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.

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

Christine Zuromskis Joins Board


Christine Zuromkis

Christine is a founding Board of Trustees member of the British Library American Foundation in London.  She oversees the real estate acquisition investment company she and her husband Michael founded thirty years ago in Boston. She also manages and maintains four houses in three countries.  Given this peripatetic lifestyle, she does find time to pursue her passion for Caribbean history and is currently compiling research for a study on 17th Century Sugar Plantation Life in the British West Indies.  She will be awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky on April 27, 2014.  In her free time she designs needlepoint tapestries.

Christine graduated from Harvard and lives in Boston, London, Nevis, West Indies and on the coast of Maine.


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New Advisory Council Members

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Michael Ryan

micheal ryan

With a Ph.D. in early modern European history, Ryan has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels and managed library special collections departments for over thirty-five years at the University of Chicago, Stanford, Penn, and Columbia.  He is currently Vice President and Director of the Library of the New-York Historical Society.  His interests are in the history of the book, the intellectual history of the West, and Transatlantic history in the early

Barbara A. Shailor PhD

Barbara Shailor

Dr. Shailor joined Yale in 2001 as the Director of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library; she assumed the position of Deputy Provost for the Arts in July 2003 and retired from the Yale administration in December 2012. Her fields of specialization are History of the Book, Latin paleography, and codicology, which encompasses the study of Visigothic manuscripts copied and illuminated in northern Spain in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Her award-winning volume “The Medieval Book,” published by the University of Toronto Press, is in its 6th printing; among her other publications is the Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (3 vols.).

Dr. Shailor has been a trustee of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation since 2003; was elected to the Comité internationale de paléographie latine in 2000, and as a Fellow of the Medieval Academy in 2006. She is currently serving as a Councilor of the Grolier Club, and Chair of its Library Committee, and also as a member of the Finance Committee of the American Philological Association.

 Sarah E. Thomas

thomasSarah Thomas is vice president for the Harvard Library and the Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College.  From 2007 to 2013 she served as Bodley’s Librarian, overseeing Oxford’s university libraries, including the historic Bodleian Library.   She was University Librarian at Cornell University from 1996 until 2007.   She began her career at  Harvard University’s Widener Library and has since worked at Johns Hopkins University, the Research Libraries Group (Stanford, CA), the National Agricultural Library, and  the Library of Congress.  In 2007 she received the Melvil Dewey Award from the American Library Association, and in 2004 she served as the President of the Association of Research Libraries.

She is a graduate of Smith College, and holds an M.S. in Library Science from Simmons College, and a Ph.D. in German literature from Johns Hopkins University.

2013 Chairman’s Council Trip

Sunday: Time with Old and New Friends

Our 2013 Chairman’s Council trip began on March 3rd, with a convivial cocktail reception at Ruth Robinson’s flat in London. Old friends and new shared a lovely evening thanks to our gracious hostess.

 Monday: A Day of Opulence and Illumination at the British Library 

All the members at the British Library visit.

All the members at the British Library visit.

The morning began with a welcome meeting and refreshments hosted by Sarah Frankland, Development Head, and Abby Wilson, Patrons and Planned Giving Manager.  Dr. Malini Roy, co-curator, led us through Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, the collection of bejeweled and golden objects, as well as beautifully illustrated manuscripts from the Library’s Central and South Asian collections.

Following the tour, Peter Barber, Head of Cartographic and Topographic Manuscripts, introduced three volumes given to the ATBL by Roger Baskes and lent to the British Library.  Lunch in the Boardroom followed, where  speakers included  Chairman Baroness Blackstone, speaking about the importance of the internship program in sharing skills and resources with the greater community; CEO Roly Keating, highlighting the amazing diversity of staff, collections and visitors, and his conviction that diversity provides a worthy foundation for the Library’s bright future; Sarah Frankland, Head  of Development,  speaking about the endowment and encouraging members to provide feedback as well as support; and Dr. Scot McKendrick, Head of Western Manuscripts, discussing the challenges and progress made in digitizing the extensive BL collections.

Lunchtime conversation was further enlivened by the presence of Caroline Brazier, Director of Scholarship and Collections, who spoke about future exhibitions, along with Peter Barber and Susan Whitfield, Director, International Dunhuang Project, a collection of Central Asian manuscripts.

The afternoon progressed with a demonstration by Alex Whitfield, Learning and Digital Program Manager, of “English Online,” which features 20 authors and 50 texts.  Then there was a presentation by Claire Breay, Head Curator of Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts, about the Magna Carta, which will be featured in an historic BL exhibition scheduled for 2015.

The afternoon concluded with an exciting, eclectic, “Show and Tell” of collections items by Nicolas Bell, Lead Curator of Western Music; and Tim Pye, Curator of Printed Literary Sources.

That evening ATBL members were invited to attend the Friends of the British Library’s (FBL) Annual Meeting with speaker Roly Keating and host Christopher Wright, Deputy Chairman, FBL.  A busy Monday drew to a satisfying close with the FBL’s Annual Lecture, featuring Dame Penelope Lively DBE, the Booker Prize winning author of fifty books for both children and adults. Dame Lively’s humor and rich life experiences were evident in her charming lecture, “Reading and Writing: My Life in Books.” A reception followed.

