Major Gift from the Leon Levy Foundation to Fund Creation of Archives Center at the Institute for Advanced Study
$3.5 Million Donation will Establish The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center at the Institute to Preserve Important Historical Materials
The Institute for Advanced Study has received a $3.5 million gift from the Leon Levy Foundation to fund the creation of The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, which will enable the Institute to conserve and collect its current and future holdings of records and historical documents relating to the Institute, Faculty papers, oral histories, photographs and other significant documentation. The Archives Center will allow the Institute to organize formally, catalogue and preserve important historical materials, and serve as a repository for papers and other essential source materials originating from one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research. This gift reflects the continuing, dedicated support of Institute Trustee Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation, which was formed after the death of Ms. White’s husband Leon Levy, a leading financier who served as an Institute Trustee from 1988 to 2003.
Peter Goddard, Director of the Institute, said of the gift, “We are immensely grateful to Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation for providing us with the resources to meet a pressing and critically important need for the Institute. This donation will ensure the preservation of the Institute’s Archives, a resource of great historical importance, and demonstrates the outstanding generosity and vision of Shelby and the Foundation, from which the Institute has benefitted enormously over the years.”
The $3.5 million gift from the Leon Levy Foundation will cover initial capital costs for the Archives, and fund an endowment to support operating costs now and in future years. The gift will make possible the employment of a full-time professional archivist, support staff and oral historians. It will also facilitate improvements to the existing archival space, as well as the creation of additional space for use by researchers and to house acquisitions projected over the next twenty years. The Institute appointed Christine Di Bella, most recently the archivist and project director for the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) Consortial Survey Initiative based at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, to serve as its first full-time archivist. Di Bella brings a range of relevant experience from her years working as an archivist for institutions including the 92nd Street Y, the University of Michigan and Harvard Business School, and has written and presented on current issues affecting archives administration and collection management.
Ms. White, founding trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation, said her interest in creating this center was sparked by an anecdote about John von Neumann, the great mathematician who joined the Faculty at the Institute in 1933 as one its first Professors, and worked there until his death in 1957. “When his daughter, Marina von Neumann, told me that she did not give the Institute his papers because it did not have an archive center,” Ms. White said, “I knew that the Institute needed one to help ensure that the valuable papers of its distinguished Faculty be preserved.”
Ms. White and the Leon Levy Foundation have supported the Institute in a range of significant ways. During his fifteen years on the Institute Board, Mr. Levy contributed his considerable talents in his role as Vice Chairman and President of the Corporation (1995-2003), and shared an intellectual vitality and curiosity that greatly benefitted the Institute. The New Initiatives Fund established by Mr. Levy and Ms. White in 1998 has helped to promote progress in many new and important programs such as systems biology and theoretical computer science, and to support emerging research in mathematics and astrophysics. Since the 2005-06 academic year, the Foundation has made possible a Leon Levy Member in the School of Social Science. Past Leon Levy Members have included economists and political scientists who, through the support of the Foundation, have also delivered lectures on the nature of their work while in residence at the Institute. In 2007, the Foundation funded the new landscaping of the courtyard entrance to Fuld Hall, completed this spring, as well as a historic landscape study to fully understand the development of the Institute’s campus.
About the Institute Archives
The Institute Archives were formally established in 1986. Since that time, the Archives has existed as an informal adjunct to the Historical Studies-Social Science Library, through the part-time efforts of Library staff. A study, conducted in 1985 by the archivist of Bryn Mawr College and funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, recommended the establishment of a formal repository for scholarly and administrative materials relating to the Institute. Due to the limitations of funding, space and facilities at that time, the Institute did not adopt a recommendation that the Archives become a repository for the papers of the Institute’s Faculty.
Primarily a paper-based collection dating from the 1930s onward, the Archives currently include official correspondence of the Director’s Office, minutes of meetings of the Faculty and the Board of Trustees, miscellaneous correspondence and files concerning past Faculty members, records of the Electronic Computer Project and other documents. In addition, the Archives house the papers of School of Natural Sciences Professor (1971-2005) John Bahcall, and also administer a copy of the lecture notes of School of Historical Studies Professor (1951-63) Ernst Kantorowicz.
The Archives also contain the Institute’s oral history tapes and transcripts, an initiative that began in 1988 with the interviewing of individuals associated with the School of Mathematics. The project grew to include scholars affiliated with the Schools of Historical Studies and Social Science and most recently the School of Natural Sciences. In addition, the Archives include a collection of photographs that feature images of the Institute’s buildings and grounds from as early as 1938 to the present, as well as photographic documentation of the Electronic Computer Project and various events, and portraits of Faculty, Directors and others affiliated with the Institute.
About the Leon Levy Foundation
The Leon Levy Foundation, founded in 2004, is a private, not-for-profit foundation created from the estate of Leon Levy, an investor with a longstanding commitment to philanthropy. The Foundation’s overarching goal is to support scholarship at the highest level, ultimately advancing knowledge and improving the lives of individuals and society at large.
About the Institute for Advanced Study
The Institute for Advanced Study is one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. The Institute exists to encourage and support fundamental research in the sciences and humanitiesthe original, often speculative thinking that produces advances in knowledge that change the way we understand the world. Work at the Institute takes place in four Schools: Historical Studies, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Social Science. It provides for the mentoring of scholars by a permanent Faculty of no more than 28, and it offers all who work there the freedom to undertake research that will make significant contributions in any of the broad range of fields in the sciences and humanities studied at the Institute.
The Institute, founded in 1930, is a private, independent academic institution located in Princeton, New Jersey. Its more than 6,000 former Members hold positions of intellectual and scientific leadership throughout the academic world. Some 33 Nobel Laureates and 38 out of 52 Fields Medalists, as well as many winners of the Wolf or MacArthur prizes, have been affiliated with the Institute.