Ronald D. Patkus

Head of Special Collections and College Historian, Adjunct Associate Professor of History on the Frederick Weyerhaeuser Chair

Ronald Patkus is a native of Connecticut. He received a BA from Boston College (1986), an MA and Certificate in Archival Management from the University of Connecticut (1987), an MS in Library Science from Simmons College (1993), and a PhD in History from Boston College (1997). Mr. Patkus serves as Associate Director of the Libraries for Special Collections and is a member of the History Department.  He holds the Frederick Weyerhaeuser Endowed Chair in Biblical Literature and Bibliography.  His teaching and research interests focus on the history of books and printing. 

MLS, Simmons College; BA, Boston College; MA, University of Connecticut; PhD, Boston College
At Vassar since 2000


Frederick F. Thompson Library
Box 20
Mon-Fri, 8:30-Noon, 1-5pm

Research and Academic Interests

History of the book
History of private and fine press printing
History of the Bible


MEDS/MRST 220 Medieval and Renaissance Culture
AMST/MEDS 248  The Book in America
MEDS 249  The Book: A Global History
GRST/MEDS 205 Homer's Odyssey: From Oral Composition to Digital Editions

Selected Publications

The Privately Printed Bible: Private and Fine Press Editions of Biblical Texts in the British Isles and North America, 1892-2000 (2017)

“The Age of Alice: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Nonsense in Victorian England,” in The Age of Alice: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Nonsense in Victorian England, (2015)

“The Nuremberg Chronicle: Background, Production, Legacy,” in Never Before Has Your Like Been Printed: The Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493, (2014)

Shirley Jones and the Red Hen Press (2013)

“Building a Repository of Artists’ Books from the Women’s Studio Workshop,” Hand, Voice & Vision: Artists’ Books from the Women’s Studio Workshop, (2010)

Ars Omnia Tuetur: 25 Years of Fine Printing at the Thornwillow Press (2010)

Grants, Fellowships, Honors, Awards

Bridwell Library Fellowship (Southern Methodist University), 2016, 2019.

Tatlock Fund for Strategic Faculty Research, 2014, 2015, 2016.

Katharine Kyes Leab & Daniel J. Leab American Book Prices Current Exhibition Award, 2005, 2007, 2014.

Vassar Research Committee Grant, 2008, 2010.

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar on "The Reformation of the Book, 1450-1700."

Checkpoint Charlie Foundation (Berlin) Project Subsidy, 2005.

Initiative Fortbildung Tour of German Libraries, 2003.

In the Media

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Krystle McLaughlin sitting at a table in front of microphones

Students, administrators, alums, and others in the Vassar community enjoyed a plethora of events in observation of Black History Month, included  exhibitions, a panel on STEM-related fields, a dinner, and an update of the Buildings and Belonging project, focused on the history of African Americans on campus.

Ronald Patkus standing at a table in the Vassar Library with book shelves behind him.

For nearly 40 years, Vassar has had a College Historian to help research and document our institutional history—the most recent being Colton Johnson, Professor Emeritus of English and former Dean of Studies and Dean of the College. As Ronald Patkus, Adjunct Associate Professor of History on the Frederick Weyerhaeuser Chair and Associate Director of the Libraries for Special Collections assumes the role, he promises to take an unflinching look at Vassar’s past.

Vassar Has Some New Medieval Treasures

Vassar alumna Diana Pearson ’78 has donated more than 80 manuscripts and other material from her late husband’s rare book and manuscript collection to Special Collections at Thompson Library. Some students in a medieval history class spent an hour viewing one of the manuscripts, and more students and scholars will benefit from the generous donation in the future.


Download images for non-commercial use, photo credit required.