Karpeles Manuscript Museum Tacoma, WA

Karpeles Manuscript Museum

The Karpeles Manuscript Library holds the largest private collection of historically significant original manuscripts, encompassing over one million documents in fields such as literature, science, religion, political history, exploration, music, and art. Founded in 1983 by David and Marsha Karpeles, the library’s mission is to share their passion for history and education by inspiring curiosity in others and promoting literacy. Their vision is to expose future generations to the achievements of notable figures from various periods in history, including authors, scientists, composers, philosophers, artists, sovereigns, leaders, and pioneers. By doing so, they hope to instill in them a sense of purpose, courage, hope, pride, and fulfillment.

David Karpeles was a philanthropist and mathematician who graduated cum laude in mathematics and physics from the University of Minnesota in 1956. He later completed his Master’s degree in mathematics in 1962 at San Diego State University while serving as a graduate instructor. After working as a research analyst for the General Electric Tempo division in Santa Barbara, where he proposed the use of the first optical character recognition system for handwriting, he started investing in real estate in 1968. He became known for offering tenants financing options to help them become first-time homeowners and was recognized for his work in affordable housing by Governor Jerry Brown in 1981. In addition to collecting historical manuscripts and documents, David worked toward earning a PhD in Religion from the University of California and a PhD in History from Atlantic International University. He received an Honorary Doctoral degree in Humane Letters from SUNY in 2012. David passed away on January 19, 2022, at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, surrounded by his family.

Marsha Karpeles, David’s wife, co-founded the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum and raised four children. She was also involved in various organizations, such as the Brandeis University National Women’s Committee, Santa Barbara chapter, the University of California (Santa Barbara) History Affiliates Board, United Cerebral Palsy Board, Santa Barbara County Grand Jury, Santa Barbara Jewish Festival Chairman, the Guide to the Jewish Community for Santa Barbara Publisher and Creator, the Santa Barbara Jewish Women’s Federation Board, Elderhostel Board, Small Publishers and Writers Network (SPAWN) Board, and PEO philanthropic educational organization President. Marsha completed her Masters degree in Creative Writing in 2003 and currently resides in Florida with her eldest son, Mark Karpeles, who is the CEO of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. The libraries are located in 14 mid-sized cities across the United States, and they are open to the general public at no cost.

Visit another Tacoma, WA Landmark: Washington State History Museum