Category Archives: Washington

Two local treasures head to the Library of Congress

JHU Press and the book-loving community in Baltimore are losing two treasured colleagues to the Library of Congress. We hate to see them go—but we’re thrilled for both of them and so proud of the extraordinary recognition their appointments represent. Becky Clark, JHUP’s talented and energetic director of marketing and institutional outreach, leaves us this week to become the LOC’s Director of Publishing. Carla Hayden, the widely-respected head of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, has been nominated by President Obama to become the 14th Librarian of Congress.  We extend cheers and best wishes to these exceptional friends and colleagues as their careers take them down the Parkway to the nation’s capital.

Becky BeckyClark has served for twelve years as JHUP’s director of marketing and institutional outreach, overseeing sales, promotion, publicity, rights, and digital publishing strategies for about 170 new books each year. Becky has been an invaluable colleague with a legendary work ethic informed by remarkable judgment, grace, and kindness. Before joining the Press in 2003, she held similar positions at the Brookings Institution Press, the New Republic, Counterpoint Press, and Moon Travel Handbooks.  She has been an adjunct faculty member in George Washington University’s Master of Professional Studies in Publishing program and a past president of Washington Book Publishers. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of American University Presses. In her new position at the Library of Congress, Becky will oversee a program of institutional publications, scholarly and trade books, and consumer products highlighting the Library’s world-famous collections.

CaCarlarla Hayden has been the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore since 1993. Over the years, she and the Pratt staff have been gracious hosts to numerous JHUP authors for book talks, signings, and other programs. Most notably, Carla has been a champion of making Baltimore’s 22-branch library system a beacon of hope and possibility for the citizens of our city. Prior to joining the Pratt, she was Deputy Commissioner and Chief Librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993. She was President of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004 and has served as a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board since 2010. If confirmed by Congress, Carla would be the first woman and the first African-American to lead the LOC.

We are enormously proud and grateful as these two treasured friends and colleagues take up their duties at one of the nation’s greatest institutions, the 214-year-old Library of Congress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is it “propaganda” if it advocates for something you want?

Guest post by Jonathan Auerbach

auerbachBecause I recently coedited a collection of essays on the subject of propaganda, I sometimes get approached by journalists asking me to weigh in on current events. How effective is Putin’s “propaganda” against the West in promoting the separatist movement in Ukraine? How best to counteract gruesome ISIS videos, aimed to entice recruits to jihad, but often described in shorthand as “propaganda”? And lately my inbox has been bombarded with emails urging me to “keep the pressure on” by fighting against the vile “propaganda” of warmongers in Congress who would reject the international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

In all of these cases, “propaganda” is assumed to be a self-evident concept, inherently false and sinister, against which urgent countermeasures and messages (but certainly nothing we would want to call propaganda!) need to be taken. If we step back a minute and try to put this matter in historical perspective, certain insights come into focus.

A century ago, right at the start of World War I, the term was frequently use to refer to any sort of mass advocacy, such as “propaganda” for suffrage or “propaganda” for conservation. In these instances, propaganda in both meaning and practice simply referred to efforts designed to sway public opinions and feelings on a large scale. During and immediately following the war, the meaning and practice of such mass persuasion took on an increasingly negative cast, leading Progressive political commentator Walter Lippmann in 1919 to ominously announce a crisis in democracy triggered by this unregulated “manufacture of consent.”

But what’s the difference between coercion and persuasion, especially in a democracy that relies on a vibrant public sphere and the free flow of information to debate and contest policies and ideas? Who is in charge of such information dissemination? What’s the difference between educating citizens, directing them, and indoctrinating them? How to distinguish among teaching, preaching, and selling, especially when your nation is at war and seeks to boost patriotic morale? Left to their own devices, how can citizens be trusted to sort through such an overwhelming avalanche of factoids and truthiness (as Stephen Colbert put it) to arrive at some rational conclusions about the world we live in? These are the key questions Progressive intellectuals, reformers, and politicians such as Lippmann, John Dewey, Julia Lathrop, and Woodrow Wilson grappled with a century ago, not to mention public relations gurus like Edward Bernays who were intent on engineering and managing the tastes and spending habits of citizen-consumers.

