About Emily Clara Folger (Jordan)
- Daughters of American Revolution
- Member: Emily C J Folger
- Nat'l #: 88146
- Chapter: 1021 VT
- Ancestor: CHAMBERLAIN, ABIEL (A026584)
- Ancestor: CHAMBERLAIN, RICHARD (A026683)
- Ancestor: JOHNSON, ELIHU (A063165)
- Ancestor: LANG, SAMUEL (A068884)
Emily Jordan Folger, born Emily Clara Jordan (May 15, 1858 – February 21, 1936), was the wife of Henry Clay Folger and the co-founder of the Folger Shakespeare Library. During her husband's lifetime, she assisted him in building the world's largest collection of Shakespeare materials. After his death in 1930, she funded the completion of the Folger Shakespeare Library to house the collection, remaining involved with its administration until her death in 1936.
Early life and career
Emily Jordan was born in Ironton, Ohio. Her father Edward Jordan served as Solicitor of the Treasury Department under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and her family lived in Washington, D.C., for that part of her childhood. Emily Jordan attended Vassar College, where she belonged to literary clubs and was the president of her class. After graduating from Vassar in 1879, she worked in Brooklyn for six years as an instructor in the college-prep section of a private girls' school, Miss Hotchkiss's Nassau Institute.
Marriage and Shakespeare collecting
In October 1885, Emily Jordan married Henry Clay Folger, an Amherst College graduate, lawyer, and young oil-company executive who later became the president and then the chairman of Standard Oil of New York. The Folgers had no children. For many years, they lived in rented homes in Brooklyn. They ultimately purchased an estate in Glen Cove, Long Island, and they often stayed at The Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.
During their marriage, Henry Folger's interest in the works of Shakespeare led him to gather the world's largest private Shakespeare collection. Emily Folger helped to catalog the acquisitions, traveled with her husband on many transatlantic collecting trips, researched possible acquisitions, and often advised him on purchases. She earned an M.A. from Vassar in 1896 for a thesis on "The True Text of Shakespeare", a survey of current scholarship on the subject. She also corresponded with Horace Howard Furness, a leading American Shakespeare editor.
Folger Shakespeare Library
By about 1918, the Folgers began planning for a library to house the collection. The project and its chosen site in Washington became public in 1928, after the land had been assembled. Henry Folger retired from Standard Oil to devote himself to the project, but he died unexpectedly in 1930 during a hospital stay. At the time, construction had just started. Because of the 1929 stock-market crash, Henry Folger's estate was greatly reduced and could not cover the full cost of building and opening the library. Emily Folger, who served as executor of her husband's estate, donated millions of dollars of her own funds to finish construction and operate the library. She received an honorary doctorate in 1932 from Amherst College for her role in making the library possible.
At an opening ceremony in April 1932, Emily Folger turned over the key to the Folger Shakespeare Library to its trustees, saying that she did so for her husband and herself. She remained active in the library's administration for the rest of her life. Emily Folger died on February 21, 1936, at her estate in Glen Cove, Long Island.