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Walter L. Pforzheimer collection of historical manuscripts

 Collection
Call Number: GEN MSS 838

Scope and Contents

The Walter L. Pforzheimer Collection of Historical Manuscripts contains approximately 500 manuscript documents, circa 1370s-1870s, consisting of letters, legal documents, and other manuscripts written or signed by European heads of state, government, diplomatic, military or church officials, or literary authors. Most materials are French, including documents signed by French royalty and nobility, 14th-18th centuries. Many French manuscripts date from the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, including printed Revolutionary government documents completed in manuscript. A small amount of similar documents from other European countries and the United States are present. Some documents contain evidence of previous ownership, such as annotations, collectors' bindings, or bookplates. Also present are materials relating to Pforzheimer's research and collecting, 1920s-circa 1960s, consisting of card files, biographical notes, engraved portraits, and vendor descriptions.

Research strengths include European government, politics, and wars, 14th-19th centuries, especially France, the French Revolution, and Napoleonic Wars; manuscript collecting; and the formation of Pforzheimer’s book and manuscript collections.

Dates

  • circa 1370-1960s
  • Majority of material found within 1500 - 1830

Creator

Language of Materials

Chiefly in French; some materials in Latin, German, Italian, English, or other languages.

Conditions Governing Access

Restricted pending full processing. Access to specific items may be requested. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Walter L. Pforzheimer Collection of Historical Manuscripts is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Walter L. Pforzheimer, 1959-2003.

Arrangement

Organized into three groupings: November 2000 Acquisition, July 2005 Acquisitions, and Other Acquisitions.

Associated Materials

Walter L. Pforzheimer Papers (GEN MSS 817)

Walter L. Pforzheimer collection of Frank Richard Stockton (YCAL MSS 560)

Extent

4.26 Linear Feet (11 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.pforzheimerhist

Overview

The Walter L. Pforzheimer Collection of Historical Manuscripts contains approximately 500 manuscript documents, circa 1370s-1870s, consisting of letters, legal documents, and other manuscripts written or signed by European heads of state, government, diplomatic, military or church officials, or literary authors. Most materials are French, including documents signed by French royalty and nobility, 14th-18th centuries. Many French manuscripts date from the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, including printed Revolutionary government documents completed in manuscript. A small amount of similar documents from other European countries and the United States are present. Some documents contain evidence of previous ownership, such as annotations, collectors' bindings, or bookplates. Also present are materials relating to Pforzheimer's research and collecting, 1920s-circa 1960s, consisting of card files, biographical notes, engraved portraits, and vendor descriptions.

Walter L. Pforzheimer (1914-2003)

Walter L. Pforzheimer, lawyer, intelligence officer, and book collector. Pforzheimer was born in Port Chester, New York, in 1914, and graduated from Yale College (1935) and Yale Law School (1938). Pforzheimer began his intelligence career in the United States Army, 1942-1945, in the Office of Strategic Services and as an Army Air Force intelligence officer. He was one of the founders of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1946, and as a CIA legislative counsel and liaison to Congress assisted in drafting the 1947 National Security Act. In 1956, he founded the CIA's Historical Intelligence Collection, which he curated until his retirement in 1974. In retirement, he continued to work for the CIA and taught at the Defense Intelligence College. Pforzheimer died in Washington, D.C., in 2003.

Pforzheimer came from a family of book collectors: his father, also named Walter Pforzheimer (1883-1955), collected French armorial bindings and assembled a virtually complete collection of Molière; his uncle Carl H. Pforzheimer (1879-1957) collected Percy Bysshe Shelley and his circle. Pforzheimer inherited and augmented his father's collections, and assembled his own collection of American novelist Frank Richard Stockton. In addition to curating the CIA's Historical Intelligence Collection, Pforzheimer built a personal collection of books and manuscripts documenting the history of military intelligence. Elected to the Yale Library Associates board of trustees in 1936, Pforzheimer was a life-long trustee and donor to the Yale Libraries. He donated his book and manuscript collections of Molière, French armorial bindings, Frank Richard Stockton, and military intelligence to the Beinecke Library in 2001.

Sources:

Peake, Hayden B. "Walter Pforzheimer -- Lawyer, Intelligence Officer, Bibliophile." In: In the Name of Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Walter Pforzheimer (Washington: NIBC Press, c1994).

"Walter L. Pforzheimer, CIA's First Curator, Dies at 88." Washington Post (2003 February 12).

Processing Information

This collection consists of materials formerly classed as Uncat Mss 928; Uncat Mss 724; Uncat Ms Vault File Browne; Uncat Ms Vault File Dickens; Uncat Ms Vault File France, Sovereigns, Charles IX; Uncat Ms Vault File Saint Mars; Uncat Ms Vault File Wolfe; and Uncat Ms Vault File Yale University.

Materials formerly classed as Uncat Mss 928, Walter Pforzheimer Collection of French Historical Documents, were originally part of the Walter L. Pforzheimer Papers accessioned as Uncat Mss 991 in 2000. These mostly French historical manuscripts, with some German, English, and other languages, were removed from the Papers in 2003 and during preliminary processing of the Papers in 2007-2008. Separation of historical manuscripts from the Pforzheimer Papers was not comprehensive: many additional historical manuscripts remain in the Papers, and some Pforzheimer personal papers were moved to the Collection of French Historical Documents.

In 2007, the Collection of French Historical Documents received a preliminary level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization. Most folder titles were based on information provided by the donor, while some were provisionally assigned by Library staff. Folder titles were not verified against contents. In 2012 March, the collection title was changed to Walter L. Pforzheimer Collection of Historical Manuscripts and other historical manuscripts donated to the Library by Pforzheimer in 1995 and 1959-2003 were added. The collection was reclassed under one call number, materials were organized by acquisition, and boxes were renumbered in a single sequence. Most folder titles assigned during preliminary processing were updated to conform with Library of Congress name authorities. Folder titles were not verified against contents

This finding aid may be updated to account for further revisions in arrangement and description.
Title
Guide to the Walter L. Pforzheimer Collection of Historical Manuscripts
Author
by Beinecke staff
Date
April 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977

Location

121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.