Lives in Letters: The Correspondence of Professor Joseph Frank

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of a significant group of correspondence and related papers of the American literary scholar Joseph Frank (1918-2013). He is best known for his five-volume biography of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which he began in the early 1970s and completed in 2002. The collection consists of Frank’s personal and professional correspondence dating from the 1940s through the early 2000s, though primarily from the 1950s through the 1980s. Correspondents include Hannah Arendt, Elizabeth Bishop, Yves Bonnefoy, Pierre Bourdieu, Ralph Ellison, Carlos Fuentes, Irving Howe, James Laughlin, Richard W. B. Lewis, Mary McCarthy, Allen Tate, and many other poets, writers, artists, and academics. A small amount of family correspondence, personal documents, and printed materials, including inscribed reprints and chapbooks, are also present. The collection is the generous gift of Joseph Frank’s daughter Isabelle Frank and complements the Manuscripts Division’s extensive holdings of 20th-century literary correspondence.

Born in New York City as Joseph Nathaniel Glassman, Frank adopted his stepfather’s surname when his mother, Jennifer Garlick, remarried following his father’s early death. Although he never formally earned a bachelor’s degree, Frank studied briefly at New York University and the University of Wisconsin. Prior to beginning his Dostoyevsky biography, he published essays and criticism in literary journals, including “Spatial Form in Modern Literature,” which appeared in The Sewanee Review in 1945 and set the stage for his career as a critic and lecturer on 20th century literature. After working at the Bureau of National Affairs in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s, Frank left for Paris on a Fulbright scholarship in 1950, where he met his wife, the mathematician Marguerite Straus Frank. He earned his PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago in 1960 and taught at the University of Wisconsin and Rutgers University before arriving at Princeton. Frank was named the Class of 1926 Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, where he taught from 1966 until 1985, and he taught afterward at Stanford University until his retirement. At Princeton, Frank also served as the Director of the Gauss Seminars in Criticism, which brought many international critics, artists, poets, and scholars to the university for lectures and discussions exploring the theory and practice of criticism in the humanities and sciences.

Much of Frank’s correspondence with noted literary critics and scholars is the result of his involvement with the Gauss Seminars. He also maintained close personal friendships with several major poets and authors, as reflected by significant groups of letters from the French poet Yves Bonnefoy, the American poet Allen Tate, and others. A particularly rich group of 25 letters from the American poet Elizabeth Bishop is also present, dating to the 1950s and early 1960s when Bishop was living in Brazil with her partner, Lota de Macedo Soares. Bishop discusses the intimate details of her daily life, her reading and writing habits, and her general impressions of living as an American expatriate in Brazil. A typescript of Bishop’s poem “View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress” is also included as an enclosure with an October 29, 1950, letter to Frank. The letter indicates that she wrote the poem the day before, and this draft appears in the same form in which the poem was published the following year in The New Yorker on July 7, 1951.

Also notable is a three-page letter (23 November 1964) from the celebrated African American novelist Ralph Ellison, who explains the obscurity of the “pink hospital scene” in his novel Invisible Man by describing how he cut out a 225-page section from the middle of book. Incoming letters such as these indicate that Frank was a close reader and valued critic of works by contemporary authors he knew, and his correspondence with them often contains authors’ responses to Frank’s comments and questions on their work.

Researchers interested in learning more about the Joseph Frank Correspondence (C1515) should consult the finding aid. For information about using the papers, contact
joseph_frank (2)

Seals of Authenticity

The Manuscript Division has had several discoveries as a result of the relocation of on-site collections from myriad Firestone Library storage locations to newly constructed, state-of-the-art vaults. In the process of planning and moving, staff members have occasionally found stray items or collections that had been stored away long ago and forgotten. A case in point are two small collections of Papal lead seals (bullae) donated to the Library between 1898 and 1918. The donors of the two collections were no less than two of the Library’s storied early administrators: Ernest Cushing Richardson (1860-1939), University Librarian and later Director of the Princeton University Library, 1890-1925; and Junius Spencer Morgan (1867-1932), Class of 1888, the Library’s Associate Librarian, 1898-1909. Both were private collectors and donors to the Library. Unfortunately, when these two collections arrived, the seals were merely accessioned as “museum objects” and stored away otherwise uncataloged. At the time, the future Department of Rare Books and Special Collections was a small holdings unit in Pyne Library, the central Princeton campus library before Firestone Library opened its doors in the late 1940s. Henry Bartlett Van Hoesen (1885-1965), who became the Library’s first Curator of Manuscripts in 1913, worked most closely with Princeton’s growing papyri collections and had other administrative duties and teaching responsibilities in the Classics Department.

