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 Winners of the Inaugural ATBL Fellowships 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 Library.

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.


The ATBL and Houghton Library are pleased to announce that Atesede Makonnen has been awarded the second American Trust for the British Library Fellowship, also at Houghton Library, funded by the ATBL Advisory Council and Johns Hopkins University Libraries.  Ms. Makonnen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Johns Hopkins University. She holds a BA in English from Dartmouth College and an MA in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London.

Her dissertation, The Actual Sight of the Thing: Visualizing Blackness in Nineteenth Century British Culture,” examines how white visualization of black bodies in nineteenth century British culture led to the creation of a modern white gaze. The project investigates theatrical practice, children’s stories, poetry, novels and portraiture in order to argue that the successes of the British abolition movement inspired a new wave of anti-blackness and social segregation reliant on complex visual understandings of racial hierarchy.  She plans to use the Harvard Theatre Collection at Houghton Library to explore the relationship between black actors, white actors, and Othello. Her time at the British Library will be devoted to the writings of Thomas Clarkson and other abolitionists, as well as Romantic poets like Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Following the establishment of the ATBL inaugural Fellowship Program with Houghton Library, Harvard University, and the British Library, ATBL member Davida Deutsch wanted to create a similar Fellowship Program. She had already established a fellowship with the Library Company of Philadelphia in women’s studies and wanted to start another fellowship to give women who are members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and working in the areas of women’s studies and American history the opportunity to study for two weeks at institutions which she feels strongly about—the Library Company of Philadelphia (LCP) and the British Library.

Davida did research at the British Museum, which included the Reading Room of the British Library, as well as one year at the new St. Pancras site, and is most grateful to the staff of the British Library for their assistance. She was a Board member of the LCP for many years. This LCP/ATBL fellowship is Davida’s second LCP fellowship which she hopes “may inspire others to do the same.”

burke_bio_picThe first Davida T. Deutsch/ATBL/LCP Fellowship was awarded to Rachel Burke, a Ph.D. student in art history at Harvard, and her topic is the African-American anti-slavery 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 anti-slavery 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 British Library.

The Fellows will be doing research at the British Library and at the US libraries when it is safe to travel.

Updated June 28, 2021.

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.

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


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.

Beloved Board Member Dies

LisavonClemm Headshot ATBL

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

ATBL Meets the Prince of Wales

David Redden, President,  Seana Anderson, Executive Director, and Trustees of the ATBL were invited to the opening of the Magna Carta Exhibition at the British Library on March 12, 2015.  David and Seana, as representatives of the ATBL, were presented to HRH Charles, the Prince of Wales, to receive acknowledgement of ATBL’s $56,000 in support of the Exhibition.  A video from Bill Clinton was played and thanks extended to The New York Public Library for its loan of Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence; and to The US National Archives for its loan of the Delaware copy of the US Bill of Rights, both displayed in the UK for the first time ever.

New Chairman’s Council Members

Lucy Adams

Lucy Adams

Lucy Adams

Lucy Adams is the widow of George Adams who served for many years as a trustee and secretary of the ATBL.  She acquired a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and went on to graduate school at Columbia University, achieving her M. Phil. with distinction in Medieval and Renaissance Art and Architecture. She taught briefly at Boston College, then entered the museum world. She trained the volunteers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and initiated a volunteer program, when she and George lived in London, for the British Museum’s Education department.  While at the Met, Lucy worked with the curator of the Medieval Department and gave gallery talks. When she and George returned from London, she again worked at the Met, serving as a Contractual till 2011.


Ralph Brown

Ralph Brown

Ralph Brown

Ralph Brown is a retired corporate lawyer. Much of his legal career was spent in acquisitions work, including educational publishing companies. He is currently a Trustee of The New York Society Library.  He is also a Board member of The Correctional Association of New York and The Osborne Association, organizations involved in prison reform focused on improving conditions in prisons and helping those affected by the criminal justice system to rebuild positive lives.  His interests are broad ranging from the histories of ancient Greece and Rome; England and France in the sixteenth century; Russia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the American Civil War; and early 20th-century Europe and the United States.


