Tuesday, June 15, 2010

$150,000 Challenge Grant Announced

Help us to purchase important documents of the early history of the United States
by doubling the value of your donation.

A generous anonymous donor presented a remarkable opportunity that will benefit the Clements Library in many ways for years to come. One of the nation's greatest private collections of Americana is being auctioned off over the next year and we have an anonymous benefactor who has offered $150,000 as a one-to-one challenge match to purchase rare items for our library.

We need to raise $150,000 to fully take advantage of this gift, and we have already received more than $40,000.

These remarkable documents are part of holdings of James S. Copley, a newspaper publisher and a collector of considerable stature who amassed a first-class collection of Americana during the 1960s and 1970s. After Mr. Copley's death in 1973 his family established the James S. Copley Library to hold his marvelous collection. Beginning in April 2010 and continuing through April 2011, Sotheby's will auction the Copley treasures, which have an estimated value of $10-15 million. Read an article about the James S. Copley auctions in the New York Times.

The Sotheby's description states that these materials offer "an incredible survey in original manuscripts of American history and worldwide literary, artistic and scientific achievement. The core of the collection is its remarkable range of handwritten letters, documents, and other manuscripts which trace this history of America from the earliest incursion of Jesuit missionaries into California through the archive of letters sent by General Eisenhower to his wife from the battlefields of Europe."

Many of the Copley items have great appeal for the Clements. The historic documents relating to the American Revolution and the Civil War that are now at the Clements have formed the basis for important scholarship by such distinguished authors such as Carl Van Doren, Fred Anderson, David McCullough, James T. Flexner, Gerda Lerner and Richard B. Morris. The Copley collection is rich in primary sources on both conflicts, and the Sotheby's sales will also feature extraordinary documentation of the birth and expansion of the United States.

At the first Copley auction on April 14, the Library purchased six outstanding manuscript items—letters of Governor George Clinton, General Thomas Gage, General Nathanael Greene, General Israel Putnam, Governor Thomas Hutchinson, and President John Tyler. We were delighted to add these pieces and their insights into the Revolution, colonial American politics and slavery in antebellum American to our collections. These items were purchased with our own funds and if we meet the challenge we will have $300,000 available for the upcoming Copley auctions.

Many more treasures remain in the Copley sales, and by bringing them to the Clements we can ensure that they remain accessible for students of our national heritage.

Each donor will be recognized on a plaque that will be displayed in the Great Room. Once purchased, we will host an exhibit of acquisitions with a reception for donors.

There are many ways you can donate. Give online by selecting "Acquisition" on the Clements Library Online Giving page, or mail your gift using this form [download PDF]. If you would like more information, please contact Ann Rock at annrock@umich.edu or 734-358-9770.

Thank you for considering a gift that will help to make these unique letters and documents available to students and researchers for generations. All who contribute will be able to take pride in knowing that their gift helped to purchase some of the most notable additions to our collection.

UPDATE: As of July 22, 2010, we have raised $75,000! Thank you for your support.

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