Among the more than two dozen Papal lead seals recently rediscovered, none still attached to documents, is a 500 year-old bulla of Pope Leo X (r. 1513-21). It was among those donated by Junius Spencer Morgan in 1898. Pope Leo X was born Giovanni Romolo de’ Medici. He was the son of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449-1492), the Florentine statesman and Renaissance patron of the arts. Leo X is better known today for commissioning works by Raphael (who painted his portrait) and by Michelangelo, than for having excommunicated Martin Luther and conferred on King Henry VIII of England the title “Defender of the Faith.” The lead seal is approximately 40 mm in diameter and weighs about 45 grams. On the seal’s obverse, reproduced below, we see the bearded faces of the Apostles Paul and Peter, a traditional design. They are portrayed in high relief, and they are identified in accompanying inscriptions (S[anctus] PA[lus]; S[anctus] PE[trus]). Pope Leo X’s name and title are on the reverse. Papal seals of this sort guaranteed the authenticity and integrity of official documents or letters to which they were attached by means of a silk cord, traces of which are still evident on Leo X’s bulla.

The Manuscripts Division has significant holdings of ancient, medieval, and modern seals, seal matrices, and seal impressions. In addition, collections of historical documents often include examples of individual document with intact pendant seals or impressed wax seals. The earliest seal collections are several hundred stone cylinder and stamp seals from the ancient Mesopotamia, used to seal clay tablets written in cuneiform. Some of the clay tablets bear the impressions made by such stone seals. The John Hinsdale Scheide Collection, donated by the late William H. Scheide (Class of 1936), includes some English, French, and Papal documents with intact seals. Seals are also found in documentary collections assembled and donated by Thomas Shields Clarke, Charles Carroll Marden, Albert T. Reyburn, Chalfant Robinson, and Ernest Cushing Richardson. Over the past two decades, Bruce C. Willsie, Class of 1986, has assembled a fine British sigillography collection, including medieval and modern English royal charters with wax pendant seals, as well as seal matrices and wax seals without accompanying documents. He continues to add to the collection. Finally, the Manuscripts Division recently created a Byzantine seal collection with six lead seals donated by Michael Padgett.

For more information, please contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts:
Bulla Leo X front
Bulla Leo X back
Bulla of Pope Leo X

Persian Lacquer Bindings

The Peck Shahnamah, on display in the exhibition “Princeton’s Great Persian Book of Kings,” at the Princeton University Art Museum (October 3, 2015-January 24, 2016), is among the most treasured books in the Manuscripts Division. But the Manuscripts Division holds five additional illuminated Shahnamah manuscripts and hundreds of other Persian and Mughal illustrated manuscripts and miniatures, among nearly ten thousand Islamic manuscripts. Approximately two-thirds of these were part of the 1942 donation of Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897. One aspect of Persian book arts that has not previously received much attention, at least with regard to Princeton’s extensive collections of Islamic manuscripts, is the Persian lacquer binding. The Manuscripts Division holds dozens of examples, several of which are featured in a recent article by Lindsey Hobbs, Collections Conservator, Preservation Office: “Persian Lacquer Bindings,” The New Bookbinder: Journal of Designer Bookbinders, vol. 35 (2015), pp. 49-56.

Persian lacquer bindings first developed in the fifteenth century and reached their height of popularity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These bindings most commonly feature elaborate floral designs, like the upper cover of the Qur’an illustrated below. But examples at Princeton also feature animals, birds, braid patterns, mandalas, ringlets, rosettes, and fleurons. Their inclusion was the result of the influence of cultural contact as Islam spread east and west from the seventh century. The first step in producing a lacquer binding, typically, is to prepare the pasteboard covers for painting by applying a layer of gesso; that is, a white mixture of a binder and chalk, gypsum, pigment, or a combination of these ingredients. After this application comes an initial coat of varnish. Water-based paint is used to create a painting or design, which is coated with several additional layers of varnish. The surfaces are then smoothed and polished. In some cases powdered mother-of-pearl, gold particles, or other inlay materials are added to the varnish before drying. There are also lavish early examples that combine decorated leather with lacquer painting. The result is a brilliant sheen that gives Persian lacquer bindings a distinctive character.

One of the more notable examples at Princeton dates to 1520 CE. The Dīvān-i Hāfiz, a well-known anthology of Persian classical poetry, features a symmetrical array of flowers, birds, and animal heads surrounding a central eight-pointed star. The cover design reveals inspiration from the Far East, possibly a vestige of the Mongol invasions from earlier centuries. The book has orange leather doublures, highly decorated with gilt. The richly illuminated text is written in Nasta’līq, a calligraphic script often used for deluxe Persian manuscripts, and contains six full-page miniatures. While the manuscript was likely resewn and given a new spine at some point in its history, this is one of very few examples of lacquer bindings that seems likely to have retained its original covers.

For more about Persian lacquer bindings, see Lindsey Hobbs’s article in The New Bookbinder, a journal in the Firestone Library’s circulating collections. There are Voyager bibliographic records for each of the manuscripts illustrated in her article. For information about Islamic holdings in the Manuscripts Division, contact Public Services.
Persian lacquered Qur'an
Qur’an (upper cover),
Islamic Manuscripts,
New Series, no. 1984,
Manuscripts Division.

