Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Shakespeare Library, which created and hosts this website on Shakespeare in American life, is itself part of that story.
Founded in 1932, the library houses the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials. Researchers studying Shakespeare and America often note the significance of the library’s location in the heart of the nation’s capital—a site that was carefully selected by its founders, oil executive Henry Folger and his wife Emily Folger.
Henry and Emily Folger spent decades building a vast, varied collection of rare books, manuscripts, and works of art related to Shakespeare or his times. The core of the collection includes 79 First Folios of Shakespeare and many of the early single-play editions known as quartos, some of which are even rarer.
Major additions to the collection after 1932 helped to make the library a world-class research center for both Shakespeare and the early modern period (about 1500 to 1750).
The library is a major source of ideas and training for teaching Shakespeare. It also produces many programs for the public that include plays, exhibits, concerts, poetry readings, and family programs. It is the publisher of the Folger Shakespeare Library editions of Shakespeare’s works.
This section on the Folgers and their library includes audio and text materials related to the theme of "Shakespeare in American life"; to explore these materials, select from the list at left. More information on the library and its history is available in the Folger Story section of the Folger website.