The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.187 Thursday, 16 April 2015
Date: April 15, 2015 at 4:20:40 PM EDT
Subject: Louis Marder’s Remaining Collection Placement
I am Lou Marder's granddaughter.
I can’t believe it it’s been more than 4 years since I rescued boxes and boxes and boxes of paper from heading to the dumpster (it seems some of my grandfather’s proclivities skipped a generation). As you know, the “valuable” collectibles ended up going to auction (with largely depressing results), and the books to an antiquarian bookseller. That still leaves a whole lot of stuff.
I think what I’m hoping for is answers/suggestions/ideas...maybe connections/referrals... please feel free to forward my e-mail to anyone who might be a resource...or if you feel it would be appropriate, post relevant portions to SHAKSPER or other groups...
Initially I did manage to catalog his journal collection:
(I’ve since found others tucked away in files...started adding these yesterday in purple. I’ve also tossed a couple titles since cataloguing. A few of the titles—MLA, Theatre Notebook, a few others I think—are still being sent, but recent issues are in another box in storage). I think where I got sidetracked 4 years ago was in my hunt for a database that would accept OCR-friendly scans/photos of title pages, as well as a speedy way to acquire those images/pdfs. I think I was also stumped (overwhelmed?) regarding how to advertise/publicize the availability of the collection. Next thing I knew it was 4 years later.
I know that many of the titles have long since been completely digitized, and others are just not relevant to anyone. There are a few that are extremely rare (only one or two holdings worldwide according to the OCLC; if I recall correctly, one or two titles didn’t show up at all!), and others that aren’t necessarily rare but also don’t appear to have been digitized. I’m ashamed to say that I’m hoping to find buyers for as much as possible, but I’d rather donate (so long as someone pays for shipping) than recycle.
The above inventory does not include back issues of The Shakespeare Newsletter. I initially offered the whole lot to Iona College ...they didn’t have a place for them, nor the funds for shipping. I do, however, plan to send them the subscription books and a bound volume of 1951-196.... Last week I found all his correspondence files related to SNL submissions....and so on. He was involved in so many things that so much of the correspondence could be cross-referenced under multiple index entries. Ugh. Back to that in a bit.
Last week... I went through the 19 boxes of SNL, setting aside a max of 10 of each issue (then, guilt-ridden, a second set of 10, then maybe five more....no...just 10...no...what if....? The first time I ran across 50+ copies of a single issue I worried that maybe he’d forgotten to mail out that particular issue! I was relieved (in a sense; guilt-ridden in another) when I started encountering mass quantities of other issues as well. That said, as I glance through correspondence files and run across numerous letters mentioning missing/delayed issues and subscriptions.... Ugh. Anyway, I boxed up the “max of 10” issues (as well as a single set for myself; I’m missing only about six or seven post-1964/pre-Iona issues). Not that I know what to do with those (I’ll come back to this too), but, do you think it’s reasonably safe to dump the remainder into recycling, or do you know of a market for these somewhere? It’s bad enough that his collection and library was split up, and that his SDB dream was never realized, that I feel awkward about tossing too many issues of SNL.
Having been a professional historian at one time, I feel like I’m sitting on a potential gold mine—a gold mine and a noose. I’m not sure if this is common or not, but his correspondence files almost always contain copies of his own outgoing letters in addition to the letters he received.
Last week it hit me that, while I’d been assured that my aunt hunted high and low for someone to take Lou’s collection, his papers were likely the last thing on her mind, so I contacted UIC. I figured I’d follow up with Kent State, UNC-Pembroke, Columbia, and Brooklyn College, if UIC isn’t interested. In the meantime, however, I’ve continued perusing what’s here.
One category of files that I’ve come pretty close to disposing is the mass of correspondence in response to his advertisements seeking Shakespeareana and the masses of receipts and business cards for his purchases. I’ve found a few interesting bits of correspondence, as well as provenance information for items long-since sold (e.g., proof that a dagger did indeed belong to Edwin Booth, who made it, how the seller came to have it, etc. It really annoys me every time I run across something like this that “tells a story” about something from his collection). But, just as I’m about to dispose of all but a handful of letters and such, I imagine a possible research topic for which someone, somewhere would consider even this pile of paper to be valuable. <sigh> I am my grandfather’s granddaughter.
