Gifts at Work

Making UAlbany’s Future a Reality

By Carol Olechowski
Marcia Brown

More than a year after her passing at age 96, famed children’s-book illustrator and author Marcia Brown, B.A.’40, continues to support the University at Albany, its students and its library collections.

Through a gift received this past spring from the estate of the three-time Caldecott Medal recipient, The Marcia J. Brown Scholarship was established to benefit students who exemplify academic excellence and demonstrate financial need. Another estate gift funded The Marcia J. Brown Library Endowment in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives. It will continue to support the initiatives, work and activities of the department, as the donor did during her lifetime.Brown, a native of Rochester, N.Y., graduated from the New York State College for Teachers (NYSCT) with a degree in English and drama. After teaching high school for three years, she took a position in the New York Public Library’s Central Children’s Room, where she honed her storytelling skills.

Her first book, The Little Carousel, was published in 1946. Two years later, Brown received her first Caldecott honors for Stone Soup. Over the next four decades, she earned the Caldecott Medal – the most prestigious recognition the American Library Association (ALA) awards – for Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper (1955); Once a Mouse (1962); and Shadow (1983). She earned the ALA’s Honor Book designation for Henry Fisherman; Dick Whittington and His Cat; Skipper John’s Cook; Puss in Boots; and The Steadfast Tin Soldier.

Several years ago, Brown named the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives the repository of her life’s work. The Marcia Brown Collection includes her correspondence, manuscripts, watercolors, pastels, woodcuts, final art, books and puppets. She also provided funds for its maintenance and interpretation. All told, Brown’s contributions to UAlbany during her lifetime, coupled with commitments made through her estate, will exceed $1 million.

David Mitchell, curator of the University’s Miriam Snow Mathes Historical Children’s Literature Collection, described Brown as an “artist who was literate.” He added: “She was able to absorb the spirit of a story, and then choose a medium and work in a style that captured that spirit.” Last April, the University community gathered in the Science Library’s Standish Room to honor her at Celebrating the Life of an Artist: Marcia Brown (1919-2015).