VALERIE PALEY APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY’S
PATRICIA D. KLINGENSTEIN LIBRARY
New York, NY—June 10, 2021—The New-York Historical Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Valerie Paley has been appointed senior vice president and Sue Ann Weinberg Director of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest and most prestigious independent research libraries in the United States, effective July 1, 2021. She replaces Michael T. Ryan, who has served as vice president and Library director since 2014 and who is retiring this month.
Dr. Paley will oversee the Library’s extensive collections—which include outstanding materials dating from the 17th century to the present—as well as all aspects of the Library’s programming and operations, including digitization projects, acquisitions, and increased access to the Library’s holdings.
Dr. Paley has served as New-York Historical’s senior vice president and chief historian as well as the founding director of the Center for Women’s History, the first such center of its kind within the walls of an American museum, since 2017. She joined the institution in 2001 as the founding editor of the Museum’s New-York Journal of American History, and has served in various capacities, including historian for special projects and dean of scholarly programs. She has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions, including New York Rising, the original permanent installation in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History after its 2011 renovation; Women March; Walk This Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes; and The Battle of Brooklyn, among others.
“The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library at New-York Historical serves a vital and dynamic role in the telling of American history and is an incomparable resource for our own groundbreaking exhibitions as well as for the thousands of researchers and scholars who use it every year,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO. “Valerie understands the scholarly importance of the Library and its holdings, and I look forward to seeing the innovations and new directions she will undertake as its director.”
“I have New-York Historical’s Library to thank for my career in history,” said Valerie Paley. “After finishing a master’s degree in American studies, I volunteered at the Library before becoming editor of New-York Historical’s journal. Spending so much time with the Library’s collections inspired me to pursue a Ph.D. in history to work more purposefully with such exceptional archival materials. I am excited for the opportunity to continue to mine the Library for its dynamic potential to reveal the American past, and to be working alongside its accomplished staff, who deserve praise for their outstanding work to maintain and advance our collections, most recently under extraordinary circumstances.”
Each year, thousands of researchers—from students to educators, journalists to genealogists, novelists to filmmakers—enjoy free access to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, receiving research assistance and access to the collections on site and remotely. The Library holds more than 10 million manuscripts, documents, photographs, books, newspapers, and diaries, among other materials, including rare examples of 17th century Dutch mapmaking, John Jay’s draft of Federalist No. 64 from the Federalist Papers, the archives of the New-York African Free-School dating from 1816–1832, some of the earliest extant photographs of New York City, and the architectural collections of Cass Gilbert and McKim, Mead & White. Among recent acquisitions are the papers of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert A. Caro, the Time Inc. archive, and activist and sports legend Billie Jean King’s archives.
A lifelong New Yorker, Valerie Paley is a graduate of Vassar College and holds an MA in American studies and earned a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, where she teaches an undergraduate seminar in museums and public culture at the Columbia Center for American Studies. Her work at New-York Historical encompasses a critical range of curatorial, scholarly, and administrative responsibilities, including the development of a new joint MA program in museum studies with the CUNY School of Professional Studies that launched in fall 2019. Dr. Paley is the 2020 recipient of the American Historical Association’s Herbert Feis Award, recognizing distinguished contributions to the field of public history.
About the New-York Historical Society
New York City’s oldest museum, the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library was founded in 1804. The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library—one of the most distinguished in the nation—fosters research through its outstanding collections, which include more than 10 million items. The Museum presents groundbreaking history and art exhibitions as well as public programs that convey the stories of New York and the nation’s diverse populations to the broadest possible public.
The New-York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024. Information: (212) 873-3400. Website: nyhistory.org. Follow the museum on social media at @nyhistory on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.
Image credit: Valerie Paley. Photo credit: Wendy Mills.