Preservation and Access: Preservation Assistance Grants

Period of Performance

1/1/2016 - 6/30/2017

Funding Totals

$3,715.00 (approved)
$3,715.00 (awarded)

Environmental Monitoring Upgrades for Historic Rosenbach Collections

FAIN: PG-233754-16

Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA 19103-6510)
Katherine H. Haas (Project Director: May 2015 to September 2017)

Upgraded environmental monitoring equipment for the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  The Rosenbach, which affiliated with the Free Library of Philadelphia in 2013, holds the personal collection of rare book, manuscript, and art dealers Dr. A.S.W. and his brother Philip Rosenbach, who helped to build the holdings at the Folger and Huntington Libraries.  Notable items include the sole surviving copy of Benjamin Franklin’s first Poor Richard’s Almanac; the manuscript of James Joyce’s Ulysses; the papers of modernist poet Marianne Moore; Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula; rare editions of books by Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, and Lewis Carroll; and art objects including Egyptian sculpture, English furniture, and American portraiture.  The museum hosts many activities for the public, including regular exhibitions, hands-on tours, reading groups, a Bloomsday celebration, and research hours.  The organization has also partnered with local elementary schools, inspiring projects such as studying the Yellow Fever epidemic, learning about poetry through the letters of Langston Hughes, and military base students writing to their own deployed family members after reading Civil War soldiers’ letters to their families.  A 2006 PAG supported the purchase of environmental monitoring equipment, but those data loggers are no longer accurate and cannot be recalibrated.  This equipment would be replaced with new models and a calibrator, based on recommendations from a 2011 risk assessment.

The Rosenbach was founded in the first half of the twentieth century by Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and his brother Philip, preeminent dealers in rare books. The brothers' personal collection features treasures that they were unable to part with, including the only surviving copy of Benjamin Franklin's first Poor Richard's Almanac and the manuscript of James Joyce's Ulysses. The Rosenbach is home to a collection of nearly 400,000 rare books, manuscripts, and fine and decorative art objects, including some of the best-known literary and historical objects in the world. The Rosenbach requests funds to improve environmental monitoring equipment, including new data loggers to monitor temperature and humidity, and testing equipment. These tools will help maintain appropriate and stable environmental conditions for the objects in the collection. Monitoring environmental conditions has a direct impact on the long-term preservation of the Rosenbach's collections and the ability to exhibit them safely.