Voyage of the Hindenburg, 1936

Thanks to a recent gift from author John McPhee, Class of 1953, Ferris Professor of Journalism, the Manuscripts Division has added to its holdings a 16-mm black-and-white film made during a voyage of the German airship LZ 129 Hindenburg, June 23-June 26, 1936. Professor Jean Labatut (1899-1986), School of Architecture, used his Bell & Howell Filmo-121 home-movie camera when he was a passenger aboard the Hindenburg, flying under the command of Dr. Hugo Eckener. Labatut edited the film back in Princeton and added opening screen text about the flight, which took two and a half days (Tuesday-Thursday) and was officially clocked at 61 hours, 5 minutes. The eastbound flight began at the Naval Air Station, in Lakehurst, New Jersey, located 34 miles southeast of Princeton by car, and ended in the German city of Frankfurt am Main. This was the Hindenburg’s sixth flight between the two locations. Labatut’s ultimate destination was the American School of Fine Arts, in Fontainebleau, France, where he taught each summer. Among the 56 other passengers on Labatut’s flight were the French aeronaut Charles Dollfus, who had the expertise to guide Labatut around the airship and help with difficult camera shots. Also aboard was the German boxer and heavyweight champion Max Schmeling, who had just defeated Joe Louis at New York’s Yankee Stadium and still had a black-eye from the fight (June 19, 1936). Little did anyone know that less than a year after this flight, the 804-foot, hydrogen-filled airship, which had only been in service since March 1936, would explode in flames at the Naval Air Station, with 36 fatalities (May 6, 1937). This disaster largely spelled the end of the lighter-than-air passenger travel.

Labatut gave the film to John McPhee more than forty years ago, when the author was researching his book The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed (New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973), about the experimental Aereon aircraft developed in New Jersey during the 1960s and ’70s. McPhee has presented the film to the Library with a digitally remastered version, which has a run time of 12 minutes, 44 seconds. Click to view. In describing Labatut’s trip (pp. 106-118), McPhee notes, “A month or so before, Labatut, on sheer impulse, had walked into the travel department of the Princeton Bank & Trust Co. and asked them to get in touch with the German Zeppelin Transport Company and seek passage for him on the Hindenburg.” His ticket (Zeppelin-Fahrschein, no. 4996) cost $400, which is the equivalent of as much as $7,000 in today’s money. In the film, we see what the Hindenburg sees as it flies along coastal New Jersey, passes over New York City and the bright lights of Park Avenue, then over the Hudson River, with a view of the RMS Queen Mary, the flagship of the Cunard Line, which had its maiden voyage on May 26, 1936. The airship flies northeast by way of Canada, over the rugged landscape of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland; then across the North Atlantic, with fleeting glimpses of Greenland and Iceland; and finally reaches Europe, where the film ends. Along the way, Labatut delights in seeing and capturing views from the Hindenburg, especially the airship’s shadow as it passes over land and open water. Labatut also offers interior views of the airship’s control gondola, elegant dining facilities, and passengers (including Max Schmeling). McPhee concludes, “That voyage, to Labatut, was the sum of the art of flying, expressed in its mild speed, its aerostatic firmness, and its proximity to the earth.” The Hindenburg film has been added to the Jean Labatut Papers (C0709), which already contained documents, notes, photographs, sketches, and printed matter relating to the flight, among which there is a complete passenger list (box 59, folder 2).

Jean Labatut was a French-born architect and educator, who played a major role in the development of School of Architecture during his 39-year Princeton teaching career. He was the founder of the Bureau of Urban Research (1941), designer of the Princeton Architectural Laboratory (1949), and the long-time Director of Graduate Studies in Architecture at Princeton University (1928-1967). Labatut’s papers measure 62.5 linear feet of archival materials, including correspondence with architects, landscape architects,designers, and urban planners, including Buckminster Fuller, Arthur C. Holden, Victor Laloux, Albert Leclerc, LeCorbusier, Auguste Perret, and Robert Venturi. Notable is Labatut’s extensive correspondence (1956-1973) with the French philosopher Jacques Maritain, who taught at Princeton from 1948 to 1952 and continued living in town until 1960 The subject files contain correspondence, documents, notes, sketches, plans and blueprints, photographs, and printed matter related to Labatut’s many projects, including a monument to José Martí (Havana, Cuba). Worthy of special mention are gouache paintings, blueprints, and other materials relating to Labatut’s designs for a dazzling fireworks show at the New York World’s Fair (1939-1940).

For more information about the Jean Labatut Papers, consult the finding aid or contact RBSC Public Services.


Hemingway at Princeton

The Manuscripts Division serves as a resource for many ongoing editorial and publication projects related to the letters and writings of major authors and historical figures. One of the most important such projects is the Cambridge Edition of the Letters of Ernest Hemingway, under the general editorship of Professor Sandra Spanier, Pennsylvania State University, Department of English. The project is making considerable use of the extensive Hemingway holdings in the Manuscripts Division. The Letters of Ernest Hemingway was conceived as a comprehensive edition of the complete letters of one of the premier American authors of the twentieth century. Three of seventeen volumes are now in print. Some six thousand letters by the author will eventually be published, approximately 85 percent of which have not be previously published. Many of those already published were in Ernest Hemingway, Selected Letters, 1917-1961, a 1981 edition by the Hemingway specialist Carlos Baker (1909-1987), who was a Princeton professor of English (1938-1953) and then Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature (1953-1977). The current project is authorized by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation/Society and the Hemingway Foreign Rights Trust, which respectively hold the U.S. and international rights to the letters. Ernest Hemingway’s son Patrick originally conceived of a complete scholarly edition of his father’s letters.

