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

Welcome to the Manuscript Society website.

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.

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.

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 will be here as well as Forums for communicating with each other and sharing upcoming events.

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 – July 2018

Manuscript Digest –July 2018– 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


Carnegie Library Theft Update: Court Documents Opened

Hundreds of pages of documents were unsealed in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, Thursday, June 28th, highlighting the magnitude of the theft of documents and books from the Carnegie Library. Documents released state, Gregory Priore, former archivist of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and John Schulman, co-owner of Caliban Book Shop are under investigation […]


2018 Richard Maass Research Grant Winner Announced

The Scholarship Committee of The Manuscript Society is pleased to name Kyle Bond, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religion at Princeton University, as the 2018 recipient of the Richard Maass Research Grant.  Mr. Bond will use the $5,000 award for research in Japan in order to complete his dissertation, entitled “Illuminated in Dreams: […]


Members Spotlight – Rick Schnake, founder of History In Ink.

In this piece spotlighting long time members of the Society, society Vice President, Allen Ottens interviews Rick Schnake, founder of History In Ink. Rick is a Springfield, Missouri, attorney, student of history, and current president of the Professional Autograph Dealers Association. He shared his perspectives on collecting and dealing in inked history. In what areas […]


Rare Items Stolen from Carnegie Library

Rare and valuable atlases, maps, and large plate books that show the colorful breadth of Western civilization have been stolen from the rare books room of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland. The theft of 314 items includes a first edition of Isaac Newton’s “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” from London, dated 1687. Also missing […]


Presidential Autographs: An Unintended Collection

Have you ever wondered how someone gets interested in collecting? Does it begin when you are young – collecting signed baseballs,  pictures of favorite singers or love letters you found in your attic? Maybe your passion for reading about American History draws you to collecting pieces of that history.  Retired history professor, Francis J. Murray […]

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