Welcome the Davies Project at Princeton University

Research into the History of Libraries in the United States, especially those at Universities and the History of their Collections


The Davies Project is an on-going project at Princeton aimed at increasing knowledge of the history of the collections in university libraries in general and their rare book collections in particular. As a result, its work aims to contribute to the scholarly interest the history of the book, the history and sociology of knowledge, and the history of libraries.

Current aspects of the Project’s work include the following:

·The gathering and presentation of data. One outcome in this area is the database “American Libraries before 1876” now available on the web at daviesproject.princeton.edu.databases/

· The encouragement of new scholarship in the area of interest. Toward that end the Project was the major sponsor of the April 2002 conference in Philadelphia on the history of libraries in the United States. One outcome of that conference is the University of Massachusetts Press publication to appear in 2007 entitled Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States, edited by Thomas Augst and Kenneth Carpenter. In addition, the project has also commissioned papers by such scholars as Edward Tenner, an historian of technology, who is also an affiliate of Princeton's Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies

·The Project is also aiming to make libraries better understood by trustees, administrators, and other decision-makers of their host institutions, in addition to the wider scholarly world.

Why is it called the “Davies Project”? The Project stems from the collaboration begun in the spring of 2000 by Harold T. Shapiro, President Emeritus of Princeton University with colleagues on the Princeton campus. In the search for the name for the Project, it was remembered that the first published catalogue for the Princeton library was prepared by the President at that time (1764), the Reverend Dr. Samuel Davies. Nearly two hundred and fifty years later, it seemed appropriate to show continuing presidential interest in the University’s library by recalling the name of Davies.

Harold T. Shapiro
Vivian B. Shapiro
Project Associate: Stephen Ferguson

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Last update 20 August 2004