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Exhibition Opening of Presidents & Their Books

Fri, Feb 9 @ 5 pm7 pm

The Providence Athenæum and historian Ted Widmer officially open the exhibition Presidents and Their Books: What They Read and What They Wrote. Members are invited to join us for a prosecco toast, refreshments by Easy Entertaining, and an in-depth look at some of the exhibition’s highlights.

5-5:30pm – reception & exhibition viewing
5:30-5:50pm – remarks by historian Ted Widmer
5:50-7pm – exhibition viewing

About Presidents and Their Books

Traveling from NYC’s Grolier Club, Presidents and Their Books: What They Read and What They Wrote explores America’s presidents as bibliophiles, readers, and writers and features books owned or written by each of the 45 men who have served as President. Co-curated by renowned collector Susan Jaffe Tane and her teenage grandchildren Natalie Flaxman and Spencer Flaxman, the materials are drawn from Ms. Tane’s personal collection.

Highlights include:
• George Washington’s signed copy of Memoir of a Map of Hindoostan (1794)
• Thomas Jefferson’s annotated copy of Homer’s Iliad (1570), a Renaissance-era printing in Greek
• Theodore Roosevelt’s personal copy of his book Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter (1905)
• Harry S. Truman’s Truman Speaks (1960), gifted and inscribed to Eleanor Roosevelt
• John F. Kennedy’s copy of Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States (1961), inscribed by Jacqueline Kennedy after her husband’s death


Ted Widmer, Distinguished Lecturer at the Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York, is familiar to many long-time patrons of the Athenæum, including some whose memories go back half a century. His great-grandparents met at the circulation desk in 1905, and he has been a regular visitor since the 1970s, when he did extensive research in the Children's Library. In 2010, he helped to launch a major Civil War history project in the pages of the New York Times. "Disunion" published hundreds of pathbreaking articles between 2010 and 2015, including the articles that led to his book Lincoln on the Verge. Since then, Ted has remained a steady contributor to the New York Times, Washington Post, and New Yorker.