Johns Hopkins University Libraries Virtual Tour

It was delightful to have members join us on May 26th for the virtual tour of Johns Hopkins University Libraries! Advisory Council member Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries, Archives, and Museums, co-hosted “A Tale of Two Libraries: The John Work Garrett Library and the George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University” with ATBL. Earle Havens, Nancy H. Hall Curator of Rare Books & Manuscripts, and Paul Espinosa, Curator of the George Peabody Library, provided a live, illustrated tour of their historic library spaces and visual highlights of the encyclopedic collections that they encompass. Watch the video below. Thank you to our JHU Libraries colleagues!

The 2nd Annual David Redden Lecture

Mr. William T. Buice, III, gave the 2nd Annual David N. Redden Lecture on England and the United States: A Bibliophile’s “Special Relationship” on October 27 online via Zoom. Watch the video recording of the lecture, below, with introductions by Bruce Crawford, President of the Grolier Club, and R. Dyke Benjamin, President and Treasurer of the ATBL, followed by a lively Q & A session.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

Eccles Centre News

group (large)

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.