US Declaration Of Independence: US DeclarationofIndependence


Collection, Collections and Collecting
The words Declaration of Independence have two common variant spellings: Déclaration of Independence and Declaration of Independance. In web site documents, these words are sometimes written in the following compacted forms: DeclarationofIndependence, DéclarationofIndependence, or DeclarationofIndependance. The words Declaration of Independence are also abbreviated: DOI or DofI. The word checklist is sometimes written check list.
The Albert J. Small Declaration of Independence Collection

The Declaration of Independence Collection housed in the Albert J. Small Library, University of Virginia, is the most comprehensive in the world. Small's interest in the Declaration of Independence and his avid collecting of antiquarian and rare works has resulted in a special collection, unique among collections. Albert Small pledged his entire collection to the University of Virginia. The Declaration of Independence collaction traces the writing, printing, and dissemination of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

(The following material is taken from a University of Virginia Library Press Release dated January 30, 2002.) The collection includes "An engraved Declaration of Independence printed by William J. Stone in 1823 under the authority of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, This [rare] copy belonged to the Marquis de Lafayette. Stone, a noted engraver of the time, used a wet-ink process to create a copperplate of the original Declaration, thus producing an exact copy of the document and its signatures. One of 200 printed for Congress, this copy belonged to Lafayette and once hung in his bedroom. Only 31 of the original 200 Stone engravings are known to exist today."

The collection includes "A [rare] manuscript subscription book belonging to Benjamin Owen Tyler in which he collected singatures from such notable figures as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, John Marshall, and Henry Clay as orders for his elaborately engraved facsimile of the Declaration of Independence published in 1818.

"In 2000, Small gave an important group of early printings of the Declaration from the various 13 colonies. The remainder of his collection includes similar historically important Declaration materials such as one of 25 known [actually 26 known rare] first-printings by John Dunlap of the Declaration of Independence; a complete set of autographed letters from all 56 signers, a majority dating from 1776; and various copies of John Trumbull's famous painting depicting the signing."

Referring to his collection, Albert Small says "These [rare] items tell the story of the Declaration of Independence and of those brave and bold men who put their lives at risk for our country and future."

Signers of the Declaration of Independence Collections

Most Declaration of Independence collections are held by libraries. The New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections, holds a United States Declaration of Independence Signers Collection. "The collection consists of original manuscript letters and documents containing autographs of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The collection was originally assembled by Israel K. Tefft of Savannah Georgia." Also in the collection is the scrapbook which originally contained the Israel K. Tefft collection.

Princeton University Library, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, has a Signers of the Declaration of Independence Collection, dated 1765-1813. "The collection contains one or more letters and/or documents of each of thirty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence. Among those represented in the collection are John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Francis Hoopkinson, Thomas Jefferson, Arthus Lee, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Rush, James Wilson, and John Witherspoon."

Declaration of Independence Collection

More than 100,000 books, pamphlets, and periodicals were published during the period, 1776-1825. A mere 358 reprint the text of the Declaration of Independence; two thirds of these do not mention the Declaration in their titles. Some of these antiquarian works are rare and valuable; some remarkably are still attainable by collectors. But, collecting these works is difficult without the aid of a checklist, or guide, to help identify the works that repirnt the text of the Declaration. Each such work is a primary information source, important in its own right, but doubly important because it reprints the Declaration of Independence. The increasing higher prices demanded in the marketplace for these works is, no doubt, reflective of a growing interest in collecting these early antiquarian and rare items.

In 1979, the author began collecting antiquarian and rare books, pamphlets, periodicals and newspapers printing the Declaration of Independence. Eventually, the collection was limited to the 50-year period, 1776-1825. In order to facilitate his collecting efforts, the author created a checklist of titles of works reprinting the full text of the Declaration of Independence, in English. The (just published) Checklist of Books, Pamphlets, and Periodicals, Printing the Declaration of Independence, 1776-1825, is now available to the public.

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A free PDF copy of the checklist can be downloaded from the Home Page. You can also purchase a hardbound copy of the checklist at a most reasonable price. See the Home Page for additional details and offerings. 
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