Special Collections Spotlight: Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven papers

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, also know as the Baroness, (1874-1927) was an avant-garde artist and poet associated with the Dada movement. She was born Else Hildegard Ploetz on July 12, 1874, in Swinemunde on the Baltic Sea, in present day Poland but then a part of Germany. In 1892 she ran away from home and moved to Berlin, where she lived with her mother’s sister and frequented Bohemian theatre circles. She eventually moved to New York and was active in Greenwich Village from 1913 to 1923, where her radical self-displays came to embody Dada. She was close friends with artist/writer Duna Barnes.

After her death in 1927, von Freytag-Loringhoven’s papers fell into Barnes’s possession. Beginning in 1932, Barnes attempted to write a biography of von Freytag-Loringhoven (based on a draft of an autobiography and miscellaneous notes and letters she had sent to Barnes), but the project was ultimately dropped.

The Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven papers are held in Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Maryland. The papers consist of correspondence, poetry, and biographical and autobiographical notes and manuscripts documenting her life and literary career. Among the significant correspondents are Djuna Barnes, Peggy Guggenheim, and Berenice Abbott.

View our online exhibit “In Transition: Selected Poems by the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Browse the finding aid to the Elsa von Freytag-Loringhiven papers.

Contact us for more information about the collection! 


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

Special Collections Spotlight: Katherine Anne Porter papers

Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library is home to the literary archive of Texas-born author Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980). She is best know for her short stories and bestselling novel Ship of Fools. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1966 for The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter.

Porter’s personal papers reflect her interests in writing, travel, politics, and current events and also document her private life. The collection includes correspondence, notes and drafts for her works, publications, legal documents, and financial records. It also includes over 1,500 photographs from her personal collection, dating from the 1890s to 1979. Subjects of both snapshots and professional portraits include Porter, her family, friends, homes, and places she visited. The Porter collection also contains memorabilia, including Mexican pottery, furniture, awards, and diplomas, as well as her personal library. Many of these objects and a portion of her library are housed in the Katherine Anne Porter Room in Hornbake Library.

Shortly after accepting an honorary degree from the University of Maryland in 1966, Porter announced that she would donate her papers, personal library, and other personal effects to the University of Maryland, where the Katherine Anne Porter Room was dedicated in McKeldin Library on May 15, 1968. She moved to College Park in 1969, in part to be closer to the university and her papers. From that time until ill health prevented it, Porter often visited the room to work on her papers. She thought of it as a place where individuals could “view and enjoy her library and furnishings” in an atmosphere that reflected her personal taste and style.

View our online wxhibit “Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives 1912-1977“.

Browse the fining aid to the Katherine Anne Porter papers.

Contact us for more information! 


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

The ABCs of Katherine Anne Porter: M is for…

Marginalia!

When Katherine Anne Porter donated her literary papers to University of Maryland in the 1960s, she also donated her complete personal library of over 3,800 titles. The collection covers a little bit of everything from history to poetry to hobbies. One of the most interesting parts of the collection is the marginalia – Porter’s scribbled handwriting on end papers and next to interesting paragraphs throughout her books.

Marginalia is a Latin term that refers to notes and drawings along the text block in a book. It’s one of the ways we can observe how readers interact with their books. Opinions on specific passages, personal edits, bored doodles, and all sorts of comments that a passionate reader will leave inside the pages of a book. Porter, an avid reader and author herself, often marked up the copies of teh books in her personal library, leaving us evidence of her thoughts and relationship to a particular work.

There are several kinds of markings you can discover in the Katherine Anne Porter Library. In some cases, Porter marked the front of books with the date and place where they were acquired. Sometimes she wrote notes about the author, especially if they were friends of hers. More commonly, Porter jotted down her thoughts on the content including research notes for her own writing pieces or missives on the book’s theme. She was a very opinionated woman and her marginalia reflects it.

For example, opening a copy of Sigmund Freud’s A General Introduction of Psychoanalysis and The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, you will uncover Porter’s distaste for the famed Austrian neurologist . Her comments show a hatred for Freud, calling him an idiot, among other names, and making lengthy comments throughout the text. Another interesting example of marginalia is Porter’s copy of Robert McAlmon’s Being Geniuses Together, which details the writings and personal anecdotes of many Modernist writers whom Porter met through social and literary circles in Paris and beyond. In her personal copy, Porter went through and marked everyone who she outlived and added the occasional captious comment on their personality. 

Not every book has extensive notes, but the marginalia provides unique insight into Porter’s mind and is a useful reference tool for researchers. Currently, we are compiling a list of which books have marginalia and the type of notation and hope to add it to the Katherine Anne Porter finding aid once it is completed.

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

Browse the finding aids to the Katherine Anne Porter papers and visit us in person to see more of Katherine Anne Porter’s personal library. 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: K is for…

Kitchen!

Katherine Anne Porter loved to cook and entertain! She would swap recipes via letters and entice her friends to visit with promises of blueberry pancakes and smoked oysters. Even the simplest of dinners was an occasion for Porter. She would create detailed menus listing the attendees, courses served, and drinks to match. Bigger events like holidays and parties were an excuse for Porter to indulge in Moët champagne and cook favorite recipes from her travels around the world. Over the years, she saved labels from different products and write anecdotes about the meal and who she shared it with. When friends couldn’t make a visit, Porter would mail them her homemade “Hell Broth,” a fermented pepper sauce, to add warmth to soups and sauces. 

