The Kislak Collection now housed at the Library of Congress comprises more than 1,500 rare books, historic documents and maps, a 2,000 volume reference library, and more than 400 artifacts of indigenous cultures prior to European contact.
The written record begins with the early exploration and colonization of the Americas, especially the circum-Caribbean region and Florida from the 16th century through the 18th century. Extremely rare books and original documents yield insights into the lives of important historic figures and historic events. One can find books and documents from the great age of discovery, including manuscripts of Hernando Cortés, Francisco Pizarro, Bartolomé de Las Casas and Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, conquistador of Florida, as well as seminal works by the earliest chroniclers and explorers of the New World, such as Christopher Columbus, Peter Martyr and Antonio de Herrera.
Of particular importance are the Floridiana – books, manuscripts, maps and letters related to the history of Florida from Cabeza de Vaca, Rene Laudonniere and Garcilaso de la Vega to later works of natural history by Mark Catesby, John and William Bartram and James Audubon.
Holdings also include important later works concerning United States and the Founding Fathers – George Washington's 1762 diary, and letters of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
The fields of ethnography and archaeology are also well represented and include early dictionaries of indigenous languages, travelers' tales and the first systematic description of ruined Maya cities.