Hannah Adler was born in Saratoga Springs in 1903. She graduated with honors from Smith College and went on to pursue graduate study at Oxford University in England. In the 1920s and 1930s, she wrote for literary magazines, worked in galleries and museums in New York City, and assisted European refugees in Vienna. She met and married F. Charles Adler, an orchestra conductor who had fled Germany in 1934.
The Adlers settled in Saratoga Springs in 1943 where, for the next decade, Hannah wrote music commentaries, and her husband worked as the first conductor/director of the annual Saratoga Springs Music Festival. In 1955, the couple moved to Vienna, where they remained for the next 30 years.
In Vienna, Mrs. Adler championed war relief and refugee efforts by befriendeding American musicians and diplomats, introducing them to the city’s rich cultural life and providing a comfortable “salon” where they could gather. Through it all, Mr and Mrs. Adler were avid collectors of 18th-and 19th-century books, periodicals, and illustrations.
In 1967, Hannah M. Adler graciously loaned her extensive collection of 19th-century books to Skidmore College, and they remain in the Scribner Library courtesy of Norman M. Fox, who took charge of the collection upon Mrs. Adler’s death in 1989. Hannah’s vast collection reflects her appreciation for rare antiquarian books.
Skidmore College recognizes the generosity of Mr. Fox in establishing an annual lecture series in memory of Hannah and continuing the College’s tradition of showcasing fine literary and artistic talent. The Adler collection spans the fifteenth to the twentieth century (with rare, limited edition, and signed pieces) but the most extensive collection within the collection is from nineteenth-century Britain.
Due to Hannah and Norman’s generosity, says Professor Catherine Golden, “students have witnessed the marriage of image and word as the Victorians once did” (The Hannah M. Adler Collection, p.5).