The ABCs of Katherine Anne Porter: D is for…

Deadlines!

Katherine Anne Porter was notorious for missing deadlines due to her exacting writing style. She could spend months or years working a single piece, mulling over a story during the “brooding period” of her writing process. She would meticulously plan the dialogue and story arc in her head before eventually putting the story on paper.  Porter wanted to make as few changes as possible to the first draft and wouldn’t allow publishers to make changes either. If the story wasn’t perfect in her opinion, then it would be relegated to her in-progress pile, perhaps indefinitely.

One of Porter’s most recognized works, Flowering Judas, took 20 years to complete. She also worked on a never completed biography of puritan clergyman Cotton Mather for 40 years and with four different publishers. Granted, she wrote plenty of other pieces during these time frames, but Porter much preferred to write as the urge came to her and not to force a story to completion.

Porter addressed her deadlines in an interview saying, “It is nobody’s business but mine how long it takes me to do a piece of work. The work is my work, not theirs. It has nothing to do with them until its produced. So therefore I don’t pay much attention to that.”

You can explore digitized letters by Katherine Anne Porter’s online in the online exhibit Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977.

Digitized photographs of Katherine Anne Porter can be found in our Digital Collections repository.

Browse the finding aid to the Katherine Anne Porter papers and contact us to learn more!


Mattie Lewis is a student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program and Graduate Assistant with the Katherine Anne Porter Collection at UMD.

The ABCs of Katherine Anne Porter: C is for…

Cats!

It is widely acknowledged that cats choose their owners, showing up out of the blue and making themselves at home. This was definitely the case for Katherine Anne Porter, who often took in strays that came wandering into her garden from the street. She would treat them to canned fish or anything else she might have on hand and end up with a new furry friend.

No matter where she traveled, from Mexico City to New York to Paris, a cat always seemed to find its way into Porter’s home. As a solitary writer, her cats were sometimes her only companions through long days of writing. Porter shared stories of their antics in her letters, recounting her cat Satchmo loved to play with marbles and her white cat Lucifer enjoyed going on picnics. Lucifer is photographed below in 1957 on a picnic with Porter’s niece Anne Holloway Heintze and family. Porter loved cat throughout her life, and celebrated her 82nd birthday with a cat piñata!

Images of Katherine Anne Porter throughout the years and her various feline companions. From the Katherine Anne Porter papers.

You can explore digitized letters by Katherine Anne Porter’s online in the online exhibit Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977.

Digitized photographs of Katherine Anne Porter can be found in our Digital Collections repository.

Browse the finding aid to the Katherine Anne Porter papers and contact us to learn more!


Mattie Lewis is a student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program and Graduate Assistant with the Katherine Anne Porter Collection at UMD.

The ABCs of Katherine Anne Porter: B is for…

Buddha!

Among Katherine Anne Porter’s favorite belongings is a wooden statue of a laughing Buddha. The statue is about 8 inches tall and was given to Porter by her older brother, Harrison Paul Porter, who picked it up during his time in the Navy, circa 1904. Porter’s views on religion varied throughout her life and she never practiced Buddhism, but the statue was a constant writing companion, sitting prominently on her desk.

Today the statue, which shows visible cracks from use over the decades, continues to occupy it’s rightful place next to Porter’s typewriter in the Katherine Anne Porter Room in Hornbake Library.

Explore the the finding aid for Katherine Anne Porter Papers. Digitized photographs of Katherine Anne Porter can be found in our Digital Collections repository. Contact us to learn more about the Katherine Anne Porter Room in Hornbake Library.


Mattie Lewis is a student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program and Graduate Assistant with the Katherine Anne Porter Collection at UMD.

Exhibition Extended: Get Out the Vote

We are excited to announce the extension of our gallery exhibition Get Out The Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America through August 2023. Get Out The Vote highlights the history of suffrage in America and specifically the fight for the right to vote for women and African Americans. 

With the upcoming midterm elections, we hope that Get Out The Vote will inspire visitors to exercise their right to vote as well as illustrate the history of the expansion and contraction of voting rights. Get a sneak peek by visiting the online exhibition.

