Elizabeth L. Eisenstein

Gift: A scholar’s legacy

Dr. Elizabeth L. Eisenstein didn’t know that her bequest would have twice the impact when she named the Folger as a beneficiary in her will. A treasured friend, colleague, and supporter of the Folger, Eisenstein conducted groundbreaking research in the collection that continues to inform scholarship today. She intended her bequest to serve the Folger's greatest needs and priorities. Her gift will ensure that her generosity of spirit will live on in our New Pavilion for generations to come.

Betty’s gifts reflect a deep understanding of all that the Folger has to offer. She began supporting the Folger with a gift to the annual fund in 1976 and went on to become a devoted member of the Director’s Circle. She was a lead contributor to the renovation of the Folger’s state-of-the-art Werner Gundersheimer Conservation Laboratory, which was dedicated in 2006. In 2009, she named the Folger as a beneficiary in her will, earning her a place in the First Folio Society, the Folger’s legacy society that celebrates those who have included the Folger in their estate plans. She was also a generous supporter of the Library, establishing an endowment that continues to help build the collections for the benefit of current and future scholars.

An intellectual home on the Hill

“She was for a goodly portion of her adult life an independent scholar, and she truly found her intellectual homes here on Capitol Hill,” recalled Kathleen Lynch, Executive Director of the Folger Institute. Indeed, her involvement with the Institute, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, spanned decades. In the fall of 1973, she directed a semester-length seminar, “Early Printers and Cultural Change (1470-1570),” for the nascent Institute. Six years later, she would publish her two-volume monograph, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, the seminal text for which she is best known, and a pillar on which the field of print culture studies stands. In 1999, the Institute invited Dr. Eisenstein back to direct a second semester-length seminar—a  very rare honor—and it was not long after that Betty strengthened her commitment to the Folger by joining the Board of Governors.

The gift of a lifetime

We are fortunate to be counted among the beneficiaries of Dr. Eisenstein’s legacy; to be sure, the Folger has benefitted from her friendship and life’s work in myriad ways. Discover the ways in which you can support the Folger beyond your lifetime. If you would like to learn more about the advantages of making a planned gift, please contact plannedgiving@folger.edu.