University of Michigan Receives $10 Million for Clements Library

University of Michigan Receives $10 Million for Clements Library

The University of Michigan has announced a $10 million gift from the Avenir Foundation in Lakewood, Colorado, in support of the university's William L. Clements Library.

The investment will establish the Adams, Peckham, Dann, and Graffagnino Endowment Fund, named for the four men — Randolph G. Adams (1923-1951), Howard H. Peckham (1952-77), John C. Dann (1977-2007), and current director J. Kevin Graffagnino â€” who have served as directors of the library since it opened nearly a hundred years ago. The gift will enable staff to launch new projects, acquire and properly conserve primary source materials, and increase the accessibility of collections through digitization, lectures, fellowships, and programming. The gift also will name the library directorship after Adams, who transformed the personal archive of the building's benefactor, William Clements, into a leading research library specializing in the collection of primary source materials from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries.

In addition, the library's rare book room, which holds the family papers of Norton Strange Townshend, a nineteenth-century civic leader, will be renamed the Norton Strange Townshend Room. Townshend was engaged in anti-slavery activism and the Underground Railroad, served as a medical inspector in the Civil War, was an advocate of scientific training for farmers, and, with his wife, Margaret Bailey, was involved in the women's suffrage movement.

"As only the fourth director in the library's ninety-six years, I know I stand on the shoulders of my predecessors in overseeing all aspects of the library's activities, programs, and initiatives," said Graffagnino, who will retire in December. "As I close out a forty-year career as an Americana curator, scholar, and administrator, nothing could make me more proud than to be a part of the Clements story and its continued tradition of collecting, access, and service in early American history that these former directors established here."

(Photo credit: Eric Bronson)