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Nancy Elizabeth Packer (1962 – 2013)
Nancy Elizabeth Packer, doctoral candidate in the American Civilization Program, passed away on December 25, 2013, surrounded by her family. At the time of her death, Nancy was Chief Curator and Director of Collections for Tryon Palace in New Bern, North Carolina. Nancy graduated from the College of William and Mary and received her Master of Arts degree from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture. Memorials may be made to the Tryon Palace Commission, P.O. Box 1007, New Bern, NC 28563. The funds will be set aside to purchase objects for the collection.
Everyone who knew her agrees: Nancy Packer was a beautiful person. We tend to speak about personal beauty as being both "outside," physical appeal, and "inside," a loving heart. Nancy certainly had both of these attributes. Her wide smile could light up a room, and her sense of style was legendary. Her love for her family and her partner Daniel Broucher was remarkable for its depth and the joy that it brought her. Many of us are able to bear witness to the acts of personal sacrifice she made willingly, for love's sake, for her mother and father in the last years of their lives. As her parents' lives closed, Nancy's young nieces were a daily reminder of the constant rebirth of love in the world.
Nancy Packer's world was animated by deep engagement with four beauties: physical, artistic, spiritual, and intellectual. From her quest to attain the physical beauty of figure skating, to the spiritual nourishment she received from choral music, the beauty of art sustained her. The study of beauty also engaged Nancy's mind for many years. Her academic research was a quest to recover the lost world of the eighteenth century and to understand how people in the past created, recognized and appreciated beauty. Nancy then shared her research through prose that was itself remarkable for its lucidity and grace. Through her position at Tryon Palace, she generously imparted this hard-won knowledge to the public.
I knew Nancy as a friend and colleague, as a mentor, and as one of her academic advisors. I speak for my colleagues and Nancy's classmates at the University of Delaware when I say that, in her inner and outer beauty and in her lifelong work to share the physical, artistic, spiritual and intellectual beauty of the world with others, Nancy brought light to us. We carry that light within us and remember her with love.
Director, American Civilization Program
University of Delaware
- Josh Probert received the 2013-14 University Dissertation Fellowship, a campus-wide, competitive prize.
- Janneken Smucker (Am Civ 2010), Assistant Professor of History at West Chester University, has a forthcoming book, Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon, to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press this Fall.
- Bess Williamson (Am Civ 2011), Assistant Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, won the Katherine C. Grier Prize for best recent article, "Getting a Grip: Disability in American Industrial Design of the Late Twentieth Century," in Winterthur Portfolio 46, no. 4, Winter 2012.
- Kasey Grier's Pets in America: A History is now available on audiobook through Audible.com!
- This past summer, Kasey participated in two summer institutes for graduate students and faculty. She served as Seminar Leader for "Domestic Impressions: The Material and Visual Culture of the American Family Home, 1750-1890," the 2013 Summer Seminar of the Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC) at the American Antiquarian Society. She also was a visiting faculty member for one week of the 2013 NEH Summer Institute, "American Material Culture: Nineteenth Century New York," led by David Jaffee at the Bard Graduate Center.
- Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars 2014 Symposium to be held at the Winterthur Museum on April 12, 2014!
- Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars 2012 Proceedings now online HERE!