George Washington library loans

Scottish additions to world-leading book collection

FM helps George Washington Library take step nearer to completion

First Minister Alex Salmond has presented two volumes held by the National Library of Scotland to help complete a recreation of first US president George Washington's original book collection in the Fred W Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

Presenting the books on loan to Curtis Viebranz, president of George Washington's Mount Vernon, during a visit to the estate on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia, the First Minister said:

'As a man who was driven to improve on his poor education as a child, Washington's love of reading was voracious and topics covered everything from animal husbandry to Greek history. Prominent however was his interest in all things Scottish and he held many volumes which reflected this, including works by Burns.

'It is therefore only fitting that we should help realise the dream to house all of his papers on his magnificent estate at Mount Vernon. I am honoured to be able to present these two volumes from the National Library of Scotland on loan to the library to help realise this wish.'

Scotland's National Librarian Martyn Wade said:

'Our US collections are the largest foreign collections we hold, demonstrating the strong links that have always existed between our two countries and which continue today. It is a great privilege to be able to support this new Library in this way and we wish it every success.'

Mr Viebranz, said: 'George Washington had a multitude of long-lasting Scottish influences throughout his life. It is an honour and privilege for his estate to again work with the Scottish people, through the generosity of the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Government, to help recreate Washington's library.'

The two volumes are Washington's own signed copy of his 'Official Letters to the Honorable American Congress', written during the war between the United Colonies and Great Britain and printed in 1795. Two copies of the book were put on a ship to the President, with one bearing 'manuscript remarks' from his editor John Carey. It came to the National Library of Scotland in 1938 when it was donated by the family of wealthy jute manufacturer Hugh Sharp.

The Fred W Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington on the estate at Mount Vernon — home to Washington and his wife Martha and children for over 40 years — is the only presidential library built and maintained without government funding. Work began on it in 2011 and it is expected to open on September 27 this year.

For the first time, Mount Vernon's vast collection of books, manuscripts and archival materials organised, conserved and made available to researchers in a building reflecting the highest level of security, climate control and architectural design. Mount Vernon broke ground on the Fred W Smith National Library on 14 April 2011.

The National Library of Scotland's special collections include rare books, manuscripts, maps, historic photographs, and the association's archive. Highlights of the special collections include 6,000 historical manuscripts, including approximately 500 original George Washington letters, ledgers, account books, and maps — including one of the Forth and Clyde Canal which hung in the study in Mount Vernon — and 2,500 rare books, including approximately 80 books owned by George Washington or Washington family members and approximately 400 duplicate editions of books in George Washington’s library.


See also our related news story

9 April 2013

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