Collecting the Past and Ensuring the Future

THE RICHARD AND MARY ROUSE COLLECTION of manuscripts is known the world over as among the finest teaching collections for the history and culture of Western Europe during the medieval and Renaissance periods. Thanks to Mary’s and Richard’s generosity, the Rouse Collection has a home at UCLA Library Special Collections, where UCLA students as well as scholars from around the world have access to the famed teaching collection.

“When Richard and Mary came to UCLA in 1963, the Library held only about 30 manuscripts from the period,” said Genie Guerard, manuscripts curator in Special Collections. “They set out very thoughtfully and deliberately to build a collection of breadth and depth, buying manuscripts throughout Europe and periodically donating them to the Library, for which we are truly grateful.”

Richard, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in History, often taught graduate students not in the classroom but in Special Collections, where students could work with the manuscripts in hand, to learn and be inspired by them as authentic witnesses of medieval history and culture. Mary was managing editor of the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies’ journal Viator until her retirement. “We didn’t buy these manuscripts with money from our parents,” Mary laughed. “We bought them all on our academic salaries!”

Richard has become the Library’s Honorary Curator for Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and, with Mary, has advised on the purchase of manuscripts as well as cataloging and describing the holdings to increase their accessibility to students and scholars. To ensure that the Richard and Mary Rouse Collection endures, the Rouses have added a bequest to the Library to their trust creating an endowment to fund purchases for the collection in perpetuity.

“Library Special Collections is proud and honored to have worked in partnership with Richard and Mary Rouse in serving UCLA’s teaching and research mission for nearly half a century,” Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian Ginny Steel said at an event celebrating a new exhibit of the Rouses’ donations in February. Thanks to Richard’s and Mary’s foresight and generosity, that partnership will continue far into the future.