Press release date: 
Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Dr. Charles E. Pierce, Jr., Director, the Morgan Library, announced today that CORSAIR, the Morgan's online public catalog, is now accessible through the Internet to scholars, researchers, and the public at It also can be reached through the Morgan's Web site.

Named after Pierpont Morgan's yacht, CORSAIR is a comprehensive guide to the Morgan's collections. Within one database and using a single search interface, it provides unified access to over two hundred thousand records for medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, rare books, literary and historical manuscripts, music scores, ancient seals and tablets, drawings, prints, and other art objects. About 90 percent of the Morgan's holdings are represented in the catalog. An extensive navigation system of help screens and sample searches tailored to the collections assists readers in choosing the most appropriate search techniques for their queries and suggests alternative strategies as well.

The depth of detail is unusual for an online catalog. Many records include summaries of the content of individual letters, lengthy notes about provenance, and detailed descriptions of bindings. Specialized indexes enable researchers to find all of the Morgan's holdings associated with a given name, date, or place. For example, with a single search a scholar interested in Dickens can find records for manuscripts and letters in the author's hand, early printed editions of his novels, and preparatory drawings for illustrated editions of his works. A search for letters written in Paris at the outbreak of the French Revolution leads to a letter describing the chaos in Paris following the Fall of the Bastille along with letters from Thomas Jefferson inquiring about return passage to America for himself and his party.

"CORSAIR is not meant to replace access to original works in the collection," explained Elizabeth O'Keefe, Director of Collection Information Systems and Project Manager. "Rather, it serves the world as a first line of research and is expected to stimulate greater interest in the holdings than ever before."

"We are delighted to provide researchers and the public alike with this unprecedented means of access to the varied riches of the Morgan Library," said Dr. Pierce. "This complex and extraordinary project is the result of many years' work as well as great dedication and determination. The launch of this service is a historic occasion for the Library."

CORSAIR, a $3-million effort, was funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Arcana Foundation, The Alice Tully Foundation, The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Booth Ferris Foundation, the Florence Gould Foundation, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, among many other generous supporters.


CORSAIR is made possible with public funds from The New York State Council on the Arts.