Women Bibliophiles Project

By Emiko Hastings

Despite numerous books on the subject of book collecting, surprisingly little has been written about women collectors. My current research project is to compile a bibliography of books and articles by and about American women book collectors, and ultimately to write a history of early American women collectors.

In 2012, I received a Grolier Club Library Research Fellowship to pursue this research at the Grolier Club Library in New York. In April of 2013, I delivered a talk at the Grolier Club on my project, “‘Mighty Women Book Hunters’: A History of American Women Book Collectors.”

A number of people at the talk and afterwards have asked for my list of American women book collectors, so I am making this selected bibliography public for those interested in further reading. In the interests of brevity, this list includes only one source per woman.

The selected bibliography is by no means comprehensive. It does not include archival or oral history sources, women who are currently collecting books, or those for whom no published information about their collection is known. I have also opted not to include women book dealers at this time, since that would almost require writing a second book. If you know of more American women collectors whose names should be on this list, I welcome your suggestions.


Books By and About Individual American Women Book Collectors

Adomeit, Ruth

Rauscher, Janet. “Ruth E. Adomeit: An Ambassador for Miniature Books.” In Christiane J. Gruber. The Islamic Manuscript Tradition: Ten Centuries of Book Arts in Indiana University Collections. Indiana University Press, pp. 53-78.

Alexander, Mrs. L.D.

The Library of Mrs. L.D. Alexander of New Canaan, Conn. A Remarkable Collection of Fine Books with Many Great Rarities in All Departments of Literature. New York: Anderson Galleries, 1913.

Avery, Ellen Walter

Catalogue of the Ellen Walters Avery Collection of Books Presented by Her Mother to the Library of the Teachers’ College. New York: The De Vinne Press, 1897.

Baldwin, Ruth Marie

Smith, Rita J. “Caught Up in the Whirlwind: Ruth Baldwin.” The Lion and the Unicorn 22.3 (1998): pp. 289-302.

Ball, Elisabeth

For Your Amusement and Instruction: The Elisabeth Ball Collection of Historical Children’s Materials. Lilly Library, Indiana University, 1987.

Benz, Doris L. 

“Benz, Doris L.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): pp. 38-39.

Bettens, Louise E.

The Library of Mrs. Louise E. Bettens. New York: Privately Printed, 1919.

Bitting, Katherine Golden

Beck, Leonard. Two “Loaf Givers”: Or, A Tour Through the Gastronomic Libraries of Katherine Golden Bitting and Elizabeth Robins Pennell (Washington, D.C., 1984).

Blair, Mrs. J. Insley

Property from the Library of the Late Mrs. J. Insley Blair. New York: Sotheby’s, 2004.

Bliss, Mildren W.

“Bliss, Mildred W.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): p. 45.

Boyle, Phoebe A. D.

The Magnificent Library of the Late Mrs. Phoebe A.D. Boyle of Brooklyn, N.Y. New York: Anderson Galleries, 1923.

Brown, Helen Evans

Jarvits, Janet. An Introduction to Helen Evans Brown and Her Library. Weather Bird Press, 2003.

Cabot, Caroline Whittier

Americana and First Editions from the Libraries of Mrs. Caroline Whittier Cabot Weehawken, N.J. and Mrs. Charlotte M. Guild. New York: Rains Gallery, 1936.

Carson, Marian S.

Remini, Robert V. Gathering History: The Marian S. Carson Collection of Americana. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1999.

Chasteney, Ruth

Chasteney, Robert. Remembrance of Ruth. Tucson: University of Arizona Library, 2001.

Colt, Armida Maria-Theresa

Cofield, Laura Hull. The Festive Renaissance: Illustrated Books from the Colt Collection. Washington, D. C.: The Library, 1995.

Crocker, Ethel Willard Sperry

The Library of Mrs. W. H. Crocker, San Francisco. San Francisco: Stanley-Taylor, 1900.

Cunningham, Eugenie K. 

The Library of Mrs. Eugenie K. Cunningham Sold by Her Order: With Other Properties. New York: Anderson Galleries, 1928.

Doheny, Carrie Estelle

“Carrie Estelle Doheny.” In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 140: American Book-Collectors and Bibliographers, 1st Series , ed. by Joseph Rosenblum (Detroit, 1994): pp. 64-69.

Earle, Genevieve

“Pandora Buys a Book, or a Collector in Search of an Author,” The American Book Collector (August 1933).

Eccles, Mary Hyde

Overholt, John. A Monument More Durable Than Brass: The Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson: An Exhibition. Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Library, Harvard University, 2009.

