Inside the Hellenic Collections: 40th Anniversary of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund

Panorama of Athens, ca. 1880

Panorama of Athens, ca. 1880.

 

Forty years ago, a gift from Stanley J. Seeger Jr. ’52 transformed Hellenic Studies at Princeton University. This series highlights the impact of Seeger’s gift on the collections of Princeton University Library and the research opportunities they afford.

Written by David Jenkins, Classics, Hellenic Studies, and Linguistics Librarian.

The establishment of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund at Princeton University in 1979 aimed to “advance the understanding of the culture of ancient Greece and its influence… and to stimulate creative expression and thought in and about modern Greece.” It is not surprising then that from its very inception a significant portion of this fund has been directed towards the acquisition of research resources that make this aspiration possible. In fact, to date, almost 13,000 titles have been added to the Library’s collections with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund. These acquisitions reflect the Hellenic experience throughout its long history, from the reception of its classical antiquity to the achievements of Byzantine and Modern Greek culture. With particular strengths in Byzantine and post-Byzantine manuscripts, early-modern Greek printing, the Greek Enlightenment, Philhellenism and Modern Greek literature and poetry, the Hellenic Studies collections extend well beyond books and manuscripts and include photographs, prints, maps, diaries, post cards, coins and medals, ephemera and the personal papers of important literary and artistic figures. Hellenica at Digital PUL offers a digitized sampling of both the breadth and depth of these collections.

The Seeger Fund also directly supports much of the research focused on these collections. In addition to the teaching and research of our own faculty and students, these world-class resources attract the interest of 20 international scholars who arrive every year funded by the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies under the leadership of its Director, Dimitri Gondicas. While these highly competitive fellowships ensure the year-long participation of the global scholarly community in the discovery and interpretation of these materials, the Seeger Fund also funds shorter-term Library Research Grants for proposals that require access to specific Hellenic Studies collections.  

General view of Mount Athos, ca. 1707 (excerpt).

The Fund has contributed to the general promotion of these collections by supporting Library-curated exhibitions, including The Light of Ancient Athens: A Photographic Journey by Félix Bonfils, 1868-1875, Poets and Mythmakers in Modern Greece, and The Greek book from papyrus to printing. In addition, significant rarities acquired with the support of the Fund are often highlighted within blogs authored by the Library’s Special Collections curators, for example, a 1640 portolan navigational chart and a 1765 print of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr.  

Throughout the year we will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Stanley J. Seeger Fund and its many contributions to the Library’s collections and scholarly impact. Each month we’ll feature an area of particular strength with text, images, and links that hope to encourage and facilitate quick access to these rich resources.

Note: Hellenica features a sampling of the Hellenic Studies collections online.

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications