By Janee Law
The Walt Whitman Birthplace Association will be increasing its collection of Walt Whitman books, after Jeffrey S. Gould Foundation, established by WWBA Trustee Jeffrey Gould, donated $10,000 to enable the WWBA to complete the acquisition of the Feinstein Collection of 250 Whitman-related books.
Cynthia Shor, executive director at the Birthplace, said she was approached by Miriam Feinstein, of Northport, regarding the 250-collection that her late husband, Marvin, gathered throughout the years.
Shor said the Feinstein family wanted to keep Marvin’s Whitman collection, which includes first-editions of “Leaves of Grass” and “November Boughs,” intact and initially approached the association with the donation of 40 books and with the offer to donate half the value of the remaining collection of 250 books, appraised at around $20,000.
The association first appropriated funds to purchase ten books, but upon reviewing the items in the collection, members decided to try and raise funds to purchase the entire 250-book collection.
With Gould’s generous $10,000 donation, his wish was to make the Feinstein collection known as The Norman and Jeanette Gould Library, in honor of his parents.
Shor said she’s thankful for the Feinstein family’s awareness of the historical significance of the collection, along with their ability to keep the collection intact.
“I’m also very grateful to Jeffrey Gould, who has been a strong supporter of everything that we do with the birthplace,” she said. “When he offered my breath was taken away. It’s such a generous offer. He likes to make sure that the association has the best it can have, and with his donation it certainly allows us to obtain this collection in its entirety and have it for our own collection.”
Shor added that the acquisition increases the Birthplace’s book collection by 18 percent to total 1,800 volumes.
The collection will be housed and preserved at the Birthplace (246 Old Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station). The public is invited to join the Gould and Feinstein families at the celebratory launch of The Norman and Jeanette Gould Library on April 26 from 1-3 p.m.
The collection will be available to the public for scholarly research, historic documentation, and general appreciation of Whitman’s individual and collective writings.
Shor said both the Feinstein and Gould families will be at the launch to share their thoughts on the significance of the collection.
“We hope to have the public be able to see the books and to be aware of our library collection that is open to scholars and the public by appointment,” she said. “We’re grateful to the Town of Huntington and to Suffolk County for their long-term commitment and support, which enables us to operate the birthplace for the Long Island community.”