Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust Awards RIT’s Cary Collection $1 Million Endowment

Funds will support outreach programs to promote the collection




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The Cary Graphic Arts Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology has received a $1 million endowment from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. The endowment will fund the development of outreach programs and the management of the collection’s growing digital assets.

The Cary Collection was originally established at RIT in 1969 as a small library based on Melbert B. Cary Jr.’s personal collection of books on printing history and the graphic arts. The present-day collection includes some 40,000 volumes as well as manuscript material and historic printing artifacts. Holdings on bookbinding, papermaking, type design, calligraphy, book illustration and typographic exemplars are also part of the collection.

“Throughout its history at RIT, the Cary Collection, as well as related programs in RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, have been generously supported by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust,” says David Pankow, curator of the Cary Collection. “This significant endowment for the Collection will enable us to promote it to wide audiences through an ambitious outreach program that will include an expanded Web site, greater digital access to holdings and new exhibitions. I’m very proud that this book collection has evolved into a nationally recognized graphic arts resource that can offer a perspective to students and scholars who are trying to understand the history of graphic communications technologies.”

In 1982, The New York Times Museum of Recorded Word was donated to the collection. The Cary Collection also acquired the Bernard C. Middleton Collection of Books, the most complete collection of its kind in the world, thanks to the generosity of the Frank M. Barnard Foundation. Recent gifts to the collection include the Jonathan and Patricia England Collection of American Fine Printing, and a substantial archive documenting the work of type and book designer Hermann Zapf.

The original collection of 2,300 volumes was assembled by New York City businessman Melbert B. Cary Jr. during the 1920s and 1930s. The Cary Collection was presented to RIT by the Cary Trust as a memorial to Cary, together with funds to support the use of the collection.

“We are so grateful for the support of the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust now totaling more than $4.4 million over the years, but especially so for this amazingly generous final gift of $1 million to endow the Cary Collection,” says Bill Destler, RIT president. “It is a reflection not only of the Cary spirit of giving, but also of the deep friendship between our two organizations. With this gift, the legacy of both Mary Flagler Cary and Melbert B. Cary will continue to flourish at RIT for generations to come.”