While Hemingway’s own papers are at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, in Boston, most of the author’s outgoing letters are preserved in other libraries and archives, among which the Princeton University Library is one of the principal repositories. All of the Hemingway letters at Princeton are in the Manuscripts Division, the largest number being in the author files of the Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, including letters from, by, and about the author, as well as contracts, publicity files, photographs, copies of original manuscripts, and other materials. The volume of Scribner’s holdings on Hemingway is not surprising since he was one of the publisher’s most successful authors—as well as a Scribner family friend—and remains a consistent seller among the legacy titles kept in print under Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint, more than a half century after the author’s death. The Scribner’s author files include extensive correspondence relating to the publication of The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), The Old Man and the Sea (1952), and many other Scribner’s titles.

According to Sandra Spanier, “Of the nearly 6,000 extant Hemingway letters we have located, about 1300 (21.6 percent) are in Princeton’s collections. In volume 3 of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway (1926-April 1929), the percentage of Princeton University Library letters is even higher: 131 of the 345 letters in the volume (38 percent) are from Princeton. This volume marks the beginning of Hemingway’s lifelong professional and personal relationship with Maxwell Perkins, who is the most frequently represented correspondent in the volume, the recipient of 74 letters during this period. Princeton letters will also be heavily represented in volume 4 (April 1929-February 1932), planned for publication in 2017, which will also include about the same percentage of Princeton letters as volume 3.”

The Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons contains a nearly unbroken stream of Hemingway letters, beginning in 1925, when the young author was living in Paris, until what might be considered Hemingway’s “last letter” (dated 18 April [1961] but possibly continued after that date), to Charles Scribner, Jr. (1921-1995). This letter relates to the author’s “Paris Book,” a memoir of the Lost Generation, which would be published posthumously as A Moveable Feast (1965). Hemingway never sent the letter, which remained on his desk in Ketchum, Idaho, at the time of his suicide (2 July 1961). On 27 July 1963, Mary Hemingway, the author’s widow, mailed the letter to Scribner’s editor Harry Brague, with the author’s three-page handwritten list of possible titles for the memoir. Hemingway decided on “The Eye and the Ear,” which turned into a tentative title, “The Early Eye and the Ear (How Paris Was in the Early Days).” But Mary Hemingway preferred another title, A Moveable Feast, which she took not from the author’s 1961 list, but from his own words: “If you were lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

In addition to the Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, there is Hemingway correspondence in the Patrick Hemingway Papers (C0066), Hemingway/Lanham Correspondence (C0067), Ernest Hemingway Collection (C0068), C. T. Lanham Papers on Ernest Hemingway (C0305), Carlos Baker Collection of Ernest Hemingway (C0365), Ernest Hemingway and Milford J. Baker Correspondence (C0699), Walter Houk Collection of Ernest Hemingway (C1390), William Dodge Horne collection of Ernest Hemingway (C1435), and others, as well as in the papers of other authors and friends, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald (C0187) and Sylvia Beach (C0108). The Houk Collection is the subject of an earlier blog-post. A search of the Princeton University Library Finding Aids site identifies 1138 records under Ernest Hemingway’s name.

Among discoveries at Princeton by Sandra Spanier and her team were at least two bits of Hemingway typescript reused in letters. When Hemingway wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald on 31 March [1927], the third page was on a sheet of paper that appears to be a discarded draft page of “Hills Like White Elephants.” Then on 11 January [1929], Hemingway wrote to Henry Strater, typing on the verso of a discarded page of the typescript of A Farewell to Arms. Both of these letters are included in The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, vol. 3 (2015).

For more information, contact Public Services.

Ernest Hemingway, Madrid, May 1937

Ernest Hemingway,
Madrid, May 1937,
Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Conservation of the Peck Shahnamah

This fall, the Princeton University Art Museum is exhibiting the Peck Shahnamah, the Manuscripts Division’s finest Persian illuminated manuscript, in the exhibition Princeton’s Great Persian Book of Kings, on view from 3 October 2015 to 24 January 2016. Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue chiefly prepared by Shreve Simpson, the guest curator, with contributions by Louise Marlow. The catalogue includes full-color reproduction of all illustrations (using new photography by Roel Muñoz, the Library’s Digital Imaging Manager, and Beth Wodnick Haas, Digital Imaging Technician).

