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University of Pennsylvania Library records regarding the opening of the Rare Book Room


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Rare Book Room at the University of Pennsylvania opened on May 27, 1947. The opening was attended by more than five hundred guests, and speeches were given by Dr. Charles W. David, Director of Libraries, President George W. McClelland, Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach, and the primary speaker for the evening, Randolph G. Adams, Director of the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan. Dr. David's remarks announced the establishment of the Rare Book Department; President McClelland described the recent accomplishments of the library; Dr. Rosenbach spoke to the importance of the collection to the greater Philadelphia community; and Mr. Clements discussed the importance of institutions able to care for rare books, what made a book "rare," and the value of books that are used to discuss subjects other than their own. "When President McClelland and Dr. David decided that the University should do something more about its rare books," said Mr. Clements, "they probably had in mind something more than the fact of numerical scarcity–they understood that they were dealing with the documentary evidences of our cultural heritage. In planning the rare book room I suspect that these officials meant to safeguard some treasures whose emotional and intellectual values are so high they are difficult to compute. Of course I cannot speak for them–nor say that is what they meant to do–but, to repeat the quotation from the late Horace Howard Furness, I think that is what they ought to have meant." (Clements, 21-22)

Remarks by Randolph G. Adams at the Opening of the Rare Book Room, University of Pennsylvania Library, May 27, 1947. Randolph Greenfield Adams. University of Pennsylvania Library: Philadelphia. 1968.

The collection contains administrative documents pertaining to the planning for the opening of the Rare Book Room at the University of Pennsylvania on May 27, 1947. The primary correspondent in the collection is Charles W. David (1885-1984), who was the director of the University of Pennsylvania Library at the time and who appears to have been the driving force behind this event. The collection includes letters to speakers, seating arrangements, sample invitations, lists of attendees, a draft of remarks, and event details. Much of the material in this collection consists of correspondence regarding attendance. The folder, "Special correspondence," as titled by the creators of the collection, includes letters to individuals who were asked to host specific tables at the dinner preceding the reception, acceptances and regrets from people who were presumably high profile, and thank you notes which were written after the event. The "Special acceptances," again presumably noting high profile guests, were separated by the event planners and are alphabetized by the guests' names. The remaining folders contain general acceptances and regrets, alphabetized by guests' names.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Justin A. Bortnick
Finding Aid Date
2014 August 18
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Seating arrangements, program details, etc., 1947 April-May.
Box 1 Folder 1
"Special correspondence", 1947 April-June.
Box 1 Folder 2
"Special acceptances", 1947 May.
Box 1 Folder 3
Acceptances, 1947 May.
Box 1 Folder 4-10
Regrets, 1947 May.
Box 1 Folder 11-18

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