Elizabeth Brown

Elizabeth Brown

Elizabeth Brown

Elizabeth A. R. Brown is Professor Emeritus of History at the City University of New York where she taught from 1963 to 1992.  She received her B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1954, her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Radcliffe Graduate School and Harvard in 1956 and 1961. She received the degree Doctor litterarum honoris causa from The Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto in 2009.  She has taught at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris (1986), at Harvard University (1956-58, 1960-63), New York University (1994-95), and Yale University (1995-96).  She is a corresponding member of the Société nationale des antiquaires de France and the Société de l’histoire de France.  Among her publications are The Monarchy of Capetian France and Royal Ceremonial (1991), Politics and Institutions in Capetian France (1991), Customary Aids and Royal Finances in Capetian France: The Marriage Aid of Philip the Fair (1992), and Saint-Denis, la basilique (2001).


ATBL Mourns Loss of Advisory Member

ada louise huxtableAda Louise Huxtable, valued Advisory Council Member of the ATBL died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 91.

Louise Landman was born on March 14, 1921, to Leah Rosenthal Landman and Dr. Michael Louis Landman. She grew up in Manhattan in a Beaux-Arts apartment house, the St. Urban, at Central Park West and 89th Street.

Author and writer for the NY Times, She pioneered modern architectural criticism celebrating buildings that respected human dignity and civic history .

She lived in Manhattan and Marblehead, Mass.

She won the first Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism, in 1970. More recently, she was the architecture critic of The Wall Street Journal.

“Mrs. Huxtable invented a new profession,” a valedictory Times editorial said in 1981, just as she was leaving the newspaper, “and, quite simply, changed the way most of us see and think about man-made environments.

Welcome to New Board Members

Katherine Ashton

Kate Ashton is a partner in the international law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, based in London. She has lived in London since 1993 and has dual US/UK citizenship. Kate grew up in New York City. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where she studied History and Literature, in 1981, and from Harvard Law School in 1985.

She is on the Board of Trustees of the American College of Investment Counsel, an officer of the Capital Markets Forum of the International Bar Association, and has published numerous articles on legal subjects. She is a member of the bar of the State of New York and qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales. She is active in various charitable and cultural activities.

Caroline Bacon

Caroline Bacon has participated in many ATBL activities. Most recently, in the spring of 2011, she and her husband joined the Chairman’s Council trip to participate in tours of the libraries at Lambeth Palace and Westminster and the exhibition on the English Language at the British Library. Mr and Mrs Bacon live in Connecticut and New York.

Caroline is an independent scholar researching and writing about Christian Iconography. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan (B.A;), Columbia University (M.B.A.) and Yale Divinity School where she received an M.A.R. with a concentration in Religion and the Arts. She was an independent financial communications consultant after working for many years for Goldman Sachs in international investment banking.

She has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome and a student at the Rare Books course on illuminated manuscripts. She belongs to a number of professional associations concerned with the arts and art history. She served on the vestry of Christ and St. Stephen’s Church and on the Board of Musica Sacra, among other organizations.

Farewell to ATBL Treasurer George Bell Adams,

George Adamsof Manhattan and Old Field, NY, who died at age 80 on April 24, 2011 at home in Manhattan after a valiant battle with cancer. His beloved family, friends and former colleagues will profoundly miss him. He is survived by his devoted wife of 58 years, Lucy. George was the loving father of Lisa (Jim Rowe), Marea, George Jr. (Jean) and Alison (Peter Collery) and adored “PopPop” of ten grandchildren

His philanthropic work included trustee and executive committee member of the American Trust for the British Library; Chairman of the Board of Sarah Lawrence College; President of The Greater New York Fund (United Way of New York City); fellow of the Pierpont Morgan Library; member of the Yale University Council; and member of the Board of Visitors of the CUNY Law School. In retirement, George co-founded Gray Matters, an advisory group of retired professionals offering services to community based organizations.