In 1983, Clara S. Peck bequeathed her sumptuous manuscript of Firdawsi’s Shahnamah of 1589/90 (Islamic Manuscripts, Third Series, no. 310), to the Princeton University Library, in honor of her brother Fremont C. Peck, Class of 1920. Unfortunately, the manuscript had various binding and condition problems that made it difficult to use or exhibit. The Peck Shahnamah is a treasure of Safavid book illumination and was never dismembered like the Houghton Shahnamah and many other extraordinary Persian manuscripts. In consultation with the Library’s Preservation Office and several historians of Islamic art, Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, proposed undertaking the much-needed conservation treatment and using it as an opportunity to display the Peck Shahnamah’s miniatures and other illuminated leaves at the Art Museum. This exhibition would not have been possible without the accomplished professional staff of the Library’s Preservation Office.

Conservation of the Peck Shahnamah began in 2014, when Mick LeTourneaux, the Library’s Rare Book Conservator, disbound the manuscript. It was in an elegant gold-tooled, red morocco English binding of around 1780, which was tight, stiff, and highly dysfunctional, not to mention inappropriate for an Islamic manuscript. It took Mick LeTourneaux almost two weeks to document and disbind this substantial 475-folio manuscript, separate the illustrated and text leaves, and put them in separate enclosures, awaiting conservation treatment and new digitization in the Library’s Digital Studio. In the process, he discovered that the binder had used large amounts of hide glue, which leeched into the manuscript itself. In addition, the English binder had often crudely cobbled the manuscript leaves into quires and then aggressively trimmed the edges, with resulting losses to the border decoration. Subsequent paper repair, probably during the 19th century, was also noted.

In 2015, after the manuscript had been disbound, Ted Stanley, Special Collections Paper Conservator, began the arduous process of examining the paper supports and pigments in order to determine an appropriate course of conservation treatments for both the illustrated and text leaves. In Persian illuminated manuscripts of the Safavid period, pigments are often the cause of conservation problems. The most problematic pigment is verdigris (basic copper acetate), a pale-green colorant that has been used since antiquity. Verdigris is made by exposing copperplates to acetic acid, usually in the form of vapors from vinegar. The pigment is highly acidic and corrosive when applied to paper and other cellulose-based materials.

In the Peck Shahnamah, rectangular verdigris frames surrounding the illuminations and text areas have been slowly eating their way through the paper since the sixteenth century. As a result, all of the frames were either weakened or broken. In addition, verdigris pigments used in the paintings themselves also weakened the paper support. The verdigris frames had to be reinforced with heat-set tissue, and the versos of illuminations were reinforced as well as appropriate. Verdigris used as a pigment in the miniatures resulted in staining to the versos of the pages. An alkaline-based conservation agent was applied to the versos to counteract the deteriorating effects of the verdigris. Unfortunately, there were many clumsy repairs done to the manuscript long before it was bequeathed to the Princeton University Library, and some had to be left in place because of the fragility of paper supports and the solubility of the pigments that they covered.

Ted Stanley discovered an overall loss of pigment in certain areas due to the mechanical action of turning manuscript pages because of the English binding. A microscopic examination of the pigments found they suffered varying degrees of loss. Most affected was the orange colorant, which spectroscopic examination determined to be red lead (lead tetroxide). There were much smaller amounts of loss with the other pigments, such as vermilion, a bright red made from cinnabar (mercury sulfide), and deep blue (lapis lazuli). The pigments that remain appear to be stable and did not require pigment consolidation. But among the pigments found spectroscopically was orpiment (arsenic sulfide), a yellow colorant that was very stable, but stained other colors that were in contact with it. There was very minute loss of lead white (basic lead (II) carbonate) overall. Lead white also was mixed with other colors to produce lighter shades.

Ted Stanley worked on conservation of the Peck Shahnamah’s illustrated and text leaves over the course of many months, and was also responsible for matting and framing 58 illustrated leaves and bifolia for the exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum. Once the exhibition ends in January 2016, he will remove the leaves from the frames and mats so that the conservation effort can be completed. At this point, Mick LeTourneaux will begin the work of reassembling the manuscript in quires and sewing it in an appropriate Islamic-style binding. This work is expected to take several months. In the end, another treasure of Islamic civilization has been saved by the Library as part of its institutional commitment to responsible custody of extraordinary manuscript collections.

In 2012, the Library put the entire Peck Shahnamah online (including both illuminated and text pages) in the Princeton University Digital Library (PUDL), about which there is a separate blog post.
Ted Stanley working on the Peck Shahnamah.
Ted Stanley preparing conservation
treatment reports for the manuscript.

William Jovanovich and the American Publishing Industry

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of the papers of William Jovanovich (1920-2001), American publisher and author, who led Harcourt Brace Jovanovich from 1954 until 1991. Jovanovich’s papers contain nearly two hundred author and publisher files, including an extensive file on the famous aviator and writer Charles A. Lindbergh (1902-74), as well as personal and professional correspondence, writings and lectures, awards, family memorabilia, interviews, press clippings, business files, photographs, and other materials regarding Jovanovich’s professional activities and creative pursuits. The papers are the generous gift of Alexandra O. Fellowes, as executor of the Estate of Martha Jovanovich, widow of William Jovanovich. This important gift complements the Manuscripts Division’s extensive holdings of the archives of major American publishing houses and literary journals, papers of publishers and editors, and archives of literary agencies and writers’ organizations.