Elkind, Miriam

Sotheby’s. Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the Arnold and Miriam Elkind LibraryNew York: Sotheby’s, 1994. 

Engelhard, Mrs. Charles W.

American and English Modern Literature from the Library of Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard. New York: Christie’s, 1995.

Folger, Emily

Grant, Stephen H. Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

Ford, Alla T.

The Joys of Collecting Children’s Books. Hong Kong: Ford Press, 1968.

Furbush, Caroline C.

Catalogue of the Library of Caroline C. Furbush. New York: Privately Printed, 1903.

Gardner, Isabella Stewart

A Choice of Books From the Library of Isabella Stewart Gardner. Boston: 1906.

Garrigue, Jean

Ex Libris Jean Garrigue. Skidmore College Library, 1975.

Getz, Estelle

“Getz, Estelle.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): pp. 135-136.

Gordan, Phyllis

“John D. Gordan and Phyllis G. Gordan.” In Grolier 2000: A Further Grolier Club Biographical Retrospective in Celebration of the Millennium, ed. by Claudia Funke (New York, 2000): pp. 127-132.

Granniss, Ruth Shepard

Abraham, Mildred. “Ruth Shepard Granniss (1872–1954), Grolier Librarian, Scholar, & Lecturer: A Truly Remarkable Woman.” In Gazette of the Grolier Club, New Series no. 57 (2006): 24–49.

Gray, Charlotte C.

Catalogue of the Private Library of Mrs. Charlotte C. Gray of Brooklyn, New York. New York: Merwin-Clayton Sale Co., 1912.

Greene, Belle da Costa

Ardizzone, Heidi. An Illuminated Life: Belle da Costa Greene’s Journey from Prejudice to Privilege. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2007.

Guild, Charlotte M. 

The Library of Mrs. Charlotte M. Guild, Milton, Mass., With Other Properties. New York: Rains Galleries, 1936.

Haight, Anne Lyon

Hroswitha of Gandersheim: Her Life, Times, and Works, and a Comprehensive Bibliography. New York, Hroswitha Club, 1965.

Hanff, Helene

Pastore, Stephen R. The Library of Helene Hanff: A Catalogue of Her Collection. New Haven: YaleBooks Press, 1998.

Harkness, Mary Emma Stillman

“Harkness, Mary S.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): p. 152.

Henderson, Jennie Crocker

“Henderson, Jennie Crocker.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): p. 158.

Hoff, Grace Whitney

Bibliothèque de Madame G. Whitney Hoff : Catalogue des Manuscrits, Incunables, éditions rares, réliures anciennes et modernes. Paris: Gruel, 1933.

Holden, Miriam Y. 

“Holden, Miriam Y.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): pp. 165-166.

Holmes, Mrs. Christian R.

Standard Sets, First Editions, Americana, Autograph Letters, Maps, Manuscripts, Incunabula, Books about Books, Penmanship, Birds, French Literature, Drawings Collected by the Late Mrs. Christian R. Holmes … New York: Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1942.

Hooper, Frances

“A Collector in Being.” Kenilworth, Ill. : The Chihuahua Press, 1973.

Hughes, Mrs. Henry D.

Collection of Mrs. Henry D. Hughes, Philadelphia, Pa. New York: American Art Association, Anderson Galleries, 1934.

Hunt, Rachel McMasters Miller

Tancin, Charlotte. Botany and History Entwined: Rachel Hunt’s Legacy: Catalogue of an Exhibition 16 September-15 December 2011. Pittsburgh: Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University, 2011.

Hutton, Mrs. E.F.

Catalogue of a Fine Collection of Calligraphic Books and Manuscripts, the Property of Mrs. E.F. Hutton of New York City. New York: Sotheby & Co., 1972.

Loring, Rosamund Bowditch

“Loring, Rosamond Bowditch.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): p. 212.

Lowell, Amy

“Amy Lowell.” In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 140: American Book-Collectors and Bibliographers, 1st Series , ed. by Joseph Rosenblum (Detroit, 1994): pp. 141-146.

Macpherson, Ida Rust

The Ida Rust Macpherson Collection. Scripps College, 1948.

Malkin, Mary Ann

Dancing by the Book: A Catalogue of Books, 1531-1804, in the Collection of Mary Ann O’Brian Malkin. New York: Privately Printed, 2003.

Mallary, Gertrude

Selections from the Vermont Library of Gertrude Mallary. Catalog compiled by Frances Mallary, with an introduction by J. Kevin Graffagnino. Bradford, Vermont: 1989.

Massey, Mary P.

The Grete Herball: Books from the Collection of Mary P. Massey. Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1988.

