J. Thomson, CA, MLIS, MFA
Born in Akron, NY in 1969 one minute before her identical mirror twin Leora, Laura was raised with horses and other farm animals and instilled with the love of history by her two grandfathers at the kitchen table. Laura began her studies in history at the State University of New York at Brockport graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in History in 1991. From there she enrolled in the University of South Carolina’s, Masters of Library and Information Science program, graduating in 1994 and specializing in archival management. Laura has been an archivist specializing in preservation of archives and manuscripts collections for over eight years both in the United States and Australia.
Laura was first introduced to bookbinding and restoration in Corning, NY in 1996 at a small used bookstore called The Book Exchange. She was fascinated by the thought of restoring and repairing old books and that fascination seem to compliment her chosen profession as a librarian and archivist who handled historical documents and museum materials on a regular basis. Laura moved to Perth, Western Australia in 1997 and took a position as a college archivist. She had the opportunity to continue studying bookbinding and book restoration in 2000 at the Central Metropolitan College of TAFE in Perth. The program is a training apprenticeship program, which provides hands on instruction in the English tradition of hand binding and book restoration. She completed the program in 2001 with a Certificate III in Book Restoration and Hand Bookbinding.
Laura moved back to the United States at the end of 2001 and took a position as Manager of Processing and Acquisitions at the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Laura became a Certified Archivist in 2002 and continued bookbinding and book restoration in her spare time. She attended an intensive course in French style leather binding at the American Academy of Bookbinding in Telluride, Colorado in 2004 under the instruction of Monique Lallier, internationally recognized bookbinder and book artist. Laura was also awarded an NEH Scholarship to Rutgers University’s, Preservation Management Institute 2004 – 2005 where she completed a Certificate in Preservation Management.
In 2005, Laura decided to return to graduate school to continue her education in bookbinding full-time in the Masters of Fine Arts in the Book Arts program at the University of Alabama under the instruction of master printer Steve Miller and bookbinder/conservator Anna Embree. The MFA in the Book Arts program focuses on the whole book and encompasses the areas of bookbinding, letterpress printing, printmaking, and papermaking. Laura completed her MFA degree in May 2008 and returned to New Orleans to continue her work as a book artist and archivist.
Laura is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, the American Library Association, the Guild of Book Workers and the Society of American Archivists.