Founded in 1983 by real estate developer and mathematician David Karpeles, his original Karpeles Manuscript Library in Santa Barbara has since expanded to twelve branches scattered across the country. Mr. Karpeles began to acquire and display original documents as a way to inspire learning, especially among America’s young people. Located in an unassuming building along Anapamu Avenue, it houses numerous original manuscripts and documents from the areas of literature, science, religion, history, art and music.
branches in Buffalo, NY; Alvin, TX; Tacoma, WA; and Jacksonville, FL; among
others, these libraries comprise the “world’s largest private holding of
important original manuscripts and documents.”
In total, the libraries currently hold over one million documents and
Mr. Karpeles continues to grow the collection.
These documents rotate among the twelve branches on a quarterly basis in
order to ensure that local residents have access to Karpeles’ diverse collection
and each branch highlights a daily general exhibit.
holdings are a transcript of Handel’s Messiah
annotated by Beethoven, an 1183 decree from Pope Lucius III to Europe's knights as they
embarked on the third Crusade to the Holy Land, an original draft of the Bill
of Rights, and an original draft of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Barbara branch has recently displayed exhibits that have centered on Mark
Twain, very early baseball, and the progress of communication which included a
cuneiform tablet from 2400 BCE, documents from Alexander Graham Bell and NASA
computers from the 1969 moon landing. At
this hidden gem, as at all the branches, admission is free and open to the
public during normal operating hours.