Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rare Books Hidden in Saratoga During WWII

Today's Saratogian contains quite an interesting little piece of Saratoga history: for several years during WWII, a selection of rare books and other items from the New York Public Library were stored in secure vaults under the Hall of Springs, to keep them safe from a possible German attack on New York.

"In the dark of night and under police escort in May 1942, 27,000 rare books, prints and manuscripts were moved from the library in Manhattan" to Saratoga, where they were housed comfortably until October, 1944. Among the items "was the original, handwritten manuscript of George Washington's Farewell Address, a 15th century Gutenberg Bible and an assortment of documents from signers of the Declaration of Independence. There were the private [papers?] of the Gansevoort Family, a rare multi-volume Audubon collection and a letter from Christopher Columbus that was dated 1493, announcing the discovery of the New World. In all, the collection was valued in 1942 at $20 million."

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