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At the October Degree Congregation held last Saturday, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, conferred the Honorary Degree of Master of Arts on Cambridge resident and bibliophile, Joan Winterkorn.

An expert on archives and literary and historical manuscripts, she was formerly in the antiquarian and rare book trade. As a consultant she has advised HM Government, serving on the Acceptance in Lieu Panel and supporting the Export Reviewing Committee - bodies concerned with assessing items taken in place of Inheritance Tax and with controlling the export of artefacts. Having worked for archives and libraries across Britain, as well as for the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, she was awarded the Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature in 2006.

In Cambridge, where Winterkorn has lived since the late 1970s after leaving her native United States, she played a vital role in enabling the Churchill Archive Centre to acquire the papers of Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Thatcher and the University Library to gain those of Siegfried Sassoon and Dame Margaret Drabble. During his specially composed Latin speech presenting her for the degree, the University's Orator, Dr Rupert Thompson, recalled Winterkorn's own words: 'I love the business of valuing archives, of exploring a box, a trunk, a room full of papers and letting them tell me their story. I never know what I might find, and in every archive there is something unexpected and revealing.'

The Honorary MA is rarely conferred, recognising outstanding contributions to the County, City or University of Cambridge. The most recent recipients before Joan Winterkorn, both in 2016, were Sir Hugh Duberly, who served as HM Lord-Lieutenant for the County and was also High Sheriff, and Sue Edwards, who supported and advised Mayors of the City over many years.


28 October 2019


Joan Winkerton with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen J Toope