Florida Partnership to House Collection of Early American Works

The University of Miami has announced a gift of rare source materials related to the history of early America from the Jay I. Kislak Foundation.

With an estimated value of $20 million, the collection is part of a bigger donation to UM and Miami Dade College of some of the foundation’s internationally significant collection of important original source materials related to the history of the early Americas. Once processed, the collection will be housed by the Special Collections Division of UM’s Otto G. Richter Library in Coral Gables and at Miami Dade's Freedom Tower, where the college will create a permanent 2,600-square-foot public exhibition gallery to exhibit the works.

Important items in the collection include first editions of the 1493 letter in which Christopher Columbus described his New World discoveries to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain; an 1486 edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia, considered one of the most influential works in the history of cartography; a 1521 volume written by Italian historian Peter Martyr d'Anghiera, who recorded the first accounts of Spanish explorations in the Caribbean and Central and South America; a 1589 volume, The Principal Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation, by English writer Richard Hakluyt, who is known for promoting the British colonization of North America; and a two-volume account of the 1804-06 Lewis and Clark Expedition commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson.

Philanthropist Jay Kislak has been a lifelong collector of rare books and historic artifacts focused on Florida and the Caribbean, exploration, navigation, and the early Americas. In 2004, he and his foundation donated more than three thousand rare books, maps, manuscripts, and objects to the Library of Congress, whose Kislak Collection now forms the basis of a major exhibition and extensive scholarly and public programs in Washington, D.C.

"We are grateful to Jay Kislak for his extraordinary vision and lifelong devotion to creating a scholarly and culturally significant collection that showcases the rich history of Florida and the Caribbean," said UM president Julio Frenk. "Our special collections will be home to these unique and exceptionally important materials from the Kislak Collection, and working with our partners at Miami Dade College, the University of Miami will have an unparalleled opportunity to engage our community in the history and culture of our hemisphere."

"Internationally Significant Collection Donated to UM, MDC." University of Miami Press Release 01/25/2017.