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 – January 2019

Manuscript Digest –January 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


James H. Billington dies at 86

James H. Billington, an eminent American scholar of Russian culture who led the Library of Congress for three decades as librarian of Congress, died Nov. 20 at a hospital in Washington. He was 89. An advisor to President Reagan, a skilled fund-raiser for the library, and force unto himself, Billington propelling the expansion of the world’s […]


Member Spotlight – J.B. Muns Fine Arts Books

This Member Spotlight shines on J. B. Muns, proprietor of J. B. Muns Fine Arts Books in Berkeley, California. J. B. specializes in musical autographs and manuscripts. She shared the story of how she started out, how the field has changed, and what’s coming next with Manuscript Society President Al Ottens. Please tell us a […]


My First Autographs – I Was Nine Years Old

Rocky and Bullwinkle, Smurfette, Crusader Rabbit, and Scooby-Doo are cartoon favorites of millions of children.  Not every child however, has the chance to meet the voices!  Society member Kevin Segall shares his story of his first autographs. My First Autographs By Kevin Segall I was nine years old in 1983 when I went with my […]


David Lowenherz: encounters with Lee Israel and “Can You Ever Forgive Me”

The recent events at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlight the challenges of any public or private institution that houses manuscripts. The desire to allow patrons to see, touch, and read manuscripts, letters, books, maps and other parts of the collection is at the core of a library’s mission. Yet, there are always those […]


2019 Richard Mass Research Grant Applications Now Being Accepted

Applications are due February 14, 2019, and decisions will be announced shortly after March 17. The $5,000 grant supports research expenses directly related to use of original manuscripts such as travel to manuscript repositories, photocopies, and user fees. Applicants must be graduate students—doctoral candidates are given preference—at an institution that belongs to the Manuscript Society. […]


Upcoming Events

  1. 2019 Annual Meeting – Boston

    April 24 @ 8:00 AM - April 27 @ 5:00 PM
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