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Manuscripts Division

The Manuscripts Division holds an estimated 14,000 linear feet of materials covering five thousand years of recorded history and all parts of the world, with special strength in Western Europe, the Near East, the United States, and Latin America.

Collection Strengths

  • The Manuscripts Division has very significant holdings on American history during the period 1750-1865. Most extensive are the Edward Livingston Family Papers, comprising 165 boxes of papers as well as maps, rolls, and other artifacts pertaining to this Hudson Valley family.

  • The Manuscripts Division has approximately 1,350 baked and unbaked clay tablets, opened and unopened tablet cases, clay cylinders, nail-shaped cones, pyramid-shaped tags, and other items.

  • The Manuscripts Division has substantial holdings of original art from many historical periods and cultural contexts. The earliest materials are Pharaonic rolls from ancient Egypt, including several polychrome examples.

  • The Manuscripts Division has one of the largest collections of Ethiopic manuscripts outside Ethiopia, including nearly 180 codices (bound manuscripts) and more than 500 magic scrolls (amulets), dating from the 17th to 20th centuries, chiefly written in Ge'ez, the sacred language of the Ethiopian

  • The Manuscripts Division holds nearly 10,000 volumes of Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and other manuscripts of the predominantly Islamic world, written in Arabic script. This is the largest such collection in North America and one of the finest in the Western world.

  • Princeton is well known for its extensive holdings in modern literature and publishing, especially British and American. Significant collections include the papers of Sylvia Beach, James Gould Cozzens, F.

  • Medieval, Byzantine, and Renaissance Manuscripts

  • The Manuscripts Division holds more than a thousand papyri, dating from approximately 1250 BCE to 900 CE. Best known are Princeton’s literary, early Christian, and sub-literary papyri.

  • The Manuscripts Division has strong holdings of American publishing archives, with special emphasis on author files of correspondence and related materials, chiefly 19th and 20th century.

  • Over two hundred theater-related collections in the Princeton University Library offer a wealth of primary source materials documenting the history of the performing arts and popular entertainment in the United States and Great Britain.