Clearly, these troubling questions remain very much with us today. My new Johns Hopkins University book, Weapons of Democracy: Propaganda, Progressivism, and American Public Opinion, seeks to shed light on our current state of affairs by tracing the changing face and fate of American public opinion in the early decades of the twentieth century as they unfolded before, during, and soon after World War I. By closely looking at Progressive era propaganda in thought and practice, including the inevitable entanglements between social reform and social control that emerged during this period, we put ourselves in a better position to understand how the United States continues to deploy its current weapons of democracy at home and around the globe.

Jonathan Auerbach is a professor of English at the University of Maryland–College Park. He is the author of Weapons of Democracy: Propaganda, Progressivism, and American Public Opinion and the coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Propaganda Studies.

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Fifty Folger gigs in 18 months

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant

Authors are blessed when their books are published on important anniversaries. Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger hit the stands in the spring of 2014, coinciding with the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth in 1564. After the Folger Shakespeare Library was dedicated in 1932, four decades passed before the first biography of its founders appeared. This lapse is quite surprising when one considers that the private research library, only two blocks from the US Capitol, houses the largest Shakespeare collection in the world. The biography unlocks the key to how, during the Gilded Age, a quiet Victorian couple, together and alone, pulled off the feat from their Brooklyn brownstone.

Grant sept 2

The (Masonic) Naval Lodge on Capitol Hill.

During the last 18 months, I have been active in arranging speaking venues, book signings, and media events in Washington, DC, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Connecticut. In addition to four events organized by the publisher, hosts have included 13 private clubs, 12 libraries, 6 public halls, 3 bookshops, 3 private homes, 3 radio stations, 2 TV stations, 2 colleges, 1 museum, and 1 theatre.

Grant sept Union LC Steve Forbes 1

The author’s “Collecting Shakespeare” table with Steve Forbes seated nearby, at the Union League Club in New York.

High points were TV performances on CBS This Morning and C-SPAN2, and peddling books at a table near Ralph Nader, Cokie Roberts, Ted Olson, and Steve Forbes (photo 2). Chagrined to find a long taxi line at New York’s Penn Station, I folded my six-foot-four frame into a pedicab and bounced along the Manhattan roadway to the sedate Union League Club. As I emerged from between two plastic flaps, the doorman eyed me warily.

Grant sept Franklin Tomb, Boston 3

Franklin obelisk gravestone in center of Old Granary Burial Ground; behind is the Boston Athenaeum.

A cool DC venue was the Naval Lodge (photo 1), chartered in 1805, only paces from the Folger Shakespeare Library. In Boston, it doesn’t get any better than the Athenaeum, founded in 1807. Adjacent to this private bibliophiles’ club one block from the Massachusetts State House lies the Old Granary Burial Ground, established in 1660. The stone obelisk gravestone in the center (photo 3) contains the remains of Abiah Folger and her husband, Josiah Franklin, the parents of Benjamin Franklin. Henry Folger traced his line back to Abiah’s father, Peter. Henry once wrote, “Had I not collected Shakespeariana, I would have collected Frankliniana.”

Attending the Athenaeum lecture (photo 4) was a grandniece of Henry Folger who remembers nervously reciting a poem from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses at a Thanksgiving dinner at Emily Folger’s residence in Glen Cove, Long Island after “Uncle Henry” died.

Grant sept Boston Athenaeum hi-res 4

On screen, budding bibliophile Henry Folger grasping the first of 92,000 books he will acquire.

The Theatre Library Association named Collecting Shakespeare a finalist for the George Freedley Memorial Award in 2014 in the field of live theatre or performance.  Next year, 2016, marks the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death in 1616. Gigs are already scheduled in Santa Fe, San Diego, Palo Alto, and San Francisco. Lucky author!

Stephen H. Grant is the author of Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folgerpublished by Johns Hopkins University Press. He is a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and the author of Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal.

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet us in San Francisco: American Political Science Association

If you are heading to San Francisco for the APSA annual meeting, be sure to stop by booth #500 to meet our staff, browse our latest publications, and and take advantage of special meeting discounts. On Thursday, September 3 at 3:45 p.m., we’ll host an APSA reception at the booth to toast the publication of Democracy in Decline?, edited by Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner. This title will be available at the special APSA meeting price of $15.00 for on-site sales (while copies last). Throughout the meeting and after, JHUP books will be available at a 30% discount when your use the discount code HEAG. Check out what’s new and recent on JHUP’s political science list!


