The Boston Athenæum hosts two Fellows in its Conservation Lab each year: the Driscoll Family Fellow in Conservation and the von Clemm Fellow in Book Conservation. Both Fellowships provide a recent graduate of the Bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School the opportunity to spend six months working in the conservation laboratory at the Athenæum.

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 apply and further hone the skills  in a library setting. They construct protective enclosures for rare materials, clean soiled bindings, utilize chemical treatments to stabilize deteriorating leather bindings, repair bindings in cloth, parchment, leather, and paper, and wash and de-acidify paper documents. At the conclusion of each 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.

These fellowship programs represents a substantial contribution by the Athenæum to the profession of book conservation and affirm the Library’s position as an essential center of learning for emergent conservation professionals. In the process of educating the next generation of conservators, we hand down skills developed over years of study, skills that our Fellows will someday have the pleasure of passing on to others.

The Driscoll Family Fellowship in Conservation

The Driscoll Family Fellowship in Conservation was created with a multi-year gift commitment from long-time member and Proprietor David L. Driscoll. The Fellowship is further supported by family and friends of Mr. Driscoll in memory of his late father Leo E. Driscoll.

Mr. Driscoll has long supported  the Athenæum’s conservation efforts in demonstration of his belief that  “conserving historically significant materials for future generations is central to the mission of the Athenæum.”

The von Clemm Fellowship in Book Conservation

The von Clemm Fellowship in Book Conservation was created in 2003 by a generous ongoing gift from The Michael and Louisa von Clemm Foundation. The foundation was created by former Boston Athenæum Life Member Louisa von Clemm and her husband Michael. Louisa von Clemm was drawn to the craft of bookbinding by a desire to create lasting objects that represent and preserve humanity’s collective culture and history. The von Clemm Fellowship continues this legacy.

Past von Clemm Fellows

  • 2019: Greta Llanes
  • 2018: Allison Rosenthal
  • 2017: Natalie Naor
  • 2016: Jonathan Romain
  • 2015: Lauren Calcote
  • 2014: Marianna Brotherton
  • ​2013: Jeanne Goodman
  • 2012: Henry Hébert
  • 2011: Fionnuala Hart Gerrity
  • 2010: Athena Moore
  • 2009: Aude Gabory

Past Driscoll Family Fellows

  • 2020: Greta Llanes
  • 2019: Allison Rosenthal
  • 2018: Natalie Naor