A Generous Donation Made to Greenley Library

Authored by SC

Correspondence between Michael Knuth and Charles E. Feinberg.

Letter dated 25 March 1987 written by Michael Knauth, Head Librarian of Farmingdale State College, to Charles E. Feinberg, a book and manuscript collector who specialized in the works of Walt Whitman.

 

On March 25, 1987, Michael Knauth, the head librarian of Thomas D. Greenley Library at Farmingdale State College wrote a letter to Charles E. Feinberg regarding a donation made by Mr. Feinberg unto the college.1 Charles E. Feinberg was a collector of all materials related to the the great American poet, Walt Whitman. His donation consisted of “a collection of 1860 engravings, including a corrected edition of a Trouble reproduction.”2

In describing Charles E. Feinberg, it has been stated that, “Feinberg belongs among the famous collectors whose books enrich others. He is largely unknown outside collecting circles and little known even among collectors. He lacked a need for recognition, letting his collections—not the collector—harvest accolades.”3 The accuracy of this description can be deduced through Feinberg’s generous donation to Greenley Library, which like most of his collections, focused on the life of the great American poet, Walt Whitman. Feinberg traces his particular fondness for Whitman back to his elementary days, when his teacher introduced the class to American poetry. He stated, “It’s hard to remember why you are stopped by a word or a line or a page, but that was the beginning of my interest in Walt Whitman.”4

Feinberg’s passion for collecting works of Whitman would eventually catch the notice of others within the collecting community, as he inevitably amassed the largest Whitman collection in the world.5 Feinberg is often given credit and is adored within the collecting and scholarly communities for being generous with his collections as opposed to greedily keeping them for himself. Feinberg himself was quite obsessed with the nature of Whitman’s life and biography, but never considered himself a scholar of Whitman, and insisted to keep the “deep thinking” and philosophizing of Whitman’s works to scholars themselves.6 Rather, Feinberg addressed himself as nothing more than a successful business man who happened to collect materials based on a great American poet. In depicting the extent of his collection, Feinberg stated that he “tried to acquire all available letters, postcards, checks, bills and documents, primarily to reconstruct Whitman’s daily life and creative activity.”7

In the correspondence to Mr. Feinberg, Mr. Knauth expressed a great deal of gratitude, stating, “I am certain that many students will benefit from using this material.”8 This transaction in itself illustrates the core values of the Vincentian mission, which advocates that “Higher education is about more than getting a job; it’s about learning how to make a difference in the world.”9 The generous donation of Mr. Feinberg to the college allowed for the transfer of education and knowledge, and it is the transferring of relevant, necessary and helpful knowledge which helps to make differences in the world.

 

Footnotes

  1. Feinberg, C., Halls, E., & Knauth, M. (1987, March 20-25). [Correspondence]. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, New York.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Roy Meador, “Remembering Charles E. Feinberg,” Book Source Magazine, last modified May, 2010, http://www.booksourcemagazine.com/story.php?sid=93.
  4. Charles E. Feinberg, “Charles Feinberg on Whitman,” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 6, no. 1 (1988): 55-56. doi: 10.13008/2153-3695.1204.
  5. Ed Folsom, “Charles E. Feinberg: A Tribute,” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 6, no. 1 (1988): 39-46. doi: 10.13008/2153-3695.1202.
  6. Ibid.
  7. “Feinberg-Whitman Collection,” The Library of Congress,accessed March 14, 2017, https://www.loc.gov/rr/mss/coll/079.html.
  8. Ibid.
  9. “Our Mission,” John’s University, accessed March 14, 2017, http://www.stjohns.edu/faith-service/our-mission.

 

References

Feinberg, C., Halls, E., & Knauth, M. (1987, March 20-25). [Correspondence]. Farmingdale State College Archives, Farmingdale State College, Farmingdale, New York.

Feinberg, Charles E. “Charles Feinberg on Whitman.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 6, no. 1 (1988): 55-56. doi: 10.13008/2153-3695.1204.

“Feinberg-Whitman Collection.” The Library of Congress. Accessed March 14, 2017. https://www.loc.gov/rr/mss/coll/079.html.

Folsom, Ed. “Charles E. Feinberg: A Tribute.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 6, no. 1 (1988): 39-46. doi: 10.13008/2153-3695.1202.

Meador, Roy. “Remembering Charles E. Feinberg.” Book Source Magazine. Last modified May, 2010. http://www.booksourcemagazine.com/story.php?sid=93.

“Our Mission.” St. John’s University. Accessed March 14, 2017. http://www.stjohns.edu/faith-service/our-mission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *