Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Institute For Thomas Paine Studies established at Iona College
The Thomas Paine Review wishes well to this new educational enterprise at the Ryan Library of Iona College (see link above). The remaining collection from the old Paine House (Museum) will finally receive the care, conservation and archival treatment that it has so long needed and an end made to the sell-off of its holdings.
For background, past commentary and reportage, see:
Many questions remain. The article cites the collection as the only place where one can examine
Paine artifacts AND printed materials together ... however the provenance of the artifacts remains, insofar as we know, publicly undocumented. And again insofar as we can tell no catalog or index of the entire collection has yet been published -- though the library lists 200 searchable items. Missing in all the hyperbole and self-assessments of the college publicist and quotations by "officers" of what's left of the TPNHA is a level-headed comparison with the (Richard Gimbel) Thomas Paine Collection at the library of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. The Gimbel Collection -- far larger (the catalog lists at least 5334 items) and more comprehensive by far -- has been there for years. So what exactly are the grandiloquent claims in the publicity based on? Certainly not on the printed collection -- not even close. So if the artifacts and curio are going to be the big draw, then they'd better be of solid provenance.
The educational mission of the library looks more promising and we wish them well in all events when it comes to making Paine's name and works more widely known.