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Posts Tagged ‘Firestone Library’

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The late philanthropist and musician William H. Scheide has donated thousands of rare manuscripts and documents to Princeton University, the Ivy League academic institution announced Monday.

Scheide, who passed away at 100 in November, made the largest gift in Princeton’s history when the 1936 grad left the school his library of 2,500 historic books, papers and records carrying an appraised value of $300 million, Princeton officials said.

Scheide had displayed the collection, which includes documents like the 1455 Gutenberg Bible, the original printing of the Declaration of Independence and an autographed 1856 Abraham Lincoln speech about slavery, at the university’s Firestone Library since 1959.

But the donation will allow university officials to continue digitizing the documents for public inspection in its online library and preparing for a new display room for them at the renovated library, they said.

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COURTESY OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY Scheide shows students the collection's copy of Darwin's The Origin of Species in March 2000.

COURTESY OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Scheide shows students the collection’s copy of Darwin’s The Origin of Species in March 2000.

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“Through Bill Scheide’s generosity, one of the greatest collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world today will have a permanent home here,” said Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber.

Scheide’s collection, which his oil executive grandfather began amassing in 1865, also contains three other 15th century Bibles in the only complete set of all four of the first editions outside of Europe, a signed Beethoven sketchbook, a Magna Carta dating to the 1300s and the poet Emily Dickinson’s chocolate pudding recipe, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Scheide grew up in Titusville, Pa, where his father, a fellow Princeton man, built the first formal display of the historical rarities, but he later relocated them to the university following the death of his mother and reviewed Princeton officials’ plan for the new space that will house them, Princeton officials said.

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“This collection is the fulfillment of the dreams of three generations of Scheide book men,” said Sheide’s wife, Judy McCartin Scheide. “Having it reside permanently at Princeton is a testament to the joy Bill took in sharing the books, papers, manuscripts, letters, music and posters with others — those were some of his happiest times.”

Scheide, who recalled being fascinated by his father’s documents as a child at the house in Titusville, founded the renowned Bach Aria Group in 1946 and helped provide the ensemble with material by culling through the full 47 volumes of the master composer’s work, the New York Times reported in his obituary last year.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where Scheide provided future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall with financial backing to help pursue the landmark Brown v. Topeka Board of Education case, also recognizes Scheide as its largest individual donor, according to the organization.