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Darlington Digital Library

What's online?

The online collection consists of atlases, books, broadsides, visual images, manuscripts, map plates, and artwork, including John James Audubon's Birds of America.

What’s in the entire collection?

The Darlington Digital Library was created from the first major collection of books, manuscripts, atlases, and maps donated to the University of Pittsburgh. Most of the credit for assembling the Darlington Collection rightly goes to William M. Darlington, an attorney by profession who was born in Pittsburgh in 1815.

By the 1840s, Mr. Darlington had developed a keen interest in colonial American history, especially as it related to Western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Valley. He initially acquired books on those subjects, but later he would expand his interests to topics associated with the exploration of the Trans-Mississippi, the Far West, and even world history. He also expanded his acquisitions to include atlases and maps, broadsides, manuscripts, lithographs, and works of art, including John James Audubon's Birds of America. Since this complete double elephant folio set and the accompanying five-volume Ornithological Biography are considered by the University Library System to be so important, a dedicated Audubon Web site provides access to these rare sets.

After Mr. Darlington died in 1889, his wife Mary, who shared her husband’s enthusiasm for American history, continued to acquire materials. Their children, O’Hara, Mary, and Edith, also added to what became a family collection. O’Hara, for example, collected English first editions from the Victorian era. Of particular note are fine copies of books authored by Dickens and Thackeray. Attending to the family estate was left to Mary and Edith. In 1918 they made their initial donation to the University, which was followed in 1925 by the bulk of the estate.

An excellent overview of the collection was published in 1938 by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Written by Agnes Starrett, The Darlington Memorial Library is available online within our Historic Pittsburgh website. In addition, Personal Memories of the Darlington Family at Guyasuta, by Anne Hemphill Herbert, also published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, in 1949, is available online, too. It is very useful for insight about the Darlington family and their life at Guyasuta, their home.

About the Darlington Memorial Library

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