Jovanovich was born in a coal-mining camp in Louisville, Colorado, to parents of Montenegrin and Polish origin. He learned English in elementary school, completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, and studied English and American literature at Harvard University. His graduate studies were interrupted by World War II, when he left school to serve as an officer in the U. S. Navy. After the war, Jovanovich returned briefly to his studies at Columbia University. In need of a job to support his wife and young son, he left school again in 1947 to join Harcourt Brace & Company as a traveling college textbook salesman. He was promoted to head of Harcourt’s school division in 1953 and became president of the company the following year at age 34. In 1970, he became chief executive officer, and the firm was renamed Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Jovanovich was an innovative figure in the publishing industry. He popularized the use of colorful illustrations in textbooks, and he is credited with starting the first imprint (under Kurt and Helen Wolff), now a common feature at many leading publishing houses today. At the same time, he made unconventional business decisions, such as relocating the publisher’s headquarters from Manhattan to Orlando and purchasing Sea World marine parks. Under his direction, Harcourt became one of the largest textbook publishers, while continuing to publish trade books, including works by internationally known authors. Over the course of Jovanovich’s leadership, Harcourt was transformed from a small publishing house into a diversified company with annual sales of over a billion dollars. In the late 1980s, the company took on massive debt in a successful but ultimately damaging effort to thwart a hostile takeover by the British publisher Robert Maxwell. This led to Jovanovich’s resignation as president in 1990.

Authors represented in the collection include Svetlana Alliluyeva (see photo below), Hannah Arendt, Matija Bećković, Sylvia Beach, Arthur C. Clarke, Edward Dahlberg, Milovan Djilas, e. e. cummings, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Hiram Haydn, Helen Hayes, Irving Howe, Jerzy Kosiński, Anita Loos, Marshall McLuhan, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Lewis Mumford, V. S. Pritchett, Erich Maria Remarque, Richard Rovere, Carl Sandburg, William Saroyan, Vasilēs Vasilikos, Andy Warhol, Leonard Woolf, and others. His papers document his lifelong interest in promoting the works of Yugoslav authors.

An extensive series of files on Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh consists largely of editorial drafts, research, and photographs for Lindbergh’s posthumous Autobiography of Values (1978), which Jovanovich edited and published. Materials related to The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh (1970), correspondence with Anne Morrow Lindbergh and other members of the Lindbergh family, and biographical writings by others about Charles Lindbergh are also included. Of note is a group of photographs, correspondence, and research materials, collected by New York Times reporter Alden Whitman. These document Lindbergh’s work with primitive tribes and his conservation efforts in the Philippines in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In addition to publishing the works of others, Jovanovich also wrote and published several books of his own, including the essay collection Now, Barabbas (1964), the novel The World’s Last Night (1990), the memoir The Temper of the West (2003), and several others. He died in San Diego, California, in 2001 at age 81. Researchers interested in learning more about the William Jovanovich Papers should consult the finding aid. For information about using the papers, contact Jovanovich’s author and publisher files are stored onsite, while his own writings and personal papers are offsite. Please consult with the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections about having offsite materials recalled to Firestone Library, a process that normally takes 48–72 hours notice.
William Jovanovich in 1977

Svetlana Alliluyeva.
Svetlana Alliluyeva letters from Princeton, N.J

Expanded Digitization of Islamic Manuscripts

A generous grant from the Virginia and Richard Stewart Memorial Fund, through Princeton University’s Council of the Humanities, has made it possible for the Princeton University Library to expand online digital access to its extensive holdings of Islamic manuscripts. More than 1,200 digitized Islamic manuscripts are now available for study online in the Islamic Manuscripts Collection of the Princeton University Digital Library (PUDL).

Professor Michael A. Cook, Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies, notes that “Princeton’s great collections of Islamic manuscripts, acquired to support research in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, will be increasingly available to scholars all over the world, as the Library continues to digitize its holdings.” The Library has the largest collection of Islamic manuscripts in North America and one of the finest such collections in the Western world. Holdings include nearly 10,000 volumes of Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and other manuscripts of the predominantly Islamic world, written in Arabic script. Approximately two-thirds of them came to Princeton in 1942 as part of the Garrett Collection, donated by Robert Garrett (1875–1961), Class of 1897. Building on this extraordinary collection, the Library has continued to acquire Islamic manuscripts by gift and purchase. Now there are approximately 3,000 additional Islamic manuscripts with New Series and Third Series designations. Text manuscripts on virtually every aspect of Islamic learning, both religious and secular, are the chief strength. Princeton’s holdings also include Persian and Mughal illuminated manuscripts and miniatures. Other collections include European manuscripts written in Arabic script or containing translations. Arabic papyri are separately housed in the Princeton Papyri Collections. All of these holdings are in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, within Firestone Library.

