Guide to the Research Collections



In addition to the funds which constitute the third of the original foundations of the library, Samuel Jones Tilden bequeathed this institution some 15,000 volumes (not including his law library, which went elsewhere). The books have been described as a "collection made for his own use and enjoyment ... the usual classics one expects to find in a 'gentleman's library' ... shelving little rubbish."4

Included among general materials are bound files of New York City newspapers covering the period from the 1840s through 1886, and runs of economic periodicals for about the same period.

Most of the social sciences are represented, the more important material being in the fields of history and economics. Among rarities in this group is a collection of 225 scarce tracts relating to banking and currency in England, printed from 1683 to 1850. History is for the most part American, ranging from Hakluyt's Voyages (1599-1660) and the accounts of other discoverers, to Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio. A strong feature is political history; present are the chief publications relating to the various administrations and political parties of the United States; to Congress and congressional affairs; and to political and constitutional conventions, especially those of New York State.

Literature comprises the richest portion of the collection. Included are the first 3 editions of Milton's Paradise Lost (1667-78) and the first 3 Shakespeare folios. The portion relating to art, archaeology, and natural history includes the finely illustrated editions popular from the latter part of the eighteenth century through the first half of the nineteenth. Also included are a number of the now famous "Galleries," relating to art and archaeology (as well as the magnificent publications of individual authors), and the folio Audubon Birds, which is typical of the natural history publications.

A number of extra-illustrated works are present, including Sir Walter Scott's Waverley Novels and such histories and biographies as lent themselves well to this treatment. In addition, unusual collections of portraits, including the works of Birch, Lodge, Caulfield, and others, are represented. The extraordinary collection found in this group is that of Gillray's caricatures dated from 1777 to 1811, representing the entire period of that artist's productivity.

Finally, Tilden's papers were included with the original gift.

-------------------------------------------- page 8