Brett Charbeneau

Williamsburg Regional Library
7770 Croaker Road Williamsburg, VA 23188-7003
Tel: 757-259-7750 FAX: 757-259-7798
(revised: March 14, 1997)


Brett Charbeneau has an eclectic background in the study of the history of the book and in technology. His undergraduate work was done with a focus on computer science at the College of William and Mary. In his junior year (1988) he was chosen as candidate for a six-year apprenticeship at the Printing Office in Colonial Williamsburg (a position which becomes open every 7-10 years). Charbeneau completed this program in 1993.

He founded the Williamsburg Imprints Program (WIP) in 1991 as a project designed to study the surviving printed products of Williamsburg's eighteenth-century printers as evidence into the trade practices, material origins, and work techniques of these tradesmen. The WIP has benefitted from the consultations of many members of the academic community, some of whom lead their fields on an international scale.

In 1993, Charbeneau received a 14-month fellowship from the Warren G. Hobbie Charitable Trust. In 1994, he was named as a recipient of a Mellon fellowship at the Virginia Historical Society. In the same year he was named as a Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library. In 1995, he was again named as a Mellon Fellow at the Virginia Historical Society and chosen in 1996 for a prestigious short-term residency fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society.

Charbeneau has aggressively sought and achieved donations, gifts, and fellowships for the WIP and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He is a frequent lecturer on early Virginia printing and the history of the book; he has twice spoken at the Colonial Williamsburg Winter Discovery Series, given lectures to the Virginia Library Association and the Society for Industrial Archaeology, and taught class sessions for the Catholic University of America, Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, and the College of William and Mary.

He has been published in Hand Papermaking and PC Laptop magazines, and has work slated for the upcoming issue of the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Trades Annual.

He is presently Systems Administrator at the Williamsburg Regional Library.


Systems Administrator, Williamsburg Regional Library, Williamsburg, VA.

Duties: responsible for all network and general computer operations in a public library system with two locations, including all aspects of the Library's World Wide Web site.

Journeyman Printer, Printing Office, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, VA.

Duties: the practice and interpretation of hand-press period printing and related activities in a recreated American colonial printing shop. Production of both printed ephemera and book-length projects in the Printing Office, using hand-press period techniques. Production of leather bindings (forwarding and cursory finishing work) in the Bookbindery using eighteenth-century (c18) techniques. Research on c18 Virginia printing for in-house and external journals.

Apprentice Printer, Colonial Williamsburg

Duties: learning c18 printing processes and interpreting them to the general public. Processes includes papermaking, typecasting, composition, ink-making, printing on a common press, cutting wood-blocks for use as illustrations, and bookbinding. Performed independent research into techniques, processes, biography and social setting of the printers of c18 Williamsburg.

Systems operator, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA.

Duties: operation of four mainframe computers for the university's academic community and administrative operations.

1982, 1983, 1985 (Summer)
Papermaker, Colonial Williamsburg

Duties: making paper by hand using c18 techniques. Acted as vatman and coucher, supervised fiber selection, pulp manufacture, and interpreted this trade to the general public.



"Colonial Virginia Ephemera", The Proceedings of the Ephemera Society of America, (Spring 1997).


The Williamsburg Imprints Program World Wide Web Site

"Eighteenth-century Lighting and its Effects on Tradesmen", Colonial Williamsburg Historic Trades Annual (forthcoming).


"Travel Time" Column, PC Laptop Magazine, 7/1 (January, 1995), p. 90.


Book review, Which Paper? A Guide to Choosing and Using Fine Papers, Guild of Bookworkers Newsletter, April 1994.


"Watermarks: Making Use of the Evidence", Hand Papermaking Magazine, 8/2 (Winter, 1993), pp. 15-22.



American Antiquarian Society - American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Fellowship, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Term: March, 1996. Residency fellowship in the AAS's collection. Project: evaluation of Virginia imprints for the Williamsburg Imprints Program.


Mellon Research Fellowship, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia.
Project: study of the VHS's extensive collection of c18 Williamsburg imprints.


Distinguished Scholar Fellowship, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University. Term: August-October, 1994. Short-term residence fellowship at the Providence campus. Project: continuation of the Williamsburg Imprints descriptive bibliography.

Mellon Research Fellowship, Virginia Historical Society. Project: further study of the VHS's Williamsburg imprints.


Warren G. Hobbie Charitable Trust Fellowship, the
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Term: June 1993-August 1994. Fellowship program providing release time and financial assistance to CWF employees in support of independent research projects. Project: Williamsburg Imprints Program.



Global Connect Incorporated, Internet Provider.
Complete World Wide Web Site for one year, renewable annually. Project: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Internet presence.

