NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Iona College announced today that it has established the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies (ITPS), the first Paine Studies program at an academic institution. The announcement follows the recent approval by the New York State Supreme Court of a petition by the Thomas Paine National Historical Association to transfer permanent custodianship of its Thomas Paine Collection to Iona.
Comprising some 300 varied items created from the late 18th to early 19th centuries, the Thomas Paine Collection is, like the man himself, of both national and international significance. Inspired by the bestowal of this collection, the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies was established to be the premier academic center for the preservation, study, and dissemination of Thomas Paine’s life-story, work, and global legacy through stewardship of related archival material and development of educational programming. The establishment of this Institute creates an unprecedented academic affiliation for a long-neglected national treasure of American history and thought. This founding father, whose ideas have also incited debate and revolution around the world, was buried on his property in New Rochelle, about a quarter of a mile from the Iona campus, until his remains were exhumed, taken to England in 1819, and then lost.
The ITPS will house one of the world’s most unique Paine collections, including multiple first editions and early copies of his famous writings--Common Sense, Age of Reason, and Rights of Man. It also contains more than 100 texts, pamphlets, and letters written or published by Paine himself, as well as personal ephemera. This combination of Paine’s writings and personal artifacts is one of the only places in the world one can see both at the same time.
“The establishment of this Institute creates a first-of-its-kind academic affiliation for a long-neglected yet influential founding intellect of our country,” said Brian Nickerson, Ph.D., provost and principal founder of the Institute. “Paine’s writings have and continue to influence the political, social, and economic debates of our era. One cannot understand the fundamental principles of democracy or the American experience without understanding Paine.”
For information on the ITPS please visit: www.thomaspainestudies.org.