The McFarlin Fellows

V.S. Naipaul fellows dinnerThe McFarlin Fellows is the oldest currently active giving society affiliated with McFarlin Library. These individuals have generously chosen to support the growth of the library's Department of Special Collections and University Archives with an annual commitment of $2,000, and in so doing highlight and encourage intellectual development in the Tulsa community. Gifts are used to fund acquisitions of rare books and manuscripts, while also funding an annual lecture series that features significant scholars and authors of the day. The McFarlin Fellows generally attend formal dinners with a speaker three times a year, and may also participate in other special events.


The rare book and manuscript collections at The University of Tulsa have always enjoyed strong support from the Tulsa Community. Much of this support has been from people who are interested in literature and history.

In the 1940s, the Tulsa Bibliophiles, a group of book collectors, developed an extensive collection of Walt Whitman materials that later, along with many of the members' personal libraries, was given to McFarlin Library, establishing the University's rare book holdings for American and English literature.

Over the next fifty years, there were a number of short-lived library groups that continued to support the special collections and rare book holdings at the University of Tulsa through gifts of materials and financial donations.

In 1992, then-Provost George Gilpin and his wife Professor Hermione de Almeida, along with Curator of Special Collections Sidney F. Huttner, began to gather friends and acquaintances who were interested not only in supporting the needs of the Special Collections department, but also in enriching the intellectual community of Tulsa. After a few test dinners and speakers in the Gilpins' home, the McFarlin Fellows was firmly established, and the first official dinner with a speaker was held in October 1993.

Over the years, there have been many fascinating and notable speakers and events, including Nobel laureate Sir V. S. Naipaul, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Mary Robinson (then President of Ireland), NPR commentator, writer, and librarian Nancy Pearl, the unveiling of the Sir Rupert Hart Davis Library, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns (The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz).


Why we need Support

Although university funding covers the costs of staff and overhead, it does not provide funding for Special Collections acquisitions. These are funded solely through gifts to the Library.

But success in acquiring desirable manuscripts, rare books, and other materials, and building a prestigious collection needs more than generosity. Success actually requires:

  • Thoughtfully defined collections and interests
  • Dependable funding at a predictable level
  • An institutional ability to move quickly and make immediate decisions
  • Support that can be mobilized to meet special opportunities

Special Collections works with a small number of respectable bookdealers who have our collection interests firmly in mind, and we have worked for many years to cultivate a reputation for reliability and alacrity. By having dependable funding and responsive support, we can continue to maintain these relationships and continue to build and expand both our collections and our prestige in the academic community.

Dean in front of FellowsHow to Join

The McFarlin Fellows support The University of Tulsa's rare book, manuscript, and special collections with an annual contribution of $2000 or more. McFarlin Fellows are also recognized as members of the University of Tulsa's President's Council and are invited to special events organized by the President of the University. Annual donors of $1500 or more to any University program become members of the President's Council but only those supporting the acquisition of rare books and manuscripts become McFarlin Fellows.

The Ben Graf Henneke Society is a level of giving intended to help bring in speakers of note for the Fellows dinners.

For more information about joining the McFarlin Fellows, please contact Amy Gerald, Director for Development for McFarlin Library, Institutional Advancement at (918) 631-3733 or by email.