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The Shapiro Center for American History and Culture

The Shapiro Center was created to advance scholarship, knowledge, and understanding of American history and culture—especially of the early Republic and of the nation's founders and leaders.

It also promotes use of The Huntington's premier library collections in this field, which are unique west of the Mississippi.

Established in 2019, thanks to the vision and generosity of L. Dennis and Susan R. Shapiro, the Shapiro Center engages both scholarly and general audiences. Its Los Angeles home offers a special opportunity to explore West Coast and global perspectives on the American project and the genesis and evolution of national institutions.

The Huntington is one of the largest repositories of American historical materials in the nation. Extraordinary American presidential and founders' papers sit within a broad humanities context that includes expansive and diverse holdings in American history, literature, and high and popular culture. Rich library and archival materials are complemented by The Huntington Art Museum's outstanding American art collections.

Declaration of Independence, New-York: Printed by John Holt, in Water-Street, 1776, with the manuscript minutes of John McKesson, secretary of New York's Provincial Congress, July 9-30, 1776. RB 81684

Declaration of Independence, New-York : Printed by John Holt, in Water-Street, 1776, with the manuscript minutes of John McKesson, secretary of New York's Provincial Congress, on front and back, July 9-30, 1776. RB 81684

Powell Press Service, Women representing Canada and Mexico shaking hands at the Roosevelt Highway Dedication, Sycamore Canyon, Malibu, June 29, 1929. Ernest Marquez Collection. photCL 555 06 1348

Powell Press Service, Women representing Canada and Mexico shaking hands at the Roosevelt Highway Dedication, Sycamore Canyon, Malibu, June 29, 1929. Ernest Marquez Collection. photCL 555 06 1348

George Washington, letter to John Langdon, April 22, 1788. The Shapiro Collection.

George Washington, letter to John Langdon, expressing dismay over the conduct of New Hampshire regarding the ratification of the Constitution, April 22, 1788. The Shapiro Collection.

George Catlin, Omaha Group. Ky-ho-ca-wa-shu-shee, Mee-sow-on, Shaw-da-mon-nee, oil on board, 1870-1872. George Catlin Papers and Illustrations. mssHM 35183

George Catlin, Omaha Group: Ky-ho-ca-wa-shu-shee, Mee-sow-on, Shaw-da-mon-nee, oil on board, 1870-1872. George Catlin Papers and Illustrations. mssHM 35183

Abraham Lincoln, "Death Warrant" pass issued to Lincoln’s self-appointed bodyguard Ward H. Lamon, allowing him to travel while the President would be assassinated at Ford’s Theatre, April 11, 1865. Ward Hill Lamon Papers. mssLN 2371

Abraham Lincoln, "Death Warrant" pass issued to Lincoln's self-appointed bodyguard Ward H. Lamon, allowing him to travel while the President would be assassinated at Ford's Theatre, April 11, 1865. Ward Hill Lamon Papers. mssLN 2371

Henry David Thoreau, Walden or Life in the Woods, Draft G, Feb. and March 1854. mssHM 924

Henry David Thoreau, Walden or Life in the Woods, Draft G, Feb. and March 1854. mssHM 924

James Montresor, Plan of Narrows, approximately 1757, Kashnor Collection of Early American Maps. mss HM 15452

James Montresor, Plan of the Narrows, approximately 1757. Kashnor Collection of Early American Maps. mss HM 15452

Group portrait of the petit jury impaneled for the Jefferson Davis treason trial, 1867. photOV11470

Group portrait of the petit jury impaneled for the Jefferson Davis treason trial, 1867. photOV 11470

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, autograph manuscript, p. 71, 1771-1789. mssHM 9999

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, autograph manuscript, p. 71, 1771-1789. mssHM 9999

Flags of the nations which participate in the Centennial exhibition of the United States in 1876, printed textile, 1876. The Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History. priJLC FAIR 001760

Flags of the nations which participate in the Centennial exhibition of the United States in 1876, printed textile, 1876. The Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History. priJLC FAIR 001760

John Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams, April 8, 1777. The Shapiro Collection.

John Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams, in which the father advises his nine-year-old son that when men of "great Talents" depart "from the Paths of Honour, Truth and Virtue," they always bring about "Miseries, Dangers and Distresses," April 8, 1777. The Shapiro Collection.

Ronald Reagan with Y. C. Hong et al., Los Angeles, 1966. Hong Family Papers. mssHong family photos box 4 folder 21 (5)

Ronald Reagan with Y. C. Hong et al., Los Angeles, 1966. Hong Family Papers. mssHong family photos box 4 folder 21 (5)

usan B. Anthony account book, April 17, 1858-July 27, 1860.

Susan B. Anthony account book, April 17, 1858-July 27, 1860. MssHM 83108

Thomas Jefferson, Estimate of bricks required for household offices at Monticello, with floor plans…, Aug. 2, 1771. Thomas Jefferson Collection. HM 9365

Thomas Jefferson, Estimate of bricks required for household offices at Monticello, with floor plans..., Aug. 2, 1771. Thomas Jefferson Collection. HM 9365

The Huntington and Shapiro Collections

Along with financial support to endow the Center, the Shapiros are donating their personal collection of some 340 rare documents focused primarily on American presidential administrations from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. The Shapiro Collection will complement The Huntington's hundreds of archival collections and over one million single manuscripts, rare books, prints, photographs, and ephemera that document the history of what is now the United States, as well as the Atlantic and Central regions of Canada, from the colonial era onward.

Shapiro Book Prize

The Shapiro Book Prize is awarded biennially for an outstanding first scholarly monograph in American political, social, intellectual, or cultural history. Winners receive a $10,000 cash award and are recognized in a ceremony at The Huntington. The inaugural prize was conferred in January 2021.

Shapiro Center Programs

The Shapiro Center sponsors a variety of programs that bring together scholars, cultural observers, creatives, and the interested public to explore critical issues in American history and culture—especially those that can be explored in the light of documentary evidence.

Shapiro Center Fellowships

To foster scholarship, the Shapiro Center offers short-term research fellowships each year, with preference for proposals that incorporate use of the American Collections and/or the Shapiro Collections. These fellowships will be administered by the Research Division. For more information see fellowships.

Thoreau’s Walden: Four Contemporary Writers on Its Enduring Relevance

Authors Kristen Case, Gerald Early, Pico Iyer, and Megan Marshall join Karla Nielsen, Curator of Literary Collections at The Huntington, in conversation about Now Comes Good Sailing, a volume of essays edited by Andrew Blauner exploring the ongoing resonance of Thoreau’s groundbreaking work of observation and reflection during his time on Walden Pond.