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.


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 ( with a complete folder list. For more information about using the Grolier Club Library, please visit the website at or contact the Librarian, Meghan Constantinou, at / 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


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


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

Magna Carta Exhibition

 Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy

MagnacartaMarking the 800th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta, the British Library held a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition exploring the history and significance of this globally-recognized document.

When granted by King John in 1215, Magna Carta was a practical solution to a political crisis, but in the centuries since it has become a potent symbol of liberty and the rule of law. This exhibition takes us on a journey from its medieval origins to the modern uses of Magna Carta.

The British Library, as the custodian of two original Magna Carta manuscripts, drew on its rich historical collections to bring to life a story that remains relevant today. Also on display was Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten text of the Declaration of Independence (on loan from the New York Public Library), and an original copy of the US Bill of Rights (on loan from the Library of Congress), together with other key documents and artifacts.

Opened March 13 and closed September 1, 2015.

Spring Library Trips

ATBL New York City Library/Museum Visits

American Museum of Natural History

b10715216_4In April a group of ATBL guests visited the AMNH’s Special Collections Library. This visit was a part of the ATBL’s NYC Library/Museum Special Collection Visitation Series. The ATBL group viewed rare selections from the AMNH’s archives which represent one of the world’s outstanding natural science special collections.

In addition to exquisite natural history and botanical illustrated books, Tom Baione, Harold Boeschenstein Director, Department of Library Services, showed them an original page from Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, early photos of the AMNH building structures, scarce AMNH diorama drawings, and antique maps.

New York Academy of Medicine

t-ny academ medicine-1The second visit in April was to the Coller Rare Book Room of the NYAM.  Arlene Shaner, Acting Curator and Reference Librarian for Historical Collections, and Dr. Lisa O’Sullivan, Director, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health, showed us the science and medical library opened in 1847 that was first used only by physicians, and which is now open to the public.

In a gorgeously renovated rare book room with UV protected glass, shades, climate control and restored cork flooring, ATBL members saw Andreas Vesalius’ De Humani Corporis Fabrica from the 16th century by Andreas Vesalius, referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy.  NYAM has the last re-inking and printing of the wood blocks for this work before they were destroyed by bombing and fire.  They also saw the first set of George Washington’s lower jaw made of hippo ivory and real teeth by Dr. John Greenwood, a fellow of the NYAM; the first culture medallion awarded to Sir Alexander Fleming which contains a penicillin sample; and the first piece of medical printing ever done in New York.

New York Botanical Garden

Botanic GardensThe final spring trip was a beautiful May day at the NYBG, hosted by Susan Fraser, Director, International Plant Science Center, Mertz Library.   ATBL members took a trolley around the Garden which was in full bloom, then visited the Haupt Conservatory with a gorgeous horticultural exhibition featuring an evocation of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine; and the current exhibit Six Groundbreakers Great American Gardens & the Women who Designed Them at the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Rotunda.

Stephen Sinon, Head of Archives, showed us exquisite and rare books on botany, horticulture and landscaping, including plants, herbs, cookery, and medicines from as early as 1190.  The botanical illustrations were marvelous.   The library assists visiting scholars and graduate fellows whose investigations involve innovative interdisciplinary approaches to areas such as landscape architecture, garden design, urban planning, history of science, art history, cultural anthropology, and environmental studies.

2014 Chairman’s Council Trip to London and Paris

London June 1-3

t-BL Trip Members 2014Ruth Robinson, Board Member, hosted the start of this year’s trip on Sunday, June 1 with a cocktail reception at her flat on Sloane Street.  Dr. Susan Whitfield and Dr. Phillip Davies of the British Library joined the ATBL participants.

The group toured Dr Johnson’s House off Fleet Street with Deputy Curator Celine Luppo McDaid.   The librarian Sarah Cusk was available to answer questions and show us a facsimile of Dr. Johnson’s famous Dictionary.  Ms. Cusk is currently involved in a project at Lincoln College, Oxford and is continuing to catalogue works in the House with a view to building on the existing English dictionaries which Johnson referred to when compiling his own.

Lunch was at the Royal Garden Hotel Park Terrace Restaurant overlooking Kensington Palace.  After the meal guests walked through the Garden for tea and cakes in The Orangery, followed by a Georgians Tour of the Palace with Dr. Lee Prosser, Curator of Historic Buildings, Royal Historic Palaces.  Lisa von Clemm, who was waiting to meet up with the group, spied Prince William out walking with Prince George.

The day concluded with Christine and Michael Zuromskis’ hosting a reception at their flat in London.

Tuesday, June 3 at The British Library

2014-06-02 17.40.56-1

Frances Brindle, Director of Audiences, and Joanna Wells, Head of Individual Giving, welcomed guests and gave an overview of work at the BL for the past yearRobert Brodie, Conservation Team Leader, then gave a tour of the Conservation Centre items currently being conserved.  Guests divided into two teams to see close at hand how to guild manuscripts and conserve/preserve works.

