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Carl H. Pforzheimer:

An Inventory of His Collection of English Manuscripts at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Pforzheimer, Carl H. (Carl Howard), 1879-1957
Title: Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of English Manuscripts
Dates: 1485-1844 (bulk 1530-1722), undated
Extent: 16 document boxes, 10 oversize boxes (21.25 linear feet), 1 oversize folder (osf)
Abstract: Chiefly manuscript newsletters addressed to Sir Richard Bulstrode and letters, documents, and manuscripts of writings by various English historical figures, all gathered together by the twentieth-century American book collector Carl H. Pforzheimer. Prominent figures represented include Oliver Cromwell, John Donne, Elizabeth I, John Evelyn, John Locke, Samuel Pepys, Sir Walter Raleigh, and others.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-3244
Language: Predominantly English, but also includes Dutch, French, Greek, Italian, Latin, and Spanish
Access: Open for research. The Pforzheimer manuscripts have also been individually cataloged and all manuscripts are being digitized. The descriptions, digital images, and transcriptions (when available), are being added to the Harry Ransom Center Digital Collections as digitization is completed.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 1986; Gift, 1989 (G8294)
Processed by: Elon Lang, Lydia Fletcher, and Joan Sibley, 2013; we gratefully acknowledge the assistance of James A. Winn, Melissa Schoenberger, and Newton Key in connection with the Bulstrode newsletters.

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Biographical Sketch

Carl Howard Pforzheimer was born in New York, the son of Isaac and Mina Heyman Pforzheimer, on January 29, 1879. He was a collector of books since his teens, when he began his career as a runner on Wall Street. By the age of 23, he had his own firm on the New York Stock Exchange that specialized in trading oil companies, and as his wealth grew, he began collecting rare printed editions and manuscripts. By his early forties, he had established himself as one of the preeminent private book collectors of the twentieth century, competing at auctions with Henry C. Folger, Henry E. Huntington, John Pierpont Morgan, George D. Smith, and his long-time friend and mentor, Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach of Philadelphia.
While Percy Shelley and the nineteenth-century Romantics were Pforzheimer's special interest, his primary objective was "to secure the important books of English literature and, when available, rarities and unique copies." Pforzheimer certainly achieved his aim: he gathered together a library that included rare early editions of Tudor and Elizabethan literature and essays (including works of Francis Bacon, William Shakespeare, John Skelton, and Edmund Spenser); incunabula including a Gutenberg Bible and seven books by the first English printer, William Caxton; rare editions of eighteenth and nineteenth century works by Robert Burns, Lewis Carroll, Daniel Defoe, and Walt Whitman; and the most complete known gathering of manuscripts, letters, and first editions of writers in the Shelley circle, including formerly unpublished letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. In 1940, Pforzheimer published a three-volume catalog of his library's holdings titled The Carl H. Pforzheimer Library: English Literature, 1475-1700.
Pforzheimer died on April 4, 1957, predeceased by his wife, the former Lily Oppenheimer, and survived by two children, son Carl H., Jr. and daughter Mrs. Jane P. Long. Control over his library was transferred to The Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation, Inc., which donated the Shelley collection to the New York Public Library in 1986. In that year, most of the Pforzheimer Library's "non-Shelley" books (including the Gutenberg Bible) and manuscripts were acquired at auction by the Harry Ransom Center.


Pforzheimer, Carl H. Introduction to Emma Unger and William A. Jackson, The Carl H. Pforzheimer Library: English Literature 1475-1700. New York: Privately printed, 1940.
Pforzheimer, Carl H., Jr. Foreword to Kenneth Neil Cameron, The Carl H. Pforzheimer Library: Shelley and His Circle. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961.
Rosenberg, Ruth. "Carl H. Pforzheimer." Dictionary of Literary Biography Online. (accessed 17 July 2013).

