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About our collections

A Folger staff member showing a collection item

The Folger’s collection is vast and varied, including printed books; manuscripts; prints, drawings, photographs, paintings, and other works of art; and a wealth of performance history, from playbills to films, recordings, and stage costumes.

In addition to the rare material collection, the Folger holds a collection of over 100,000 monographs, periodicals, and electronic resources published between the 1830s and the present, related to the understanding and interpretation of Shakespeare, his works and impact, and to the early modern world.

History of the collection

Henry Clay Folger and his wife, Emily Jordan Folger, began amassing the collection of rare books that would become the Folger Shakespeare Library in 1889. They spent decades gathering the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, as well as associated works from Shakespeare’s time. The Library itself opened in 1932, and continues to expand its holdings today.