The Stewart Memorial Fund grant has made it possible to digitize over more than a thousand additional Islamic text manuscripts from existing gray-scale microfilm, which was produced in a Library project over 35 years ago with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Title II-C. For the present project, the Library selected nearly 400 volumes, chiefly New Series manuscripts containing texts on Shia law and theology; as well as texts relating to other non-Sunni sects, such as the Druze and Kharijites. In addition, more than 750 other manuscripts on all subjects were digitized from the Garrett Yahuda series, acquired in 1942. The newly digitized manuscripts account for more than a tenth of the Library’s Islamic manuscript holdings. This project has been accomplished through the collaborative efforts of the Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Technical Services, Systems Office, and Digital Studio. Principal access to the newly digitized manuscripts will be through links in the Voyager bibliographical records for each manuscript. In addition, links to digitized manuscripts will be added to the Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts.

Generous funding from the Magic Project, Princeton, made it possible nearly a decade ago to digitize approximately 220 manuscripts in full color and put them in the Digital Library, which went online in 2009. A Google search for the Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts generates 21,000 “hits” worldwide, from North America, through western Europe and the Near East, to Southeast Asia. Among those who have linked to the Princeton site are innumerable Near Eastern Studies programs, research centers, library e-resource guides, e-collections and open-access resources, and Near Eastern Studies scholars’ personal web pages. It is anticipated that the Digital Library will continue to grow as the Library digitizes additional manuscripts, most often in response to photoduplication requests by individual non-Princeton researchers. In all, the Princeton collections have been a world resource for nearly a century through research visits to the Library or by remote use (photoduplication and most recently digitization).

For information about Princeton holdings of Islamic manuscripts, contact the staff of Public Services.

Bookplate of Robert Garrett, Class of 1897

Bookplate of Robert Garrett, Class of 1897

Princeton Papyri Online

Click to download “A Descriptive Inventory of Princeton Papyri Collections.”

Nearly 250 ancient papyrus texts and documents have just been added to the Princeton University Digital Library (PUDL) as part of the current initiative, “Treasures of the Manuscripts Division,” and many will be added in the future. Princeton’s papyri date from approximately 1250 BCE to 900 CE. Best known are Princeton’s literary, early Christian, and sub-literary papyri. Among authors represented are Aristophanes, Demosthenes, Euripides, Herodotus, Hippocrates, Homer, Isocrates, Theocritus, and Xenophon. A much larger number are Greek documentary papyri, including census and tax registers, military lists, land convey-ances, business records, petitions, private letters, and other sources of historical and paleographic interest from Ptolemaic (332-30 BCE), Roman (30 BCE-300 CE), and Byzantine Egypt (300-650 CE). Nearly all were discovered from the 1890s to the 1920s, buried or recovered from mummy cartonnage in and around the ancient Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus and the Fayum towns. The Princeton collections also include papyri in Egyptian languages (Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, Demotic, and Coptic); Arabic papyri from the Islamic period (from 640 CE); and a smaller number of Latin papyri from Roman Egypt and Ravenna. Additional papyri are in The Scheide Library and Cotsen Children’s Library.

The Princeton collections of papyri were acquired from different sources. Princeton acquired 90 papyri from 1901 to 1922 through the Graeco-Roman Branch of the Egypt Exploration Society, which was established in 1897 for the stated purpose of “the discovery and publication of remains of classical antiquity and early Christianity in Egypt.” The bulk of Princeton’s papyri were acquired in the 1920s, either directly or indirectly through the British Museum. Many were received from 1921 to 1928 through Princeton’s participation in a five-member consortium that included Princeton and other universities (Columbia, Cornell, Michigan, University of California at Berkeley, the University of Geneva). Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897, partially underwrote Princeton’s purchases. and then between 1924 and 1930 independently purchased approximately 750 Egyptian papyri through the British Museum for his own manuscript collection, which was first deposited in the Library for scholarly use and publication, then formally donated in 1942 with the rest of the Garrett Collection.

Digitization of papyri builds on Princeton’s early involvement between 1996 and 1999 in the Advanced Papyrological Information System Project (APIS), a collaborative cataloging-and-digitzation project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). A selection of Princeton’s papyri were put online in the Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts and in the APIS database, which has since become part of , which also aggregates materials from other online resources. Emphasis in Princeton’s current digitization effort is on published papyri (“P.Princeton”) in older editions: Allan Chester Johnson, Henry Bartlett van Hoesen, et al., eds., Papyri in the Princeton University Collections, 3 vols.; and papyri in B. P. Grenfell, A. S. Hunt, et al., eds., The Oyxrhynchus Papyri; Fayûm Towns and Their Papyri; and The Hibeh Papyri. Also included are other Princeton papyri anticipated for publication in a fourth volume of Papyri in the Princeton University Collections. This volume will be an outgrowth of the Summer Institute in Papyrology, Princeton (July 7-August 8, 2014), co-directed by the papyrologists Jean-Luc Fournet (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris) and Nikolaos Gonis (University College, London), and organized by Professor AnneMarie Luijendijk (Princeton University, Department of Religion). Also to be digitized are all of the Pharaonic papyri in the Manuscripts Division, including five ancient rolls that were unrolled in the Library’s Preservation Office during the APIS project.

