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
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.
Baldwin, Ruth Marie
Smith, Rita J. “Caught Up in the Whirlwind: Ruth Baldwin.” The Lion and the Unicorn 22.3 (1998): pp. 289-302.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Sotheby’s. Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the Arnold and Miriam Elkind Library. New 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.
Grant, Stephen H. Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
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.
“Getz, Estelle.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): pp. 135-136.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
Selections from the Vermont Library of Gertrude Mallary. Catalog compiled by Frances Mallary, with an introduction by J. Kevin Graffagnino. Bradford, Vermont: 1989.
Dear Miss Merchant: The Edited Correspondence and Catalogue of Book Collector Catherine Jane Merchant. Denton, Texas: Texas Woman’s University, 1997.
“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, Mrs. John G.
Catalogue of the Library Formed by the Late Mrs. John G. Moore. New York: Privately Printed, 1892.
“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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
Rare Books and Rare People. London, 1967; Williamsburg, 1987.
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.
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.
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.
“Wells, Carolyn.” In Dictionary of American Book Collectors , by Donald C. Dickinson (New York, 1986): pp. 331-332.
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.