Spring 2023 Bulletin

From the Archives

A photo of Nancy C. Andrews, David M. Rubenstein, and David W. Oxtoby in front of the newly opened David M. Rubenstein wing at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Board Chair Nancy C. Andrews, David M. Rubenstein, and President David W. Oxtoby. Photo by Martha Stewart Photography.

By Michele Lavoie, Director of Archives

In 2021, the Academy received a gift from business leader, philanthropist, and Academy member David M. Rubenstein to support the building of a new addition to the headquarters in Cambridge, MA. The new wing would house the organization’s institutional archives, furthering the efforts to date to preserve the records of the Academy and make them more accessible. Academy President David W. Oxtoby said of the gift, “David Rubenstein’s generosity reflects his deep appreciation for the arc of history and his abiding interest in strengthening democracy and justice in America.”

Completed in the summer of 2022, the new wing provides approximately 975 square feet of storage and working space for the archives staff and researchers. The space includes nearly 2,300 linear feet of compact shelving, increasing the storage capacity for paper records, audiovisual materials, artwork, and other special collections by 48 percent and allowing the Academy to house more of the records on-site. Industry-specific environmental controls for temperature and relative humidity, as well as a strong security system, ensure the long-term preservation of the materials.

Over the course of four days in November 2022, over 1,750 linear feet of archival materials were relocated from the archives space in the basement of the building to the new wing. Since then, the archives staff has continued to arrange boxes, hang artwork, and update inventory and location controls accordingly.

The new space also includes workstations for up to five researchers, allowing visitors–under the supervision of the archives staff–to work in the Archives for the first time. Several researchers interested in the records of past Academy projects have already visited the Archives to examine relevant documents. In the coming months, we look forward to hosting Academy member and history professor Jacqueline Jones (University of Texas at Austin) and her research assistant as they prepare a written history of the Academy in celebration of the organization’s 250th anniversary in 2030.