Distributed March 5, 2003
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Kristen Cole

Collector of rare books Maury Bromsen to receive President’s Medal

The President’s Medal, the highest award a Brown University president may bestow, will be presented to Maury A. Bromsen, March 12, 2003, at 5:30 p.m., during a ceremony in the John Carter Brown Library. The award recognizes Bromsen’s lifetime dedication to collecting and preserving historic books and manuscripts.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Maury A. Bromsen will receive the President’s Medal from Brown University President Ruth Simmons March 12, 2003, in recognition of his lifetime dedication to collecting and preserving historic books and manuscripts relating to the history of North and South America. The 5:30 p.m. ceremony will be held in the John Carter Brown Library.

The President’s Medal is the highest honor a Brown president may bestow and honors a person who has achieved distinction in a particular field, including education, scholarship, public service, the arts or philanthropy.

Named honorary curator and bibliographer of Latin Americana at the John Carter Brown Library in 1996, Bromsen, of Boston, has since donated to the library his collection of portraits, iconography and manuscripts relating to the famed Liberator of South America, Simón Bolívar. It is the only collection of its kind outside South America.

“The concentration of historical sources that makes possible serious research is above all facilitated by learned antiquarian book dealers,” said Norman Fiering, director of the John Carter Brown Library “Maury Bromsen has had few peers in the twentieth century in this beneficial work.”

Born in New York in 1919, Bromsen is widely recognized for his broad knowledge of the history of printing and publishing in colonial Spanish America, and, in particular, for his mastery of the lives and accomplishments of the great bibliographers of that time.

As a member of the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Pan American Union (later the Organization of American States) in the early 1950s, Bromsen headed the Section on Bibliography and established the quarterly Inter-American Review of Bibliography, which continues today. He also edited a collection of essays about Chilean scholar José Toribio Medina, published in 1960 by the Pan American Union.

Since 1953 Bromsen has lived in Boston, where he established a firm specializing in the sale of rare books and manuscripts and historical arts. He has also endowed acquisitions to the Boston Public Library and made gifts of rare books and manuscripts to the University of Florida. Bromsen has been honored by both the government of Chile and the government of Venezuela for his contributions to bibliography.

The ceremony at the John Carter Brown Library will include a musical performance by Daniel Harp and L. Frederick Jodry, on the cello and harpsichord, respectively, followed by a reception.

The President’s Medal has been awarded six times since its origination in 1994. Previous recipients include:

  • Nuala Pell, wife of retired U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell;
  • Artemis A.W. Joukowsky, chancellor emeritus of the University, and H. Anthony Ittleson, a member of the Brown Corporation, leaders of a previous capital campaign;
  • Theodore R. Sizer, education reformer and former University Professor;
  • Alan Shawn Feinstein, philanthropist;
  • Carl Haffenreffer, philanthropist.