Guide to the Research Collections



In 1899, Worthington Chauncey Ford and Paul Leicester Ford offered the library their collection of printed books as a memorial to their father, Gordon Lester Ford. The gift, estimated at more than 30,000 books, 70,000 pamphlets, and a large number of maps and prints, came partly as a result of the purchase by J. Pierpont Morgan of the Ford collection of manuscripts, from which he made his selection turning the remainder over to the library.

The principal feature of the Ford collection is American political, constitutional, and economic history in the broadest sense, but with additional notable materials in the fields of finance, taxation, and economics of England and the continent. Gordon Lester Ford collected everything. His selection of books was remarkable; he ranked with Tefft, Cist, and Sprague as an early collector of autographs and historical manuscripts; and his association with Whitelaw Reid taught him "that frequently the trivial, ephemeral pamphlet of today is the important historical document of tomorrow."3 His sons' enthusiasm continued and they expanded the collection, following their own interests as bibliographers and editors, as well as historians.

While American history and economics are undoubtedly the major features of the collection, hardly a field or topic is not represented. Throughout the library's holdings--in biography, travel, philosophy, philology, literature, religion, even law and medicine--titles from the Ford collection are to be found.

Paul and Worthington Ford and their sister, Mrs. Emily Ellsworth Ford Skeel, added hundreds of volumes to supplement the original gift.