ATBL’s Response to Black Lives Matter

ATBL supports and endorses the British Library which issued the following statement:

The British Library stands in solidarity with everyone who opposes racism and prejudice in all its forms. We will work hard to ensure that our Library community of users, collaborators, and staff feel valued and empowered by our practices.

Libraries empower people. But great historical collections also reflect the imbalances of power bound up in their origins. We need to work to address this.

We pledge to do much more to ensure our collections, which are available to everyone, benefit everyone. Especially communities that have suffered injustice throughout history, and who continue to suffer today. Black Lives Matter.”

— BL Statement via Facebook and Twitter on June 2, 2020

Announcing the Winner of the Inaugural ATBL Fellowship at Houghton Library and the Library Company of Philadelphia Fellow

The American Trust for the British Library and Houghton Library are pleased to announce that Lauren Eriks Cline, Assistant Professor of English at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, has been awarded the first American Trust for the British Library Fellowship at Houghton Library. This visiting fellowship, a joint initiative between the two institutions, supports a research project in any discipline of the humanities, social sciences, or arts that draws on primary source materials in the collections of both the British Library and Houghton.

LaurenEriksKlein_ATBL_Fellowship_2020Dr. Eriks Cline teaches courses in drama, film, and the novel; literary and cultural theory; and British literature across periods. She will spend two weeks in London and two weeks at Harvard conducting research for her book project, Restaging Race: Victorian Spectators and Imperial Performance Narrative, which considers the ways in which popular performance was used as a tool of the British empire. In four chapters, she analyzes the careers of four stage performers—Frances Kemble, Edmund Kean, Ira Aldridge, and Ellen Terry—to investigate how tropes of nineteenth-century narrative and spectator accounts of theatrical performance shaped the ways Victorians conceptualized race and the racism endemic to the British imperial project. Both libraries contain considerable collections on all four performers.

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We are also pleased to announce The Davida T. Deutsch / ATBL / BL / Library Company of Philadelphia Fellow. She is Rachel Burke, a Ph.D. student in art history at Harvard, and her topic is the African-American antislavery activist Henry Brown, aka “Box” Brown because in 1849 he escaped slavery by shipping himself by railway from Virginia to Philadelphia.  That’s the American side to his story, which she will research at LCP. At the British Library, she will study the British part of his life, where he fled in the 1850s.  At first, he was an antislavery celebrity but after the Civil War he became more of an entertainer, best known for his moving panorama, “Mirror of Slavery,” which he toured all over Britain.  She will look for records of his appearances in newspapers, ephemera collections, and other sources at the BL. This Fellowship is funded by longtime ATBL President’s Council member Davida T. Deutsch.

Both Fellows will be doing research at the British Library in 2021 when the Library has reopened and it is safe to travel.

New ATBL/British Library/Library Company Fellowship

A new one-month Fellowship Program, sponsored by the American Trust for the British Library and the Library Company of Philadelphia (LCP) was announced. The Fellowship supports a research project drawing on the collections of both the British Library (in any of its departments) and the Library Company. The fellow will be in residence at each library for at least two weeks (not necessarily consecutive) and will receive a stipend of $5,000, which may be applied to transportation and lodging expenses.  Applicants must be US citizens and graduate students or recipients of a doctoral degree within the previous year. Funds are provided by longtime ATBL member and LCP Trustee Davida T. Deutsch. For more information and to apply, visit the Short-Term Fellowships page on the LCP website. The deadline for applying is March 1, 2020.

The Inaugural David N. Redden Lecture at the Grolier Club

A new lecture series presented by the American Trust for the British Library, the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, and the Grolier Club kicked off on Monday evening, October 28, 2019.  Dr. Werner L. Gundersheimer, Director Emeritus of the Folger Shakespeare Library, presented a lecture entitled “David Redden: From the Rooms to the Globe” to a capacity crowd at the Grolier Club.

Held stateside, the David N. Redden Lecture series will complement the Douglas W. Bryant Lecture series hosted annually at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library in London.

Inaugural David N. Redden Lecture at The Grolier Club on Vimeo.

Oral History with David N. Redden

The American Trust for the British Library’s Archives Committee is pleased to present the first interview for its Oral History Project. Conducted in August 2018, Dyke Benjamin, ATBL President, and Seana Anderson, Executive Director, interviewed Chairman David N. Redden at his home. Listen below, or read the full transcript of the interview.

ATBL Archive Established at the Grolier Club

The Archives Committee of the American Trust for the British Library and the Grolier Club Library are pleased to announce the completion of the processing of the records of the American Trust for the British Library. The archive consists of 6 boxes of materials (6 linear feet) of the business records of the ATBL, and includes financial and legal records, correspondence, grants and foundations information, publications, photographs, event invitations, and other materials generated by the ATBL between 1979 and 2017. These materials provide a context for and understanding of the transatlantic relationship between the ATBL and the British Library. The Grolier Club Library is the official repository for the ATBL records and will continue to accrue, process, and make incoming materials available for researchers.

The finding aid for the records is available through the Grolier Club’s online catalog (http://grolier.vtls.com:3272/heading/search?theme=grolier) with a complete folder list. For more information about using the Grolier Club Library, please visit the website at www.grolierclub.org/ or contact the Librarian, Meghan Constantinou, at mconstantinou@grolierclub.org / 212.838.6690

This project was completed in the summer of 2018 by Miwa Yokoyama, ATBL’s Archival Consultant. An oral history component to the archive is currently in production and will be available on the ATBL website, through the Grolier Club Library and the British Library Archive.

British Library signs Development Agreement with Stanhope and Mitsui Fudosan

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The British Library has signed a development agreement with Stanhope plc and Mitsui Fudosan UK Ltd to develop plans to build a 100,000 sq ft extension to the Grade I listed building, which will house state-of-the-art facilities for British Library learning, business and exhibition spaces, a new northern entrance to the Library and a new headquarters for the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, The Alan Turing Institute.

The project will address the need for additional space at one of London’s most iconic buildings which is used by over 1.5 million people each year as a space for research, inspiration and enjoyment.

King’s Cross, St Pancras has undergone significant development over the last twenty years. In 2014 the British Library co-founded the Knowledge Quarter, a collaboration of now over 90 knowledge, creative and research organisations all located within a one mile radius of the British Library. The new extension will progress its role as a centre for creativity, knowledge and innovation. This partnership between the British Library and SMBL will sustain the Library for future generations to enjoy.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library says: “We are delighted to have signed this landmark agreement with our partners, as we take a leading role in expanding the UK’s dynamic knowledge economy. This project ensures we continue to grow as an open, creative and innovative institution at the heart of the Knowledge Quarter, in service to our growing public audiences in London, the rest of the UK and around the world. We look forward to working with local and national stakeholders alike, as our shared vision takes shape over the coming months and years.”

More details in the press release.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic Opens at the New-York Historical Society

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Harry Potter: A History of Magic, the British Library’s most successful exhibition, opens at the New-York Historical Society on Friday, October 5. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the New York exhibition explores the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories and showcases a new selection of objects that are on view to the public for the very first time.

Unique to the New York presentation of  the British Library’s Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition—and on public view for the first time—are Mary GrandPré’s pastel illustrations for the cover artwork of Scholastic’s original editions of the novels; Brian Selznick’s newly created artwork for the covers of the 20th anniversary edition of the Harry Potter series published by Scholastic; cover art by Kazu Kibuishi featured in Scholastic’s 15th anniversary box set; and the enormous steamer trunk used to transport a signed copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on the Queen Mary to the U.S. The exhibition also includes costumes and set models from the award-winning play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Also on display for the first time in the U.S. are Rowling’s handwritten first drafts of The Philosopher’s Stone and Deathly Hallows, her hand-drawn sketch of the Hogwarts grounds, and portraits and sketches of some of the Hogwarts’s professors and magical creatures created by British illustrator Jim Kay. John James Audubon’s watercolor of Snowy Owls, a 1693 publication defending the Salem witch trials, a study of the Woolworth Building—the landmark New York location featured in the film Fantastic Beasts—and other artifacts from New-York Historical’s collection round out the original offerings.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the exhibition website. Opened October 5, 2018 and runs through January 27, 2019.

Queen Elizabeth I Letters donation

The British Library is pleased to announce the donation to its American Trust of 43 historically important letters, written by Queen Elizabeth I and senior courtiers, relating to the imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Many of the letters were written to Sir Ralph Sadler, who was entrusted with the custody of Mary, Queen of Scots, at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire, between 1584-85, just a few years before her execution for treason in 1587. They include four letters signed by Elizabeth I, and many others in the hands of her Chief Minister, Lord Burghley, and her Secretary of State, Sir Francis Walsingham.

The collection, which is of significant historical importance, has been on loan to the Library for a number of years. The letters have been gifted by industrialist and philanthropist Mark Pigott KBE to the American Trust for the British Library and will enhance the Library’s extensive collections of original correspondence of the Tudor monarchs.

For more details and photographs, read the British Library press release.

2018 at the British Library

The British Library revealed cultural highlights for 2018, including:

  • James Cook: The Voyages, a major exhibition marking 250 years since Captain James Cook set sail on three voyages that changed the world
  • Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, a spectacular exhibition exploring the riches of Anglo-Saxon art and ideas over six centuries
  • The acquisition of Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Fitzgerald’s personal archive
  • A landmark exhibition commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Empire Windrush bringing hundreds of Caribbean migrants to their new home in the UK

More details in the press release.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic opens at the British Library from October 20, 2017 to February 28, 2018

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the exhibition combines centuries-old British Library treasures, including the oldest items in its collection, the Chinese Oracle bones, with original material from Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury and J.K. Rowling’s own archives, on display for the first time.

The exhibition includes stunning loans from national and international institutions – including broomsticks, wands and crystal balls. A 400-year-old celestial globe, enhanced with augmented reality technology, in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, will enable visitors to explore the constellations in the night sky.

The British Library will also be simultaneously launching a regional roll-out of Harry Potter: A History of Magic with specially designed panels inspired by the London exhibition going on display in 20 public libraries across the UK, highlighting each library’s local connections to magic and folklore.

Exhibition highlights include:

  • Annotated sketch of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by J.K. Rowling, complete with the giant squid that lives in the lake
  • J.K. Rowling’s handwritten list of the teachers and subjects at Hogwarts
  • Original artwork by Jim Kay for the illustrated Harry Potter editions, including paintings and sketches of Harry Potter, the Hogwarts Express, Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Hagrid
  • The Ripley Scroll – a 6 meter-long alchemical manuscript that describes how to make the Philosopher’s Stone, from the 1500s
  • Chinese Oracle bones – the oldest datable items in the British Library’s collection, one of which records a lunar eclipse that is precisely datable to December 27, 1192 BC
  • Celestial globe dating from 1693, made by Vincent Coronelli and brought to life using augmented reality technology, in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, which enables visitors to spin the globe virtually and explore in detail the ancient constellations, some of which share their names with familiar characters from the Harry Potter stories, such as Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Bellatrix LeStrange and Draco Malfoy
  • An early written record of “abracadabra”, used as a charm to cure malaria
  • An Arabic illuminated manuscript showing male and female mandrakes
  • The tombstone of Nicolas Flamel, a real historical figure who also features in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Black moon crystal ball, used by ‘Smelly Nelly’, a Paignton witch from the 20th century who had a taste for strong perfume
  • A mermaid, allegedly caught in Japan in the 18th century

Ahead of opening, Harry Potter: A History of Magic has already sold over 30,000 tickets – the highest amount of advance tickets ever sold for a British Library exhibition. Tickets and more information are available to buy from the British Library website.

EXHIBITION TRAVELING TO NEW YORK IN AUTUMN 2018

US fans will also be able to enjoy Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the New-York Historical Society in October 2018, following its run at the British Library in London.  This is the first time the British Library has taken an exhibition to the US.

The exhibition’s New York opening marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US by Scholastic, following the 20th anniversary celebrations of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK. A companion book will be published by Scholastic in the US in autumn 2018.

2016 Chairman’s Council Trip

The 2016 Chairman’s Council trip kicked off in Dublin on April 10. Fionnuala Croke, Director (center front), and Jessica Baldwin, Head of Collections (center back), of the IMG_20160410_095656225_HDRChester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle, showed us treasures from this gem of a library founded by the namesake American philanthropist and entrepreneur.  After tea, Nateghe Moane provided an overview of the collections, which ended with a delightful concert of ancient Irish music.

The following day, Dr. Sandra Collins, Director (second from left), and her staff gave us a tour of the IMG_20160411_055436498National Library of Ireland. There was a marvelous W.B. Yeats exhibit and one on the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising, as well as other historical materials.

After lunch at NLI, Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist for Trinity College, Ireland, current ATBL Advisory Council member and former librarian at the British Library and Harvard Libraries, closed the room for a private viewing of the Book of Kells, followed by afternoon tea at the college.
Early the next morning, we boarded a private coach to Armagh Public Library, the oldest library in Northern Ireland. Dean Gregory Dunston (second from left, below) was our gracious host and his staff showed us a rare first edition of Gulliver’s Travels with Jonathan Swift’s annotations and other newly discovered items among their collections. We then visited the Registry House and St. Patrick’s Cathedral where High King Brian Bora is buried. IMG_20160412_052427884_HDR

The Earl and Countess of Caledon House then invited the Dean and ATBL members to lunch at their castle.  As their property is on the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, they had some fascinating stories to tell about withstanding bombings and bullets. IMG_20160412_102129528_HDRWorking with the Prince of Wales, the Countess and Earl (second and third from left) are using their land in more sustainable ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials and waste.

Next up was Hillsborough Castle, seat of the British government in Northern Ireland and now part of the Historic Royal Palaces. It is in the process of expanding its outreach and education to visitors and the community. IMG_20160413_073555101_HDRPatricia Corbett and Christopher Warleigh-Lack (right) talked about these plans and Stephen Martelli led us through the castle and gardens. In the afternoon, the ATBL group flew from Belfast and met up with additional guests for dinner at the Cambridge City Hotel.

Thursday was a full day. Dr. Stella Panayotova (left, below), IMG_20160414_051313433_HDRKeeper of Manuscripts and Printed Books, of the Fitzwilliam Museum showed us a plethora of rare books and manuscripts, whetting our appetite for a future tour of the museum.

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Then, our good friend Christopher de Hamel (right), Librarian of the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, brought out magnificent rare books and manuscripts followed by a lovely lunch in the Parker Room.

 

Dr. Nicolas Bell (below), Director of Trinity College Library, formerly of the British Library, entranced the group in the afternoon.

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At the end of the day, we returned to London for the much anticipated opening of the British Library exhibition, Shakespeare in Ten Acts.

On Friday, the British Library gave us a curator-led tour of the Shakespeare exhibition, a display by William Frame of Freemasonry materials, lunch hosted by Baroness Blackstone and Roly Keating, American treasures with Phil Hatfield, and tea with the curators. Tessa Smith, long time ATBL member and Vassar graduate, hosted a cocktail party that evening at the University Women’s Club.
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Saturday morning, our final day, Susana Caldeira and Gabriele Rossi Rognoni gave us a tour of the Royal College of Music‘s ancient instruments collection. The trip concluded with lunch at Bistro 190 at the Queensgate Hotel with shared memories and suggestions for future trips.

