wellsAurora, New York—The Wells College Association of Alumnae and Alumni (WCA) has granted the 2017 Alumnae and Alumni Award to Dr. Patricia Danz Stirnemann '67 for her contributions to the field of art history, specifically in the area of medieval French and English illuminated manuscripts. The award was given during a special ceremony as part of Wells' Reunion weekend on Saturday, June 3, in Phipps Auditorium of Macmillan Hall.

Dr. Stirnemann has spent decades as a scholar, researcher, collaborator and supportive influence on the work of countless art historian colleagues and students. Her work centers around the history of illuminated manuscripts and covers the entire Middle Ages from 700 to 1600 A.D., with specific expertise on the 12th and 13th centuries in England and France. By exploring and identifying aspects such as penwork, style, layout and original owner of these documents—which predate the printed book and contain much of our ancient and medieval literature and records—we can better understand world history and the way that knowledge was prepared and preserved.

Dr. Stirnemann's professional life has been dedicated to exploring, identifying and localizing these documents. She has worked with the Bibliothèque nationale de France, earned a lifetime appointment at the Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes in Paris, documented and catalogued manuscript collections including those of the Academy of Science in Saint Petersburg and the Château de Chantilly, discovered and reconstructed many medieval monastic libraries, designed and prepared numerous public exhibitions and more.

In her acceptance speech, Dr. Stirnemann shared, "During my 40 years of cataloguing several thousand books and creating close chronological and geographical histories for script and ornament in French and English manuscripts, I have found that I can reconstruct places of production, recognize private and monastic libraries, and identify the makers and owners of books, which allow me to enter their minds and listen to their thoughts.

"In a field like that of 12th and 13th century manuscript studies, when there are so few names and at least 50% of the manuscripts no longer exist, true research is figuring out what is not known but knowable, what are the right questions to ask and what new ways can we devise for dating and placing manuscripts, for identifying their original owner, for reconstructing history."

After receiving her degree in art history from Wells, Dr. Stirnemann earned a master's and doctorate from Columbia University. She has lived in Paris since 1975.

The WCA Alumnae and Alumni Award honors Wells women and men of high achievement in professions and careers, in volunteer and community work, in service to their alma mater, or in some combination of these endeavors.