Doing Good by Stealth: The Philanthropy and Service of Annie Burr Lewis

Black and white group photo of three women and a man standing in front of the front door of a clapboard house, a group of children in front, all wearing winter coats, ca. 1941
Friday, March 26, 2021 - 12:00am to Friday, September 29, 2023 - 12:00am

Annie Burr Auchincloss Lewis (1902-1959) lived a life of service and philanthropy and left a mark on her community and the causes to which she devoted her efforts. She was a woman of independent means with a commitment to do good to causes dear to her. She is best known for her support of her husband Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis (1895-1979), Yale class of 1918, co-founder of the Lewis Walpole Library, executive editor of the Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, and a prominent member of the Yale Corporation. Far less has been written about her independent philanthropic activities, and indeed far fewer written records survive. This exhibition explores the impact Annie Burr Lewis had during her lifetime and the legacy of her service and contributions to organizations involved in education, historic preservation, and nursing. These interests often overlapped in her involvement at Yale University, in Farmington, Connecticut, elsewhere in New England, and nationally. Annie Burr Lewis’s undeniably privileged upbringing positioned her to take a leading role in philanthropic endeavors. That she followed the path laid out for her by family and societal tradition may not be remarkable. But the direction that path took, the financial autonomy she enjoyed, and the lasting contribution to her world and the communities of today make her otherwise typical journey uniquely hers.

Curated by: Susan Odell Walker, Head of Public Services, The Lewis Walpole Library

Image: Annie Burr Lewis and Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis with two mothers and children from Oxford