Democracy in Decline?diamond15
edited by Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner, with essays by Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Larry Diamond, Thomas Carothers, Marc F. Plattner, Philippe C. Schmitter, Steven Levitsky, and Lucan Way, and a foreword by Condoleezza Rice

For almost a decade, Freedom House’s annual survey has highlighted a decline in democracy in most regions of the globe. While some analysts draw upon this evidence to argue that the world has entered a “democratic recession,” others dispute that interpretation, emphasizing instead democracy’s success in maintaining the huge gains it made during the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Discussion of this question has moved beyond disputes about how many countries should be classified as democratic to embrace a host of wider concerns about the health of democracy: the poor economic and political performance of advanced democracies, the new self-confidence and assertiveness of a number of leading authoritarian countries, and a geopolitical weakening of democracies relative to these resurgent authoritarians.

In Democracy in Decline?, eight of the world’s leading public intellectuals and scholars of democracy—Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Philippe C. Schmitter, Steven Levitsky, Lucan Way, Thomas Carothers, and editors Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner—explore these concerns and offer competing viewpoints about the state of democracy today. This short collection of essays is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the latest thinking on one of the most critical questions of our era.

Join us at booth #500 on September 3 at 3:45 p.m. to toast the publication of Democracy in Decline? at a special APSA reception.


bitarDemocratic Transitions: Conversations with World Leaders, edited by Sergio Bitar and Abraham F. Lowenthal

National leaders who played key roles in transitions to democratic governance reveal how these were accomplished in Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, and Spain. Commissioned by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), these interviews shed fascinating light on how repressive regimes were ended and democracy took hold.

In probing conversations with Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Patricio Aylwin, Ricardo Lagos, John Kufuor, Jerry Rawlings, B. J. Habibie, Ernesto Zedillo, Fidel V. Ramos, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, F. W. de Klerk, Thabo Mbeki, and Felipe González, editors Sergio Bitar and Abraham F. Lowenthal focused on each leader’s principal challenges and goals as well as their strategies to end authoritarian rule and construct democratic governance. Context-setting introductions by country experts highlight each nation’s unique experience as well as recurrent challenges all transitions faced.


The growing gap between the most affluent Americans and the rest of society is changing the country into one defined—more than almost any other developed nation—by exceptional inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity. This book reveals that an infrastructure of inequality, both open and hidden, obstructs the great majority in pursuing happiness, living healthy lives, and exercising basic rights. A government dominated by finance, corporate interests, and the wealthy has undermined democracy, stunted social mobility, and changed the character of the nation. In this tough-minded dissection of the gulf between the super-rich and the working and middle classes, Ronald P. Formisano explores how the dramatic rise of income inequality over the past four decades has transformed America from a land of democratic promise into one of diminished opportunity.


Other new and recent books from JHU Press:

Disease Diplomacy: International Norms and Global Health Security, by Sara E. Davies, Adam Kamradt-Scott, and Simon Rushton

Pain: A Political History, by Keith Wailoo

Education and Empowered Citizenship in Mali, by Jaimie Bleck
Weapons of Democracy: Propaganda, Progressivism, and American Public Opinion, by Jonathan Auerbach
Light It Up: The Marine Eye for Battle in the War for Iraq, by John Pettegrew


JHU Press Journals:

Journal of Democracy
Humans Rights Quarterly

The SAIS Review of International Affairs

 

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Reflections on the Bicentennial of the War of 1812

Guest post by Donald R. Hickey

Flag 1812With the completion of a small conference on the legacy of the War of 1812 in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, over the July 4th weekend, the commemoration of the Bicentennial of our “forgotten conflict” appears to be over. For those of us with a fascination with the contest, it has been quite a run. Although interest in the Bicentennial was limited mostly to sites in Ontario, Canada, and east of the Missouri River in the United States, there was plenty from 2012 to 2015 to keep students of the war busy. Although the significant battles took place mainly in the borderlands along the Canadian-American frontier, the Chesapeake Bay played a significant role in the war. It was only one of ten major theaters of operation, but it was the scene of the most British raids. These included the low point in the war for the United States—the British occupation of Washington, D.C. in August 1814 and the burning of the public buildings there—and a high point three weeks later—the successful defense of Baltimore, which produced “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Maryland did more than any other state to promote the Bicentennial. Maryland officials realized that this was their opportunity to publicize the central role that the Chesapeake had played in the war and in forging the national memory of the contest. Both the Maryland Historical Society and Fort McHenry did their part to see that Baltimore was included in the commemoration. As memorable as any event connected to the Bicentennial was the 2012 June weekend in 2012 when the tall ships docked in Baltimore. It was a rare treat for students of the war because it seemed that the conflict was the talk of the town. Annapolis followed up a year later with one of the most memorable conferences on the war. “From Enemies to Allies: An International Conference on the War of 1812 and Its Aftermath” generated attention not only in the United States and Canada but also in Great Britain.

