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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, 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, and 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 a brief overview of these collections.

Colonial and early national period

 

Benjamin Franklin Papers

Curtis Collection of Franklin Imprints

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

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 the cataloging heading of "American" books, in chronological divisions from 18th-20th centuries.

Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture records and library.

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.

Modern period

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.

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.

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: 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 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.

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