoln images and related materials.His daughter, Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt, worked with her dad finding Lincoln family scrapbooks and 600 volumes of Lincoln's personal library.Her descendants want the collection stored better. What kind of finances and historic view did these folks have to purchase and collect this collection?

The Lincoln collection will be divided by format into Yale's rare book library and art museum in fall.
For more see http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/arts/design/yales-beinecke-library-buys-vast-collection-of-lincoln-photos.html?smid=li-share&_r=0

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