Albert H. Small represents the second generation of a family involved in real estate development in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and is a dedicated philanthropist for many Washington area organizations. In 1950, he founded Southern Engineering and eventually built more than 20,000 homes, condominiums, and office buildings throughout the region. Small caught the collecting bug early on. He recalls his boyhood acquisitions of cigar bands and milk bottle tops, but it wasn’t until leaving the Navy after World War II and spending some time haunting bookstores in New York City that he stumbled across the volume that would turn him into the type of collector he’s been for over half a century. That physical connection between books and history has stoked his interest all these years. Small’s solid fifty-year track record as a residential and commercial real estate developer would be enough of an accomplishment for most. Yet his keen interest in manuscript and rare book collecting, his unflagging support of cultural institutions, and his ongoing passion for philanthropy have set him apart from the usual Beltway businessman. His towering presence in the cultural world of the national capital region is the result of his commitment to generously share his belief that books and the humanities can enrich the spirit. Set foot sometime in Small’s Southern Engineering Corporation office in Bethesda, Maryland—he welcomes visitors to come in groups to enjoy his collection—and you’ll see what a methodical fifty-plus-year career in collecting can add up to: Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of framed rare engravings of Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and the Chesapeake cover the walls of the corridors, conference rooms, and employees’ offices. In 2004, the University of Virginia Library put the finishing touches on a special collections library funded by Small and his wife, Shirley, which now bears their name. In addition to its twelve million manuscripts, three hundred thousand rare books, and four thousand maps, it houses a permanent display of Small’s collection of autographed letters of all fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as one of the few remaining John Dunlap printings of the Declaration. Even with his professional responsibilities at Southern Engineering—at eighty-four he continues as president—and his collecting—he studies catalogs daily to keep abreast of what’s coming to auction—he still finds time to serve on the boards of many cultural institutions, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Foundation for the National Archives, and the Tudor Place Foundation. Additionally, Small is a member of the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress and serves on the Life Guard of Mount Vernon. In spite of Small’s eclectic academic training—a degree from the University of Virginia in chemical engineering, courses in law at George Washington University, and graduate work in business at American University—those who know him well are never surprised by his abiding and sustaining commitment to the humanities.