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Overview  |  The Collection and the Penn Libraries

One of the great pleasures of directing the Penn Libraries is having the opportunity to work with great collections and, occasionally, with their extraordinary collectors. Professor Lorraine Beitler is one of such collectors and her archive of documents related to the Dreyfus Affair is one of those collections.

How the Lorraine Beitler Collection of the Dreyfus Affair came to Penn is one of those fortuitous events that began with the Penn Libraries mounting an exhibition using materials from Professor Beitler’s collection in 2001. This exhibition of primary source material related to the Dreyfus Affair created real excitement and had an obvious relevance to contemporary issues. Those who worked with Professor Beitler on the exhibit marveled at her knowledge and passion for the issues of the period and its relevance to today’s concerns.

Professor Beitler was looking for a permanent home for her collection. Through the good offices of Dr. Marjorie Dugan, a longtime friend of Dr. Beitler and Penn, the collection was donated to the Penn Libraries in 2002. Since then, Professor Lorraine Beitler, as the collection’s Curator, is working in tandem with the Advisory Dreyfus Committee chaired by Professor Lance Donaldson-Evans and with the Penn Libraries to continue her noteworthy outreach program, for which she has generously provided funding.

I’m so pleased that the Lorraine Beitler Collection of the Dreyfus Affair is part of our Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Like so many of our special collections there are countless lessons for us to learn if we let the material speak to us. The prejudice and intolerance that led to the Dreyfus Affair are, unhappily, still very much with us. By tirelessly building this collection and then generously sharing it with the world, Professor Lorraine Beitler reminds us all that we have a responsibility to recognize and fight injustices no matter where or when they occur.

H. Carton Rogers
Vice-Provost and Director of Libraries