Librarian of Congress James H. Billington's dream of making the Library of Congress a place where the "world's leading thinkers make greater use of the world's greatest collection of human knowledge" took a major step forward on October 5, 2000. In a press conference outside the Senate chamber, he, along with members of the Joint Committee on the Library, Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), and Representative Bill Thomas (R-California), had the distinct pleasure of announcing the largest single monetary donation to the Library in the institution's 200-year history.
In celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Library of Congress, Metromedia president John W. Kluge donated an unprecedented $60 million to support an academic center where accomplished senior scholars and junior post-doctoral fellows might gather to make use of the Library's incomparable collections and to interact with members of Congress. In addition, his gift would establish a $1 million dollar prize to be given in recognition of a lifetime of achievement in the human sciences, comparable to the Nobel Prizes in literature and economics. The Kluge Prize would honor life time intellectual achievement in the same way as the Kennedy Center Honors recognize lifetime achievement in the performing arts.
Kluge's "stunning benefaction for the Library and the nation" was a result of a long and fruitful friendship. Inspired by Billington's commitment to make the Library's incomparable educational, scientific, technological, and cultural resources available to all, Kluge was named as the first chairman of the James Madison Council in 1990. As such, he played a pivotal role in enlisting advisers and donors from the private sector to support Billington's goal in making the Library serve American education and instructional understanding.
In announcing the gift, Billington explained that it would not be used to establish a permanent faculty at the Library or for administration or buildings. "There will be an attempt to recycle as many great minds of the world and then an even larger component of young minds through this place, so that they have a chance to use and profit from and interact with the collections and an extraordinary staff -- a couple of thousand analysts, historians and catalogers, who themselves are an enormous scholarly resource."
One of Billington's first tasks in establishing the center was the selection of Prosser Gifford, director of the Library's Office of Scholarly Programs, to lead and operate the center on a daily basis. Gifford, a gifted and congenial former Rhodes Scholar with a law degree from Harvard Law School and a doctorate in history from Yale, was ideally suited to run the Center. In accepting the challenge, Gifford commented that "the formal and informal exchanges that flourish in the Kluge Center will mark it as a place where humanistic scholarship is pondered and explored in depth - with all the unexpected discovery and delight that world-class collections make possible." Among those who assisted Gifford in establishing the Kluge Center were staff members Les Vogel, Special Assistant to the Director of Scholarly Programs; JoAnne Kitching, Secretary to the Director; Peg Christoff, program consultant; Robert Saladini, detailed from the Music Division; Regina Thielke, program technician; Jacquia Warren, program assistant; and Benita Woodard, automation support consultant; as well as a steering committee comprised of Carolyn T. Brown, Assistant Librarian and Acting Director, Area Studies; Charles Stanhope, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, and others.
Initial plans for the Center included the establishment of five senior Kluge Chairs broadly defined to correspond to groupings among the Library's vast collections: the cultures and societies of the North, the cultures and societies of the South, technology's interaction with society; American law and governance, and modern culture.
Soon afterwards, three other distinguished chairs were located in the center: the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations (endowed by friends and admirers of the former Secretary of State), accompanied by an annual Kissinger lecture, the Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education (established through a generous gift from Alexander Papamarkou in honor of his grandfather); and the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History.
To assist the Librarian in the selection of chair holders and to advise him on the activities of the Center, a Scholars' Council was appointed, meeting for the first time on October 11, 2001. Members of the Scholars' Council collectively included recipients of four Nobel Prizes, two Pulitzer Prizes, and numerous other distinguished awards. They represent the fields of applied science, economics, history, law, politics, literature, philosophy, and religion.
Founding members of the Council are: Bernard Bailyn, Baruch Blumberg, Judith Margaret Brown, Sara Castro-Klaren, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Robert Fogel, Bronislaw Geremek, Hugh Heclo, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Bruce Mazlish, Walter McDougall, Jaroslav Pelikan, John Rogers Searle, Amartya Sen, Wole Soyinka, James Turner, Mario Vargas Llosa, and William Julius Wilson. Toru Hagu was appointed in 2002 to fill the place left by the untimely death of Julia Ching.
Scholars' Council members also helped to identify suitable candidates for the first Kluge Prize in the Humanities and to suggest ways in which the Center's younger, post-doctoral fellows could enliven dialogue and discussion with Library staff and senior scholars. Supported by fellowships monies from the Mellon, Luce, and Rockefeller foundations, as well as from the Kluge endowment, about 25 fellows bring their enthusiasm and their research ingenuity to the Center.
Meeting annually in September, the Scholars' Council discussed in 2002 the selection process for the first recipient of the Kluge Prize in the Humanities and set a targeted award date of Autumn 2003.
John Hope Franklin, distinguished professor emeritus of history at Duke University, author of the seminal work, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, and, probably, the recipient of more honorary doctorates than anyone, was appropriately named the first Distinguished Visiting Scholar to the Kluge Center. Simultaneous with Franklin's appointment was that of the first Kluge Chair-holder, Jaroslav Pelikan, Sterling Professor of History emeritus and former Dean of the Graduate School at Yale University, former president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and one of the world's leading scholars of the history of Christian thought. Pelikan occupied the Kluge Chair for Countries and Societies of the North.
Adding to the scholarly depth and diversity of the Kluge Center were two Kissinger Scholars, appointed under the Kissinger endowment for ten months in the Kluge Center. In April 2001, Aaron Friedberg, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, became the first Kissinger Scholar. He pursued research on the growth during the 20th century of relative wealth and power of the nations of Asia and its consequences for the future of American foreign policy. In 2002, the Kissinger selection committee chose Klaus Larres, Jean Monnet Professor, European foreign and security policy at the school of politics, Queen's University of Belfast, as the 2nd Kissinger Scholar, shortly before the publication of his book Churchill's Cold War: The Politics of Personal Diplomacy. Larres is doing research on "The United States and the 'Unity of Europe': A Comparative Analysis of American Policy-Making and European Integration in the Post-1945 and Post-1990 Eras."
