Announcing the Kenneth W. Rendell Annual Endowed Lecture at Rare Book School

Rare Book School is pleased to announce that Kenneth W. Rendell and Shirley McNerney have generously endowed an annual lecture and publication series on the importance of original manuscripts and rare books to human understanding. The Kenneth W. Rendell Endowed Lecture at Rare Book School will focus on the connection that rare book and manuscript collecting provides with people and events of the past, our shared human history, and the intellectual thrill and emotional pleasures of collecting. This lecture series will spotlight the roles of collectors, librarians, and dealers, not only in preserving human history but also in providing insight and perspectives into the present and future.

Beginning this year, the lecture will take place annually in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the University of Virginia in conjunction with the School’s summer courses. The inaugural speaker will be selected by a committee chaired by RBS Executive Director Michael Suarez.

Ken Rendell is the proprietor of Kenneth W. Rendell II, Inc. Established in 1959, Ken’s firm specializes in historical letters, documents, and manuscripts. Famous for exposing such forgeries as the Hitler Diaries, Mormon Forgeries, and Jack the Ripper’s forged diary, Ken has published and been interviewed extensively on these and many other topics related to collection development, forgeries, World War II, Western Americana, and manuscripts. Ken is also the founder of The International Museum of World War II in Boston. As a philanthropist, Ken has a long history with Rare Book School. He was a founding supporter and served on the Board of Rare Book School at Columbia University and continued his support after its move to the University of Virginia. Last year also marked Ken and Shirley’s major gift of the Collection on the Detection of Forged Handwriting to the Grolier Club, along with the endowment of an annual lecture at the Club: the Rendell Lecture on the importance of original manuscripts in understanding the thoughts, intentions, and personalities of historical persons.

“It is an honor to hold in your hands, and to read, the original manuscripts and rare books that have influenced, and indeed created, our history and culture,” remarked Ken Rendell. “The personal thrill and excitement are often overshadowed by the intellectual experience of these insights into human history. My personal collections, which begin with an extensive collection of the ancient world, books, and manuscripts concerning creativity, music, philosophy, the causes and consequences of World War II, and a very extensive and important collection of Western Americana are a great source of inspiration, stimulation, and excitement for me. My reason for founding this lecture series is to highlight collectors who share my excitement in collecting. Collecting original manuscripts and rare books is not just intellectually stimulating, it is very exciting!”