Mellon, Rachel Lambert

An Oak Spring Flora: Flower Illustration from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Time: A Selection of the Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Works of Art in the Collection of Rachel Lambert Mellon. Upperville, Va.: Oak Spring Garden Library, 1997.

Merchant, Catherine

Dear Miss Merchant: The Edited Correspondence and Catalogue of Book Collector Catherine Jane Merchant. Denton, Texas: Texas Woman’s University, 1997.

Minns, Susan

“Susan Minns.” In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 140: American Book-Collectors and Bibliographers, 1st Series , ed. by Joseph Rosenblum (Detroit, 1994): pp. 159-164.

Moore, Jane Aldrich

Catalogue of the Library Formed by the Late Mrs. John G. Moore. New York: Privately Printed, 1892.

Mortimer, Ruth

“Ruth Mortimer.” In Grolier 2000: A Further Grolier Club Biographical Retrospective in Celebration of the Millennium, ed. by Claudia Funke (New York, 2000): pp. 249-252.

Nicholson, Mrs. G.J. Guthrie

Library of Mrs G.J. Guthrie Nicholson. Fine First Editions of American and English Authors, Colored Plate Books, Fore-edge Paintings, The Federalist, Presidents’ Letters and Documents, an Important XVIII Century Persian Illuminated Manuscript. New York: Parke Bernet Galleries, 1948.

Parker, Caroline Miller

Finlay, Nancy. Randolph Caldecott, 1846-1886: A Checklist of the Caroline Miller Parker Collection in the Houghton Library. Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, 1986.

Parks, Mrs. W. George

A Comprehensive Collection: Manuscripts, Books, Periodicals, Ephemera, Critical Works: Robert Frost & Edna St. Vincent Millay: From the Library of Mrs. W. George Parks. New York: Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1968.

Peck, Clara S.

“Peck, Clara.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors, by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): pp. 254-255.

Pennell, Elizabeth Robins

Bertelsen, Cynthia D. “A Greedy Woman: The Long, Delicious Shelf Life of Elizabeth Robins Pennell.” Fine Books & Collections 44 (August 2009).

Percival, Olive

Apostol, Jane. Olive Percival, Los Angeles Author and Bibliophile. Los Angeles: Department of Special Collections, University Research Library, University of California, 1992.

Pershing, Margaret Jane

The Margaret Jane Pershing Collection of Emily Dickinson, Presented to the Princeton University Library June 7, 1969. Princeton, 1969.

Peyraud, Paula Fentress

Mulvihill, Maureen E. “Literary Property Changing Hands: The Peyraud Auction (New York City, 6 May 2009).” Eighteenth-Century Studies 43, no. 1 (Fall 2009): pp. 151-163.

Poor, Constance E. 

Catalogue of the Library of Mrs. Constance E. Poor, Comprising Many Rare and Interesting Books on Gardening … English Literature and Old Plays … Books on Spanish America, Americana, the Indians; A Scarce Collection of Gervase Markham’s Tracts. New York: Anderson Auction Co., 1909.

Pope, Abby Ellen Hanscom

Ryskamp, Charles. “Abbie Pope: Portrait of a Bibliophile.” Book Collector (Spring 1984): 38-52.

Prescott, Marjorie Wiggin

Stray Thoughts of a Book-Collector. New York: Privately Printed, 1932.

Roochvarg, Alida

The Alida Roochvarg Collection of Books About Books: Six Catalogues and Index. Oak Knoll Press, 1981.

Sang, Mrs. Philip D.

Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana from the Collection of Mrs. Philip D. Sang. New York: Sotheby’s, 1985.

Shirley, Betsy Beinecke

Young, Timothy. Drawn to Enchant: Original Children’s Book Art in the Betsy Beinecke Shirley Collection (Beinecke Rare Book Library, 2007).

Simmons, Sarah Anna

Catalogue of Books in the Library of the Sarah Anna Simmons Alcove, [ca. 1900]. Manuscript, Grolier Club Library.

Sinkler, Louise Elkins

A Flock of Beautiful Birds: The Ornithological Collection of Louise Elkins Sinkler. Philadephia: Library Company of Philadelphia, 1977.

Skipworth, Jean Miller

Mildred K. Abraham, “The Library of Lady Jean Skipwith,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 91, 296-347.

Smith, Charlotte M. 

The Charlotte M. Smith Collection of Miniature Books. Special Collections, The University of Iowa Libraries.

Sowerby, Millicent

Rare Books and Rare People. London, 1967; Williamsburg, 1987.

Sprague, Harriet

A List of Manuscripts, Books, Portraits, Prints, Broadsides, and Memorabilia … from the Whitman Collection of Mrs. Frank Julian Sprague of New York City. Library of Congress, 1939.

