George Arthur Plimpton
George Arthur Plimpton was born at Walpole, Massachusetts on July 13, 1855, the son of Calvin Gay Plimpton and Priscilla Guild Lewis Plimpton. A member of the Class of 1873 of Phillips Exeter Academy, he entered Amherst College, graduating in 1876. After a year at Harvard Law School, he began as salesman in the educational publishing house of Ginn and Heath, becoming a member of the firm in 1882. In 1914 he became head of the firm, renamed Ginn and Company, was active in it until 1931, and remained a member until his death on July 1, 1936.
Describing his sixty years of collecting in the Preface to his first book, The Education of Shakespeare, Plimpton wrote: “It has been my privilege to get together the manuscripts and books which are more or less responsible for our present civilization, because they are the books from which the youth of many centuries have received their education.” The collection would come as a gift to Columbia in 1936. In the meantime he was very active in other matters.
A Trustee of Barnard College from its opening in 1889, Plimpton served as a member of its first finance committee and as its Treasurer from 1893 until his death in 1936. With David Eugene Smith, he founded the Friends of the Columbia University Libraries, serving as its Chairman from 1928 until his death. He was a member of the Grolier Club; the Academy of Political Science; and the Board of Trustees of Phillips Exeter Academy, Amherst College, the World Peace Union, founded by Edwin Ginn, the Church Peace Union, founded by Andrew Carnegie, the Constantinople College for Women, now part of Robert College, and Union Theological Seminary.