Scope and Contents

The Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of English Manuscripts comprises 1,952 items dating from 1485-1844 (bulk 1530-1722). The collection is dominated by manuscript newsletters addressed to Sir Richard Bulstrode (1469), plus letters (370), documents (57), manuscripts of writings (52), and other items (4) chiefly created by English notables including Oliver Cromwell, John Donne, Elizabeth I, John Evelyn, John Locke, Samuel Pepys, and Sir Walter Raleigh, or by other English or European monarchs, nobles, and aristocrats. While most manuscripts in this collection are indeed written in English, there are a number of items written wholly or partially in French (288), and a few pieces in Dutch (3), Greek (1), Italian (3), Latin (7), or Spanish (6). The collection is arranged in three series: I. English Manuscripts, 1485-1844; II. Bulstrode Manuscripts, 1641-1837; and III. Original Manuscript Descriptions and Housings.
The first series is smaller than the second, but contains more diverse holdings created over a longer span of time. Several conceptual groupings are represented, such as correspondence by or pertaining to Sir Walter Raleigh; documents signed by participants in the regicide of King Charles I of England; and letters by English thinkers from the Enlightenment period of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Highlights include letters by Oliver Cromwell, John Locke, and Samuel Pepys, as well as several letters of English monarchs, including Henry VII and James I, and a group of letters and documents signed by Elizabeth I pertaining to her failed marriage suit with François, Duke of Anjou. Literary connections include letters by playwright William Congreve; poet John Donne; designs and letters by John Evelyn the diarist, essayist, and gardener; and a rare copy of Edmund Spenser's Shepheardes Calendar translated into Latin. Many manuscripts are bound into unique extra-illustrated volumes assembled in the mid-nineteenth century that also contain rare artistic prints and portraiture, many of which are vividly colored.
The larger second series is comprised of manuscripts from the Bulstrodes, an aristocratic English family that was prominent in Middlesex in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Most of the manuscripts in this series are associated with Sir Richard Bulstrode (1610-1711), a diplomat stationed in Brussels, who received the 1,469 handwritten newsletters in this collection from offices in London while he was stationed abroad, 1667-1689. These newsletters provided Bulstrode with information from England that could not be printed in public newspapers. In return, Bulstrode, along with other newsletter subscribers, mailed personal accounts of news and politics from their regions along with copies of local newspapers back to London. Together with a supplemental set of letters between Bulstrode, Joseph Williamson (the owner of the principal newsletter office), and clerks from the Secretary of State's office (who also worked in Williamson's office), the Pforzheimer Collection preserves one of the world's largest records of early correspondence journalism. In addition to the Bulstrode newsletters, this series also contains several manuscripts by Richard Bulstrode's second son, Whitelocke Bulstrode (1650-1724), a government administrator and religious essayist, as well as manuscripts and documents associated with other members of the Bulstrode family.
The final series retains items that were associated with individual Pforzheimer manuscripts before they arrived at the Ransom Center, including original paper envelopes and folders used to house the documents when held by the Carl H. Pforzheimer Library or the Alfred Morrison Collection, as well as accompanying descriptions or notes.

