Among the valuable research holdings of the Queens Borough Public Library is a collection of letters, drawings, patents, and other artifacts pertaining to the inventor Lewis Howard Latimer. This collection has been the basis for the exhibition Blueprint for Change. The Queens Library takes special pride in its role in preserving Latimer's papers and in encouraging scholarship that throws fresh light on his life and times.
The Library is deeply grateful to Winifred Latimer Norman, granddaughter of Lewis Latimer, for her enthusiastic support for the project from the outset. Dr. Norman's contagious energy and goodwill have been an abundant source of inspiration to our project team. She generously has made her own extensive collection fully available to us, contributing in large measure to the comprehensiveness of the exhibition.
The project has benefited greatly from the guidance provided by an extraordinary group of scholarly advisors including Asa J. Davis, Portia James, Kenneth R. Manning, and Glennette Tilley Turner who gave willingly of their time and expertise.
The Library was fortunate in locating a talented scholar, Bayla Singer, to serve as curator. With unfailing dedication and good cheer, Dr. Singer tackled the sometimes formidable task of working with two uncataloged archives. We are also grateful to Cara List, research assistant, who efficiently coped with the myriad details involved in loans, cataloging, and general organization.
The skill and imagination of several consultants have done much to enhance the exhibition. For their outstanding work and patience under pressure we thank Laura Schenone, editor; Irene Buszko, curriculum specialist; and J. R. Sanders of Sanders Design Works, designer of the exhibition and catalog.
The assistance provided by a large number of individuals and institutions has contributed significantly to the success of the exhibition. In particular, we are grateful to the Massachusetts Historical Society and its director, Louis Tucker, for the loan of original materials pertaining to George Latimer. The Anacostia Museum and the Queens Historical Society generously provided artifacts used in the exhibit diorama. We also wish to thank the following people for research suggestions and assistance in locating photographs: Bernard Finn, Eliot Sivowitch, and Robert S. Harding, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History; Katherine Griffin, Anne Bentley, and Chris Steele, Massachusetts Historical Society; Paul Israel, Robert Rosenberg, and Reese Jenkins, the Edison Papers Project; Cynthia Read-Miller, Bob Casey, and John Bowditch, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village; Faye Greenleaf, Lynn Historical Society; Mary Witcowski, Bridgeport Public Library; Catharina Slautterback, Boston Athenaeum; Peggy Haile, Norfolk Public Library; Nancy Finlay, New York Public Library; Joanna Britto, The National Portrait Gallery; Charles Ruch, Westinghouse Corporation; Ann Buck, New Jersey Institute of Technology Library; Deborah L. Collins, Fall River Historical Society; Greg Bradsher and Stacy Byas, National Archives and Record Service; Mark Hayes, U.S. Naval Historical Center; Sheldon Hochheiser, AT&T Archives; Betty Hallenstein, Hall of History Foundation; Douglas Tarr and George Tselos, Edison National Historic Site; Douglas Stover, National Capital Parks East; Brian Bowers, Jane Mork Gibson, Donald Schaffer, Kenneth Goings, the late Hugh Aitken; and the members of the Lewis H. Latimer Fund.
The administration of the Queens Library has enthusiastically supported the project from its inception. We wish to thank the members of the Library's Board of Trustees, and particularly James Chapin, president. Both the present Library director, Gary Strong, and former director, Constance B. Cooke, have given their wholehearted support to the project. The Executive Director of the Queens Library Foundation, Stanley E. Gornish, and his dedicated staff have been fully involved in every aspect of planning and development. Although space does not permit a detailed description of their contributions, we are grateful to many members of the staff of the Queens Library for their efforts in support of the project. A special note of thanks is given to Library archivist William Asadorian, who recognized early on the importance of the Latimer archive and worked assiduously to bring this collection to the Queens Library.
The project began in 1992 with a planning grant from the Charles Edison Fund, which has renewed its funding throughout the four years of the project's development. This early support provided the cornerstone for the project as whole, and we wish to express our gratitude to the Fund's board and its president, Paul J. Christiansen.
Major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities has supported the implementation of the exhibition and the publication of this catalog. Our sincere appreciation is extended to the Endowment's chairman, Sheldon Hackney, and to Thomas C. Phelps and David J. Martz of the Endowment's Division of Public Programs, Humanities Projects in Libraries and Archives.
Additional financial support for the exhibition and catalog were provided by the Greenwall Foundation, the Ann Eden Woodward Foundation, NYNEX, and James Chapin. Support for related educational programming has been given by the J. M. Kaplan Fund, the Altman Foundation, and Capital Cities/ABC. Audiovisual materials and the opening reception were supported by the Consolidated Edison Company of New York.
Janet M. Schneider
Blueprint for Change: The Life and Times of Lewis H. Latimer was organized by the Queens Borough Public Library and presented from February 3 through August 26, 1995. The exhibition was made possible by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal agency, and the Charles Edison Fund.
Additional support for the exhibition and associated educational programs has been provided by Consolidated Edison Company of New York, the Altman Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, NYNEX, The Bay Foundation and the Ann Eden Woodward Foundation.
The Queens Borough Public Library, chartered in 1896, has the highest circulation of any library in the United States. It also has the highest per capita use of any of New York City's three public library systems. With sixty-three library facilities, the Queens Library serves the most ethnically diverse county in the country.
Copyright © 1995 Queens Borough Public Library.
Published by Queens Borough Public Library.
Printed in the United States. All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from Queens Borough Public Library.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 95-067161.