Global Connect Incorporated.
World Wide Web Homepage for one year (renewable), consultation, use of corporate equipment for 1 year. Project: Williamsburg Imprints Program Homepage.

Crane & Company Paper Incorporated, Papermill.
Distaff linen paper for use in the CW printing office, for one year, renewable annually.


Practical Peripherals Incorporated, Electronics Manufacturer.
Computer Hardware.

Global Connect Incorporated.
Internet Access for 6 months.



February 25 Business Wake-up, Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce & Williamsburg Regional Library "Cheap and Easy Web Sites: Should Your Business be on the Internet?" (With Allison Mulligan, Business/Government Librarian)
April 3 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine, Williamsburg, VA. "Making Use of the Evidence: Eighteenth-century Imprints as Evidence"
June 25 38th Annual Preconference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries of the American Library Association TBA


February 8 Town and Gown Luncheon, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. "Making Use of the Evidence: Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg Printing as Artifact"
February 23 25th Annual Conference, South-Central Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, New Orleans, LA. "Williamsburg Imprints as Artifacts"
March 11 Scholar's Dinner, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA. "Ephemeral Imprints of Colonial Virginia: A Descriptive Study of the Seemingly Insignificant"
August 7 Rare Book School, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. "How to Succeed in Bibliography Without Really Trying"


October 21 Annual Symposium, Ephemera Society of America, Williamsburg, VA. "Colonial Virginia Ephemera"
October 10 Williamsburg Bibliophiles, Williamsburg, VA. "Describing Early Virginia Imprints"
May 13 Society for Industrial Archeology, 24th Annual Conference, Baltimore, Maryland. "Printing was their Business and Business was Good: Williamsburg Imprints as Evidence"
March 8 Winter Discovery Series, Colonial Williamsburg. "The Proof is in the Pages: Evidential Studies of Williamsburg Imprints"


October 29 Annual Conference, Virginia Library Association. "Computers and Williamsburg Imprints: Using Digital Technology to Pull the Bibliographical Needle from the Stacks"
September 7 Fellow's Luncheon Series, Brown University. "Printing Was Their Business and Business Was Good: Evidential Studies of Williamsburg Imprints"
May 18 Fellow's Colloquia, Virginia Historical Society. "The Williamsburg Imprints Program"
February 23 Winter Discovery Series, Colonial Williamsburg. "Williamsburg Imprints"



January 9-11 Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia, PA. "Hand-on Training on the Care and Operation of the English Common Press" Session I
Mar 12-13 Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia, PA. "Hand-on Training on the Care and Operation of the English Common Press" Session II
July 22-25 Rare Book School, University of Virginia, Chrlottesville, VA. "Making a Good Impression: Letterpress Printing for Historians and Bibliographers"


January 23 College of William and Mary Printers and Preachers: Creating a Common Culture in America, 1600-1820. David A. Rawson (PhD candidate), instructor "A Laboratory on American Hand-press Period Presswork and Binding"


February 15 College of
William and Mary
History of the Book, Prof. Robert Gross, instructor "Printing and Bookbinding: the Nuts and Bolts of the History of the Book"
July-August Rare Book School, University of Virginia Various classes "The Care and Feeding of an English Common Press"


June 19 Catholic University of America School of Library Science and Information CLSC 601 - History of the Book, Dr. John Haskell, instructor "A Laboratory on American Hand-press Period Presswork and Binding"



College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. Completed three years of an undergraduate degree in computer science. Left program to enter the Apprenticeship at the Printing Office, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.



Oct. 22-23 Ephemera Society of America 1994 Symposium, Clements Library, University of Michigan: `The American Spirit of Transportation'

Sept. 28 Rare Book Symposium, Adams National Historic Site, Quincy, Massachusetts.

August 1-5 Rare Book School, University of Virginia: `European Bookbinding, 1500-1800': Nicholas Pickwoad (Conservator, Harvard University Library), instructor.


Oct. 21-22 Ephemera Society of America 1993 Symposium, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts: `The American Play Ethic'

July 26-30 Rare Book School, University of Virginia:`Introduction to Descriptive Bibliography': Terry Belanger (University of Virginia) and David Ferris (Harvard University),instructors.

July 5-9 `Type, Lettering and Calligraphy 1450-1830': James Mosley (St. Bride Printing Library, London), instructor.


July 12-14 American Typecasting Fellowship 1992 Conference, Colonial Williamsburg.

Aug. 26-29 Summer Graphic Arts Workshop,Dartmouth College: Roderick Stinehour, director.


American Printing History Association
American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies
Associates of the University of Virginia Library
Bibliographical Society of America
Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia
Ephemera Society of America
Friends of the Book Arts Press
International Society for the Study of the History of Printing
International Society for Eighteenth Century Studies
South-Eastern Society for Eighteenth Century Studies
Virginia Historical Society