Gelman Library to House Winston Churchill’s World War II Engagement Diary
Construction of the National Churchill Library and Center to Begin this Month
A collection of handwritten cards detailing Winston Churchill’s appointments during World War II, including such historic events as Victory in Europe (VE) Day and the British prime minister’s regular meetings with the King of England and President Franklin Roosevelt, will have a new home at the George Washington University. The “engagement diary” will be featured in the new National Churchill Library and Center to be located at GW.
Steve Forbes, chairman of Forbes Media and a Churchill enthusiast, donated the collection of 30 cards to the Chicago-based Churchill Centre. The collection was then given to GW’s Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library for use in the National Churchill Library and Center, which begins construction in December.
“The engagement diary is an important historical resource, and I am pleased that they will now be seen by a broad audience,” said Mr. Forbes. “I join Churchillians everywhere in applauding The Churchill Centre’s initiative to partner with GW to create a permanent home for Churchill scholarship, studies and education in the heart of our nation’s capital.”
Privately held since the end of World War II, the cards are a source for the history of Mr. Churchill’s wartime leadership, recording the extraordinary extent of his activities and the frequency and range of his wartime journeys. Between September 1939 and June 1945, Mr. Churchill’s private secretaries kept the handwritten “engagement diary” on two-sided cards measuring 12 by 13 inches. The library has created high-resolution digital images of the cards and will launch a crowdsourcing project, open to the public, to provide full text transcription and annotation for the cards, all of which will be available to the public on a dedicated website.
“We are delighted to receive this fantastic record that gives us a window into part of Winston Churchill’s life during World War II,” said Geneva Henry, university librarian and vice provost for libraries. “The gift coincides with the construction of the National Churchill Library and Center, the first permanent U.S. home in our nation’s capital for the study of Winston Churchill.”
The National Churchill Library and Center, which is expected to open in 2016, will educate new generations about Mr. Churchill and will serve as a classroom and meeting space for public programs and lectures highlighting the historical significance of Mr. Churchill, his contemporaries and more recent world leaders.
“We are honored that Steve Forbes has entrusted us with these historic documents, and we are glad that they will be a part of the National Churchill Library and Center at GW,” said Lee Pollock, executive director of the Churchill Centre. “For the first time, the original record of Churchill’s wartime activities will be made freely and widely available to scholars and students around the world.”
The library will work with academic programs across the university to develop programming.
About the National Churchill Library and Center
The National Churchill Library and Center is part of a philanthropic partnership with the George Washington University and the Chicago-based Churchill Centre. Housed on the first floor of the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, this will be the first major research facility in the nation’s capital dedicated to the study of Winston Churchill.