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In January, 1887, the Trustees of Cornell University received from the Hon. Andrew Dickson White, LL.D., L.H.D., late its President and Professor of History, the following letter :
CORNELL UNIVERSITY, Jan. 19, 1887. GENTLEMEN OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES,—Some thirty-five years ago, while I was still a student at college, I formed the purpose of collecting a historical library. From that time to this, at home and abroad, I have steadily kept this purpose in view, selecting the best works I could find, not only in history proper, but in the subsidiary fields of Literature, Political and Social Science, International Law, and Art (including especially Architecture). I have particularly sought those throwing light upon the great events, periods, and tendencies of human thought and action, upon the development of modern civilization, upon the building up of modern states, upon the men who have bettered the condition of mankind.
As a result, I have accumulated a library of about thirty thousand volumes, besides some ten thousand valuable pamphlets, and not a few manuscripts. In almost all its departments, I may say without undue partiality, there are very many works rare and valuable; in several the collection would doubtless be considered remarkable; and in one or two it is certainly unequalled in the United States. The bringing together of this library has been to me a labor of love. It consists to an unusual extent of primary sources and original materials for historical study; and my thought has been not solely of myself, but of the American scholars of the future. It has always been my intention to place it some day as a whole where it could be used to the best advantage by historical students. The cost of the collection, with its catalogues, has been, in money, as nearly as I can now estimate, rather more than a hundred thousand dollars. Its present value, consisting as it does in great part of works scarce, long sought, and yearly appreciating in price, it would be hard to reckon in dollars and cents; but something of its practical worth I have had occasion to know by its use during my professorships at the University of Michigan and at Cornell University; and I hope that it may yet serve others even more fully than it has served
A part of this library – that bearing upon Architecture - I gave to Cornell University upon the establishment of its Architectural Department; and the occasion of the establishment of a Law School and the reorganization of the Department of History and Political Science by the Trustees of the University, seems an appropriate time for me to make a fitting disposal of the remainder.
There are three places in our country, in either of which it would gratisy my feeling of local and personal attachment to bestow it as a gift. "Foremost among these is Cornell University; and in case there can be provided for the collection, at some day not far distant, a suitable fire-proof room in any building which shall be erected for your general library, and proper provision made for its maintenance and usefulness, it will give me pleasure to place it permanently in your custody.
In case you shall view this proposal with favor, I shall be happy to meet any committee you may appoint to arrange the conditions on which the gist may be made and accepted.
I remain, gentlemen, Very respectfully yours,
ANDREW D. WHITE. The following resolutions were thereupon unanimously adopted :
Resolved, That the Trustees of Cornell University accept with gratitude the munificent offer of ExPresident White to present his valuable library to the University, and tender him their hearty thanks, in which they feel that the Faculty and the alumni of the University, as well as all friends of higher education, most cordially unite.
Resolved, That a committee of five, embracing the President of the University and the Chairman of the Board, be appointed to arrange with Dr. White the details and conditions on which his proposed munificent gift of his historical and political library shall be accepted by Cornell University.
The conditions agreed to by the Committee for the acceptance of the gift are embodied in the follow ing letter :
CORNELL UNIVERSITY, ITHACA, New York, July 5, 1887.
posal of Andrew D. White regarding the transfer of his library to Cornell University :
GENTLEMEN,–In accordance with the understanding arrived at during our recent meeting, I hereby respectfully present my posal embodying the terms upon which I prefer that my library be accepted by the University (and by the words “my library,” wherever used in this document, I mean all books, pamphlets, and newspapers belonging to me, whether in Ithaca or in Syracuse or already deposited in the University Library) :