In this issue:


Banner Image: Detail of Athena from frontispiece of The Polytechnic C.W. Bazeley, 1821. Engraved by William Humphrys.

Membership    ·    New Books    ·    Event Calendar

Banner Image: Detail of Athena from frontispiece of The Polytechnic C.W. Bazeley, 1821. Engraved by William Humphrys.

197th Annual Report Available Online

The 197th Annual Report of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia (for Fiscal Year 2011/2012) is now available on the Athenaeum website.


View the Annual Report


Current Exhibition- The Art of The Fan: Beyond The Victorian Lady

Writing in 1711 for The Spectator, Joseph Addison commented that "Women are armed with Fans as Men with Swords, and sometimes do more Execution with them." Fans were an important and fashionable addition to a lady's wardrobe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. That use of the fan encouraged publications such as Godey's Lady's Book in the 19th century to illustrate fans in fashion plates and to publish accounts where the woman sets up a "merry flutter" with her fan. This exhibition will focus on a recently acquired fan collection with Athenaeum books and periodicals expanding on the theme to understand the changing art of the fan.

Exhibition Dates: February 1-March 15, 2013, Free Admission

Special Events: Opening Reception. First Friday-February 1, 5:00-7:00PM. Free.

Busch Room Update

The painters have arrived with their scaffolding to begin plaster repair and painting in the Busch Room. Frank Welsh's new paint analysis reflects the latest technology for paint examination and color choice. Although we don't expect any major changes in color, the room will be refreshed with the new coat of paint.

Right: The Busch Reading Room.  Photo by Denise Fox.

Lecture and Book Signing- Carl Rollyson, American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath

Marking the 50th anniversary of her death and with access to the recently-opened archive from her husband Ted Hughes, this new interpretation of the life and poetry of Sylvia Plath comes at an opportune time. Plath’s contributions in both poetry and fiction to American literature is well-documented, but her work and her suicide have often combined to present an impression of Plath that Rollyson disputes. Carl Rollyson is professor of journalism at Baruch College, The City University of New York and the author of twelve biographies including Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress and, with his wife, Lisa Paddock, Susan Sontag: The Making of an Icon. He reviews biographies regularly for The Wall Street Journal, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Washington Post, The New Criterion, and other papers. Reception and book signing to follow.

Thursday, February 28, 2013, 5:30PM

Free for Athenaeum Members.  RSVP to Susan Gallo at 215-925-2688 or  All others, $10. Online Payment.


Fan Book Workshop with Maria Pisano


Fans have been used to celebrate and commemorate special occasions, as daily objects, to tease, attract, hide, etc. The Athenaeum is exhibiting their collection of 19th and 20th century fans, which were an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe. The Godey’s Lady’s Book showcases the fashion of the time alongside instructions on how to make one’s own fan. Inspired by these fashions, come and create an original fan book using flowers as a theme. A variety of materials and techniques will be used to facilitate the design of your pages alongside a poem(s) that you provide - at the end, all your pages will be hand bound into a unique work.


Saturday, March 2, 2013, 10:00am-4:00pm

Athenaeum Members $50, All others $75.


Online Registration



Monday-Friday:  9:00am-5:00pm

First and Third Saturdays:  11:00am-3:00pm (excluding the summer months)



219 S. 6th Street

Philadelphia, PA  19106 


The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.  

Group tours and research visits are by appointment only. 


The Athenaeum does not share this mailing list.  

You can Subscribe or Unsubscribe at the Athenaeum website.

To read past issues, visit the Newsletter Archive.