For detailed holdings information about Princeton’s holdings, consult the “Preliminary Checklist of the Princeton University Collections of Papyri,” which is accessible as part of the Princeton University Library Papyrus Home Page; or contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at

Demosthenes, De corona, 167-169
1st century B.C.E.

The Seymour Family and American Theater History

The William Seymour Family Papers (TC011) were donated to the Princeton University Library in 1936 to be the nucleus of the Library’s Theater Collection, originally called the William Seymour Theater Collection. William Seymour (1855-1933) was a prominent American theatrical stage manager, director, and actor, whose seventy-year career is documented in the papers. Seymour was born into an Irish-American theatrical family, the only child of well-known actors James Seymour (1823-64) and Lydia Griffith Seymour (1830-97), who by 1858 were engaged at the Varieties Theatre in New Orleans under the management of Lawrence Barrett. It was there that Seymour began his acting career, notably playing Hendrick to Joseph Jefferson’s Rip Van Winkle. Seymour continued to work as an actor for the next several years while gradually moving into stage management. Beginning in 1869, he worked at Edwin Booth’s Theatre; and in autumn 1871 moved to Boston’s Old Globe Theatre, where he played alongside Edwin Forrest. He became a touring actor and stage manager, first with Lawrence Barrett’s acting troupe from 1872 to 1875, and then as assistant stage manager under A.M. Palmer at Union Square Theatre in New York City from 1875 to 1877. Seymour was then engaged by John McCullough for his stock company at the California Theatre in San Francisco from 1877 until 1879 when he returned to Boston to serve as stage manager for Richard M. Field’s Boston Museum. Remaining there for almost a decade, he gradually took on the responsibilities of an artistic director, occasionally also acting in productions.

In 1882, Seymour married a member of Boston Museum’s company, May Marian Caroline Davenport (1856-1927) ,with whom he had several children. May also came from a theatrical family. She was the daughter of the prominent tragedian E. L. (Edward Loomis) Davenport (1814-77) and sister to Fanny Davenport (1850-98), one of the reigning American actresses of the day. After leaving the Boston Museum, Seymour worked as manager to several producing organizations, including Abbey, Schoeffel & Grau (1889-1897), working principally at the new Tremont Theatre, Boston (1897-98) and for Maurice Grau from 1900 to 1901 at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York—that is, the Old Met, located at 1411 Broadway, between 39th and 40th streets. From about 1897 to 1900, Seymour also worked as an independent producer-manager with E. H. Sothern, Julia Marlowe, and Maude Adams. Seymour’s longest and most well-known association was with Charles Frohman and the Empire Theatre in New York where he worked as general stage director from 1902 to 1915. Seymour’s remaining active years in the theater were spent directing, managing, and acting in shows for various organizations and producers, such as George C. Tyler.

Contemporary accounts of the well-publicized donation of Seymour’s massive collection by his children to Princeton in 1936 note that the collection included a significant number of files of correspondence, photographs, and other personal material as well as about eight hundred bound volumes, three thousand play scripts and prompt books, many heavily annotated, several thousand playbills, and a large number of programs, clippings, magazines, production notebooks, musical scores, and various stage mementos. The collection would have included even more materials; however, papers, artwork, and objects related to New York City theatrical productions were presented to the Museum of the City of New York as Seymour’s oldest daughter, May Davenport Seymour, was the curator of its Theater Collection. Moreover, since this collection was acquired almost eighty years ago, many materials—particularly particularly photographs, playbills, play scripts, artwork, and objects—have been dispersed and integrated into form-based collections within the former Theater Collection; the Rare Book Division, such as the 19th-century Playbooks Collection (TC023), currently described in the Princeton University Library catalog; and the Graphic Arts Collection.

As it now stands, the William Seymour Family Papers (TC011) consists primarily of Seymour’s correspondence with various prominent actors, directors, stage managers, and producers of the period, and numerous production-related materials, such as playscripts and prompt books, notes, diaries, scene sketches, sheet music, ephemera and memorabilia among others. The scope is principally Seymour’s connections with the New York, Boston, and New Orleans stage, though other cities are also represented. Other materials include some family correspondence; articles and essays that Seymour authored about his career and about the theater; newspaper clippings; and a few personal documents. Among Seymour and Davenport family members who were active in the theater, Fanny Davenport (1850-98) is probably the most important. Correspondence, production materials, ephemera, and newspaper clippings document her career. Researchers interested in Fanny Davenport will likely also be interested in viewing the Fanny Davenport Collection (TC108).

The William Seymour Family Papers (TC011) is one of numerous theater and film-related collections that were incorporated into the Manuscripts Division. Strengths of these collections include 19th-century British and 20th-century American theater, as well as popular entertainment, such as the circus, minstrel shows, and movies. Click here to see a comprehensive list of these collections. For information about using the William Seymour Family Papers (TC011), researchers can consult the online finding aid or contact

William Seymour

Fanny Davenport
Fanny Davenport