The Penn Libraries recently acquired the Adam Matthew Digital database, Literary Manuscripts: Victorian Manuscripts from the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. The NYPL’s Berg Collection, from which Literary Manuscripts is derived, contains approximately 35,000 printed volumes, pamphlets, and broadsides, and 2,000 linear feet of literary archives and manuscripts, representing the working papers of more than 400 authors.
Literary Manuscripts provides, in their entirety, the papers of 15 authors selected by curator Isaac Gewirtz. You can read their digital facsimiles online or downloaded to your device as PDFs. Within the collection, you will find literary manuscripts, holographs, correspondence, notebooks, diaries, legal and financial documents, portraits, and other pictorial works. Papers provide insight into the British Victorian literary network, the business of Victorian publishing and the relationship between writers and publishers and literary agents, details of friendships, concerns of everyday life, and literary conversations.
The Literary Manuscripts database allows you to search, browse, read, and download the Berg Collection documents associated with Matthew Arnold, Emily Bronte and her literary siblings, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Wilkie Collins, Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Ruskin, Alfred Tennyson, William Thackeray, and George Gissing. The best way to approach the database is to browse through each author’s collection or to run a keyword search on a particular name. Keyword search capability is limited to metadata.
The Berg brothers grew up in New York City during the second half of the 19th Century. Henry was born in Hungary and immigrated to New York with his family in 1862. Albert was born ten years later in New York City. Together, the two brothers, both doctors at Mt. Sinai Hospital, built a collection of rare imprints, which focused on the literary work of English and American writers. After the brothers arranged the donation of their 3,500 printed works and pamphlets to the NYPL, Albert made two significant purchases, W.T.H. Howe’s collection of 16,000 books and manuscripts, and Owen D. Young’s collection of 15,000 books and manuscripts. These newly purchased collections, donated along with the original Berg collection, necessarily transformed the Berg donation into an internationally important scholarly resource, now, in part, easily accessible via the Literary Manuscripts Berg Collection Victorian manuscripts database.