Series Descriptions

Related Material

Additional items related to the following individuals are held by the Ransom Center in other collections, including:
  • Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma – see Popular Imagery Collection; Ranuzzi Family Collection
  • Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection, Popular Imagery Collection, Prints Collection, Ranuzzi Family Collection
  • Charles IX, King of France – see Carlton Lake Collection; Prints Collection
  • Cromwell, Oliver – see Hector Bolitho Collection; Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection; Prints Collection; Donald Wolfit Collection
  • Digby, Kenelm – see Prints Collection
  • Dillon, John – see Charles Dickens Collection
  • Disraeli, Isaac – see Isaac Disraeli Collection; MS X6 (Autographs Collection); Prints Collection
  • Elizabeth I, Queen of England – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection; Prints Collection
  • Essex, Robert Devereux, Earl of – see Prints Collection
  • Godolphin, Sidney Godolphin, Earl of – see George Atherton Aitken Collection; Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex Collection
  • Haddock, Richard – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
  • Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
  • Henry II, King of France – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection, Popular Imagery Collection; Prints Collection
  • Henry IV, King of France – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection; Popular Imagery Collection
  • Henry VII, King of England – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
  • James I, King of England – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
  • Jenkins, Leoline – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
  • John, of Austria (also Juan de Austria) – see Ranuzzi Family Collection
  • King, William – see George Atherton Aitken Collection
  • Kneller, Godfrey – see Prints Collection
  • Locke, John – see John Locke Collection
  • Maurice, Prince of Orange – see Popular Imagery Collection
  • Monmouth, James, Duke of – see Prints Collection
  • Newton, Isaac – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection; Prints Collection
  • Pepys, Samuel – see Samuel Pepys Collection; Prints Collection
  • Philip II, King of Spain – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
  • Raleigh, Walter, Sir – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
  • Suffolk, Thomas Howard, Earl of – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
  • Sloane, Hans, Sir – see Prints Collection
  • Strafford, Thomas Wentworth, Earl of – see George Atherton Aitken Collection; Popular Imagery Collection
  • Temple, William, Sir – see Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection
  • Tytler, Patrick Fraser – see Patrick Fraser Tytler Collection
  • Vanbrugh, John, Sir – see George Atherton Aitken Collection; B. J. Simmons & Co. Records
Outside of the Ransom Center, the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle is owned by the New York Public Library and holds some 25,000 books, manuscripts, letters, and other objects, chiefly from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
For researchers interested in Sir Richard Bulstrode, a substantial collection of his letters to Secretary of State Henry Coventry, written from Brussels, 1674-1686, is held at Longleat House, Wiltshire, U.K., in the Coventry Papers, Vols. 29-32. These are published in microfilm by Microform Academic Publishers, Wakefield, U.K. The Yale University Beinecke Library also holds six letters from Sir Joseph Williamson to Bulstrode, 1674-1679, in the Osborne Manuscripts, Files 16204-16209, and other works associated with Bulstrode in the Osborne Manuscripts, Files 2162-2166.
Additional collections of seventeenth-century newsletters similar to the Pforzheimer Bulstrode newsletters are available at several other repositories. The following is a list of notable external collections, some of which have been microfilmed or published in print editions:
  • Kew, Richmond, Surrey, U.K. The National Archives: Greenwich Hospital Newsletters, containing newsletters sent to Lord Derwentwater 1673-1696; see the Calendar of State Papers Domestic, Records of the Admiralty ADM 77 & 78.
  • London, U.K. British Library: Sloane MS 3929, Henry Muddiman newsletters from 1678, 1687-1688/1689;
  • London, U.K. British Library: Additional MS 61610, newsletters from John Dyer 1707, 1710;
  • London, U.K. British Library: Additional MSS 70420-70421, newsletters from John Dyer to Edward Harley 1709-1710;
  • London, U.K. British Library: Additional MSS 72595-72597, newsletters from London sent to William Trumbull while he was stationed in Paris and Constantinople, 1683-1711.
  • Los Angeles, CA. University of California, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library: MS.1951.021 / Pole Family News Collection, containing 266 manuscript newsletters from London sent to members of the Pole family of Radbourne, Derbyshire, 1681-1710; former shelfmark fC6976M2 1692-1710 Boxed.
  • Manchester, U.K. University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library: GB 133 GB 133 Eng MS 114 / Newsletters to Sir William Temple, William Blathwayte, and others, from Joseph Williamson, Henry Muddiman and others, containing 204 newsletters, 1667-1679, in four volumes;
  • Manchester, U.K. University of Manchester, John Rylands University Library: Legh Family of Lyme Muniments, at least 22 newsletters, 1679-1715, interspersed among personal correspondence, according to Lady Newton's Lyme Letters 1660-1760, London: William Heinemann, 1925, p. 105ff.
  • New Haven, CT. Yale University Library: Newsletters Addressed to Madam Pole, 1691-1695;
  • New Haven, CT. Yale University Library: Biscoe Newsletters, 1696-1706;
  • New Haven, CT. Yale University Library: Newsletter 1672 April 22-27.
  • Oxford, U.K. All Souls College: Papers of Narcissus Luttrell, 1678-1714.
  • Oxford, U.K. Bodleian Library: MS Carte 72 / Carte Papers, newsletters addressed to the 1st Duke of Ormond, 1660-1685, giving Proceedings of the English Parliament, and news of the Netherlands, France and Germany, 1660-1685.
  • San Marino, CA. Huntington Library: HM 66704-66716, newsletters addressed to members of the Parker Family of Browsholme, Yorkshire, 1635-1693;
  • San Marino, CA. Huntington Library: HM 30314-30315, newsletters addressed to Sir Leoline Jenkins, 1676-1680; see also the entry "Benson, Francis," in the Guide to British Historical Manuscripts in the Huntington Library, p. 286;
  • San Marino, CA. Huntington Library: Acquisition Lot 2959, Sotheby's sale of 26 June 1974: 200 newsletters, reports, and other papers sent to Sir Leoline Jenkins and to his secretary Dr. Owen Wynne, 1676-1680.
  • Washington, D.C. Folger Shakespeare Library: Folger L.C. 1-3950 / Newdigate Newsletters Collection, containing 3,950 newsletters addressed primarily to Sir Richard Newdigate, Esq., Arbury, Warwickshire, 1674-1715.
  • Washington, D.C. Library of Congress: LCCN mm 80-97733 / London Newsletter Collection, containing 3,000 newsletters addressed primarily to Sir William Scott, 5th Laird Harden, 1665-1685.
  • Wiltshire, U.K. Longleat House: MSS 68, 77-79, 79A, 80-85, 85A, 86-88 / The Muddiman Newsletters, containing thousands of consecutive newsletters dated on alternate days by Henry Muddiman, 29 April 1667-12 October 1689; see also the Appendix to the Third Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, p.184.

