Season’s Greetings, WRBG members!

We are looking forward to a new year full of interesting programming and, at least for the next few months, gathering together online. We are grateful for your continued support over the past year, and we are looking forward to a time when we will return to in-person meetings, events, and tours.

As usual, the group will take a brief programming hiatus during the month of December, but our January event will be something a bit different:
the first WRBG Book Discussion!

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict

We will discuss The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray; a fictionalized story of Belle da Costa Greene, personal librarian to J.P. Morgan.

Publisher’s Description: A remarkable novel about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white in order to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times bestselling authors Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray.

Greene was instrumental in establishing and developing the Morgan Library; she witnessed and participated in some of the most important book sales and auctions of the time, traveled the world seeking out new acquisitions, and earned the respect of the rare book world at a time when the field was dominated by men.

To provide additional context for our discussion, we will pair the novel with a scholarly article on Greene and three newspaper articles composed while Greene was still active:

  • Flaminia Gennari-Santori (2017) “This Feminine Scholar”: Belle da Costa Greene and the Shaping of J.P. Morgan’s Legacy, Visual Resources, 33:1-2, 182-197, DOI: 10.1080/01973762.2017.1276723
  • “The Morgan Library and Miss Greene: Retrospective Exhibition…” by Aline B. Louchheim. New York Times (1923- ); Apr 17, 1949.
  • “Spending J.P. Morgan’s Money for Rare Books.” New York Times (1857-1922); Apr 7, 1912
  • “J.P. Morgan’s Librarian Says High Book Prices are Harmful.” New York Times (1857-1922); Apr 30, 1911.

Please stay tuned for details (including pdfs of the supplementary readings) and a specific date and time for this event. In the meantime, we hope this gives you a good excuse to read something engaging over the holidays. We look forward to seeing you at this and future programs in the New Year.

Thank you for your support of our small but industrious group during this challenging time. If you have not, and are able, please pay your $30 annual, tax-deductible dues. You can renew your membership here: You can also send a check to: Washington Rare Book Group, P O Box 1387, Washington, DC 20013. If you cannot, we understand, and will keep you on our mailing list and continue to welcome you to all events.

If you are interested in making a tax-deductible gift that will have a positive effect on the future of bibliographic endeavors in our area, please consider donating to the WRBG scholarship fund. We award one full-tuition scholarship each year for a week-long class at Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. You can make your contribution here: We hope that this scholarship will continue to grow and provide exceptional experiences for the up-and-coming in the Rare Book World.

Covid-19 has had an effect on every aspect of our lives and we are all looking forward to brighter days ahead. We wish health and happiness for you and your families in the New Year, and we hope to see you soon.   

Amanda Zimmerman
President, WRBG

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