The Bicentennial produced a flood of books on the war. Most dealt with the conflict’s military and naval history, but there were also some works on other aspects of the conflict. Once again the Chesapeake played a significant role. Especially noteworthy were the books published in the series Johns Hopkins Books on the War of 1812. There are now seven books in this series. These include several titles by Ralph Eshelman illuminating the war in the Chesapeake, Dave Curtis Skaggs’ fine study of William Henry Harrison’s western campaigns, Faye Kert’s pioneering book on privateering, Don Shomette’s seminal study of Commodore Joshua Barney’s flotilla in the Chesapeake, Carl Benn’s meticulously edited collection of native memoirs, and an illustrated history of the war that Connie D. Clark and I co-wrote. The Press also has published a short book that I wrote on Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans.


The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, by Ralph E. Eshelman, Scott S. Sheads, and Donald R. Hickey

The Rockets’ Red Glare: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812, by Donald R. Hickey and Connie D. Clark


Will the flood of books and related activities during the Bicentennial mean that we no longer have to characterize the War of 1812 as a “forgotten conflict”? This is unlikely. After all, the war hardly compares in grandeur and importance with the Revolution and Civil War, those two great contests that are bookends for the period in U.S. history from 1775 to 1865. And there are many other reasons why the War of 1812 has slipped so deep into the recesses of the public memory. Its causes—maritime rights on the high seas in the Age of Sail—don’t resonate with Americans today. In addition, the war was waged inconclusively in far-flung theaters that stretched from Mackinac Island in northern Michigan to New Orleans on the Gulf Coast. Furthermore, it is not really clear who won the war (although everyone can agree that the biggest losers were the Indians, who were defeated both in Tecumseh’s War in the Old Northwest and the Creek War in the Old Southwest). Finally, the battle casualties cannot begin to compare with the losses in either the Revolution or the Civil War.


Flotilla: The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812, by Donald G. Shomette
William Henry Harrison and the Conquest of the Ohio Country: Frontier Fighting in the War of 1812, by David Curtis Skaggs
Native Memoirs from the War of 1812: Black Hawk and William Apess, by Carl Benn
Privateering: Patriots and Profits in the War of 1812, by Faye M. Kert


What usually goes unappreciated in most treatments of the War of 1812 is its extraordinary legacy. If we measure wars by their consequences, then it’s hard to ignore the War of 1812. In the United States, the conflict boosted American self-confidence and nationalism, opened the door to territorial expansion, generated the birth of the American military establishment, and shaped the political landscape until the Civil War. Seven of the eleven presidents between James Madison and Abraham Lincoln either launched or boosted their public careers during the War of 1812, and anyone who had served in the field during the conflict had a significant advantage in any quest for elected public office.

The war also forged a national identity. The sayings and symbols that either originated in, or gained wide currency during, the war helped Americans understand who they were as a people and where their nation might be headed. Most of these sayings and symbols still resonate with us today. Among them are “Don’t give up the ship” (Captain James Lawrence’s words as he lay dying after the defeat of the USS Chesapeake by HMS Shannon); “We have met the enemy and he is ours” (Commodore Oliver H. Perry’s laconic report after defeating the British squadron on Lake Erie); “Old Ironsides” (which enjoyed four successful cruises during the war and even today is probably the best known U.S. warship); the Fort McHenry flag (long on display as the Smithsonian in Washington); “The Star-Spangled Banner” (which Congress named the national anthem in 1931); Uncle Sam (which became a common nickname for the U.S. government); the Kentucky rifle (which won an inflated reputation as game-changer and war-winner); Andrew Jackson (whose success in the field made him a symbol for the entire postwar era); and the Battle of New Orleans (which forged the myth of American victory in the war).

