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Allen Ross RC’55 still vividly recalls his debut as a philanthropist at the age of 21. While researching a history paper on an 18th-century uprising by British shipyard workers, he discovered there were no materials on the topic—or the period—in Rutgers’ Archibald S. Alexander Library in New Brunswick. The suggestion that he find them “down the road” at Princeton University was the call to action.

“I was a proud Rutgers student who believed strongly that universities are known for their libraries,” says Ross. “I loved Rutgers and wanted ours to be great.”

When Scotty Cameron, then the university librarian, heard his concerns and invited him to “earn a little immortality” by starting an endowment, he did not hesitate. With an initial $100 donation, he launched a fund that would add depth and scope to the university’s collection for decades to come. He has enhanced the fund’s impact with regular contributions since then, including major gifts during Our Rutgers, Our Future and previous campaigns. Today, the endowment yields about $5,000 per year toward the purchase of American and British history materials.

Notable acquisitions include the U.S. Serial Set from 1817 to 1980, a database of congressional publications that is a critical resource on all aspects of American history. These include such diverse topics as international relations, commerce and industrial development, and cultural and ethnic history.

“It’s so difficult to afford all the important works in history we need because it’s such a prolific field,” says Marianne Gaunt, the current university librarian. “Endowed funds like Allen’s are a salvation.”

Originally published in Rutgers alumni magazine. Photography by Matt Rainey.

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