First Folio! Shakespeare's American Tour

First Folio! Shakespeare's American Tour, one of the Exhibitions at the Folger, opened November 19, 2016 and closed January 22, 2017. The exhibition was curated by Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts and Archivist at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Caroline Duroselle-Melish, the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Maribeth Cote, the Public Engagement Coordinator at the Folger Shakespeare Library. It is part of The Wonder of Will: 400 Years of Shakespeare 2016 commemoration of Shakespeare's death.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Folger Shakespeare Library sent First Folios to all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC. This exhibition celebrates their return to the Folger, and is the largest ever display of First Folios in a single venue. Forty-three thousand miles later, and safely back in the Folger’s Great Hall, the eighteen traveling copies of the First Folio (and one understudy), the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, tell their stories–of the half million people they met, the programming to celebrate their visits, the unique attributes of each book, and the overwhelming relevance of the plays they include.


Heather Wolfe, Curator

Heather Wolfe is curator of manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She has curated numerous Folger exhibitions and has written widely on early modern manuscripts and the intersections between print and manuscript. She has edited The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608 (2007), The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary (2007), and Letterwriting in Renaissance England (2004), an exhibition catalog co-written with Alan Stewart.  She is principal investigator for EMMO (Early Modern Manuscripts Online), a project to create a free and searchable database of images and transcriptions of early modern manuscripts created in England or written in English, and curator of the online exhibition, Shakespeare Documented, a repository of images, descriptions, and transcriptions of documents and printed texts that refer or allude to Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s works, and Shakespeare’s family in their lifetimes.

Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Curator

Caroline Duroselle-Melish is the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She has worked with a wide range of collections in university and independent rare book libraries, including serving as Rare Book Librarian at the University of Rochester and, most recently, as Assistant Curator at the Houghton Library, Harvard University. Caroline has published on a range of topics associated with early modern printing, including studies of Ulisse Aldrovandi’s library and the trade relations between Frankfurt and Bologna.

Maribeth Cote, Curator

Maribeth Cote is the Public Engagement Coordinator for First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare. She has spent the past two years advising and managing the 52 institutions hosting this touring exhibition. For First Folio! Shakespeare's American Tour, Maribeth curated stories, photographs, and videos documenting the experiences of the traveling First Folios and the people who came to see them. Maribeth has a MA in Public History from the Royal Holloway University of London and a BA in History from Franklin Pierce University.

Contents of the Exhibition

First Folio! Shakespeare's American Tour Exhibition Material

This article offers label text as well as a comprehensive and descriptive list of each piece included in the exhibition.