Columbia Library columns (v.23(1973Nov-1974May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.23,no.2(1974:Feb): Page 3  


The Jack Harris Samuels Library


IN the twenty-five years of his life during which he collected
rare books. Jack Harris Samuels (A.M., 1940) amassed a
library of nearly three thousand first editions, association
books, and manuscripts covering the history of English and
American literature from the sixteenth through the twentieth cen¬
turies. It was a formidable achievement, and one that, happily,
was destined to become a cornerstone of the research collections
of the University Libraries, for it was bequeathed to Columbia by
Mr. Samuels's mother, the late MoUie Harris Samuels, in whose
apartment on Park Avenue the Library was housed.

Meeting a collector for the first time, one is always tempted to
ask: "How did you begin collecting?" When I met Jack in 1961
I asked the inevitable question, and he answered in his emphatic
voice that the Library owed its genesis to the time in 1939 when
he was a graduate student in English and Comparative Literature
at Columbia. He was enrolled in Professor Joseph Wood Krutch's
course, "English Drama from Dryden to Sheridan," the first
course ever taught by Professor Krutch at Columbia. Jack was re¬
quired to read the text of a certain Restoration drama. If he told
me the name of the play, I have since forgotten it. Finding no copy
available in the Columbia Library (we assume it was charged out
to a fellow student), Jack visited a mid-town book shop and asked
to purchase a reading copy of the particular play. None was in
stock, but the book dealer walked to a case at the back of the shop
  v.23,no.2(1974:Feb): Page 3