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See it. Touch it. Feel it. Currently, the First Amendment Center and Vanderbilt's Heard Library in Nashville, TN are co-sponsoring an exhibit of thirty-five rare, precious and historically significant books and documents in an exhibit entitled "Wisdom of the Ages." The collection includes texts that, throughout time, have expressed and developed the concept of personal liberty, an idea still debated and battled over today. The original works on display include "The Magna Carta" (1542), Milton's "Areopagitica" (1644), Mary Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Women," Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," and, even, the Emancipation Proclamation (1862).

This one-of-a-kind collection is on loan from The Remnant Trust, a foundation that purchases and shares rare books in an effort to advance the ideas of freedom and democracy. The Trust is dedicated to making such works accessible as a way of improving the mind and spirit.

What makes this collection unique is that The Remnant Trust is dedicated to the proposition that people should be able to see, feel, touch, hold, and in some cases even borrow these rare tomes. According to Remnant Trust President Kris Bex, "The actual first edition conveys something that a facsimile cannot. There is an artifact quality to the original that excites people, that almost creates a religious experience."

"This is not meant to be a museum, not a collection of books people can only visit from afar and admire. Our motivation is to get these ideas into other people's heads. That means they need to be in contact with them. They need to be able to check them out. Professors need to take them to class. Students need to take them out of the cases and look at them," said Bex.

Considering the consequences posed by sticky fingers and exposure to light, Bex explained," the underlying philosophy of the Board of the Remnant Trust is that we're willing to put at risk the capital investment of these books if we can get these ideas into people's minds, if we can getpeople reading and thinking for themselves and making their own decisions." / Issue 16 - September 8584
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