NEWS: March 2010

Vol. 3, No. 3

In This Issue:

Banner Image: A Southwestern View of Washington Square, by Frank H. Taylor, c. 1910



Our thanks to all of you who have already donated books for the April/May book sale.  Please keep us in mind as you are spring cleaning.  The more books that we have, the better.  Both paperbacks and hard covers are very useful, and we will take adult and children's books.  Remember that there is a special members' opening for the book sale on April 28th, and you will receive a separate invitation to that which will also announce the activities that your Literary Committee has planned for May:  Literary Award, poetry reading with Saturnalia Press and a forum of mystery and detective writers.  We have an exciting spring planned for you as you can see from the March activities highlighted below.


Banner Image: A Southwestern View of Washington Square, by Frank H. Taylor, c. 1910


Building By The Book Exhibition

In conjunction with Philagrafika 2010: the Graphic Unconscious, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, collaborating with the Philadelphia
Center for the Book, presents an exhibition of contemporary book arts produced in response to Athenaeum research collections. See the work of artists Aimee Denault, Karen Hanmer, John Magnan, Claire Owen, Pia Pizzo, and Donald Rattner. 


March 1 - May 1, 2010
Free Admission

Opening Reception: March 5, 5:30-7:30PM

Competition and Exhibition Generously Funded by the Beneficia Foundation.

Above: Diorama (2010) by John Magnan, a response to The Young Carpenter's Assistant by Owen Biddle (1805). Photo by Jim Carroll.

Steven Semes Lecture and Book Signing

Steven W. Semes is Associate Professor and Academic Director of the Rome Studies Program at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. A practicing architect for over thirty years, he has designed a wide variety of projects for preservation and new construction throughout the United States. In his new book he supports the ideas that new traditional architecture promises continuity in the historic built environment, and he calls for rethinking preservation standards and policies.

March 9, 2010


Free for Athenaeum, Classical America, Preservation Alliance and AIA Members (Contact Susan Gallo at 215-925-2688 or to RSVP)

All others $10, Register Here


Book Arts Workshops



A special kind of creative magic awaits you in this workshop. Learn a number of basics pop-up structures, such as a face, a heart, and then move to more complex constructions. Add a bit of yourself to the designs and then bring them all together to form a book that springs to life.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Children's Workshop: 10:00am-12:00pm, (Ages 7-12)

Members $15, Non-Members $25


The accordion book is a wonderful structure that has tremendous potential for any type of content. The class will learn the proper folding of this three-dimensional active book structure - where getting the pages to all line up is a challenge. This will form the foundation for our book, which will then be transformed through the addition of multiple creative pop-ups. Finally we will finish the book with its own unique cover design.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Adult Workshop: 1:00pm-4:00pm

Members $25, Non-Members $35

Click here to register

New Book From Cordelia Biddle

Without Fear, the third novel in Cordelia Biddle's Martha Beale series is now available. As compelling a read as Deception’s Daughter and The Conjurer, the novel opens with a scene that takes place during a blizzard in Philadelphia. As we twenty-first century folk have had to dig ourselves out from the latest Philadelphia blizzards, and the streets were untraveled, with ice bowing down the branches of the trees, we were all transported back in time into the mid 1840s.

Please click below for additional information on the novel, and the opportunity to read the first chapter of Without Fear. You’re also invited to become a fan of Martha’s on FACEBOOK. For a Victorian lady, she’s quite the progressive woman…


Member Critics

T. J. Stiles.  The First Tycoon:  The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

This book is written as though the Commodore had an eye on the author as he wrote.  Does this mean that Vanderbilt is still powerful in the afterlife?  Yes, but not by mere chance.  Whether in his organization of sailing vessels, steamers, or of railroads, Vanderbilt ensured his legacy by installing as vice-presidents his sons, sons-in-law, and trusted associates.  When the time was right, these younger men slid into the presidency (usually still under his watchful eye).  This book was selected as one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe.

Submitted by Dr. Harold Rashkis.


Do you have a book that you loved (or hated), and would you be willing to share that opinion on the Athenaeum e-newsletter?  If so, please send your short essay to


Save the Date:  

March 5: Opening Reception for Building By The Book 5:30pm-7:30pm

March 6: First Saturday, Athenaeum Open, 10:00am-2:00pm

March 9: Socrates Cafe, 11:00am

March 9: Steven Semes, The Future of the Past: A Conservation Ethic for Architecture, Urbanism, and Historic PreservationLecture and Book Signing, 6:00pm

March 13: Book Arts Workshops with Maria Pisano


See the Event Calendar for details and additional events.

The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday and the first Saturday of the month from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Group tours and research visits are by appointment only. Please visit our website for more information, or call 215-925-2688.


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