Separated Material

The Ransom Center Library holds the complementary Pforzheimer Library of Early English Literature, which contains over 1,100 volumes of plays, poems, novels, essays, polemical writings, and translations from the most influential and representative English writers of the period 1475 to 1700. These books are cataloged online in The University of Texas Library Catalog. All major writers (for example Bacon, Congreve, Donne, Marlowe, Marvell, Milton, Shakespeare, and Spenser) are available in first and important editions. The Milton holdings are enhanced by a copy of Comus with the author's manuscript annotations (call number PFORZ 714 PFZ). The Shakespeare plays and poems include several quarto editions of plays and all four of the folio editions of his works; the Marlowe books include great rarities.

Index Terms


Bulstrode, Richard, Sir, 1610-1711
Bulstrode, Whitelocke, 1650-1724
Coleman, Edward, -1678
Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 1533-1603
Evelyn, John, 1620-1706
Locke, John, 1632-1704
Pepys, Samuel, 1633-1703
Raleigh, Walter, Sir, 1552?-1618
Williamson, Joseph, Sir, 1633-1701


Anne, Queen of Great Britain, 1665-1714
Anti-Catholicism--Great Britain
Armada, 1588
Bulstrode family
Dutch War, 1672-1678
East India Company
England and Wales. Parliament--History--17th century
Enlightenment--Great Britain
Exclusion Crisis, Great Britain, 1678-1683
Great Britain--Colonies--Commerce--History--17th century
Great Britain--Court and courtiers--History--17th century
Great Britain--Foreign relations--1660-1714
Great Britain--History--Charles II, 1660-1685
Great Britain--History--James II, 1685-1688
Great Britain--History--William and Mary, 1689-1702
Great Britain--Politics and government--1558-1603
Great Britain--Politics and government--1660-1688
Journalism--Great Britain--History--17th century
Manuscripts--Collectors and collecting
Middlesex (England)--History
Monmouth's Rebellion, 1685
Popish Plot, 1678
Quakers--History--17th century
Regicides--Great Britain--History--17th century
Royal Society (Great Britain)
Rye House Plot, 1683
Virginia--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775
William III, King of England, 1650-1702

Document Types

Extra-illustrated copies

Container List