Special Collections receives $245,000 grant

McGregor Fund gift to lead historical text digitization

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The Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University received a $245,000 grant to help them begin the process of digitizing the Tracy W. McGregor library.

McGregor gave his large collection of books and manuscripts to McGregor Fund upon his death, which then donated the works to the University in 1938 — 5,000 of which will now be digitized during a three-year period.

The Smalls collection is best known for its rare books about the history, discovery and exploration of North America and the United States up until the late 1700s.

“This is a foundational collection for the University collection,” Special Collections Library Director Nicole Bouché said. “It is extremely distinguished. When this came, this put U.Va. with the top collections of the United States.”

Special Collections Library curator David Whitesell said the digitization would increase the number of people who could access to the collection to more than just the University community.

“For 75 years now, the U.Va. library has been the proud owner of the Tracy McGregor library,” Whitesell said. “It’s one of the world’s best collections on the discovery [and] exploration of the new world. Now, we want to broaden access to the collection.”

McGregor concentrated most of his philanthropic efforts in southeast Michigan and Detroit, but also had an interest of collecting books, Whitesell said. McGregor had a specific goal in mind: to give the money to a deserving university in the south that did not have the resources to have their own library.

Though he died suddenly, McGregor’s wife knew how much her husband loved Charlottesville and selected the University as the eventual recipient of the McGregor Fund’s collection.

Whitesell said he will be responsible for selecting which books from McGregor’s collection should be digitized.

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