Eccles Centre News

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Prof. Philip Davies; Catherine Eccles; British Library CEO Roly Keating; Matthew Barzun, US Ambassador to the United Kingdomn; Viscount and Viscountess Eccles

May 2015 Douglas Bryant Lecturer, Matthew Barzun

At the Twentieth Annual Douglas W. Bryant Lecture entitled, “Magna Carta, 1776 and All That,” Ambassador Matthew Barzun reflected on the link between the Magna Carta and whiskey, based on the method by which the drink is made. A complex process, with deceptively simple ingredients, whiskey takes time to mature and produces strikingly different results depending up on the raw materials used and the geography within which it is produced. The Ambassador argued that Magna Carta and its legacy, in the rule of law and political freedom, can be viewed in the same way especially as it has influenced the UK and the US.

Eccles Centre Writers in Residence

The joint winners of the 2016 Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Award are William Atkins, author and editor and Alison MacLeod, novelist and short story writer. Each of the winners is awarded £20,000 and will use the British Library’s collections as research during their residency which started in January 2016.

William Atkins will be researching a new travel narrative exploring the Western concept of the desert using journeys through the American West and other continents. Alison MacLeod will be researching her new novel which is inspired by the 1960 trial of Penguin Books, where the publisher was taken to court for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  The story will take place in London and the USA.

Awards for Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013

Andrea Wulf, the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013 has won numerous awards for her book The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science. The book was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize 2015 and is shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non–Fiction 2016. It was also chosen as one of the 10 Best Books of 2015 in the New York Times and recently won the Biography Award in the 2015 Costa Book Awards.

Breslauer Lectures

In 2004, the distinguished book dealer and collector Bernard H. Breslauer bequeathed a generous endowment to the ATBL for the acquisition of rare books.  To honor the memory of Dr. Breslauer, the ATBL has established a lecture series in his name.  This series has become an annual event in cooperation with the Grolier Club, a locus of serious bibliophiles and collectors.  With the British Library as their cornerstone, these lectures incorporate a transatlantic bibliophilic theme.

The following lectures have been published into booklets, available for purchase for $25 for non-members, and $12.50 for ATBL and Grolier Club members. Please email atblus[at]gmail.com or call 718-623-0933 to purchase a booklet.

  • 2019  R. Dyke Benjamin, The Formation of a Private Collection for the Public Good: John Ruskin and his Transatlantic Inspiration (forthcoming)
  • 2018  Edward L. Widmer, Pilgrim’s Progress: Lincoln’s Life in and Around Books
  • 2017  Winston Tabb, My Life in Libraries: Collections, Characters, Collaborators, and Challenges
  • 2014  Sarah E. Thomas, Transatlantic Perlustrations: Observations on Two Great Libraries, the Bodleian and the Harvard Library
  • 2011  Baroness Blackstone, From Bones to Bytes: The Development of our Great Libraries
  • 2010  Robert Darnton, The History of Books and the Digital Future
  • 2009  William J. Zachs, Re-Collecting Donald and Mary Hyde: Untold Stories from Their Private Archive
  • 2008  David Alan Richards, The Books He Left Behind: A New Bibliography of Rudyard Kipling
  • 2007  David J. Supino, Collecting Henry James: A Translatlantic Journey
  • 2006  Roger E. Stoddard, B.H.B. in Retrospect

Beloved Board Member Dies

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It is with great sorrow that we mark the passing of our longtime Board member Lisa von Clemm. She passed away peacefully at home on March 3, 2016. Beloved widow of Michael, treasured mother of Stefanie and Charlotte, dearly loved mother-in-law of Will, and devoted and adored grandmother of Oliver, Louie, and Welles.

Her husband Michael served as Trustee of the ATBL first. Lisa then took up his service and was an enthusiastic host of ATBL cocktail parties and a tireless representative at the British Library. She will be missed.

London Memorial Service on Monday, June 27th, 2016 at 3pm
St. George’s Church, Aubrey Walk, London, W8 7JG

Wellesley Memorial Service on Thursday, July 28th, 2016 at 3pm
St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 79 Denton Road, Wellesley, MA 02482