Belle da Costa Greene, The Extraordinary Librarian-Scholar Who Created the Morgan Library,” with Daria Rose Foner (A Virtual FPUL Small Talk)
On March 27, 2022, the Friends welcomed Dr. Daria Rose Foner, a 2011 Princeton alumna, who recently joined Sotheby’s New York after having served as the Research Associate to the Director at the Morgan Library & Museum. Dr. Foner’s talk introduced Belle da Costa Greene (1879-1950), arguably one of the greatest librarian-scholars of the 20th century, who began her career at Princeton University Library. Within a few years of being hired away by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1905, she became his chief consultant on bibliographic matters, eventually serving as the inaugural director of the Pierpont Morgan Library.
Witty, vivacious, and intellectually curious, Greene forged a life for herself that existed at the intersection of high society, discriminating scholarship, and haute couture. Dr. Foner traces Greene’s life from her origins in an upper-class African American community in Washington D.C., through her ascension to the pinnacle of her profession, and explores how the racial barriers of Jim Crow America led Greene, her mother, and her siblings to “pass” as white of Portuguese descent.