University of Michigan Clements Library in Ann Arbor receives $10 million gift

By Sarah M. Parlette - Associated Producer

Credit: Philip Datillo

ANN ARBOR, Mich - University of Michigan's William L. Clements Library has received a $10 million gift in honor of founding director Randolph G. Adams.

Given by the Avenir Foundation, the donation has contributed to the creation of the Randolph G. Adams Director of the Clements Library directorship through the establishment of the Adams, Peckham, Dann and Graffagnino Endowment Fund. The fund is named after the four directors of the Clements Library and was approved by the university Board of Regents on June 20. 

The Clements Library has an international reputation for its comprehensive collection of American history, which specializes in collecting and preserving primary source materials such as maps, correspondence and early photography, from the 1400s through the 1800s. 

A book in the Clements collection (Credit: Philip Datillo)

Adams, an advocate for rare book libraries as well as a professor at the University of Michigan, set a course for the library's continual growth starting at its opening in 1923. His work with William Clements (for whom the library is named) caused the library to triple in size during his tenure as director. 

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After Adams, Howard H. Peckham served as director from 1952 to 1977, followed by John C. Dann (1977-2007) and the current director, J. Kevin Graffagnino, who plans to retire at the end of 2019. 

  "As only the fourth director in the library's 96 years, I know I stand on the shoulders of my predecessors in overseeing all aspects of the library's activities, programs and initiatives," Graffagnino said.

"As I close out a 40-year career as an Americana curator, scholar and administrator, nothing could make me more proud than to be a part of the Clements story and its continued tradition of collecting, access and service in early American history that these former directors established here."

Credit: Philip Datillo

Following the library's massive2 1/2-year renovation, a project costing $17 million (some of which was also donated by the Avenir Foundation), the Clements Library will also see a renaming of its rare book room thanks to the Adams, Peckham, Dann and Graffagnino Endowment Fund. 

The rare book room will now be known as The Norton Strange Townshend Room based on the Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers collection, a group of primary sources that have shed light on life in the 1800s through the eyes of the Townshend family. 

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