The war had no less an impact on Canada, for it was essentially that nation’s war of independence, and thus looms large in Canada’s public memory. Even Great Britain could not escape the war’s legacy. Although the British people quickly forgot about the conflict, the British government could not afford this luxury because it was responsible for defending Canada, and no one at the time thought this would be the last Anglo-American war. It did not take British leaders long to realize that the best way to protect Canada was to accommodate the United States, and this strategy ultimately paid off. Despite an often rocky road that included more than a couple war scares, by the end of the nineteenth century a genuine accord had blossomed between the two English-speaking nations. This turned into co-belligerency in World War I and a full-scale alliance in World War II that persists to this day.

The War of 1812 may have been a small and inconclusive war, but it left an outsized legacy that continues to shape the transatlantic world today. This is certainly reason enough to accord the war a bigger place in our public memory and in our history books. By all rights, the forgotten conflict should be forgotten no more.

hickeyDonald R. Hickey, whom the New Yorker described as “the dean of 1812 scholarship,” teaches history at Wayne State College in Nebraska. He has written seven books on the conflict, including Glorious Victory: Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans, The Rockets’ Red Glare: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812, and The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. He served as series editor for JHUP’s Johns Hopkins Books on the War of 1812.

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Henry Clay Folger!

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant

Here are three things to remember about Henry Clay Folger on his 158th birthday, June 18, 2015.

One. The most astounding single fact about Henry Clay Folger (1857–1930) is that he made his way to the very top of two distinct lines of endeavor. From 1879 to 1928 he climbed the ranks at Standard Oil Company from statistical clerk at age 22 to CEO of the largest, most successful petroleum business on the planet. AND he assembled the largest collection of Shakespeare items in the world. His doctor of letters degree from Amherst College cites “his services in the affairs of a great empire of industry whose produce is on every sea and its light on all lands and for his knowledge in the most important field known in English literature.” John D. Rockefeller sent Folger this wry message: “I congratulate you upon receiving the degree, and that your connection with a great and useful business organization did not detract from your high standing.” Even more to Folger’s credit was that he was not born into wealth. He needed a loan from classmates to complete his college education.Folger 1 Signed Folger PortraitTwo. Henry Folger’s most erudite, persistent, and successful bookseller, Dr. A. S. W. (Abraham Simon Wolf) Rosenbach of Philadelphia, called Folger “the most consistent book collector I’ve ever known.” What he meant by that phrase was that Folger kept his eyes on the prize. Folger bought virtually anything and everything by or associated with Shakespeare that he could acquire–as long as the price was right. Folger drove a hard bargain, such as insisting on ten percent discount when he paid with ready cash. Corresponding with 600 book dealers, 150 in London alone, Folger shared with them why he rejected a book offer or sent it back upon examination. Many times it was because the item was not “Shakespearean enough.” He was training them to go out and seek more and better items for his library.

Evidence of Henry’s consistency appears even in how he held a book. The above portraits produced 67 years apart reveal his loving two-handed grasp.

Three. Henry Folger was a very private man. He kept no diary, gave only one interview. His postcards home while on a business trip out west sent from “Henry Clay Folger” to his wife “EJF” revealed “All in fine health and spirits.” He used shorthand for many personal notes. He signed his book cables “GOLFER.” He bought property without his name appearing on the deeds. He entreated his booksellers not to divulge what he paid for his antiquarian book purchases. His greatest glee was keeping from the world how many First Folios he owned.

Only with family and close friends did Henry open up a little. Emily described her husband this way. “Not an exuberant personality, Henry always was reticent and possibly shy by nature.”

Lawrence (Larry) Fraser Abbott and Walter (Crit) Hayden Crittenden were two Amherst chums he confided in. They had done the same things Henry had: won a prize in oratory, written for the student newspaper, sung in a fraternity quartet, earned a law degree. Crit wrote, “Mr. Folger was by nature a very shy man, almost bashful. He avoided all possible meetings and conventions, or in fact any form of gatherings, due to his shyness. It was therefore the privilege of but a few to know him intimately.” H.C. wrote to Larry, “I presume no one is better informed than I am about the value of Shakespeare literature.” Folger would not have shared that claim with just anyone. Only with Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress, did he share–the year he died–that he wondered if he would have his biography written some day.

grant.collectingStephen H. Grant is the author of Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folgerpublished by Johns Hopkins. He is a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and the author of Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal.

