Big news in the world of presidential and revolutionary-era American history:
The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association is proud to announce the appointment of Patrick Spero, Ph.D., as the Executive Director of the George Washington Presidential Library housed within the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. Spero comes to the Washington Library after serving as Librarian and Director of the Library & Museum of the American Philosophical Society (APS) in Philadelphia since 2015.
“Since the opening of the Washington Library in September 2013, Mount Vernon has established itself as the premier center for the study of George Washington, fostering scholarship on the Founding Era of the United States and creating innovative educational programming for a variety of audiences,” said Margaret Nichols, the 23rd Regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. “Dr. Spero’s experience, scholarly accomplishments, and vision for the Washington Library will ensure the advancement of the Association’s education mission to the highest standard.”
Mount Vernon President & CEO Douglas Bradburn comments, “Patrick’s record of achievement as the director of one of the nation’s preeminent libraries, along with his sterling scholarly credentials, makes him the ideal director of the George Washington Presidential Library. We are thrilled he will lead the Washington Library into its second decade of excellence.”
Spero says of his appointment, “On March 9, 1797, 226 years ago today, George Washington departed Philadelphia for Mount Vernon after ending his second presidential term. I am thrilled to now head to Mount Vernon myself to start a new chapter as the George Washington Presidential Library Director and to be a part of such an inspiring and dynamic place. It is an incredible honor to serve as the next steward of the library. I am excited to grow its collections and develop new programs that expand knowledge of the life, leadership, and legacy of George Washington, the most important figure in the nation’s most important era.”
At the APS Library and Museum, Spero oversaw one of the nation’s most distinguished independent research libraries. Its holdings include the Papers of Benjamin Franklin, the Journals of Lewis and Clark, materials that relate to over 650 different indigenous communities, and the papers of seven Nobel Laureates. During Spero’s tenure, the APS established the David Center for the American Revolution and the Center for Digital Scholarship and completed an endowment campaign for the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research; the APS expanded its digitization efforts; launched new programs for scholars and the general public; integrated the APS Library and APS Museum into a single entity; grew its fellowship program; and managed a major capital project for library and museum artifact care and storage.
Spero is the author of Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the American West (W. W. Norton & Company, 2018), and Botany and Betrayal: Andre Michaux, Thomas Jefferson, and the Kentucky Conspiracy of 1793 (Jeffersonian America series, University of Virginia Press, forthcoming Fall 2024), and co-editor of The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspectives for the 21st Century (University of Pennsylvania, 2018).
Prior to his time at the APS, Spero served on the faculty of Williams College, teaching courses on the American Presidency, the American Revolution, early American history, and political leadership. Spero is Chair of the Executive Council of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; on the Board for the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; on the Academic Advisory Board of the Benjamin Franklin House in London; and has served for many years on the Washington Library Cabinet at Mount Vernon.
Spero received his BA from James Madison University and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is married to fellow historian Laura Keenan Spero, and they are parents to three children.
The George Washington Presidential Library sponsors impactful forums in early American history and civic engagement, manages a prominent research fellowship program, houses an extensive collection of manuscripts, maps, and books, organizes expansive digital offerings, and annually hosts thousands of people at public events and leadership programs.
Reporting to Mount Vernon’s President & CEO and serving as an integral member of the executive leadership team at one of America’s most storied public history sites, the Executive Director of the George Washington Presidential Library is charged with fostering scholarship surrounding George Washington and his era, leading impactful academic and public programs, and growing the breadth, depth, and significance of the library collection. Spero will direct the preeminent center for the study of our first President as it celebrates its tenth anniversary in September 2023, and charts the course for its next dynamic decade, including Mount Vernon’s programming around the significant anniversaries recognizing America’s 250th in 2026 and George Washington’s 300th Birthday in 2032.
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