 Tuesday: Scaling New Heights at Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace Private Dining Hall

Hampton Court Palace Private Dining Hall

On Tuesday members arrived at Hampton Court Palace for a sumptuous Henry VIII-style lunch with Chris Martin, Head of Hampton Court Palace, and Tracy Borman, Chief Interim Curator at Historic Royal Palaces. Lunch was served in the “Banqueting House” (photo above), a small outbuilding that is said to be where King William III “entertained” a mistress or two. The exquisite chamber is decorated by Antonio Verrio’s vibrant and sensuous murals depicting the lives of the gods.

Lunch was followed by a private tour of the Palace, including privileged access to the rooftops (photos above). It is only from this vantage point that you can fully appreciate the scope and elegance of the 750 acres of buildings, waterways and gardens. Our visit to Hampton Court concluded with a brief tour of Henry VIII’s Grand Hall and the quintessentially Tudor Chapel Royal.

The view from the private service stairs was spectacular.

The view from the private service stairs was spectacular.

That evening a fragrant and delicious Persian buffet awaited us in Twickenham, at the home of gracious hosts, Fereydoun and Yekta Ala. Fereydoun’s grandfather had served as regent to the Shah, and his father followed as Prime Minister and then Ambassador to the US. Yetka told us of her husband’s harrowing escapes from persecution and described their many charitable efforts in Iran.

 Wednesday: The One and Only Windsor Castle

This much anticipated tour of Windsor Castle was the “jewel in the crown” of a trip already rich with visual and intellectual pleasures commencing in the Royal Library with Jane Lady Roberts, Royal Librarian, and her staff.

Lunch was at the nearby Tower Bar & Brasserie in The Harte & Garter Hotel. The classic British cuisine, was enjoyed by all and it was a happy group that returned for the afternoon. Windsor Castle was everything we imagined and more, with highlights too numerous to detail here, but Queen Mary’s Dollhouse and the Royal collection’s exhibition, “The Queen: Portraits of a Monarch” are treasures beyond compare.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Queen Elizabeth II has been painted and photographed by some of the most talented painters and photographers of our times. The exhibit, “The Queen: Portraits of a Monarch,” contained many of these images brought together for this historic exhibit. The most recently acquired work (2012) is a series of four large screen prints by Andy Warhol.  Other artists represented included Lucien Freud, Cecil Beaton and Annie Leibowitz. No matter the artist, it was the Queen, who stole the show.

At supper on the return coach, all agreed that there could not have been a more fitting finale to our 2013 trip than our day at Windsor Castle (below).


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New Advisory Council Member

helen-shentonHelen Shenton became Deputy Director of the Harvard University Library in 2009 and then the first executive director of Harvard Library in early 2011 after 12 years at the British Library as head of collection care.  Her portfolio ranged from security issues and risk assessment, to high density storage, digital preservation and the newspaper strategy.

Helen was deeply involved with the British Library Centre for Conservation which opened in 2007. She worked on world heritage projects such as the virtual re-unification of the earliest New Testament, The Codex Sinaiticus and an international peer review of the Lindisfarne Gospels.  She has wide professional experience in national and international forums and has written and presented widely, convened international roundtables, and been tutor, supervisor and examiner for masters degree programs.

ATBL Mourns Loss of Great Member

Rene Bryant

Rene Bryant

Rene Leilani Kuhn Bryant, a valued and longtime member of the ATBL’s Advisory Council, and wife of the late Douglas Wallace Bryant, the first Executive Director of the ATBL, died on January 30, 2013. She was 89.

Rene was a graduate of the University of Michigan and an award winning writer and editor, who worked at Life Magazine, the United States Embassy in London, and the Radcliffe Institute.  Rene was very instrumental in her husband’s writing and work, an active participant in many of the ATBL visits, and a close friend of Viscount Eccles and his wife Mary. There is a distinguished lecture series named for Douglas W. Bryant given each year at the British Library under the auspices of the Eccles Centre for American Studies.

There was a memorial service for Rene on Sunday, March 17, 2013 at Harvard Memorial Church, with a reception afterwards at the Harvard Faculty Club.  William Stoneman, ATBL’s Advisory Council member, and Librarian of  the Houghton Library, represented the American Trust at the Memorial Service.

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 Member News About John Bidwell

John Bidwell

John Bidwell

The New York Times of last January 25, in its Antiques Section, carried a two-column article on John Bidwell. The article started with “John Bidwell, the lead curator of printed books at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, researched 500 sites where paper was made for his new book, American Paper Mills, 1690 – 1832: A Directory of the Paper Trade with Notes on Products, Watermarks, Distribution Methods, and Manufacturing Techniques (Dartmouth College Press/American Antiquarian Society). The book belies the dryness of its subtitle with tales of  business deals turned violent and limbs mangled  in machinery.”

Some of the research for this book was done at the British Library. The book is now in print and can be ordered from the University Press of New England.