After an extensive renovation, the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America reopened to the public yesterday (Feb. 2). The renovation, completed at a cost of approximately $7 million, by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates with Nancy Rogo Trainer as principal-in-charge and Richard White Sons as construction managers, enhanced the safety and security of the library’s valuable holdings by improving temperature and humidity controls and reconfiguring library space and traffic flow.
“The renovation marks in a very material way the library’s entry into the 21st century, in a new phase of its existence as a special collections library,” said Nancy F. Cott, the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library. The renovations include new climate control equipment to meet the standards required for book and manuscript preservation. “Our aim for the library to be the premier repository documenting the lives and activities of American women has been fostered by the Radcliffe Institute; this building shows some of the great results to come of that new collaboration,” said Cott.
The building is home to an unparalleled collection of American women’s history including letters, diaries, photographs, books, periodicals, and oral histories, and is particularly strong in suffrage, women’s rights, social reform, family history, health and sexuality, work and professions, and culinary history. Recent acquisitions include letters from Amelia Earhart and Harriet Beecher Stowe, a cookbook written by a former slave, and the papers of poet June Jordan. Between now and June 30, visitors can see some of the Schlesinger Library’s important collections on view as part of “Treasures of the Schlesinger Library.”