Planned Giving Testimonials

Mildred Carroll

Headshot of Mildred Carroll.

Growing up in New York City, Mildred Carroll knew firsthand the importance of a good education and the value of libraries. Mildred completed her high school, college, and graduate degrees at night, which allowed her to work two jobs during the day at Macy's and at the Post Office. She was able to rent a study room with a typewriter at The New York Public’s Library’s Main Branch at 42nd Street to complete her academic work. The Library was vital to her success in becoming a Special Education teacher in New York State, and she remained grateful to the many librarians for the access and encouragement provided. Though she was not fabulously wealthy, Mildred knew the importance of supporting the institution that had helped her for so many years, and for that reason she chose to give back by including the Library in her estate plans by establishing a Charitable Gift Annuity to support her local branch.


Esther D. Curtwright

Photo of Esther D. CurtwrightMs. Esther D. Curtwright will proudly tell you that "I am a supporter of New York City cultural institutions that are dedicated to the preservation of African American history, because I feel an obligation to ensure that future generations are aware of what came before them and are proud of the struggle and resistance that was endured on their behalf." In that spirit, Esther arranged for a planned gift to support the work of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, named in honor of Arturo Schomburg, a leading light of the Harlem Renaissance, pioneering collector of thousands of materials on Africa and the African Diaspora, and the Center's first curator.


Joan Marlow Golan

Color photo of Bigelow Society member Joan Marlow Golan

Joan Marlow Golan started coming to The New York Public Library while she was an undergraduate student at Sarah Lawrence College and cherished it as "the people's palace." Joan used the Library as a resource and sanctuary while she pursued her doctorate in English and American Literature at Harvard and while she wrote her book, The Great Women. When Joan retired from a successful career in book publishing, she became a docent at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and now gives tours several days a week.

To Joan, "libraries are the best investment a democratic society can make." This is why, in addition to volunteering her time and knowledge, Joan supports the Library as a Conservator and has decided to leave a legacy by including the Library as a beneficiary in her will and by establishing a charitable gift annuity.


Johanna Hurwitz

Children's book author Johanna Hurwitz shares her love of books, the importance of writing what you know, and the joy she gets from knowing her books are in libraries.


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Ep. 10 "Nobody Writes About Apartments" | Library Stories

"When I decided I wanted to write, I wanted to write children's books because those are the books that had meant so much to me growing up." - Johanna Hurwitz, Children's Author

Posted by NYPL The New York Public Library on Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Ellen K. Jaffe

Sepia toned photograph of men working on building facadeEllen K. Jaffe, an accomplished professional photographer for private clients and corporations around the world, traces her connection to The New York Public Library back to the institution's literal foundations. Her grandfather, Max Tuchman, studied sculpture in Paris after fleeing Czarist Russia; eventually making his life in New York, where he joined the renowned architectural firm Carrère and Hastings, which won the competition to build the Library’s iconic 42nd Street location in 1897. Pictured here is Max (far left) helping to fabricate pieces of the Library's facade in 1906.

Ellen describes the Library as the "most democratic institution that I know of" and says she "still gets chills" each time she views the words that adorn the entrance to Astor Hall, which read: "The City of New York has erected this building to be maintained forever as a free Library for the use of the people." In support of that ideal, and in appreciation for the services that the Library provides to our patrons, Ellen decided to leave a legacy to the Library by arranging to fund a charitable gift annuity with the organization.


Elisabeth Konovalova

Photo of Elisabeth KonovalovaElisabeth Konovalova’s life and career are a testament to the transformative power of words. Her mastery and adeptness at language—she is fluent in five—earned her a scholarship to study romance languages at New York University, which led to a decade-long career as a professional interpreter. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia and a world traveler many times over, Elisabeth now calls New York City and The New York Public Library her homes and says that the Library's resources have been invaluable to her life and work. In that spirit, Elisabeth has designated the Library as a charitable beneficiary of her annuity and retirement accounts and is a proud member of the Bigelow Society.


Shelagh Perrotta

Color photo of Shelagh Perrota outside of NYPL building in 1960sShelagh Perrotta's connection to the Library dates back to the 1960s. While working as a secretary and taking night classes, she used the Mid-Manhattan Branch to write her papers, in awe of the Library's "beehive of activity." She spent the next decades attending Library programs with her mother, marveling at the breadth of the curator talks, performances, and exhibitions on offer. In recent years, Shelagh discovered the wealth of information available in the genealogy, periodicals, and maps divisions, using their resources to trace her family's history and even learning how to use a microfiche.

These experiences led Shelagh to want to leave her own legacy to the Library when she retired, and establishing a charitable gift annuity with the Library fit with how she wanted to invest her money.


Benjamin Phelosof

Black and white photo of May and Benjamin Phelosof in front of American flagFirst generation Americans by way of Poland and Russia, Benjamin and May Phelosof were some of the first members of their respective families to attend college in the United States, thanks to the indispensable resources made available by The New York Public Library. As their daughter Shulamith puts it: "…my parents spent much of their time at the main branch next to Bryant Park and the Rose Main Reading Room is where my mother 'earned her degree.' Both my folks always said they were thankful that New York City allowed them to attend college for free, but they couldn't afford the books! NYPL literally gave them one of the world's finest libraries as their playground!"

Benjamin eventually graduated from Harvard Law, May from Hunter College, and Shulamith herself is a proud graduate of Princeton. In appreciation for the vital role that the Library played in helping his family achieve the American dream, Benjamin Phelosof designated the Library as a beneficiary of his Individual Retirement Account (IRA). His generous legacy will help ensure that the Library can continue to offer the same resources to families like the Phelosofs and help make the dreams and aspirations of all Library patrons a reality.


Nancy Wight

As a teacher of English as a Second Language, Nancy Wight always brought her students to the Library to get them a library card. Today, she still believes in the power of the Library so much she's included it in her estate plan, in memory of her daughter.


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Ep. 6 "All You Need In Life" | Library Stories

"I love to share my love of reading and learning with students...when you get your library card, that's all you need in life." - Nancy Wight, Bigelow Society Member

Posted by NYPL The New York Public Library on Thursday, January 21, 2016



Learn More

Supporters who leave a legacy to the Library become members of one of our Legacy Societies and enjoy exclusive invitations to events, including our signature Legacy Society Tea, as well as recognition in Library publications. To learn about ways to leave a legacy to the Library, or to let us know you already have, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at 212.930.0652 or