Volume 5, Number 2 


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 


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"I guess there are never enough books."


-John Steinbeck

"A national museum, which would offer a chance to explore the richness and vitality of one of the world's great cultural resources - the heritage of great American writing - is a remarkable idea and long overdue." 

- David Spadafora, President, The Newberry Library of Chicago




From Our Neighborhoods: Four Chicago Writers Who Changed America, a pop-up exhibit featuring influential Chicago writers Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Louis "Studs" Terkel, and Richard Wright has begun its tour! 



The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Chicago History Museum and funded through the generous support of The Chicago Community Trust and the S&C Electric Company.


"These groundbreaking writers inspired change with their writings and helped make America a better and more tolerant nation," said Carolyn Saper, AWM director of education and special programs, who has led the exhibit initiative.    


The exhibit recently commenced its tour through neighborhoods in Chicago at the historic George Cleveland Hall Branch Library.


Special programming associated with the exhibit included a Gwendolyn Brooks Community Reading last month, facilitated by AWM's exhibit partner, the Guild Literary Complex.


Exhibit locations will be added, but the current schedule includes:
  • Summer 2014, Downtown Chicago locations (Check AWM website for updates)

Information on upcoming programming will be available on the AWM website.




AWM's From Our Neighborhoods Online Exhibit 



An online version of From Our Neighborhoods: Four Chicago Writers Who Changed America can be viewed at the AWM website.


Visit the exhibit here to discover more!

nytNY Times and Washington Post cite AWM


A New York Times article titled, "Start-Up Success Isn't Enough to Found a Museum" published March 19 addresses the difficulties inherent in every stage of the process of museum creation. (To read the complete article, click here.) "It is a challenging time for aspiring curators to get into the museum business," writes columnist David Wallis. "It is not easy to turn a concept into funds, and a grand opening into staying power."


But AWM Chairman Malcolm O'Hagan has done his homework, according to Wallis. "Early on, O'Hagan sought and was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, which enabled the museum project to hit the ground running and established its credibility among investors." The museum effort has, the article notes, "received a warm welcome" in Chicago.


A Washington Post article published XXXX indicated that the American Writers Museum "is widely viewed as a successful start-up." It recounted the early steps taken in the formation of AWM. To read the complete article, click here.  

horanAWM and the Woman's Athletic Club of Chicago Host Nancy Horan and Donna Seaman


(L to R) Francia Harrington, Sr. VP, JP Morgan Chase, and Nike Whitcomb, AWM Executive Director, with Nancy Horan and Donna Seaman
The American Writers Museum (AWM) recently partnered with the Woman's Athletic Club of Chicago (WAC) for "Reflections on Reading and Writing." The event featured an interview of best-selling author Nancy Horan (Loving Frank). Horan's new book, Under the Wide and Starry Sky, chronicles the lives of Scottish-born author Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. Horan was interviewed by Donna Seaman, Senior  Editor for Booklist, American Library Association, and member of AWM's National Advisory Council.


In welcoming guests, WAC President Constance Frydenlund praised AWM for choosing Chicago as its location, noting, "It is adding to an already rich cultural scene in Chicago," and suggested that more collaborative programs such as this will be planned over the next several months.

rutledgeawardRutledge Writing Awards


As part of the From Our Neighborhoods exhibit project, the AWM is sponsoring the Rutledge Writing Awards competition. Students enrolled in Chicago public, charter, and parochial high schools are invited to submit entries for the 2014 Rutledge Writing Awards. Submissions are on the theme of neighborhood. Cash prizes will be awarded within two genres: poetry and prose. Prose entries may be memoir, fiction, or oral history. Winning submissions will be eligible for publication in a national literary magazine for youth. Submissions will be accepted now through July 15, 2014. For more information on eligibility, submissions, and prize details, visit the 2014 Rutledge Writing Awards webpage.
madhubutiMadhubuti Receives Writers for Writers Award


Haki R. Madhubuti, of AWM's National Advisory Council and Chicago Literary Council, is one of the recipients of the 2014 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. 


This year's award recognizes Madhubuti's work to expand opportunities available to African American writers by supporting independent black institutions. These achievements include founding Third World Press, and spearheading the establishment of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Center, and an MFA program at Chicago State University. Madhubuti joins Joyce Carol Oates and Ian Grazier in recognition.
foundersAWM Founders Council Welcomes Roger Baskes and Christopher Bird 


Roger Baskes

Roger Baskes is a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Newberry Library in Chicago. He and his wife are generous supporters of the arts. In 1999 they endowed the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at the Newberry Library. 


Baskes is an avid collector of atlases and other books with maps. In 2002 Baskes was elected President of the London-based International Map Collectors' Society. He is a member of the Madison Council at the Library of Congress. Baskes is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Christopher Bird


Christopher Bird is a senior vice-president at Wells Fargo Bank. He has worked in financial services for over 35 years, having previously worked for JP Morgan Chase, BMO/Harris and Northern Trust. 


Bird earned an A.B. in music composition from Brown University in 1979 and a M.M. in Finance from Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Northwestern) in 1986. 

Affiliate Spotlight: National Steinbeck Center


And don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens--The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
 - John Steinbeck, in a letter to his son, Thom, about love

The National Steinbeck Center, an AWM Affiliate, is dedicated to fostering community, and to celebrating the creativity inspired by American icon John Steinbeck. Located in Steinbeck's hometown Salinas, California, the Center offers a distinct visitor experience. The main exhibition hall plunges visitors into Steinbeck's world with interactive and multi-sensory exhibits for all ages, including seven theaters themed after such canonical words as East of Eden, Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath. Rare artifacts and the Steinbeck Archival Collection of first editions and news articles are also on display. Elsewhere in the Center, gallery spaces host rotating arts and cultural events, exhibitions, and educational programs. Visit the Center at its website



Author homes/museums of these American writers have all become AWM Affiliates: 

  • The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center; Piggott, AR
  • Washington Irving's Sunnyside; Pocantico Hills, NY
  • The Old Courthouse Museum (Truman Capote and Harper Lee). 

From the outset, the American Writers Museum founders envisioned partnerships with authors' homes and museums across the country. To date, 34 author homes, museums, and foundations are AWM Affiliates, and the Author Home/Museum Affiliate program continues to expand.


There is no cost to become an AWM affiliate. For more information, please 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 for comments by 39 American authors and poets including Billy Collins, Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates, Chuck Palahniuk, and Ann Patchett. 

"The books that made the greatest impression were those that I would hide away under my bed along with a flashlight to read at night when I was supposed to be sleeping. Reading never seemed more subversive or dangerous. Many of the books involved modes of transportation, especially over water, and my bed would become Huck Finn's raft, the ship in Treasure Island, the ship in Jack London's Sea Wolfand the balloon in what was my favorite book, Jules Verne's Mysterious Island."


- Stuart Dybek, Illinois-based poet and short story writer


Visit the online exhibit through the AWM website to find even more.
ContestAWM Trivia Contest. Enter to Win $25.

A dog ate an early original manuscript of which novel, eventually published in 1937?
Remember to include your full name, mailing address, and email with your answer when responding. We will have a drawing of all correct answers and the winner will be contacted through email, and mailed a check.
Submit your entry here for the chance to win $25!

supportA Gift for You. A Gift for the Museum. 

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!
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American Writers Museum Foundation / 1999 K Street, NW / Washington, D.C. 20006