Historical Contribution

A major collection of early historical documents including books, original documents and papers has been donated to FAU’s S.E. Wimberly Library on the Boca campus.

The collection, donated by Boca Raton residents Marvin and Sybil Weiner, includes 13,000 books, manuscripts and pamphlets all printed in America before 1865. Weiner, 88, a retired businessman, began collecting the documents in the early 1940s.

The collection was considered the largest of its kind in private hands and according to the FAU May 30 press release, it is ranked by David Szewczyk, of the Philadelphia Rare Books and Manuscripts Company, as one of the top 10 of such collections in the United States.

Some items include a 1777 printing of the Articles of Confederation, the first newspaper printing of the Declaration of Independence in the Pennsylvania Evening Post dated July 6, 1776, an early printing of “The Federalist,” and a copy of Thomas Paine’s 1776 book “The American Crisis,” which begins “These are the times that try men’s souls.” There are even several original letters from Boston citizens stating their disapproval of British parliament’s Tea Act.

“The documents that comprise the collection remind us of the struggle our forefathers endured for the sake of independence,” said FAU President Frank T. Brogan in FAU June 1 press release. “The many people who will use this resource will come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of human rights and the privilege of self-rule.”

According to university officials, the collection is worth an estimated $3.8 million dollars and will help to nationally establish FAU Libraries as an important center for the study of American history.

“With these materials, we are now one of the major places in the country for the study of the American Colonial period through history,” said Director of Libraries, Dr. William Miller. “This collection should have quite an impact on the FAU community and anyone who likes history.”

The Weiner collection will be called the “Spirit of America Collection” and pieces of the collection will be on display at the S.E. Wimberly Library on the Boca campus. As for the rest of the collection, FAU is going to build a special suite to house these precious documents on the third floor of the Wimberly Library. The suite will provide a secure space for the entire collection, as well as exhibition, work and research areas.

Dr. Miller hopes to have the full collection will be on display within at the S.E. Wimberly Library on the Boca campus within a year.