Completed: 1927 (renovated 1993)
Architect: Office of Horace Trumbauer (Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee)
Heiress to the Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical fortune and an avid philanthropist and patron of the arts, Ruth Lilly (1915-2009) donated a significant amount of funds towards the renovation of the Woman’s College Library.
Completed in the spring of 1927, the library was originally known as the Woman's College Library. A Georgian building, its exterior was designed to be identical in size and appearance to the East Campus Union directly across from it on the quad. Its stack capacity when it first opened was 225,000 volumes. The library featured periodical, reference, and reading rooms, as well as a gallery for works of art. Strong collection development occurred in the areas of art, education, children's literature, music, literature, history and psychology. For a number of years, the library served as the art center for the Woman's College campus.
With the merging of the Woman's College with Trinity College in 1972, the library was renamed the East Campus Library. It continued to develop collections in the liberal arts, expanding to collect books in the humanities and social sciences to support general undergraduate instruction. The library was renamed the Lilly Library in 1990 in recognition of a gift by Ruth Lilly, and, after extensive renovations in 1993, it reopened as a humanities and visual arts library.
The library's most distinguishing feature, the Thomas Room, is devoted to displaying Asian works of art donated by the family and friends of James A. Thomas, a personal friend and business partner of the Duke Family, as well as a Duke trustee. The room was established in 1940 after his death, and the room's furnishings and collection of East Asian books are maintained by the Thomas family.
For Further Research:
- Building Reference Collection - Contains historical building information.
- The Library of the Woman's College, Duke University, 1930-1972 by Betty Irene Young (digitized copy)