Jean W. Ashton, Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University, received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1959, an M.A. from Harvard University in 1961, and a Ph.D. in American Literature from Columbia in 1970. After a teaching career that included positions at Fisk University, Hunter College School of General Studies, and Long Island University, she entered the Rutgers School of Library and Information Studies, receiving an MLS in 1985. She began her work experience in the field of rare books in 1984, when she joined the staff of the New York Historical Society, where she remained for the next nine years, serving as Director of the Library from 1990 to 1993. She has been at the Columbia University Libraries for the last seven years.

Dr. Ashton is the author of Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Reference Guide and co-author of Emerging Voices: American Women Writers, 1660-1920. Subjects of published articles include Herman Melville, Henry James, P.T. Barnum, early American printing, New York theatre, and library theft. She is currently member-at-large of the Executive Committee of the ACRL/RBMS section of the American Library Association.

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