Stanford Libraries acquires Baha’i collection

Stanford University Libraries (SUL) has established the first academic, university-based Bahá’í collection in the U.S. after acquiring one of the most extensive collections on the Bahá’í faith in private hands.

The renowned collection, composed of over 1000 letters, books and pictures among other material, was donated by Arden Lee. SUL has also established the Jack H. Lee and Arden T. Lee Fund for Bahá’í Studies to fund continual growth of the archive.

The new addition is part of a growing group of library collections focusing on world religions.

“It became particularly apparent to me recently that we are building a deep range of collections with religious foci,” Andrew Herkovic, SUL director of communications and development, wrote in the Stanford University Libraries October Newsletter.

Arden Lee has been a follower of the Bahá’í faith since 1952 and an ardent collector of Bahá’í items. She established the collection and fund in honor of her late husband, Jack Lee.

“The addition of this collection is a great foundation for a collection to provide resources for our researchers. The endowment being set up will assure that the collection continues to grow as more research needs develop,” said John Eilts, the curator for the libraries’ Islamic and Middle Eastern collection, in an interview with the Stanford News Service.

The Bahá’í religion, founded in Persia in the mid-nineteenth century, is the world’s youngest monotheistic religion with over 5 million followers worldwide.

“The recognition of religious minorities and the preservation of their ongoing history will enrich those who access this important history. I commend the Stanford University Libraries on its work to build a lasting collection of Bahá’í materials in our community,” said newly re-elected U.S. Representative for California 18th Congressional District Anna Eshoo, co-chair of the congressional Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East, in an interview with the Stanford News Service.

Abdu’l-Bahá, eldest son of the founder of the Bahá’í faith, spoke at Stanford on Oct. 8, 1912 — the only time in Stanford history that classes were cancelled so students and faculty could hear a speaker.

-Natasha Weaser

A previous version of this article misstated that Abdu’l-Bahá was the founder of the Bahá’í faith. In fact, Abdu’l-Bahá was the eldest son of Bahá’u'lláh, founder of the Bahá’í faith.

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  • Dave Demko

    “Abdu’l-Bahá, founder of the Bahá’í faith” should read “Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the founder of the Bahá’í faith”; Baha’u'llah, the founder of the faith, did not travel to the US.

  • Bahá’í Student

    Abdu’l-Bahá did not found the Bahá’í faith. No excuse for failing to fact check when it takes five seconds to google, and this feels like an (unintentional) slight against the Bahá’í faith.

  • Dave Demko

    It didn’t even occur to me that the last paragraph might be a slight, unintentional or otherwise. Familiarity with the Bahá’í Faith is not widespread in the US. All the more reason to be encouraged about the new collection at Stanford.