Margaret Bingham Stillwell

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Margaret Bingham Stillwell
Born(1887-01-26)January 26, 1887
DiedApril 22, 1984(1984-04-22) (aged 97)
Notable workIncunabula in American Libraries

Margaret Bingham Stillwell (1887 – 1984) was an American librarian and bibliographer who spent most of her professional career as curator of the Annmary Brown Memorial.

Education and Career[edit]

Annmary Brown Memorial Library (Brown University)

Stillwell entered Pembroke College in Brown University in 1905, beginning work at the John Carter Brown Library as a student, and graduated in 1909.

In 1914 she moved to the New York Public Library as a cataloguer of early Americana. There she met Rush Hawkins who had been a Union officer in the American Civil War. Hawkins was an avid collector of incunabula. His wife, Annmary Brown, had died and he established a memorial museum and library to her memory in Providence, Rhode Island. Hawkins recruited Stillwell as curator of the Annmary Brown Memorial Library.[1][2][3]

In 1917 Stillwell returned to Providence as curator of the Annmary Brown Memorial Library, where she worked until her retirement in 1953.[4] The library, initially a private collection, was transferred to Brown University in 1948, at which time Stillwell became professor of bibliography. Although she was the first woman appointed to a full professorship at Brown, she never received a full professor's salary.[5]

The John Russell Bartlett Society of Rhode Island's prize for undergraduate book collecting is named after her.[6]

She moved to Greenville, Rhode Island in 1954. She died April 22, 1984 and is buried in her family’s plot in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence. [7]


Stillwell specialized in the bibliography of incunabula (books printed in the fifteenth century) and her survey Incunabula in American Libraries: A Second Census of Fifteenth-Century Books Owned in the United States, Mexico, and Canada (New York: Bibliographical Society of America, 1940) became known eponymously as Stillwell.[8]

She collaborated with Frederick R. Goff on Hebraica: Incunabula in Hebrew Type Only.[9]

She also wrote The Heritage of the Modern Printer[10] and The Beginning of the World of Books, 1450 to 1470 [11]

Professional Activities[edit]

Stillwell was a member of the Hroswitha Club of American women book collectors, and in 1977 she became the first female honorary member of the Grolier Club. [12][13]

She was instrumental in establishing a new public library building in Greenville, Rhode Island in 1955.[14]

Margaret B. Stillwell Legacy Society[edit]

The Margaret B. Stillwell Legacy Society was established within the Bibliographical Society of America. The Legacy Society ensures the future of bibliographical scholars.[15]

Margaret B. Stillwell's papers are held at Brown University Library. [16]


  1. ^ Stillwell, Margaret B. The Annmary Brown Memorial: A Descriptive Essay (Providence: The Annmary Brown Memorial, 1925).
  2. ^ Stillwell, Margaret B. General Hawkins as He Revealed Himself to His Librarian, Margaret Bingham Stillwell (Providence: 1923).
  3. ^ Stillwell, Margaret B. The Annmary Brown Memorial: A Booklover’s Shrine (Providence: Privately Printed, 1940).
  4. ^ Mitchell
  5. ^ Hawkins
  6. ^ Margaret Bingham Stillwell.Find a Grave.
  7. ^ Margaret Bingham Stillwell.Find a Grave.
  8. ^ Hawkins
  9. ^ Goff, Frederick Richmond, Margaret Bingham Stillwell, and Bibliographical Society of America. 1964. Hebraica: Incunabula in Hebrew Type Only. New York: Bibliographical Society of America.
  10. ^ Stillwell, Margaret Bingham. 1916. The Heritage of the Modern Printer. New York: New York Public Library.
  11. ^ Stillwell, Margaret Bingham. 1972. The Beginning of the World of Books, 1450 to 1470; a Chronological Survey of the Texts Chosen for Printing during the First Twenty Years of the Printing Art, with a Synopsis of the Gutenberg Documents. New York: Bibliographical Society of America.
  12. ^ Goff, Frederick R. “Margaret Bingham Stillwell: A Personal Reminiscence.” Gazette of the Grolier Club, n.s. 26/27 (1977): pp. 30-37.
  13. ^ Needham, Paul. “Margaret Bingham Stillwell.” In Grolier 2000: A Further Grolier Club Biographical Retrospective in Celebration of the Millennium (New York, 2000): pp. 363-365.
  14. ^ Greenville Public Library. History-1948-1956
  15. ^ News, Events, Publications, and Awards. The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 2021 115:4, 549-565
  16. ^ Margaret Stillwell papers (MS-1UF-S3).Brown University Library John Hay Library, University Archives and Manuscripts.

Further reading[edit]