My husband, Nathan, and I were both born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. After practicing law in Vicksburg for over seven years Nathan developed a desire to teach law; so he attended Yale University Law School where he received his J.S.D. and then became a Professor of Law at the University Of Connecticut School Of Law, where he taught for 35 years. After his death in 1994 I decided to remain in West Hartford where my friends and interests were and where I could still be close to my three children.
My oldest daughter, Diane Levy, is a book designer in Newton, MA, the mother of 12-year-old twins (a boy and girl) and wife of Dr. Igor Tepermeister, head of a computer firm in Boston. My youngest daughter, Pamela Levy, of Belmont, MA is a childrens book illustrator, a ballet and ballroom teacher, master gardener and wife of Alex Nelson, who works for Google. My son, Dr. David Levy, is a molecular biologist who heads his AIDS research laboratory in the Dental School of New York University in New York City.
As a librarian and very early collector of childrens books, I have participated in many organizations and activities related to the field of childrens literature. Through the years I have given slide lectures of my collection, mounted exhibits of my books and had articles written about my collection in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Northeast Magazine and Biblio Magazine. I became the co-founder of the Northeast Childrens Literature Collection (NCLC) in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, with my initial gift of 8,000 childrens books in 1985, followed by several thousand more volumes as I catalogued them through the years. At present I am cataloguing my most important and in-depth collection, that of the works of author and illustrator Maurice Sendak and hope to have this special collection completed and at UConn in 2011 after spending several years working on it.
A co-founder of the American Book Collectors of Childrens literature (ABCs), I continue to edit the ABC Newsletter, which I started in 1990. Meeting 10 times a year, we attend lectures, exchange information and travel to exhibitions. As we celebrate the ABCs 25th year in 2011 with about 60 members nation-wide, the Connecticut Chapter of the ABCs will participate in the important Book Festival to be held in West Hartford in May, 2011. I am also a member of the Ticknor Society, a book group in Boston, MA.
The Connecticut Childrens Book Fair, held at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT was started 20 years ago by a small group of book lovers, of which I was one, to attract children to books and reading and to raise money for the endowment of NCLC. In 2005 Susan Aller and I co-chaired a capital campaign which raised over $300,000 for the endowment of NCLC. I encouraged and have been successful in interesting many childrens book authors and illustrators to send their archives to NCLC so that now NCLC contains over 40,000 volumes and has over 90 childrens book authors and illustrators contributing their archives to it.
In 1995 I began to produce and host a TV program, Childrens Books: Their Creators and Collectors, at WHC-TV, Channel 5, West Hartford, CT, which I still produce and host monthly. Many famous authors and illustrators have discussed and shown their work on this TV program through the years. All of these videos are now being digitized at the University of Connecticut so they may be available to everyone through the Universitys web site.
I was one of the founders of the Friends of the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford and was on the Advisory Council of the Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut for three years. I was also on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Center for the Book at the Hartford Public Library as well as serving as Chair of the Center for the Books Connecticut Childrens Book Illustration Awards. I am a past President of the Auerbach Library Committee at the Wadsworth Atheneum and served three terms as President of the ABCs. I am now a member of the Sanford Low Illustration Committee of the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Congregation Beth Israel Deborah Library Committee in West Hartford and the Art Committee of the Town and County Club in Hartford, CT.
I have been honored with the Charter Oak State College Alumni Citation for Outstanding Accomplishments and Loyalty to the College; the Dodd Research Center Award for Service to the University; the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Hartford Section, Women Who Dare to Make a Difference; the Billie M. Levy Travel and Research Grants for researchers using the Northeast Childrens Literature Collection in the Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT and with a portrait of me drawn by my friend Barry Moser as a special birthday present from family and friends.