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Exhibition celebrates American Revolution and Lapidus collection

Thursday, May 28, 2009, through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010 Main Gallery, Firestone Library

"Liberty and the American Revolution," an exhibition celebrating 50 years of book collecting by Sidney Lapidus, a 1959 Princeton graduate, will open Thursday, May 28, in the main gallery of Firestone Library. The exhibition also marks the 50th reunion of Lapidus' class.

The exhibition features 157 important books, pamphlets and prints representing the major themes of Lapidus' collecting: the intellectual origins of the American Revolution; the Revolution itself; the early years of the republic; the resulting spread of democratic ideas in the Atlantic world; and the effort to abolish the slave trade in both Great Britain and the United States.

The books, pamphlets and prints -- presented as gifts to the library on the occasion of the exhibition -- were selected from more than 2,500 books in the Lapidus collection because each offers a distinctive voice in telling the story of expanding liberty. The books range in date from the 17th century to the beginning of the 19th century. Their authors vary widely: young and old; male and female; black and white; learned and self-taught. Yet, through them all, readers can hear these voices returning to themes that resonate today, such as the characteristics of a just society and respect for the equality of fellow human beings.

A 200-page illustrated catalog will provide a permanent record of the exhibition. An introductory essay by Sean Wilentz, Princeton's Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the American Revolutionary Era, places the books in the context of their revolutionary times, and the entry for each book provides a descriptive note, plus a representative quotation.

"Liberty and the American Revolution" will be on view through Sunday, Jan. 3. Gallery hours are available online or by calling (609) 258-3184.

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