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 – March 2020 – History Sold

Manuscript Digest – March 2020 – 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


By the People – Library of Congress

By the People “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address. Do you have […]


Declaration of Independence: Webinar: On Line

Sometimes it is okay to be late. While March 25th is past, our webinar, Declaration of Independence, is now available on line in the Members Only section of the website. Did you know so many versions and facsimiles of the Declaration of Independence exist? Dunlap, Stone, Tyler, and Binns are only a few.  Which ones […]


2020 Williamsburg Annual Meeting Cancelled

2020 Williamsburg, VA Cancelled. The Manuscript Society’s 2020 annual meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia is cancelled. The COVID19 pandemic impacts every part of the country. Communities, cities and states are requiring everyone to stay at home.  Flight availability shrinks. Our international members cannot attend. Virtually all of our venues are and will be closed to protect […]


Great Libraries of Rome tour – Cancelled

Manuscript Society’s tour:  Great Libraries of Rome is cancelled. The Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, recognized the need to act. The World Health Organization’s designation of COVID 19 as a pandemic along with the open-ended state of emergency by President Trump called for action.  The CDC has very specific recommendations to take care of yourself, […]


2020 Annual Meeting & COVID-19

2020 Manuscript Society Annual Meeting and COVID-19 The local organizers and the Executive Committee of the Manuscript Society are monitoring the spread of Covid-19 for any potential impacts to our annual meeting, May 12-16, 2020. At this time, we are following the advice of the CDC. While our group would not necessarily fit the CDC’s […]


Monthly Digest

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