Among other senior scholars at the Kluge Center in the first year, Judge John T. Noonan, professor emeritus at University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law and senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, held the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History. Judge Noonan pursued his work on the intellectual history of moral ideas in the West, focusing on slavery. He had written previously on abortion, bribery, contraception, usury, divorce, euthanasia, family law, legal ethics, and religious freedom. During 2002-03 Judge Noonan holds the Kluge Chair in American Law and Governance and continues his research in the development of moral standards.
In June 2002 the Kluge Center moved into its newly-renovated quarters where scholars could pursue their independent study while maintaining a spirit of collegiality. The North Curtain, First floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, adapting the design by architect Arthur Cotton Moore, was transformed into two decks of a handsome scholarly "ship," where residential scholars could travel the worlds of imagination through the Library's collections.
Consistent with Mr. Kluge's intention of benefitting Library staff as well as invited researchers, the Kluge endowment also made possible the selection of a Kluge Staff Fellow, an innovative recognition of the gifted staff of the Library. The staff fellow pursues research in his or her chosen field on the same basis as the other fellows. The first staff fellow, Sylvia Albro, from the Library's world-class Conservation Division, studied the history of hand papermaking in Fabriano, Italy, from the 13th century to the present. Her work resulted in a lively and comprehensive survey of books and related materials from the Library's varied collections, printed and manufactured on Fabriano-produced paper. The success of her project and its reception prompted the outside selection committee to recommend for 2002-2003 two Kluge staff fellows: Brian P. Taves, a senior cataloger in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division, who is researching the papers of producer, director, screenwriter and actor Thomas Harper Ince (1882-1924) which are held in the Manuscript Division; and Enikö M. Basa, a senior cataloger in the Serial Record Division, who is researching the useful, didactic and entertaining aspects of Hungarian literature as well as its direction in the 21st century. The Library of Congress is the only institution outside Hungary that has a collection comprehensive enough to support research in Hungarian studies, specifically in Hungarian literature.
The Kluge Center's activities extend beyond the work of its scholars and fellows. The Center hosted, for example, a number of lectures, seminars, and symposia on important issues.
On the subject of Islam and its relations with the West, "What Went Wrong...and Why," on May 7, 2002, featured two prominent scholars of Islam, Bernard Lewis of Princeton University and Mohammed Arkoun of the Sorbonne University, in a discussion derived from Lewis' latest book, What Went Wrong: Western Impact and the Middle Eastern Response. Differing in their perspectives, Lewis and Arkoun have been engaged in educating the general public, members of Congress and interest groups on the implications of the rise of fundamentalism in Islam. In October 2002, another event brought together an international panel of experts to explore ways in which storybooks and textbooks portray Muslims in the Non-Muslim world and Non-Muslims in the Muslim world. "Teaching the Other: Muslims, Non-Muslims and the Stories They Teach" was featured on a Voice of America broadcast.
In September 2002, the Center welcomed four prominent Arab legal scholars who discussed the evolution of the Arab legal system and how it related and continues to relate to Islamic law. Joining these discussions were Justice Awad El Mor, former chief justice of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court; professor Ahmad Al-Khamlishi, director of the Royal Law Institute in Rabat, Morocco; Judge Muhammed Bin Naji Al-Qina'i, director of the Kuwait Institute for Judicial and Legal Studies; and professor Chibli Malatt of the St. Joseph Law School of Beirut, Lebanon.
Finally, Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, talked about his book The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad on April 6, 2003. He discussed the historical and philosophical context for what is becoming America's great debate: Can we spread democracy to countries like Iraq? How do we?
European relationships with the United States formed the core of two Kissinger lectures, the first by Henry Kissinger himself and the second by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, past president of the Republic of France. Kissinger's lecture has been published as a booklet titled Reflections: October 2001. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who is at present president of the Convention on the Future of Europe, spoke in February 2003 on "the preparation of the European Constitution."
In addition, Klaus Larres organized a highly-successful roundtable discussion commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Joseph Stalin (March 5, 1983) in which historical "witnesses" and historians such as Sergei Khrushchev, son of the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev; and Susan Eisenhower, the former president's granddaughter, discussed the implications and consequences of Stalin's death on the Cold War policies of the Eisenhower administration and whether his death could have been exploited to arrive at an earlier end of the Cold War. The event was filmed by C-Span.
Another exploration of European history, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries, brought together author Philip Bobbitt and Sir Michael Howard, holder of the Kluge Chair of Countries and Cultures of the North. In March 2003, they discussed Bobbitt's recently published book, The Shield of Achilles: War, Law and the Course of History, a classic inquiry into the nature of the nation-state which developed over five centuries as the optimal institution for waging war and organizing peace. Their discussion was broadcast on C-Span TV.
The work of the post-doctoral fellows covers many disciplines and historical periods. Using the comprehensive collections of the Library, they research topics as varied as a new English translation of an ancient Tibetan Buddhist epic, the transformative role of the Russian Orthodox church in the life of Alaskan Athabaskan native Americans in the 19th century, state-society relations in 18th century China, and studies of parliamentary autonomy in post-Communist countries. Each fellow makes a formal presentation open to other scholars and library staff towards the end of their stay. (A detailed list of fellows and their projects is attached.)
Thus, in the founding years of the John W. Kluge Center, early manifestations of the intellectual inquiry and energy made possible by the Kluge endowment point to an enduring legacy: the fruitful meeting of thinkers and doers to further democratic ideals.
The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress