Volume 5, Number 1 


The mission of the American Writers Museum Foundation is to establish the first national museum in the United States dedicated to engaging the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives.




Learn more about plans to establish the American Writers Museum


See what other people are saying about the American Writers Museum


Learn more about the Executive Planning Team and National Advisory Council


Fill out our online survey and tell us what you want to see in the American Writers Museum


Read the 64-page museum design plan 


Add your name to our mailing list and receive updates about the American Writers Museum


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"The rich fabric of America's literary history deserves a place like the American Writers Museum.  


Rooted in the private, individual pleasure of reading, there is a compelling excitement in learning more about America's writers in the shared, public experience of a museum.  


It will be a place to meet one's old friends -- Twain, Dickinson, Frost -- and make new acquaintances.  What fun that will be."  


-Richard Lariviere, President and CEO, The Field Museum 

of Natural History

"I love the idea of the American Writers Museum.  The American project has been fueled since the beginning by impassioned writing, and the Museum would be a wonderful place for that history to be embodied and rediscovered.  And it's especially fitting that the Museum would be in Chicago, home to so many great American writers."

-George Saunders, PEN/Faulkner award-winning author of 

Tenth of December

NikeNike Whitcomb Named First AWM Executive Director


The American Writers Museum welcomes Nike Whitcomb as its first executive director.


"As an avid reader and a Chicagoan, working to establish the first national museum in the U.S. to celebrate American writing right here in my hometown is something I am truly passionate about," says Whitcomb.


Whitcomb is a well-respected advocate for nonprofit organizations, and founder and principal of Whitcomb Associates. She was the first female president of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and has received the organization's President's Award.


"We are very pleased that Nike has joined our team," says American Writers Museum Foundation Chairman Malcolm O'Hagan. "We are fortunate to have a seasoned fundraising professional as our Executive Director as we move into the fundraising phase of The American Writers Museum project."

The appointment is timely, as momentum for establishing the museum increases. Donations rose dramatically during the past year, and AWM supporters are poised to improve upon this success in 2014.


For more information, see the news release.

CHBChicago History Museum Crowdsources Future Exhibit: Chicago Authors Wins!


The Chicago History Museum (CHM) used 

crowdsourcing to select the topic for its next special exhibit. Out of more than 500 topics, Chicago Authors had the most votes!

AWM looks forward to collaborating with the CHM on the Chicago Authors exhibit, which could become the prototype for the Chicago Room, part of the design plan for the American Writers Museum.
Visit the Chicago History Museum website at chicagohistory.org for more information.
FONChicago History Museum to Co-Sponsor From Our Neighborhoods: Four Chicago Writers Who Changed America


The Chicago History Museum has joined with the Chicago Community Trust and the S&C Electric Foundation to co-sponsor the American Writers Museum's first pop-up exhibit, From Our Neighborhoods: Four Chicago Writers Who Changed America. The exhibit will open in area libraries and cultural centers in March. The multimedia exhibit is designed to showcase four great Chicago writers who embraced the city's ethnically rich neighborhoods as the inspiration and subject of their work. 


The exhibit features Chicago writers Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Studs Terkel, and Richard Wright. Interactive exhibit content will be tailored to each venue and these four influential writers and their legacies will also be represented in the future museum's signature Chicago Room.

Like the future AWM museum, From Our Neighborhoods will tell the writers' stories through images, anecdotes, and their moving and powerful words. The exhibit will feature recordings of Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks reading her verse, amid scenes depicting Bronzeville, as she knew it. Visitors will have the chance to experience the neighborhoods, ideas, stories, language, and people that inspired these influential writers.

2014 Rutledge Writing Award
As part of the exhibit project, the AWM will be sponsoring the Rutledge Writing Award competition. Students enrolled in Chicago high schools will be invited to submit entries for the 2014 Rutledge Writing Award. Submissions will be on the theme of neighborhood. Cash prizes will be awarded within two genres: poetry and prose. Prose entries may be memoir (personal essay), fiction, or oral history. Submissions will be accepted between March 17, 2014, and July 15, 2014. Winning submissions will be displayed at partner venues and be eligible for publication in a national literary magazine for youth. Authors will receive prizes at a public awards ceremony. For more information, write general@americanwritersmuseum.org.
newMiller and Clune Join AWM National Advisory Council


The American Writers Museum team continues to grow. Nancy S. Miller, editorial director of Bloomsbury Publishing in New York, and Michael W. Clune, professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, were recently appointed to the American Writers Museum's National Advisory Council. For more information on Miller and Clune, visit AWM's Who We Are page here.

newberryAWM Office Finds a Home in the Newberry Library


In addition to AWM's main Chicago office at 205 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 206, the AWM's second Chicago office has settled into its new location in the Newberry Library, the former home of the Poetry Foundation.  


"We are grateful to the Newberry Library for providing the American Writers Museum with office space and for supporting our efforts to make Chicago our home," said Sandra Jones, Director of Communications and Digital Strategy for AWM. "As we work to establish the first national museum for American authors, it is inspiring to be housed at one of the nation's greatest research libraries for the humanities." 

onpaperOutstanding Book of the Year Awarded to Nicholas Basbanes' On Paper


Congratulations to AWM National Advisory Council member Nicholas Basbanes, whose book On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History was recently awarded Outstanding Book of the Year by the American Library Association (ALA). Already cited as a Best Book of the Year by Mother Jones, Bloomberg News, National Post, and Kirkus Reviews, On Paper is a "consideration of all things paper -- its invention that revolutionized human civilization; its thousand-fold uses (and misuses), proliferation, and sweeping influence on society; its makers, shapers, collectors, and pulpers -- by an admired cultural historian."

Affiliate Spotlight: Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library


I am eternally grateful for my knack of finding in great books, some of them very funny books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on.
 - Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library champions "the literary, artistic and cultural contributions of the late writer, artist, teacher and Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut." Located in the Emelie Building in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Library is also a museum. The collection includes Vonnegut's artwork, typewriter, reading glasses, and numerous other personal items. Also on display are photographs and first editions of all of Vonnegut's novels. Visitors are encouraged to pull a book from the library shelves and draw up a comfy chair, or sit down at a typewriter like the one the author used for a taste of his experience.


The Library is dedicated to continuing Vonnegut's fight against censorship. It hosts visiting authors and artists, and offers various language and visual arts education programs, including writing competitions and scholarships, and writing workshops for veterans. The Library's executive director and founder, Julia Whitehead, first had the idea for the Library in November 2008. With the support of Dr. Mark Vonnegut, the author's son, and soon afterward the new board of directors, the dream became a reality in January 2011. Now local and national professionals volunteer their time and expertise to help maintain the Vonnegut's legacy, and reach his fans on a global scale.


Visit the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library website vonnegutlibrary.org for information on Vonnegut, current events, and other opportunities to contribute.

affiliate24 Author Homes/Museums and Counting

From the outset, the American Writers Museum founders envisioned partnerships with authors' homes and museums across the country. To date, 24 author homes, museums, and foundations are AWM affiliates, and the Author Home/Museum Affiliate program continues to expand.


Look for the Affiliate logo on the affiliate member websites and Facebook pages, and check the Affiliates pages for a list of American author homes and details about becoming an affiliate. There is no cost involved, and no obligation beyond adding the AWM affiliate logo to your website and Facebook page. One affiliate is showcased in each of our newsletters, helping both the AWM and our affiliates expand our literary network.



For more information on becoming an affiliate, contact Lynne Pace Robinson or Pam Buckles at general@americanwritersmuseum.org or call 202.263.3330. 

POWLeaders, Readers, and Writers AWM Online Exhibit


Visit the American Writers Museum's online exhibit to find interviews with 39 American writers like Joyce Carol Oates, Jodi Picoult, and Scott Turow. Which literature do they consider essential? Who encouraged them to read? Which books had the greatest influence on their writing? Discover all this and more.

"My mother gave me one of the greatest gifts an adult can give a child: she read to me nearly every day... [She] also had memorized hundreds of lines of poetry, which often found their way into her conversation. Reading and quoting were familiar parts of my growing up."


- Billy Collins, 2001-2003 U.S. Poet Laureate; 2004-2006 New York State Poet


Visit the online exhibit to find more.
ContestAWM Contest

In 1844, an American poet published a fictitious news article involving a hot air balloon trip. Who was the poet?
Remember to include your full name, mailing address, and email with your answer when responding. We will have a drawing of all correct answers. The winner will be contacted through email, and mailed a check.
Submit your entry here for the chance to win $25!

supportSupport Us

Or donate $100 or more to become an AWM Chapter One Patron and receive a free copy of the book.
Thanks to all our donors, patrons, affiliates, and friends for your ongoing support!
2013 All Rights Reserved
American Writers Museum Foundation / 1999 K Street, NW / Washington, D.C. 20006