The Manuscript Society is an international organization of persons and institutions devoted to the collection, preservation, use and enjoyment of autographs and manuscripts.

The Manuscript Society

Manuscripts…… the word sounds a bit old fashioned, coming from the late 16th century: from the medieval Latin manuscriptus, from manu ‘by hand’ + scriptus ‘written’.  A manuscript can be a book, a legal document, a piece of hand-written music, a typed or printed letter, a text, or even a drawing. The meaning of “manuscripts” evolved when the printing press was invented and today we include typed letters and documents as manuscripts. If one is lucky there is a signature too.

Medieval manuscripts, often illustrated, were entirely made by hand, the drawings and the words. Those documents we love to read and handle cover most of written history: the Dead Sea Scrolls, writings of Aristotle, the notes and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, letters from Napoleon to Josephine, letters from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, correspondence between Manet and Monet, soldiers’ letters home to loved ones, and love letters from dad to mom. Thoughts, ideas, moments shared and written on paper, parchment, or vellum, are there for us to read.

Who are Society Members

It is love for the written words that drives so many of our members, looking for the next piece to add to a collection.  Members are collectors, some are dealers, some archivists; all are passionate students of the history revealed in manuscripts, and interested in sharing their knowledge.   In 2015 The Society’s Constitution was updated.  The purposes of The Manuscript Society are as valid now as when first written in 1948: to encourage the association of interested individuals and institutions, to promote the mutual interest in manuscripts, to encourage the use of manuscripts for research and publication, to facilitate the exchange of information and knowledge about manuscripts, to foster the preservation of manuscript material of all kinds, and to foster ethical conduct in the commerce of manuscripts.

Around the Site

As you click through the site you will find pages dedicated to our ongoing projects: Scholarship, Replevin, Hall of Distinction and of course our Annual Meeting. The Collectors Corner has been expanded and is a free, public resource from The Manuscript Society for collectors (of all types).  This section of the website includes resources, tips, and information in the world of manuscripts. We will grow this section as members share their knowledge with others.  Joining or renewing your membership is easy as can be and you can easily support the society through many of our programs: Scholarship Fund, Annual Fund and Angel Fund.

A very special addition to the website is our Members Only section. Here you will be able to access past issues of The Manuscript Society News, and Manuscripts. The Directory of Members is  here as well as Forums for communicating with each other and sharing upcoming events.

So, if you have a general interest in handwriting, or collecting rare and historical manuscripts, old autographs, holographs, letters, signed photographs, documents, diaries, personal papers, or inscribed books, then we invite you to please take a moment to click around the site and see all that is available to you as a member of the society and a collector of autographs and manuscripts.

Latest Digest


Digest – September 2019

Manuscript Digest –September 2019– This complimentary e-digest, launched in 2012, covers significant acquisitions and sales, manuscripts lost and found, rare books and ephemera, document conservation, and more.


Recent Posts


Supreme Court Autographs, Letters, and Portraits

John Jay, John Marshall, Roger Taney, Salmon P. Chase, Oliver Wendell Holmes and William Howard Taft.  All members of the United States Supreme Court. But you knew that. They are only a few of the justices highlighted in a new on-line exhibit. Featured are some of the notable portraits and documents available in the United […]


Thomas Jefferson Letter Returns Home

One of  Thomas Jefferson’s 1826 letters announcing the appointment of the University of Virginia’s first professor of law returns to the UVA’s Arthur J. Morris Law Library. The letter is now on display.  John Tayloe Lomax was a Virginia native practicing law in Fredericksburg. He was chosen by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as much […]


Free Webinar: Autographs: Phonies, Fakes & Forgeries

The Manuscript Society now offers free webinars!  Our first one will be on September 10, 2019 at 8PM EST.  Join Society Trustee, Brian Kathenes, for an absolutely free live-stream webinar: “Autographs – Phonies, Fake, and Forgeries.” Brian will a share some of the most famous and intriguing phonies, fakes, and forgeries in the autograph collecting world.  […]


Taylor Sims – 2019 Maass Grant Winner

Taylor A. Sims is named the 2019 Richard Maass Research Grant recipient to support her work on “Everyday Women and the English Reformation: Gender and Religion in the Diocese of Salisbury, 1450–1600.” This year’s $5,000 grant supports her research in varied manuscripts. Sims, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, will use the grant […]

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2020 Maass Research Grant Announced

The Richard Maass Research grant is once again offered by the Manuscript Society in 2020. The grant amount of $5,000.00 supports research expenses directly related to the use of original manuscripts. Expenses include travel to manuscript repositories, photocopies, and user fees as well as other direct costs. Applications are due February 14, 2020, and decisions […]


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