St. John, Cynthia Morgan

“St. John, Cynthia Morgan.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): pp. 277-278.

Stillwell, Margaret Bingham

Librarians are Human: Memories In and Out of the Rare-Book World, 1907-1970. Boston: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1973.

Strygler, Rosa

The Original Collection of Mrs. Rosa Strygler. New York: 2003.

Sutton, Hannah

Vail, R. W. G. “Seventeenth Century American Book Labels,” American Book Collector vol. 4 (September-October 1933): p 171.

Taylor, Lillian Gary

The Taylor Family Collection. Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia Library.

Taylor, Mrs. William A.

Sporting & Historical Colored Plate Books, First Editions of Shelley, Dickens & Thakeray … and Other Rare & Delightful Books, Selections from the Library of Mrs. William A. Taylor … New York: Anderson Galleries, 1925.

Thorne, Mrs. Landon K.

The Blake Collection of Mrs. Landon K. Thorne. New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1971.

Vershbow, Charlotte

Becker, David P. Fact and Fantasy, Illustrated Books from a Private Collection. Harvard College Library, 1976.

Walters, Mrs. Henry

Four Centuries of French Literature, Mainly in Superb Bindings by Old and Modern Masters … Collection of Mrs. Henry Walters. New York: Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1941.

Watkins, Louise Ward

Apostol, Jane. “Louise Ward Watkins: Bibliophile, Patriot, and Politician.” Southern California Quarterly 88, no. 4 (2006): 409-29.

Wells, Carolyn

“Wells, Carolyn.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): pp. 331-332.

Welsh, Doris V.

Rickard, Kathryn I. A Lady and Her Books: The Biography of Doris Varner Welsh. Montreal: Editions du Parnasse, 1988.

Wesley, Dorothy Porter

Uzelac, Constance Porter. Dorothy Porter Wesley (1905-1995): Afro-American Librarian and Bibliophile: An Exhibition, February 1-March 16, 2001. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: Bienes Center for the Literary Arts, Broward County Library, 2001.

White, Mrs. Henry

Catalogue of the library of Mrs. White, ca. 1890-1930. Stanford University Library.

Whitnah, Dorothy Lupher

Dorothy Lupher Whitnah: Biography of a Bookwoman. [California]: Printed at the Press in Tuscany Alley, [1980].

Wightman, Julia Parker

“Julia Parker Wightman.” In Grolier 2000: A Further Grolier Club Biographical Retrospective in Celebration of the Millennium, ed. by Claudia Funke (New York, 2000): pp. 391-392.


General Works About Women Book Collectors

Abraham, Mildred. “The Spirit of ‘76: The First Women of the Grolier Club,” Gazette of the Grolier Club 52 (2001): pp. 31-47.

Korey, Marie E. and Ruth Mortimer. “Fifteen women book collectors,” Gazette of the Grolier Club 42 (1990): 49-87.

Labouchere, Norna. “Women Bibliophiles.” In Ladies’ Book-Plates: An Illustrated Handbook for Collectors and Book-Lovers (London, 1895): pp. 33-55.

Rosenbach, A.S.W. “Mighty Women Book Hunters.” In A Bookhunter’s Holiday (Boston: Houghton & Mifflin, 1936).


Selected Works on American Women in the Book Trades

See also: The Women in Book History Bibliography

Barlow, Marjorie Dana. Notes on Women Printers in Colonial America and the United States, 1639-1975. New York: Hroswitha Club, 1976.

Davidson, Rebecca Warren. Unseen Hands: Women Printers, Binders, and Book Designers. Princeton: Princeton University Library, 2005.

Demeter, Richard L. Primer, Presses, and Composing Sticks: Women Printers of the Colonial Period. Hicksville, N.Y.: Exposition Press, 1979.

Hudak, Leona M. Early American Women Printers and Publishers, 1639-1820. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1978.

Tidcombe, Marianne. Women Bookbinders, 1880-1920. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 1996.

Updated 2018-08-24

2 thoughts on “Women Bibliophiles Project

  1. Many thanks, Emiko, for compiling this useful resource for students, teachers, librarians, booksellers, book collectors, and book scholars. I esp appreciate your adding my work on the intriguing Paula Peyraud and the Peyraud Collection. Gentle suggestion: In due course, I imagine you will expand the bibliography’s scope to include living American women rare book collectors. Do include Patricia Pistner (miniature books) and also myself (Irish & English women writers, pre-1800). Contact me for links & published credits on the Pistner Collection and the Mulvihill Collection. Keep us all posted on further work. Wishing you continuing success, MEM.

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