The award is named for one of the University's most respected scholars, Robert F. Metzdorf, a nationally known bibliographer and appraiser of rare books and manuscripts.
Robert Frederic Metzdorf was born on July 12, 1912, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He attended the University of Rochester, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1933. He received his M.A. in 1935, and in 1939 was awarded the University's first Ph.D. in English. In 1933, Metzdorf joined the staff of Rush Rhees Library as assistant to the librarian, and from 1948-1949 he was curator of the department of Rare Books. He was an assistant and instructor in the Department of English from 1939 to 1949; served as University bellman from 1942 to 1949; was a founding member of the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries (FURL), serving on the Friends' Executive Committee; and was also on the University's Board of Trustees, serving as chairman of the Board's Library Visiting Committee.
Metzdorf left the University of Rochester for Yale University in 1952, where he became the curator of manuscripts and later the Yale University archivist, a position he held until 1961. In 1961, he became vice president in charge of literary rights at Parke-Bernet Galleries, a major auction house in New York City.
After Metzdorf's death in 1975, the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries established a lectureship in his name. In 1993, the Friends decided to replace the lecture series with an award for "contributions and meritorious service to the Libraries," which is indeed a fitting memorial to Robert Metzdorf.
Robert F. Metzdorf Award Recipients
Robert F. Metzdorf Lectures