About the Shapell Manuscript Foundation

What We Do

The Shapell Manuscript Foundation is an independent educational organization dedicated to collecting and exhibiting original manuscripts and historical documents.

The Foundation’s focus encompasses unique themes in American history and the Holy Land, with emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. Its extensive holdings include manuscripts and items from American presidents, most notably a large collection of Abraham Lincoln manuscripts; Mark Twain; Jewish soldiers in the Civil War; Albert Einstein; Theodor Herzl and early Zionism; as well as diverse subjects including Custer and the Little Big Horn. The manuscripts bring out aspects of the human side of history, including moments of dramatic irony and the fragility of the human condition.

A passion over 40 years in the making, Benjamin Shapell began collecting signed presidential manuscripts in the 1970s. This carefully curated collection has grown to include thousands of letters and documents relating to historic figures and world events, spanning as far back as the late 1700s and all the way to the end of the 20th century. With a devotion to educating the public and showcasing primary source materials, the Foundation digitizes and publishes original manuscripts, as well as producing groundbreaking research, books, articles, exhibitions, documentary films and videos, available online at our website.

The Foundation has partnered with both private and governmental institutions, such as the New-York Historical Society, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the U.S. National Archives, the Morgan Library and Museum, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, the Oregon Historical Society, the National Library of Israel, and various presidential and private libraries.

Behind the scenes

Jewish Confederate Soldiers: Georgia | The Shapell Roster

Presented by Shapell Manuscript Foundation
April 22, 2020

Why Do We Collect Manuscripts?

Presented by Shapell Manuscript Foundation
January 31, 2019

About the Foundation

Presented by Shapell Manuscript Foundation
May 24, 2018

The Shapell Roster: Jewish Soldiers in the American Civil War

Presented by Shapell Manuscript Foundation
August 16, 2018

The Shapell Roster Trailer

Presented by Shapell Manuscript Foundation
March 10, 2013
More behind the scenes
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Benjamin Shapell - Founder and President of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation; and Team

Who We Are

Benjamin Shapell

Founder and President

Adrienne Usher

Director of Shapell Roster Research

Michal Gorlin Becker

Administrative Director

Dr. Naomi Weiss

Research Associate

Jamie Levavi

Director of Digital Projects

Sara Willen

Chief Curator

Ariane Weisel Margalit

Director of Special Projects

Thea Wieseltier

Director of Public Affairs