First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare

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First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare, was a traveling exhibition that was part of The Wonder of Will: 400 Years of Shakespeare 2016 commemoration of Shakespeare's death.

In partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare brought a First Folio to all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. The host venues included 23 museums, 20 universities, five public libraries, three historical societies, and a theater. First Folio! opened at the Sam Noble Museum in Oklahoma on January 4, 2016 and closed on January 8, 2017 at The Parthenon in Nashville, TN .

The exhibition, which also included panels and digital content, exclusively featured First Folios from the Folger, whose collection of 82 First Folios is by far the largest in the world. Visitors to First Folio! came face to face with the original 1623 book, displayed open to Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be"speech. Each First Folio! host venue planned public events and activities, often including additional exhibitions, in celebration the Folio's visit. Many of these events we planned specifically for teachers and families.

For more information on this past exhibition and related events, please visit

For more information about the exhibition at each host venue, please visit First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare - Host Venues

Read about First Folio! Shakespeare's American Tour, an exhibition at the Folger in celebration of the First Folio national tour.

Tour Archives

Extent: 7 boxes, 2 oversize items

Abstract: During the "First Folio!" tour, Folger staff and collaborators collected a wide variety of ephemera associated with the project from all fifty states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The collection is mostly made up of print publicity and exhibitions material from the host sites, but also includes pin-back buttons, local newspaper clippings, clothing and other souvenirs, and even a parasol from the Jazz Funeral held in honor of Shakespeare in New Orleans.

Date: 2015-2017 (bulk 2016)

Creator: Folger Shakespeare Library and "First Folio!" tour partners
Language of Materials: English and Spanish

Contact Information:
Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003

Preferred Citation:
[Item title and date], First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare Tour Archives, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC.

Conditions Governing Use:
Copyright is retained by the authors, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Collection is open for research. For information about applying for a Reader Card see:


Series 1: Printed materials (4 boxes), arranged alphabetically by state, district, or territory.
1.1: Alabama-Kansas
1.2: Kentucky-New Mexico
1.3: Nevada-Wyoming
1.4: Oversize

Series 2: Non-print ephemera (2 boxes, 2 oversize items):
2.1 : T-shirts, various.
2.2: Miscellaneous souvenirs
2.3: Yard sign
2.4: Parasol

Series 3: Teaching Folio (1 box):
A blank text block chiefly meant to show binding techniques. Displayed at the Arizona State Museum and at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Bound by Panther Peak Bindery in Tucson, AZ. Includes some braille text.