panorama of hudson valley

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
94 Broadway
Newburgh, New York  12550     


David Karpeles, was born in Santa Barbara, California, on January 26, 1936. His family moved to Duluth, Minnesota in 1942.  He began his own business at the age of six selling flowers and portrait discount coupons, earning over $2000 in two months. He attended Munger Elementary, Longfellow Elementary, West Junior High, and the Denfield High School graduating in 1953. He entered the University of Minnesota at Duluth as both a mathematics major and a physics major. Co-started the Darling Observatories Astronomy Group, taking over the local observatory and opening it free to the public at age 17. He served as a substitute instructor at the University of Minnesota in Duluth and graduated at the end of junior year, Cum Laude, with a bachelor of arts degree, in 1956. Continued in mathematics as masters student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, working as a graduate instructor (aged 20) in the department. Accepted a programmer and research analyst position at Remington Rand Univac in St. Paul and transferred to Remington Rand Univac facility in San Diego, serving as the training coordinator between the Navy and Univac. Taught in extension Department of University of California. Completed master's degree in mathematics in 1962 from San Diego State University. Moved to Santa Barbara, California as a research analyst for General Electric Tempo division in 1963. Taught mathematics at Santa Barbara City College, began real estate investment business, and worked toward a Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Barbara while working at General Electric Tempo. Completed Ph.D. coursework in 1971, but did not attempt to complete the program by writing a thesis. Began collecting historical documents in 1970.

While at General Electric, he created the first operating optical character recognition program. This program automatically read the figure amounts on bank checks in order to print that amount magnetically on the margin of the check. Developed an artificial intelligence program allowing personnel to question a computer using unrestricted English language. The program analyzed the syntax of the question, determined the meaning and gave the appropriate answer.

The first Karpeles Manuscript Library in Montecito, California opened in 1983 with these words from David Karpeles:

"As a child I remember a world filled with hope and pride. Those who had pursued their goals, whether successfully or not, reflected their pride and fulfillment. One could feel their excitement in their desire to follow their new and future goals. Those of us too young had hope and looked to the inspiration of our predecessors to give us purpose.

The world is no longer so filled. There is little hope and little pride. Our children have no sense of purpose and few goals. They make no commitments for fear that they will make mistakes and fail. They see our mistakes but are blind to our accomplishments. Their emptiness spreads over us all.

I for one, will not accept this. I wish to renew that feeling I had as a child; that hope, that pride, that sense of purpose. I believe that we learned those feelings by our exposure to the accomplishments of our predecessors. We studied history; we studied literature, we studied government, science, philosophy, art and music. Our children have not. They do not know who is Simon Bolivar, Rudyard Kipling, Immanuel Kant, Franklin Pierce, Sir Walter Raleigh, Virginia Dare or Queen Isabella. They are hardly aware of the the quest for the Indies, the origin of the species, the discovery of vaccines, the Reformation, the Black Plague, Esperanto, the Peer Gynt Suites, the Rubaiyat, the Magna Carta.

It is to cure this lack and thereby fulfill my own desire to renew the sense of purpose for our children and ourselves that the Karpeles Manuscript Library has been created.

There are are now Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums in Santa Barbara, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Tacoma, Newburgh, Charleston and Duluth and they are open daily to the public featuring a rotating exhibit designed to focus on no more than 25 documents at any one time.


The following partial list of special exhibits, which covers the fields of History, Music, Science, Literature, and the Arts, gives the extent of the breadth of the holdings:

Charles Darwin; Letters from the Pen; Dreyfus; Flight before the Wright Brothers; Lindbergh; Thomas Jefferson; Will Durant and the Age of Reason; Early 20th Century Book Illustrations; the American Indians; American Independence; the Discovery of the New World and Great Maps; the Discovery of the New World and the Great Explorers; Webster and the Dictionary; the American Civil War; Music and the Great Composers; the Bill Of Rights of the American Constitution; the Wizard Of Oz; Polar Exploration; the Constitution of the United States; Napoleon Parts One and Two; the Spanish Armada; the Confederate States of America Collection; Hitler's Speeches; 16th-Century English Royalty; and Women's Literature

Each of these exhibits include documents of monumental importance in the field:

Historical exhibits in the past include The Original Proposal Draft of the United States Bill Of Rights; the Emancipation Proclamation Amendment to the United States Constitution; signed by Abraham Lincoln; The Justification letter which accompanied The Declaration of Independence, signed by John Hancock; The Thanksgiving Proclamation of the United States, signed by George Washington; The Final Declaration of Allegiance Treaty signed by every Indian tribe in the United States and by the President of the United States; and the original autograph drafts of the National Constitutions of France; Spain; Mexico; Ireland; and the Confederate States of America

Music manuscripts which have been on exhibit include pages of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto; Mozart's Marriage of Figaro; Wagner's Wedding March; Handel's Messiah (in Beethoven's Handwriting); Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody; Strauss's Blue Danube; and Puccini's Madam Butterfly. Also shown were written items from composers and lyricists including Verdi's Aida; William S. Gilbert's Pirates of Penzance and Even Effie Canning's Rock-A-Bye Baby.

Scientific manuscripts have also been featured, including: Galileo's announcement marking the beginning of the science of mechanics; Kepler's manuscript on the Law of Planetary Motion; Einstein's Theory of Relativity; Freud's manuscript on dreams; Morse's  archive on the telegraph; Marconi's archive on the radio; and Darwin's Conclusion to his Theory of Evolution, "Survival of the Fittest". Also preserved are important manuscripts of Descartes, Newton and Edison.

The breadth of topics, preserved at the Karpeles Museum, range from Pope Lucius III's Proclamation of the Sacred Duties of the Knights of the Holy Crusades, signed in the year 1183, to the Surrender Agreement of World War II.

Admission is free at all buttonClick on map icon for this museum's location