The American Enlightenment: Treasures from the Stanford University Libraries

About the Exhibition

The Enlightenment, the age of intellectual inquiry and discovery that stretched from roughly 1680 to 1820, drew fundamentally from the European colonization of the Americas. This exhibition, curated by Caroline Winterer, Professor of American History at Stanford University, tells the story of how New World discoveries and ideas contributed to the Enlightenment and illustrates the transatlantic debates over issues of government, science, religion, and individual rights that shaped it. On display are close to 40 rare books that were owned, written, dissected, or annotated by notable mid-eighteenth-century British Americans, and books about peculiarly North American topics. Highlights include the only known book to have been signed both by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (a copy of John Milton’s Paradise Lost); one of the most magnificent color books about New World animals and plants, Mark Catesby’s The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands; and an anthology of British play extracts owned by Boston slave and poet Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753–1784), the first African-American poet to be published.


Exhibition Reception:

February 17, 2011 – 4-6pm, Munger Rotunda, Green Library


Exhibition Details

The American Enlightenment: Treasures from the Stanford University Libraries will be on display from February 7 through May 15, 2011. Exhibit cases are illuminated Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. The gallery is accessible whenever Green Library is open and hours vary with the academic schedule. For Library hours, call 650-723-0931.

NOTE: first-time visitors must register at the south entrance portal to Green Library’s East Wing to gain access to the exhibition in the Bing (west) Wing. 

Ongoing every day from February 7, 2011 through May 15, 2011. 10:00 AM.
Approximate duration of 8 hour(s).
Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda on the second floor of the Bing Wing of Green Library, Stanford University. (Map)
General Public
Stanford University Libraries, Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts

Free and open to the public