Gelman Library Begins National Churchill Library and Center Construction

Work will begin Dec. 21 on the ground floor of the library.

December 16, 2015


The George Washington University Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library announced Wednesday that construction for the National Churchill Library and Center will begin Dec. 21.

The exhibition, meeting and learning space dedicated to the legacy of Winston Churchill is slated to open in 2016. It will be housed on the ground floor of the library and will feature Mr. Churchill’s World War II “engagement diary,” a collection of handwritten cards detailing the famed British prime minister’s appointments during WWII.

“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.”

Chairman of Forbes media Steve Forbes donated the collection of 30 cards to the Chicago-based Churchill Centre, an international education organization that made the initial leadership gift to establish the National Churchill Library and Center at GW. Mr. Churchill’s engagement diary was recently gifted to GW for use in the center.

Library staff members have created high-resolution digital images of the two-sided 12 by 13 inch cards, which outline Mr. Churchill’s wartime leadership and activities between September 1939 and June 1945 as recorded by private secretaries.

The library plans to launch a public crowdsourcing project to provide full-text transcription and annotation of the cards.

“The engagement diary is an important historical resource, and I am pleased that they will now be seen by a broad audience,” Mr. Forbes said. “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.”

The National Churchill Library and Center is the home in our nation’s capital for facility for scholarship and archival materials commemorating Mr. Churchill.

“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.”