Folger Shakespeare Library

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The Folger is a world-renowned center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts.

It is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection. The Folger’s collections include rare printed books, manuscripts, works of art, audiovisual materials, and modern scholarship. These materials extend beyond Shakespeare to include a wide range of disciplines – history and politics, theology and exploration, law and the arts – from the early modern period (1500–1750). New acquisitions of rare and modern materials are made regularly through purchases and the generosity of donors.

An internationally recognized research library, the Folger is one of the world’s most important centers for Shakespeare scholarship and supports advanced research in a broad range of disciplines. Its conservation lab is an innovator in the preservation of rare materials.

The Folger Institute brings together the resources of the library and more than 40 universities to encourage and advance humanities research and learning through seminars, conferences, and colloquia.

A national leader in how Shakespeare is taught today, the Folger provides resources to teachers and students in grades K–12 and produces local outreach programs for families and the community. It also publishes the Folger Shakespeare Library editions, the leading Shakespeare texts used in secondary schools in the United States.

The Folger’s award-winning cultural and arts programs—Folger Theatre, Folger Exhibitions, the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series, Folger Consort, Folger Talks and Screenings, and the PEN/Faulkner reading series—connect broader audiences to its collections and support the living legacy of Shakespeare in contemporary life.

By promoting understanding of Shakespeare and his world, the Folger reminds us of the enduring influence of his works, the formative effects of the Renaissance on our own time, and the power of the written and spoken word.

A gift to the American people from industrialist Henry Clay Folger and his wife Emily Jordan Folger, the Folger Shakespeare Library—located one block east of the U.S. Capitol—opened in 1932. For more information, see the Timeline of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

It is administered by a Board of Governors under the auspices of Amherst College, Henry Folger's alma mater.

Enjoy this retrospective video tracing 75 years of Folger Shakespeare Library history.