Yale's Walpole Library Invites Public to Contribute to Oral History Project

Farmington, Conn. – The Lewis Walpole Library has announced that it will seek to record recollections by contemporaries of the Library’s founders, Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis (1895-1979) and Annie Burr Lewis (1902-1959), to round out the portrait of an extraordinary couple whose legacy is largely known through their remarkable collections of 18th-century English artwork and literature.

The W.S. and Annie Burr Lewis Oral History Project will elicit memories and reflections from people who were the couple’s friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and collaborators. These narratives will be added to the Library’s archives and will offer a valuable resource for understanding their rich and dynamic lives.

Those interested in participating in this project are invited to provide the Library with written or recorded memories in person, by mail, or by email. In addition, there will be opportunities for participants to audio- or video-record their stories at the Library. For information on participating in the project, please contact Margaret K. Powell at 860-677-2140 or margaret.powell@yale.edu.

Born in Alameda, California, Lewis graduated from Yale University in 1918. He acquired books, manuscripts, and prints as well as graphic and decorative arts, all in an extraordinary effort to gather information about Horace Walpole and his times, his house at Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, his interests, his friends and contemporaries. Lewis spent nearly half a century, until his death in 1979, editing Walpole’s correspondence. Fully indexed and annotated, The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence extends to 48 volumes and remains a noteworthy accomplishment.

In 1928, Lewis married Annie Burr Auchincloss, who was born in New York and graduated in 1920 from Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut. As an essential participant in her husband’s collecting, Mrs. Lewis served as their collection’s first curator of prints and was also active in support of historic preservation, most notably as Vice-Regent for Connecticut for the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.

The Lewis Walpole Library, a department of the Yale University Library, is located at 154 Main St. in Farmington, CT. A research library for 18th-century studies and the prime source for the study of Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill, its collections include significant holdings of 18th-century British books, manuscripts, prints, drawings and paintings, as well as examples of the decorative arts. It is housed in a historic frame house that was given to Yale by Lewis and Annie Burr Lewis.

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