The man who thought of himself as a ‘personal bridge’ between Great Britain and the United States is to be honoured by the establishment of the National Churchill Library and Center in Washington D.C..
A collection of rare books, documents and research materials will be gathered at the Center, to be housed in a new building with exhibition space at George Washington University in the U.S. capital.
The project has been made possible by a grant of $8 million from the Chicago-based Churchill Centre, and it is hoped the new Center will be fully operational as a national focus of research into Churchill’s work and thought by 2015.
University President, Steven Knapp, in announcing the project, said he hoped the Centre would become the principal destination for American scholars and students of the former British Prime Minister.
‘We’re going to be able to study the 20th century through the study of one of its towering figures,’ he said. ‘The idea here is not just to look at him in isolation but setting him in his life and times.’
Much of Churchill’s personal memorabilia is still kept in British institutions such as the Churchill Archives Centre at the University of Cambridge, the War Rooms and Museum, and the Churchill family home at Chartwell, so this has not been seen in the U.S. but the new national library will hope to borrow materials for research and exhibition across the pond.
With his English father and American mother Churchill always saw himself as something of a ‘personal bridge’ between the two countries and maintained very strong friendships with President Roosevelt and others. University President Steven Knapp said: ‘Although he is from outside America, Churchill, in many ways, stands for America’s relationship with the larger world.’
Responsibility for amassing the items in the collection falls to the US-based Churchill Centre. The group’s executive director, Lee Pollock, said that several members of the group had valuable personal collections which they would rather donate to the Library than sell.
He added that he hoped the Washington collection would amass around 1,000 volumes of material. It is also planned for the gifts to fund a Professor and Curator position devoted to Churchill and 20th century British politics.
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