The Nancy Norton Tomasko Fellowship


In December 2019, scholar-collector Mark D. Tomasko donated $100,000 to establish, in honor of his late wife, the Nancy Norton Tomasko Fellowship, an annual award that will support the studies of a Junior Fellow in Rare Book School’s Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography (SoFCB).

Nancy Norton Tomasko (1947–2018) was a teacher, researcher, and editor whose specialties included Chinese bookbinding, handmade paper, and woodblock printing. After college, on a lark she went to teach English at the YMCA in Taipei, Taiwan. It was the start of a lifelong fascination with China and things Chinese. She was in one of the early groups of U.S. graduate students to study in mainland China in the early 1980s. Later Nancy received a Ph.D. in Ming literature from Princeton University, and taught at Connecticut College and Bryn Mawr where she created an extraordinary studio course on the history of the book in China. She also taught numerous workshops on Chinese bookbinding. Her greatest interest was documenting Chinese handmade paper, talking with many papermakers and dealers in China. She gave talks (including a lecture at Rare Book School in 2015), wrote articles, and prepared sample books. Professionally she was for a decade the editor of the East Asian Library Journal at Princeton.

Applicants to the SoFCB Junior Fellows Program who specialize in any of the four following areas may be eligible for the award:

  1. Asian materials (including Central Asia); “materials” includes any and all forms of textual artifacts (e.g., books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, prints, rubbings, &c.)
  2. Papermaking and/or the history of paper (any region, any period)
  3. Conservation practices and studies (any region, any period)
  4. Ephemeral materials and/or maps (any region, any period)

The endowed fellowships will provide two years of funding per awardee, allowing Nancy Norton Tomasko Fellows to attend the SoFCB’s annual meeting and to participate in two RBS courses; it will also provide funding for fellows to host a public-facing symposium, as well as some support for fellows to participate in a bibliographical field school.

A single award per year will be made by RBS to a candidate who meets the usual selection and eligibility criteria of the SoFCB; the SoFCB Selection Committee will consider all eligible candidates for the award from among the applicants to the Junior Fellows Program.

SoFCB Fellows are committed both to teaching with primary materials, and to fostering an accessible, inclusive, and diverse environment for the study of material texts. This opportunity is meant to help advance their work in the study of papermaking, conservation, ephemera, and Asian materials.