 

 

 

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Happy birthday, Emily Jordan Folger

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant

Emily Jordan was born in Ironton, Ohio on May 15, 1858. Following her two older sisters to Vassar College, she emerged a bluestocking: a refined lady with intellectual, scholarly, and literary interests. Emily’s Vassar 1879 class of 36 students elected her class president for life. Although her undergraduate scrapbook attests to a few dates with nearby West Pointers, she met her husband to be in Brooklyn at a literary salon in the home of Charles Pratt, founder of the Pratt Institute. Henry Folger also graduated in 1879, from Amherst College, where he roomed with Charles Pratt Jr. Both Emily and Henry earned Phi Beta Kappa keys. Neither Emily’s nor Henry’s parents attended college.

Emily Jordan, 1879

Emily Jordan, 1879

Emily took one of the few jobs open to young women, teaching. She taught in the collegiate department at the Nassau Institute—Miss Hotchkiss’s school for young ladies—in Brooklyn. When she married Henry in 1885, she was obliged to give up her teaching job. For the next half century, Emily served as a full partner in one of the most prodigious literary feats of all time: assembling the largest collection of Shakespeare in the world.

Henry Folger corresponded with 600 booksellers, 150 in London alone. The underground vault of the Folger Shakespeare Library contains 258 linear feet of auction catalogs which arrived at Henry’s office, 26 Broadway in Manhattan, home of the Standard Oil Company where he worked for five decades. When he brought the catalogs home to Emily in their Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone, her job was to identify the items she wanted in their collection. Henry put together a bid list, and paid for the winning lots from his oil fortune. Then Emily wrote up each item for the card catalog, developing writer’s cramp along the way.

A childless couple, the Folgers were singlemindedly devoted to the Bard. They received family only twice a year: Thanksgiving and January 1. Nieces remember that on these sparse occasions, their aunt expected them to recite poetry and rewarded them with a book with a five-dollar bill tucked inside. The Folgers attended no social events nor hosted any business dinners. When they went on vacation in Virginia, they lugged a special travel card catalog around with them. On their numerous voyages to England, they attended Shakespeare performances, went book hunting, and brought back poppy seeds from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Emily was a close adviser to her husband in the acquisition of eighty-two Shakespeare First Folios, the 1623 compilation of thirty-six plays, eighteen of which might have been lost to the world as they had not been printed. Emily had earned a masters degree at Vassar with a thesis on “The True Text of Shakespeare,” pointing to the 1623 publication as the most authoritative edition of the plays. Emily kept a fascinating play diary, where she wrote pages and pages of detail concerning the 125 Shakespeare plays she saw in her lifetime.

In 1919, the Folgers started buying up the fourteen redbrick rowhouses two blocks from the U.S. Capitol on land they had identified for a permanent repository for their Shakespeare collection. Each of the deeds noted Emily Jordan Folger as owner. She also held in her name bank vault and storage warehouse accounts where they stored books, manuscripts, playbills, prints, engravings, paintings, pieces of furniture, porcelain, armor, maps, charts, phonograph records, costumes, globes, musical instruments, and curios. Henry stayed beneath the radar.

In the late 1920s the Folgers continued their aggressive buying of Shakespeare items, but made the time to help design what would become the Folger Shakespeare Library with French-born architect, Paul Philippe Cret. They selected quotations to be etched in stone. They identified scenes from Shakespeare’s plays for relief sculptures on the library façade.

Emily Jordan Folger, 1931

Emily Jordan Folger, 1931

It was Emily’s Day on April 23, 1932, the 368th celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday, when, wearing a shoulder corsage of orchids, and lilies of the valley over her academic robe, she turned over the keys of the Folger Shakespeare Library to the chairman of the board of Amherst College, who was responsible for the administration of the Folger. Henry was not present. He had died suddenly two weeks after the cornerstone was laid. He had never seen one stone of his library. He had never seen all his books and Shakespeare treasures assembled together under one roof. Seamlessly, Emily took over the mantle to make the research library a reality. She died in 1936. The Folgers’ ashes are in urns behind a bronze plaque in the reading room. The Folger is a library, a theatre, and a mausoleum.

grant.collectingStephen H. Grant is the author of Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folgerpublished by Johns Hopkins. He is a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and the author of Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal.

 

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