Blair Hall on the campus of Princeton University
Blair Hall on the campus of Princeton University on Aug. 5, 2012 John Greim—Getty Images

Princeton Receives $300M Rare Book Collection, University's Largest Gift Ever

Feb 16, 2015

Princeton University declared Monday that it received a donation of books and manuscripts worth approximately $300 million, amounting to the most generous gift in its history.

Class of 1936 alumnus William Scheide died last year at age 100, bequeathing a 2,500-volume rare book and manuscript collection to the Ivy League university. The haul includes historic treasures like the six earliest prints of the Bible and the original printing of the Declaration of Independence. He also gifted the 1746-founded seat of learning with Beethoven's music sketchbook, signed by the composer himself.

It is "one of the greatest collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world today," said Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber in a statement. "I cannot imagine a more marvelous collection to serve as the heart of our library."

The collection will be fully digitized to increase its accessibility to the public, which can view it upon request. It will remain in Princeton's Firestone Library.

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