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The Collection

The Folger Shakespeare Library has the world's largest collection of materials relating to Shakespeare and his works, from the 16th century to the present day, as well as a world-renowned collection of books, manuscripts, and prints from Renaissance Europe. We actively acquire new materials that build on the strengths of our collection. In our state-of-the-art conservation lab, Folger conservators prepare collection material for exhibition and for hands-on study by researchers.

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Find out about current exhibitions

Stay up to date on our scholarly resources and collection highlights

Collection Holdings

The Folger collection is vast and varied. The vault houses about 260,000 printed books; 60,000 manuscripts; 90,000 prints, drawings, photographs, paintings, and other works of art; and a wealth of performance history, from a quarter of a million playbills to films, recordings, and stage costumes.

Learn more about the materials in our collection.

History of the Collection

Henry Clay Folger and his wife, Emily Jordan Folger, began amassing the collection of rare books that would become the Folger Shakespeare Library in 1889. They spent decades gathering the world's largest Shakespeare collection, as well as associated works from Shakespeare's time. The Library itself opened in 1932, and continues to expand its holdings today.

Learn more about the history of the Folger Shakespeare Library and its collection

Images and Permissions

The Folger's Department of Photography and Digital Imaging provides researchers and the public access to the Library's world-class collection of rare books, manuscripts, and art through high-quality digital images. You can explore and enjoy the Library’s treasures through our online digital image collection, and download images up to 1536 pixels tall for free. Learn more about permissions for using images and how to order new or higher resolution images.

Conservation Lab

The work done in the Werner Gundersheimer Conservation Laboratory stabilizes the Folger's collections for use by today's researchers and for generations to come. The Folger Conservation Lab has also been helping to train book and paper conservators for over 30 years.

Online Resources

 
Our online catalog of vault, open stacks, and electronic materials
 
Images of our early printed books, manuscripts, and art
 
A collaboratively edited encyclopedia of all things Folger
 
A blog featuring scholarship from the Folger