The European Division has just announced the publication of The History of the Feleky Collection and Its Acquisition by the Library of Congress.
The book, by Kenneth Nyirady, senior reference librarian in the division, chronicles Charles Feleky's effort to collect everything published in the English language about Hungary as well as the circuitous path the collection followed in coming to the Library.
The book describes the seed that geminated into a massive collection of more than 10,000 books and 15,000 periodical issues: a spur-of-the-moment purchase by Feleky of a work about Louis Kossuth, leader of the Hungarian revolt against the Habsburgs in 1848-49. During a walk in Pittsburgh in the mid- 1890s, Feleky spied the work in a bookstore display and from that single purchase his passion developed.
Charles Feleky was born in Budapest in 1863, but came to the United States in 1885 as a musician. Later, he conducted the music for plays, especially an itinerent production of Ben Hur. His apartment in New York became his library, but after his death, his wife sold the floor-to-ceiling collection to the Hungarian National Museum, which established the Hungarian Reference Library in New York. By then, the Feleky library covered many academic disciplines.
When Hungary declared war on the United States in 1941, the collection was seized by the U.S. Office of Alien Property and put into storage, where it remained until purchased by the Library of Congress in 1953.
The book also describes the Hungarian Reference Library's biographical files, consisting of newspaper clippings, questionnaires and other materials on approximately 920 Hungarian Americans. In one of the appendixes, Mr. Nyirady includes an index to these biographies. These files were filmed by the Photoduplication Service and are available for purchase from the Library's Photoduplication Service, Washington, DC 20540-5230.
The History of the Feleky Collection and Its Acquistion by the Library of Congress is free on request from the European Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-5531.