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Gifts to the Nation
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Gift of
Koch Charitable Foundation,
James and Margaret Elkins,
John Kluge,
Charles and Norma Dana,
The James Madison Council,
& Library Purchase

The Marian S. Carson Collection of Americana

James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, has called the Marian S. Carson Collection “the most significant acquisition of Americana by the Library of Congress in this century.” In 1993, the Library of Congress began the acquisition of the more than 10,000 manuscripts, photographs, prints, drawings, books, and broadsides included in this extraordinary array of historical materials. Mrs. Carson, along with her grandfather, husband, and father-in-law, focused their collecting on Philadelphia’s central role in the founding and formation of the American republic. She also gathered pamphlets, letters, ledgers, invoices, and other ephemera related to such broad topics as women, religion, slavery, education, and medicine in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Furthermore, her collection documents the emerging technologies of transportation and communications, among others, that helped bind the new nation. There are few aspects of the country’s growth between 1776 and 1876 that are not in some way touched upon in Mrs. Carson’s remarkable collection.

While the James Madison Council and several individuals have contributed generously toward this acquisition — and Mrs. Carson donated six of the most precious objects in the collection — there are two annual payments of $250,000 yet required in order to complete the acquisition of the Carson Collection. Among the treasures remaining to be purchased are Martha Washington’s personally inscribed 1790 edition of Economy of Life, autographs of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Marshall, daguerreotypes by Mathew Brady, a self-portrait of the photographer Josiah H. Hawes, and drawings and prints by Philadelphia artists. The Library of Congress, with the support of the Madison Council, has published an illustrated volume dedicated to the Carson Collection.

Carson Collection Purchase Installments:
$250,000 due September 30, 1999
$250,000 due September 30, 2000

 

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