NY Public Library Three Faiths Exhibit Inspired by the British Library

Exerpts from the New York Times article by Edward Rothstein – October 22, 1010

NYPL Three Faiths Exhibit

NYPL Three Faiths Exhibit

“The sweep of the new exhibition at the New York Public Library — Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam — is stunning. It stretches from a Bible found in a monastery in coastal Brittany that was sacked by the Vikings in the year 917, to a 1904 lithograph showing the original Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue. It encompasses both an elaborately decorated book of 20th-century Coptic Christian readings and a modest 19th-century printing of the Gospels in the African language Grebo. There are Korans, with pages that shimmer with gold leaf and elegant calligraphy, and a 13th-century Pentateuch from Jerusalem, written in script used by Samaritans who traced their origins to the ancient Northern Kingdom of Israel.

The library’s Gutenberg Bible is here, as well as its 1611 King James translation. The first Koran published in English is shown, from 1649, along with fantastical images from 16th-century Turkish and Persian manuscripts in which Muhammad is pictured with other prophets, his face a blank white space in obeisance to the prohibition against his portrait.”

This exhibition grew out of a show mounted in 2007 at the British Library called Sacred, a groundbreaking exhibition that caused a buzz in London. The exhibit brought together for the first time at the British Library some of the world’s most important religious texts representing the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.

Exquisite and rare examples of the three faiths’ sacred texts from the Library’s own collection, considered one of the greatest in the world, were presented alongside treasures on loan from other institutions in a compelling modern context.

The original plan was for a joint exhibition of the New York Public Library and the British Library, but the British Library backed out, worried that post-9/11 inspections by the Transportation Security Administration could put its rare manuscripts at risk. So, while the British catalog is for sale here, the show is different, reconstructed using the New York library’s own collection by H. George Fletcher, the library’s retired director of special collections, and a team of five scholars and advisers.

“Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam” is on view through Feb. 27 at the New York Public Library;

ATBL Appoints New President

David Redden of Sotheby’s Assumes Top Post

David N. Redden

Lansing Lamont, David N. Redden, Dyke Benjamin

In his more than three decades at Sotheby’s David N. Redden, who on January 1 assumed the presidency of the American Trust for the British Library, has engaged in virtually every aspect of the high-end auction world.
He succeeds Lansing Lamont who held the post for ten years.

Mr. Redden has been responsible for some of the most creative and record-breaking auction at Sotheby’s where he is currently vice chairman for North and South America.
He came to the attention of the American Trust  through his friendship with the late William T. Golden. Mr. Redden had already achieved prominence by presiding over some of the most famous sales in Sotheby’s history.

He overseered the estate sales of Andy Warhol and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, disposed of Duchess of Windsor’s jewels, and the imperial Easter eggs from the Forbes Faberge’ Collection. He engineered the sales of ancient coins and shipwreck treasure; four battle flags of the American Revolution; the papers of Martin Luther King Jr.; and the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil  ever found.

More important to the bibliophilic world, Mr. Redden has sold Shakespeare First Folios; first printings of he Declaration of Independence; Washington’s own copy of the Federalist Papers; and the only privately owned copy of Magna Carta. Some years ago he presided over the disposal of the most valuable library ever sold in America, that of H. Bradley Martin, a prominent collector and member of the Phipps clan; the collection is noted for it’s impressive works on ornithology.

Mr. Redden  was born in China, the son of a U.S. diplomat and a New Zealand mother. His great-uncle was the English poet laureate, Alfred Austin, who in 1896 had succeeded Alfred, Lord Tennyson in the post. Mr. Redden was educated primarily in Europe.

He joined Sotheby’s in 1974 as a cataloger trainee in Chinese and Japanese artworks. Subsequently he was asked to manage wide range of auction areas including books and manuscripts, prints, photographs, Asian works of art, rare stamps and special sales.

Mr. Redden’s work has attracted over the years considerable media attention. He was subject of a half-hour documentary by the BBC, and was profiled by the New York Times.  In addition to his trustees role at the ATBL, he serves or has served on the boards of the Grolier Club, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Black Rock Forest Consortium, and Scenic Hudson.

Mr. Redden lives in New York City wit his wife Jeannette and their two children, Stephen and Clare. They have a home as well in Cornwall-on- Hudson, N.Y.