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Collections, scholars, publications–“fresh enterprises and speculation” from the Lewis Walpole Library

When W.S. Lewis wrote in his autobiographical Collector’s Progress “I am giving my collection to the Yale Library” he explained “As Professor Tinker taught me long ago, collections, scholars, publications–these are the three essential elements of the learned process, and the second two are dependent upon the first. To make a collection that stores up something of importance to society and then places it at society’s disposal is to store up civilization for posterity’s use.”

In his full autobiography One Man’s Education, Lewis referred to the Lewis Walpole Library as “Yale in Farmington” which he envisioned as  “a center for eighteenth-century studies under pleasant circumstances.” The endowment he left would pay for additions to the collection and the provision of “a director and staff to run the place for the resident scholars there” and would “publish the books written by the members at Farmington.” He explained that the members would be “senior people of proved achievement and juniors of outstanding promise who can move beyond the fixed boundaries of humanistic studies into unexplored territory. Farmington will give them a chance to write their books and free them temporarily from the exactions of teaching and committees. It will offer opportunities for fresh enterprises and speculation, a place where the members will live, it is to be hoped in amity, exchanging views with and learning from each other.”

This blog is intended to be a place for scholars who have worked with Lewis Walpole Library collections to present work in progress, new discoveries and connections they have made within the library’s holdings, and new enterprises and speculation emerging from their work.

–Susan Odell Walker, Head of Public Services

November 2022