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American Studies, American Literature, and American Publishing History

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  • Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie, typescript, 1900, chapter 1, p.1 (detail) (Ms. Coll. 30, Box 126, folder 7075)
    Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie, typescript, 1900, chapter 1, p.1 (detail) (Ms. Coll. 30, Box 126, folder 7075)
  • Account of publisher David McKay with Walt Whitman for Leaves of Grass, 1883 (detail) (Ms. Coll. 190, Box 1, folder 43)
    Account of publisher David McKay with Walt Whitman for Leaves of Grass, 1883 (detail) (Ms. Coll. 190, Box 1, folder 43)

[Please note: revisions to this webpage are in progress.]

The Kislak Center holds numerous collections of manuscripts and printed books relating to American studies, American literature, book history, and the history of publishing in America.

Early American literature is represented by notable collections related to Benjamin Franklin, Edwin Forrest, Robert Montgomery Bird, Walt Whitman, along with other early American books and papers. Complementing these are modern archives and rare books. Beginning in 1945 with the acquisition of Theodore Dreiser's papers and continuing from that period until today, the department has collected the books and papers of major figures in modern American literature and letters. American publishing history is also a strength.

This page presents an overview of these collections.

Colonial era, early national period, and nineteenth-century America

 

Manuscripts of Francis Daniel Pastorius, including his "Beehive" commonplace book

Robert Dechert Collection: European travel writing, exploration narratives, and some Native literature of the Americas, with strong holdings in French Americana, nineteenth-century American western exploration, and the writings of Bartolome de Las Casas.

Caroline F. Schimmel Fiction Collection of Women in the American Wilderness.

Benjamin Franklin Papers

Curtis Collection of Franklin Imprints

Robert Montgomery Bird Papers: personal, business, literary, and family papers of this nineteenth-century Philadelphia author.

Walt Whitman Collections

The American Culture Class collections gather a significant portion of the department's printed holdings (although by no means all of them) together under a cataloging heading of "American" books, in chronological divisions from 18th-20th centuries.

Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture records and library.

Keffer Collection of Sheet Music

Modern period

Theodore Dreiser Papers: correspondence, manuscripts, notes, and photographs, 1890-1965), document Dreiser's personal life and his careers as journalist, novelist, essayist, and political activist. Also available: Dreiser Web Source.

Curtis Publishing Company Records: correspondence, financial records, and marketing reports, 1887-1960 (bulk 1911-1945) of the firm established by Cyrus Curtis, which published weekly periodicals, such as Ladies' Home Journal, Country Gentleman, and Saturday Evening Post.

Gotham Book Mart Collection: Books, periodicals, and archival materials from this New York bookstore, a meeting place for modernists.

Marian Anderson Collection

Lewis Mumford collections

Boni & Liveright and Horace Liveright correspondence: correspondence, 1918-1934, kept by Liveright concerning the Boni & Liveright and Horace Liveright, Inc. publishing houses.

Agnes Repplier Papers: correspondence, manuscripts, and photographs, 1870-1960, regarding Repplier's activities as essayist and biographer and her circle of professional and personal associates.

Van Wyck Brooks Papers: correspondence, manuscripts, and diaries, 1898-1963, concerning the life and career of the essayist.

Ezra Pound collections: includes letters, 1907-1959, to Mary Moore Cross, with whom Pound had a romance as a young man, and research materials compiled by Carl Gatter. Also includes collections of printed books by Pound. 

William Carlos Williams collections: printed books and some manuscripts and research notes relating to the poet, who graduated from Penn with an M.D. in 1906.

Waldo Frank Papers: correspondence, manuscripts, and diaries, 1900-1966, regarding the novelist's literary output, as well as his travels and interest in Central and South America.

Burton Rascoe Papers: correspondence, dairies, notebooks, and typescripts, 1914-1957, concerning Rascoe's work as editor, literary critic, and fiction writer.

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