Spring has come to Washington, and with it, our 75th anniversary draws to a close. It's been a spectacular year of neon-bright Shakespeare banners on city lamp posts, a facsimile publication of the great Trevelyon manuscript, and a library-wide exploration of Shakespeare in American life. Along the way, we produced a documentary for public radio narrated by Sam Waterston, built a comprehensive companion website, and hosted a Folger Institute conference on the history of Shakespeare in American education, all with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and its “We the People” initiative.
But spring is also a time to look ahead,and I'm delighted to announce that the future looks exciting indeed, thanks again to the NEH. Two recent grants will help us to provide online access to a vast array of rare materials.
Our Picturing Shakespeare project will put 10,000 prints, drawings, and photographs online. Meanwhile, the joint Shakespeare Quartos Archive will provide digital facsimiles of Hamlet quartos held at five major American and British libraries. These early, single-play editions are in some cases rarer than the 1623 First Folio. To be able to study them from any desktop is a dream come true.
These and other digital projects are increasingly part of all our endeavors. Recent examples include our First Folio touchscreen kiosk, Folger podcasts, and cell phone-based audio tours of our exhibitions, building, and grounds.
It's all part of a future that welcomes students, the public, and researchers into an everwidening conversation extending far beyond our building here in Washington—a future which I hope will be punctuated by many celebrations to come, of which we count on you taking part.
Gail Kern Paster
Folger Shakespeare Library