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Von Clemm Fellowship

The Von Clemm Fellowship in Book Conservation provides the opportunity for a recent graduate of the bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School to spend six months working in the conservation laboratory at the Athenæum. The Fellowship was created in 2003 with a generous ongoing gift from The Michael and Louisa von Clemm Foundation.

Founded in 1885 by members of the Athenæum, the North Bennet Street School educates students in the highest standards of traditional craftwork. The two-year bookbinding program is the only full-time training available to aspiring binders in the United States. Students are immersed in bench work from the first day, beginning with reconstructing historical sewing structures, followed by covering in cloth and paper, book repair, box-making, leather binding, and gold tooling.

After two years of being schooled to seek perfection in the execution of every step of a binding, our Fellows are given the opportunity to gain real world experience in a busy lab. They construct protective enclosures for rare materials, clean soiled bindings, utilize chemical treatments to stabilize old leather bindings, repair bindings in cloth, parchment, and paper, and wash and de-acidify paper documents. At the conclusion of the Fellowship, the department hosts an open house in the lab with every item conserved by the Fellow on display for curators and library staff members. This is an opportunity for the Fellow to discuss conservation issues and field questions from a knowledgeable audience. Displaying their conservation treatments is a fitting tribute to their months of exploration and learning.

What draws each of us to craft work is a desire to create objects that will outlast us. A conservator’s work is central to the preservation of our culture and history, and each Von Clemm Fellow in Book Conservation will carry on this tradition. This training program represents a substantial contribution by the Athenæum to the profession of book conservation. In the process of educating the next generation of conservators. We hand down skills learned over years of study, skills that our Fellows will someday have the pleasure of passing on to others.

Past Fellows

  • 2015: Lauren Calcote
  • 2014: Marinana Brotherton
  • ​2013: Jeanne Goodman
  • 2012: Henry Hébert
  • 2011: Fionnuala Hart Gerrity
  • 2010: Athena Moore
  • 2009: Aude Gabory