To learn about voting in early Maryland, the work of grassroots organizations, the unsteady progress toward greater enfranchisement, and more, visit us Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm in the Hornbake Library gallery. To visit outside these hours or inquire about a personalized tour, contact us!


Post by Clio Reid, volunteer
McGill University, 2023

A Life in Letters: Katherine Anne Porter Digitization Continues!

We are excited to be back in action, kicking off phase 4 of the Katherine Anne Porter correspondence digitization project! Porter was an award winning author best known for her short stories, including Pale Horse, Pale Rider and her full length novel Ship of Fools. In 1966 Porter donated her literary archive to Special Collections at the University of Maryland, where a room was created in her honor. Now housed on the first floor of Hornbake Library, the Katherine Anne Porter room showcases book, photos, furniture, and memorabilia collected during her life.

Katherine Anne Porter talking with R. Lee Hornbake at the dedication of the original Katherine Anne Porter room in McKeldin library, May 15, 1968
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The Visual Culture of Labor in the 1930s: A Visit to the George Meany Labor Archive

On February 8 and 10, 2022, the twelve students in ARTH488D: Mining the Visual Culture of the Great Depression visited the University of Maryland’s Special Collections to explore 1930s materials from the George Meany Labor Archive. Students leafed through folders of original documents and photographs, and worked together to select and analyze a key primary source of their choosing. Our goal was to ask what we could learn from these materials– especially their visual form–about how people experienced the economic crisis and labor struggles of the Depression era. Please enjoy our explorations below!

“No Help Wanted”

This cartoon from a periodical clipping from 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression, shows a man looking at a sign that reads “NO HELP WANTED”. He appears to be sad and dejected. A connection between the viewer and the figure in the image can be made by the way they are both reading the sign at the same time. The figure’s back is turned, directing the viewer’s eyes to the message, while also noticing his posture which shows emotions of dejection, tiredness, and worry. This item creates feelings of sympathy and sadness for the figure and feelings of wanting to help and support him. This image appears to be reproduced in a magazine or pamphlet of sorts to encourage workers to take action in protest for better working conditions, job opportunities, wages, and so much more. We believe this image was intended to resonate with people affected by the crash of the Great Depression. Having the opportunity to look at this primary source allows us to further understand the struggles that working and lower-class citizens endured during a time period of limited jobs and low pay. #GreatDeressionVisualCulture #NoHelpWanted #RouseHimToAction

–Jessica and John

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New Exhibit: A Tale of Fine Wenches: the Women of The Ladies’ Almanack

“Now this be a Tale of as fine a Wench as ever wet the bed…”

Ladies Almanack, 1928

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are celebrating Djuna Barnes’ female focused comedic satire Ladies Almanack

Ladies Almanack was published in 1928 while Barnes was living as an expatriate writer/artist in Paris. She originally wrote it to entertain her partner Thelma Wood, who had been hospitalized. As such, the bawdy humor and absurdist parody almanac is full of inside jokes and references to Barnes’ and Wood’s lesbian (with the exception of Mina Loy) social circle of fellow modernist writers, artists, socialites, and literary women. 

A new exhibit in Hornbake Library A Tale of Fine Wenches: the Women of The Ladies’ Almanack puts the spotlight on Djuna Barnes and the real women who inspired uproarious drama within Ladies Almanack.  On display are a selection of items from the Djuna Barnes papers, including books, photographs, and correspondence that explores the relationships between these women, varying from platonic to romantic. 

Ladies Almanack features a plethora of particularly scandalous women, whose unique vices reference various women, including Natalie Clifford Barney, Mina Loy, Jane Heap, Margaret Anderon, and Gertrude Stein. Characters also appear based on Romaine Brooks, Janet Flanner, Solita Solano, Elisabeth de Gramont, and Dolly Wilde. Together, these women represent a thriving literary and artistic community living in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s.

