Day 23: Folger Shakespeare Library

Today is going to be a bit of a fangirl post, so feel free to click away if Shakespeare, old books, and Elizabethan England aren’t your thing.


Thanks to Melda’s connections from the IIIF conference in June, the entire DMT department got to visit the Folger Shakespeare Library for a private tour and a demonstration with old folios and early edition Shakespeare plays. Tucked away behind the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, I wouldn’t have known the library was there.  Likewise, I was surprised by the building itself: the exterior looks like a lot of the official buildings on Capitol Hill with its greco-deco architectural style. The inside, however, was like being transported to Tudor/Elizabethan England- dark wood, white plaster, tiled floors, and spacious halls. I really felt like I was back in Stirling Castle, so of course I was freaking out.

Next, we walked into the Folger Theater, the first Elizabethan stage in the US. Again, another fangirl moment. I’ve been to London before, but never to the Globe or another famous Elizabethan theater. I felt like I’d walked into the Globe. Realistically, it’s a lot different than the Globe- there are typical red theater seats, modern lighting, and of course, the stage is its own design, not a copy of the Globe’s.


We briefly passed the reading room (a glorious site) before heading into the rare books room. Abbie Weinberg had 6 books and manuscripts out on the table and proceeded to show us and describe each one. Some of my favorites included a bootleg copy of Romeo and Juliet, a letter from Elizabeth I to James VI of Scotland in her own handwriting, a book from 1495 from a monastery in its original binding, and the world’s first Atlas.


After the tour, Eric Johnson brought us around the corner to an administration building for lunch and presentation on what the Folger and Freer|Sackler are doing to digitize their collections. I’d never been to the Folger before, but I’m definitely coming back to explore further and see a Shakespeare play in the theater! By far, the coolest part of my internship so far!



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