Belle da Costa Greene: Additional Resources

Belle da Costa Greene standing looking right in full figure profile.

Clarence H. White (1871–1925). Belle da Costa Greene, 1911. Archives of the Morgan Library & Museum, ARC 2821.

Below is a list of selected resources about Belle da Costa Greene. It includes the only book-length biography (Heidi Ardizzone’s 2007 work An Illuminated Life), a major Festschrift begun during Greene’s lifetime and published shortly after her death (Studies in Art and Literature for Belle da Costa Greene, edited by Dorothy Miner), several pieces of recent scholarship, online talks and conversations, and a selection of news articles published during Greene's lifetime.

Greene’s parentage was known to few people outside her family during her adult life, though some suspected that she was of African American descent. In conducting research for her 1999 biography Morgan: American Financier, Jean Strouse discovered Greene’s birth certificate, along with census records and other documents that revealed Greene’s given name, place and year of birth, and parents’ names. Strouse’s New Yorker article “The Unknown J.P. Morgan,” as well as her biography of Morgan, detail her findings.

Until 2021, little was known of Greene’s education or employment before she began working at the Princeton University library. Daria Rose Foner’s blog post New Light on Belle da Costa Greene details recent discoveries: that Greene was educated at Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies (a predecessor of what is now called Northfield Mount Hermon School), that she was employed at Teachers College before working at Princeton, and that her patron was Grace Hoadley Dodge, a philanthropist and neighbor of J. Pierpont Morgan.

Of additional interest is The First Quarter Century of the Pierpont Morgan Library: A Retrospective Exhibition in Honor of Belle da Costa Greene, the catalog of the major exhibition the Morgan mounted in Greene’s honor in 1949, just after her retirement, to highlight the accomplishments of Greene and her staff during the Morgan’s first twenty-five years as a public institution. The catalog includes a tribute to Greene by the American book historian Lawrence C. Wroth.

Also listed below (with links to fully digitized copies provided by HathiTrust) are the earliest reports of the Pierpont Morgan Library, which document the institution’s ambitious activities during Greene’s long tenure as director. These publications comprise the reports submitted by Greene to the Morgan’s Board of Trustees and describe the institution’s major activities, including exhibitions, acquisitions, publications, lectures, and scholarly services—all spearheaded by Greene.

Selected news articles