Folger, Henry Clay

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Henry Clay Folger (fōl´jər), 1857–1930, American industrialist and collector of Shakespeareana. His connection with Standard Oil companies, beginning in 1879, continued until his retirement 49 years later as chairman of the board of the New York company. He was an enthusiastic student of Shakespeare during his college days and became a discerning collector. His wife, Emily Jordan Folger (d. 1936), was his associate in this work. Their collection, quietly acquired, became one of the largest and most valuable of its sort in the world. The Folger Shakespeare Library, on Capitol Hill east of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 1932. Its major collections contain more than 250,000 volumes, primarily materials related to the West's early modern age (1450 to mid-1700s); 16th- and 17th-century works of literature, drama, and history of the English Renaissance; and materials of all periods related to Shakespeare. It also houses thousands of manuscripts, playbills, works of art, photographs, and other materials. It is administered by the trustees of Amherst College, Folger's alma mater.