These women often met at Natalie Clifford Barney’s Parisian salon, which at the time was a popular place among writers and authors to discuss literature and art. Barnes characterizes Barney’s Almanack persona as an aged proprietor of the feminine arts, emphasizing her role as a mentor to the many women who visited her salon. Among these women, Djuna Barnes and Thelma Wood, and Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap were romantically involved. Barnes and Wood’s tumultuous decade-long relationship inspired Barnes’ novel Nightwood, and Anderson and Heap co-edited The Little Review, a literary magazine infamous for featuring works by prominent modernist writers and the first appearance of James Joyce’s Ulysses in a serial format. 

To explore more, visit  Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library to view the Djuna Barnes papers and works by other modernist writers.  

If you have more questions about items in Hornbake’s collections contact us!

Digitizing the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records

In May 2021, Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) began a three year grant project with Georgia State University’s Southern Labor Archive – “Advancing Workers Rights in the American South: Digitizing the Records of the AFL-CIO’s Civil Rights Division.”

SCUA will digitize and make accessible online approximately 45 linear feet (or 20-25%) from the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records (listed below), as well as 20 – 16mm films from the AFL-CIO Labor Film collection.  Georgia State University’s Special Collections & Archives will be digitizing 119 linear feet and some audio recordings from the Records from the AFL-CIO’s Southern Area Director’s Office Civil Rights Division for online access.  This project is supported by a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  For more details about the grant award visit CLIR’s list of 2020 funded projects and the University of Maryland Libraries’ announcement.

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New Exhibit: Takejiro Hasegawa (1853-1938) Innovative Publisher of Meiji Japan 

Visit Hornbake Library and explore three exhibit cases inside the Maryland Room which showcase the publishing career of Japanese publisher Takejiro Hasegawa.

Hasegawa used national exhibitions and world’s fairs to promote his publications. He began his career during the Meiji period beginning in 1868 when Japan rapidly industrialized & adopted Western ideas & practices. He ran a thriving business importing products from the West including books. By 1884, he decided to become a publisher, focusing on educational books written by Westerners living in Japan.

Hasegawa published a series of Japanese folktales in English, French, German and other European languages and in the Western manner reading from left to right with attractive illustrations.  Initially he published these folktales to help Japanese learn Western languages and was later motivated to sell books in Western markets.  Hasegawa used national exhibitions and world’s fairs to promote his publications. Included in the exhibition are images from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago where Japan spent lavishly to showcase itself with a Japanese temple, tea garden, and exhibits.  One of every six Americans visited the Chicago exposition to see the 65,000 exhibits spread across 633 acres of fairgrounds.

Several of Hasegawa’s publications are on view in the exhibit cases and you can read the full text of the fairy tale Momotaro displayed on the adjacent iPad. The world’s fair publications are from the University Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives collections and Hasegawa’s fairy tale books are on loan from John Schalow, former UMD Libraries Special Collections cataloguer who curated this exhibit.

Djuna Barnes and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

While Djuna Barnes is most known for her fiction writing, she also had significant ties to the women’s suffrage movement.  Djuna’s connection to the women’s suffrage movement started at a young age.  Djuna’s grandmother, Zadel Gustafson Barnes, was a writer, journalist, and poet. Zadel wrote profiles of well-known suffragists such as Frances E. Willard and participated in the National Woman Suffrage Association’s International Council of Women. Zadel was also active in the temperance movement, which was closely tied to the women’s suffrage movement.

Despite Djuna’s familial connection to the women’s suffrage movement, she had no qualms about occasionally mocking it.  In an August 1913 article Djuna portrays the suffragists as making ridiculous statements such as “cleanliness is next to women suffrage.”  These depictions portray suffragists as foolish caricatures.  Djuna continues this approach in her 1913 article, “70 Suffragists Turned Loose.”  Djuna engages with negative stereotypes of suffragists, such as portraying them as figures who emasculate and intimidate men.  However, some of Djuna’s criticism is about the perceived conservatism of some suffrage leaders such as Carrie Chapman Catt.  Djuna portrays Chapman Catt as admonishing aspiring suffragists for the length of their dresses and preparing them for speeches in front of audiences from “the factory world.”  Djuna criticizes Chapman Catt’s focus on respectability politics and her classism, showing a willingness to engage in more nuanced critiques of the suffrage movement.  

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