When the rubber spatula came out in 1920’s, it was a big deal for Porter who claimed it to be an astounding utensil! Porter’s interest in cooking lead to experiments with different ingredients. Sometimes her experimental cooking would go so far as to transform a recipe into a completely different dish from a totally different culture. She only measured by eye, calling the ability to cook a “gift” that required “your eye, your hand, and your sense of smell and taste to be present and all good friends.” Outside of dinner parties and recipe adventures, Porter took great joy in simple food too, like the perfect piece of toast. Of course, the bread was always homemade and it would be served alongside her kitchen staples of a cheap beefsteak and Old Forester whisky.

You can see some of Porter’s recipes and cookbook collection on display now in the Maryland Room! Browse the finding aid for the Katherine Anne Porter papers to explore her collection at UMD. 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.

Special Collections Spotlight: Thom Gunn papers

Thom Gunn (1929-2004) was a British poet, whose residence was primarily in the United States beginning in the 1950s. He published over thirty books of poetry, a collection of essays, and four edited collections. Gunn combined an interest in traditional poetics with less traditional subjects, such as Hell’s Angels, LSD, and homosexuality. The collection includes drafts, notebooks, publications, correspondence, and photographs. The bulk of the collection includes materials from his books Positives (1966) and Touch (1967), including many drafts and notes from Gunn’s most ambitious poem, “Misanthropos.”

The papers of Thom Gunn span the period from 1951 to 1983. The collection also contains copies of Gunn’s publications and some correspondence, most notably two letters to Donald Davie. Additional works by Thom Gunn can be found in our rare books collection.

View our Online Exhibit ‘Thom Gunn and “Misanthropos”‘.

Explore the Thom Gunn papers finding aid.

To view any items in the collection visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

The ABCs of Katherine Anne Porter: G is for…

Gertrude Stein!

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was an American Modernist author well known for her Paris salon where she would bring together artists and writers in conversation during the 1930s . Katherine Anne Porter, a fellow Modernist writer, was also living in Paris at this time, but never attended the salon. In fact, the two women only met once during a rather uneventful evening.

Nevertheless, Porter has an striking connection to Gertrude Stein, primarily through three reviews Porter wrote on Stein’s work. Most notable of the three was a piece she wrote for Harper’s Magazine entitled Gertrude Stein, A Self Portrait, more commonly referenced under the title The Wooden Umbrella

The article started as a review of Stein’s Everybody’s Autobiography in 1937, but was never published. 10 years later, after Stein’s death, Harper’s requested an updated article with the intention of publishing a timely literary piece. As was her style, Porter did not hold back her opinions. In the article, Porter criticized Stein’s writing style as simplistic and unfinished. She drew attention to Stein’s self-centeredness and the cult-like following of the expatriates who found their social/creative center in Stein’s Paris salon. 

The response to The Wooden Umbrella was polarized. Letters came pouring in calling Porter all manner of nasty names and warning her career would be destroyed in retaliation. Porter receive death threats as some people took to yelling harassments at her while she was out running errands. At one point, there was talk of suing Porter for libel. Fortunately for Porter, all of the quotes she used were drawn directly from Stein’s published works. Despite the relentless negative reactions from readers, others wrote letters praising Porter for illuminating the gaps in Stein’s work and personality. Porter herself called the piece a practice in understatement and self-restraint. 

All three pieces are printed in Porter’s The Days Before. Read them for yourself and pick a side!

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

Browse the finding aids to the Katherine Anne Porter papers and visit us in person to learn more about the partnership between University of Maryland and Katherine Anne Porter. 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: E is for…

E. Barrett Prettyman!

Elijah Barrett Prettyman Jr. (1925-2016) is best known for his work in public service and with the U.S. Supreme Court. He clerked for three justices and argued 19 cases before the court, supporting first amendment rights and opposing the death penalty. He also served as counsel for the House of Representatives Ethics Committee. 

In private practice, Prettyman had a roster of celebrity clients, including Katherine Anne Porter. Prettyman was a keen reader and an author in his own right, having started in journalism before pursing a law degree and authoring the book Death and the Supreme Court, which won an Edgar Allen Poe Award. Prettyman first connected to Porter when he wrote her requesting an autograph after reading Ship of Fools. They exchanged a couple of letters and Porter eventually reached out to Prettyman for help writing her will. 

Porter was infatuated with Prettyman and would write him letters full of compliments and signed with love. She invited him to every party she threw or over for meals where they would simply sit and chat. Prettyman played along, genuinely enjoying their get togethers, but never taking her declarations of love too seriously. Their shared literary interests and mutual professional respect formed the base of a close friendship that lasted until Porter’s death.

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

Browse the finding aids to the Katherine Anne Porter papers and the E. Barrett Prettyman Papers.

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: 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.

Special Collections Spotlight: First Appearances collection

The First Appearances Collection consists of over 1,300 periodicals containing the “first appearance,” or first public dissemination, of literary works and other excerpts of novels, poems, and essays written by notable 20th century authors. The publications range from literary magazines, such as Little Review, Texas Quarterly, and Partisan Review to popular titles such as Playboy, Cosmopolitan, and the Saturday Evening Post.

Spanning 1915 to 1977, the First Appearances Collection contains pieces such as “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “Ulysses” by James Joyce, and “Ship of Fools” by Katherine Anne Porter. The collection is also notable for its early editions of publications such as Time Magazine, the New Yorker, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as more specialized publications such as the Yale Quarterly Review.

Authors represented in this collection include Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin, William Faulkner, Robert Frost, Thom Gunn, William Carlos Williams, Jack Kerouac, Langston Hughes, Flannery O’Connor, Gertrude Stein, Amiri Baraka, Ezra Pound, and more.

Explore the First Appearances collection finding aid.

To view any items in the collection visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

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.