SDB files. At least one entire box of the above consists of SDB submissions. Is someone still working on this (under a different name, perhaps)? Have things in this box already been entered? Or has the whole project been abandoned? Another “complication”—separating SDB submissions from correspondence about the whole SDB process/dream...
Here is where things get really crazy. In spite of being “my grandfather’s granddaughter,” I didn’t catch the Shakespeare bug, but I am fascinated by his passion, his drive, etc., and as I’ve read some of his correspondence, articles he’s written, and articles written about him I wonder if there might be a “story” here. Several “stories,” in fact, and not just limited to an audience of other Shakespeare scholars and/or fanatics. Hell, even just compiling a collection of his essays/editorials from 40+ years of SNL seems like “something” ... a jumping-off point...one avenue. For a few days I was bouncing back and forth between the SNL boxes and the correspondence boxes, and I would find references in correspondence to something I’d seen in passing in SNL, or in some other box, or a reference in SNL that explained some massive pile of souvenirs/ephemera/memorabilia. Cross-references in physical space/objects rather than in an index. Often things that, taken alone, don’t seem especially interesting, but that become relevant when the three or more “outposts” are brought together. I know and appreciate Lou Marder far, far more now than I ever did when he was alive, but my interest here is in him as an interesting and eccentric individual who had a wealth of knowledge and non-stop ideas and vision. I won’t say he was failure as a father, husband, and grandfather, but, well.... his interests and talents were devoted elsewhere. In other words, it’s not sentimentality that keeps me buried in his papers and wondering whether there is something here.
Clearly (I think it’s clear, anyway), one of the more significant topics is his pursuit of the SDB. I was blown away when I found a letter he wrote in 1957 proposing the idea. 1957! A couple days ago I came across the roster for an IBM seminar he attended in 1958 – all sorts of scientists, engineers, corporate reps, and him (also a psychology prof). Anyway, so much of the correspondence on the subject (directly with IBM, Kodak, and many others) goes well over my head, but if some “computer historian” were writing an account of his “journey” (perhaps his and his contemporaries’)....
Similarly, accounts of some of his other greater passions, e.g., the authorship controversy (including the friendship between him and Francis Carr), The Globe reconstruction, teaching Shakespeare, would be better written by someone who knows Shakespeare... yet there’s something about Lou’s way with words (and passion) when he wrote about these things that it seems like there is potential for the topics to be interesting to someone like me... I’m writing/thinking in circles. Trying to put my chaotic brainstorm into an e-mail to a stranger.
There is one folder filled entirely with correspondence with his Chinese friends (fans of Shakespeare). I also had no idea how many times he’d been “published” in places other than SNL, nor in how many articles have been written about him.
I would even be interested in including the more challenging aspects of his personality and efforts, e.g., the ADHD likelihood (the greatest argument we ever had was when I revealed to him my own Adult ADHD diagnosis, inattentive type), and how it impacted him, personally and professionally. How it helped, how it hurt, and whether it can help explain some occasional poor decisions. Forty years’ worth of correspondence reveal recurring themes. :)
There are also other bunches of stuff are in limbo between (among?) archives/salable/trash/donations – programs, posters, engravings (book illustrations), slides, LPs, filmstrips, etc.
Anyway, this has all been preventing me from getting on with my life, both in the physical sense (too much stuff to move from point A to point B, too “valuable” to just throw away) and in the intellectual/emotional sense (sense of obligation, overwhelm, fear of doing the wrong thing, and yet also believing there’s a worthwhile writing/research project here but not knowing where—or having the confidence—to begin). Ages ago I had an idea of creating a Lou Marder website...if only I had. On the one hand I’m in an excellent place now (literally and figuratively) for finally doing it, but on the other, unfortunately, the need for income and getting rid of an enormous amount of stuff has become too urgent.
Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Confidence is one thing that Lou Marder never lacked.
Thank you for wading all the way through this, and in advance for any assistance/leads you can offer!