In this issue:


Banner Image: Banner Image: Athenaeum share certificate #1, issued on September 21st, 1815 to the institution's first President, William Tilghman, Esq.  Until the Athenaeum incorporated, its members were known as subscribers rather than shareholders.

Membership    ·    New Books    ·    Event Calendar

Banner Image: Athenaeum share certificate #1, issued on September 21st, 1815 to the institution's first President, William Tilghman, Esq.  Until the Athenaeum incorporated, its members were known as subscribers rather than shareholders.

Lecture and Book Signing: Bob Brier, Egyptomania

While the Athenaeum is celebrating its 200th anniversary, we must also acknowledge the cultures that preceded us but still hold a fascination for contemporary readers and collectors. Through his collection and exhaustive research, Brier seeks to understand the pull of Ancient Egypt on our world today, finding that the connections are undisputable. In this one-stop Egyptian compendium, Brier explores our ceaseless fixation with Egypt, and the historical events that sparked it, referencing his own collection of artifacts, as well as the cultural implications of such findings. Egyptomania is an inventive and mesmerizing tour of how an ancient civilization endures in ours today. 

Bob Brier is a Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University and the author of eight books, including The Murder of Tutankhamen. He has conducted research in pyramids and tombs in 15 countries and was the host of several award-winning television specials for TLC, including the blockbuster series Pyramids, Mummies & Tombs and Mummy Detective. In 2010, National Geographic TV presented his documentary “Secret of the Great Pyramid.” A contributing editor to Archaeology Magazine, he also writes articles for many other magazines, including Smithsonian, and KMT.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 5:30PM

Free for Athenaeum Members, RSVP to 215-925-2688 or events@PhilaAthenaeum.orgAll others $10.

More February Programs

February 5, 12:00-1:00pm - Exploring The Athenaeum, Tips of The Iceberg: Join Executive Director Sandra Tatman for the next talk in this monthly series.  February will focus on Oliver Herford's An Alphabet of Celebrities.  Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1900. Free, but RSVP required. 215-925-2688 or

Tuesday, February 11, 11am - Socrates Cafe Discussion Group - RSVP required to

February 12, 2:00-4:00pm - Athenaeum Genealogy Group  Athenaeum Members only, RSVP required. 215-925-2688 or

Wednesday, February 19, 2:30pm (Rescheduled from January) - "Prevention and Detection of Skin Cancers," with Rosalie Elenitsas, M.D., F.A.A.D., Professor of Dermatology; Director of Dermatopathology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. This lecture marks the beginning of a series of three lectures which the Athenaeum will co-sponsor with Society Hill - Hot and Healthy! Free, but RSVP required. 215-925-2688 or


Harvard University Wheelright Prize


We're passing on this announcement for the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

The Wheelright Prize is a $100,000 traveling fellowship open to talented early-career architects worldwide proposing exceptional itineraries for research and discovery.  Click the poster to the left for more information.


Lecture and Book Signing: Diane Jacobs, Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters


Much has been written about the enduring marriage of President John Adams and his wife, Abigail (1714-1818), but few know of the equally strong bond Abigail shared with her sisters, Mary Cranch (1741-1811), and Elizabeth Shaw Peabody (1750-1815), accomplished women in their own right. Now acclaimed biographer Diane Jacobs reveals their moving story, which unfolds against the stunning backdrop of America in its transformative colonial years. This engaging narrative traces the sisters’ lives from their childhood sibling rivalries to their eyewitness roles during the American Revolution and their adulthood as outspoken wives and mothers. Drawing from newly discovered correspondence, never-before-published diaries, and archival research, Dear Abigail is a fascinating front-row seat to history—and to the lives of three exceptional women who were influential during a time when our nation’s democracy was just taking hold. 


Diane Jacobs holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from Columbia University. Jacobs has taught at Dartmouth College, the Columbia University School of the Arts, and the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and has contributed to write for such publications as The New York Times and The Village Voice. Among her several books she has also published Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Thursday, March 6, 2014, 5:30PM

Free for Athenaeum Members, RSVP to 215-925-2688 or events@PhilaAthenaeum.orgAll others $10.

This Month In 1814:  A Look Back At The Athenaeum's Founding Year

The founders of the Athenaeum were busy in February 1814, meeting frequently to establish the rules that would govern the institution and preparing to open the reading rooms.  At their first official meeting on February 9th, they chose the name Athenaeum of Philadelphia, and adopted “Articles of Constitution” which outlined the board and officer positions (which were also filled at the meeting), set the price of annual dues at $5, and set the reading room hours at 9:00am-9:00pm, Monday-Saturday, except from April 1 to October 1, when the rooms would open at 7:00am.

Everything was happening at a rapid pace.  At the next meeting, which took place at Philosophical Hall on the 12th, two members of the board were tasked with renting rooms in Mr. Finley’s building at the southeast corner of 4th and Chestnut Streets (This building was later owned by Matthew Carey and was illustrated in the January newsletter).  Only three days later, Roberts Vaux, the newly appointed Treasurer, was already using the building as an office to collect dues from subscribers.

By the end of the month, the board and officers had created a Superintendence Committee and a Purchasing Committee, ordered furniture and publications, adopted by-laws and rules for the reading rooms, secured a location, collected dues from the pledged subscribers and drafted a public notice which would describe the institution and announce its opening, but for that we’ll have to wait until March…

Above: Public announcement that the Athenaeum was ready to begin collecting dues from its first subscribers.  From Poulson's American Daily Advertiser, February 16, 1814.


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