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  • The Avery Family

  • R. Stanton AveryIn the long history of American genealogy, one family - the R. Stanton Avery family - stands out among many for its remarkable dedication to the preservation of genealogical and historical manuscripts and archives. Through the generosity of the late R. Stanton Avery, a special collections department was founded at NEHGS in 1998 to preserve and protect the Society's rarest and most unique treasures. Today, Mr. Avery's daughter, Judith, continues to be actively involved in the life and activities of NEHGS, having served for many years as a Trustee of the Society and presently as a member of the NEHGS Advisory Council. The staff, trustees, and members of NEHGS gratefully acknowledge and thank the Avery family for its generosity and leadership in the field of American genealogy.

    Avery Family Background
    From his Connecticut Avery ancestors, silversmiths and clockmakers in Preston, R. Stanton Avery inherited a knowledge of mechanics and tools, and a love of tinkering and inventing. Mr. Avery's father, Oliver Perry Avery, grew up in Stonington, Connecticut, where some of the family have lived for thirteen generations. As a teenager he lived for a time in Denver; later, after Yale Divinity School, Oliver became a Congregational minister and moved his family often, from church to church, with stops in Blaine, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and Colegrove, California.

    R. Stanton Avery family timeline:
    1907: Ray Stanton Avery was born on January 13th in Oklahoma Territory to Oliver Perry Avery and Emma Miller Dickinson, a second cousin once removed of poet Emily Dickinson. Mr. Avery later put himself through Pomona College by working at a downtown mission and by printing dance programs and stationery on his father's letter press.

    1935: With the assistance of his fiancée, Dorothy Durfee, and the help of friends, Mr. Avery started the Kum-Kleen Adhesive Products Company in Los Angeles. Today, Avery Dennison Corporation is a worldwide manufacturer of self-adhesive materials. In the course of his career, Mr. Avery registered 18 patents, introducing automatic label dispensers, in-line label printing machines, the popular self-adhesive postage stamp, and a host of timesaving innovations.

    1960s: Mr. Avery served as chairman of the board of fellows of Claremont Graduate School as a trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and as a governor of the Los Angeles Country Music Center.

    1964: Dorothy Durfee Avery died.

    1970: Mr. Avery was named California Manufacturer of the Year.

    1971-85: Mr. Avery was appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

    1972-91: Mr. Avery was appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Huntington Library.

    1974: Mr. Avery was named Business Man of the Year by the Harvard Business School Association of Southern California.

    1977: Mr. Avery received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Pitzer College.

    1968: Mr. Avery received Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Pomona College, Claremont Graduate School (1971) and Occidental College (1985).

    1994: Mr. Avery's daughter, Judith Avery, received her M.A. in History with a specialty in historic resources management from the University of California at Riverside. As part of the program, Judy was required to complete an internship, and she chose to work with the NEHGS Manuscripts Department for three months. The same year, she became a trustee of NEHGS.

    1997: Mr. Avery's second wife, Ernestine Onderdonk Avery, died. Mr. Avery donated $1.5 million to the Society - the largest gift in NEHGS history - to support library renovations and the preservation of the Society's books and manuscripts.

    1997: On December 12, R. Stanton Avery died in Pasadena, California.

    1998: The NEHGS Manuscripts Department was renamed the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department.

    2001: Judith Avery became a member of the NEHGS Advisory Council.  The R. Stanton Avery Foundation makes a $2 million gift to the NEHGS Endowment Fund for the support of the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department and the Research Library.

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