A Few Favorite Books to Share: Pamela Kenworthey Harer

Pamela Kenworthey Harer
15 September 1933 – 1 July 2014

Pamela Harer was a passionate bibliophile who collected, preserved, researched and shared both her books and her knowledge. She started over fifty years ago when she sought to find a few favorite books from her childhood to share with her four children. That start soon progressed into intensely studying the history of books with emphasis on illustrated children’s literature.

She was a voracious reader and researcher who attended rare book schools, book fairs, and conferences in the US and UK. As she studied the field, her interest shifted steadily further back in time. She was enamored with miniature books. Over the years, her collection became quite large. Realizing that “we can’t take it with us”, Pamela sought appropriate new homes for her books. A large collection of political propaganda books aimed at children was donated to Florida International University, which focuses on such material. Many of her 18th and 19th Century books were given to the Rare Book Department at the University of Washington as well as the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at California Fresno State University. Others went to supplement the massive Cotsen Collection at Princeton University. She also sought to see that some could go to passionate collectors such as herself. PBA Galleries is honored to offer the Harer Collection at auction, to comply with Pamela’s wishes.

Realizing the fragile nature of so many early books, she had custom boxes made for many and had damaged books expertly repaired. She established a fund at the UW Special Collections Department to provide such conservation. A further memorial Fellowship is planned to continue her work.

Pamela shared her knowledge and hoped to entice others into the rewarding world of bibliophiles by writing articles and producing exhibits with catalogues. In 1994 she single handedly produced the combined index for the huge Osborne Collection in Toronto. Her extensive collection of early pop-up and movable books was featured at the Suzallo/Allen Library in 2011 with a catalog titled Merry Company, and the books then donated She spearheaded the book collection contest at Puget Sound University, which yielded the national winner. Her extensive collection of early pop-up and movable books was featured at UW Suzallo/Allen library and the books then donated.

As she knew she had a fatal lymphoma, she struggled tenaciously to complete her catalog, ¬¬From the Lowly Lubok to Soviet Realism: Early Twentieth Century Children’s Books from Russia, to accompany her exhibit on that subject currently on display at the UW Library Rare Book Department. The exhibit permits us to see how the changing politics from Czarist Russia through the rise and decline of Communism was reflected in the literature provided children. It will be open until 24 October. It was a final pleasure for her to see it the day before the formal opening.