Mark Walton, Welcome Team Manager, then led a tour of the newly refurbished Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery, including the Lindisfarne Gospels, Beowulf, da Vinci’s notebook, the Diamond Sutra – the world’s earliest dated printed book – and the Codex Sinaiticus – the earliest compete copy of the New Testament.

redden-blackstone-keatingChairman Baroness Blackstone and Chief Executive Officer Roly Keating joined us for pre-lunch drinks and luncheon in the Board Room, along with curators and administrative staff.

The afternoon started with a tour by Adrian Edwards, Lead Curator Printed Historical Sources and Co-Curator of exhibit “Comics Unmasked:  Art and Anarchy in the UK,” one of the most popular BL exhibits with 25% of the visitors being new to the library and also significantly younger than those to the previous Georgian exhibition.

Kathryn Johnson, Curator of Theatrical Manuscripts, then brought out items being considered to loan to the Folger Library for the Shakespeare 400th anniversary exhibition in 2016.

Then down to Fleet Street where Simon Eccles, ATBL Board member and Chairman of the St Bride Foundation, gave us a tour of the building and current exhibit.  Built in 1891 as an educational institute and social center, St Bride Foundation provides theater, youth theater, and educational outreach; and is the only library in the UK entirely devoted to the history of printing and allied crafts.

Paris June 4 – 6

t-bnf globeWednesday guests traveled by Eurostar to Paris, registered at their hotels, and met for an informal dinner.

Thursday morning Kara Lennon-Casanova, Director of Development, Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF), and her assistant Catherine Brial, welcomed us at the Francois Mitterrand site and introduced us to the  Head of the Digital Library Arnaud Beaufort who gave us an extensive tour of the virtual and physical technologies of “Gallica,” the magnificent online library.

Bruno Racine, Chairman and CEO of the BnF, was our gracious host at lunch where Joanna Wells from the BL, got a chance to interact with her counterparts in development at the BnF.

Due to traffic with President Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and others in Paris to celebrate the end of World War I, the group took the Metro to the Richelieu site which was under extensive renovation, including the magnificent Reading Room, alas.  However, Barbara Brejon de Lavergnee and her husband guided participants on a delightful private tour of French drawings of the 17th century.

runoThe group was then treated to an exquisite and extended show and tell by Isabelle Le Masne de Chermont (director of the Manuscripts department) in the stunning Galerie Mazarine and Chambre de Mazarin.  They saw the Evangile dit de Hurault, the Biblia Sacra dite Bible de Saint-Louis, the Concilium Toletanum; several examples of the Roman de la Rose digitized in Gallica, and the Vie de Sainte Catherine d’Alexandrie.

t-bnf isabelleJuliette Jestez, Deputy Librarian, the Bibliotheque historique de la Ville de Paris, welcomed guests Thursday morning at the house/mansion/hotel/museum containing maps, books and prints of Paris.



BHVP2Lunch at Le Café Maley overlooking the Pyramid at Le Louvre nourished and sustained attendees for a walk across La Seine to visit Bibliotheque Mazarine, the oldest public library in France.  Yann Sordet, Director, went out of his way to show rare and valuable treasures of the library, as well as the adjoining chapel/legislative chamber.  The visit to Paris was over too soon and those remaining finished the trip at the neighboring Café des Beaux Arts, hoping to return to Paris.t-BM Group

2014 Grants Total Nearly $362,000

To the British Library:

$221,920 for the lectures series at the British Library in memory of Naseeb Shaheen

$50,000 towards the international exhibition on Magna Carta to celebrate its 800th anniversary.  All four of the surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta, two of which are held by the British Library, with the others coming from Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral respectively, will be brought together for an international event at the BL in early March 2015.

$20,000 for Discovering Literature, an innovative new web resource designed to revolutionize the way literature is taught, studied, and enjoyed.  The first phase, Victorians and Romantics, features over 50 literary works and 1,200 individual collections items explored through 8,000 pages, with 25 accompanying short documentary films shot in locations such as Jane Austen’s House Museum, Bronte Parsonage Museum and Charles Dickens Museum.

$15,000 Shakespeare Exhibition

In 2016 the British Library is planning a major exhibition to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

$11,000 for the Polar Exploration Project from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

$7,000 for the ongoing preservation of the Thomas Cranmer materials from the Caritas Foundation for Western Kansas

$1,200 for a Freemasonry Pocket Manual

$800 for the International Dunhuang Project

And $35,000 to the Morgan Library & Museum to underwrite the shipping and courier costs of the British Library loan of Lewis Carroll’s (Charles Dodgon’s) diaries and the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland manuscript to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication.