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: German Expressionism

German Expressionism is a cultural movement that is challenging to define as it is not distinguished by a singular style or method of creation, but rather is better described by both the mindset of the artist creating the work and the generation they lived in. The German Expressionists were artists, writers, and thinkers who were of age in Germany prior to World War II, and lived during Wilhelm II’s reign. German Expressionism developed as a result of the younger generation’s reaction against the bourgeois culture of Germany during this time period. The German Expressionist movement was more than just a style of creating works of art or of telling a story, rather it was more of a mindset that had social, cultural, and political aspects. German Expressionism can be understood as a means of approaching life and, in particular, change.

The significance of German Expression is in its ephemeral nature. Many of the publications that resulted from the movement were serials printed on cheaply made paper that has become brittle over time. The movement as a whole was transitional, and it reflected German culture in that moment of change. The movement did not last an especially long time, and started to fade out as its artists and writers aged. As the National Socialists gained power in Germany, Expressionism was rejected and condemned, and many of the works produced in the style of the movement were burned and destroyed.

Explore the German Expressionism collection Subject Guide.

To view any German Expressionism titles visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us!


What is a Subject Guide?

A Subject Guide, also called a LibGuide, is a web page developed by library staff that focuses on a specific subject area. In any subject guide you may find databases relevant to the subject area, links to websites, journals and magazines, recommended books, library contacts for a specific subject, and much more.

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.

Special Collections Spotlight: William Morris papers

William Morris (1834-1896) was an English artist, author, socialist, and printer. He is best known for his association with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and as a central figure of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

Morris rose to popularity as the author of the epic poem The Earthly Paradise (1868-1870). Morris’s other well known works encompassed several genres and styles, including narrative poetry, fantasy and utopian novels, translations of Icelandic and other early works, essays, and short stories. These works include The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), A Dream of John Ball (1892) News from Nowhere (1893), and The Wood Beyond the World (1894).

Morris founded the design company Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, & Co. in 1861, which was restructured as Morris & Company in 1875. Morris and company specialisted in designing textiles, wallpapers, and furniture with the goal to remedy the pervasiveness of cheaply-made, mass produced furnishings that lacked any sense of beauty or style. Morris was also influential in the emergence of socialism in England in the nineteenth century, having founded the Socialist League in 1884.

In 1891, Morris founded the Kelmscott Press, which produced books modeled after fifteenth-century works. The press produced 53 titles during its 7-year operation. His 1896 edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, referred to as the Kelmscott Chaucer, is often regarded a pinnacle of book design.

The William Morris papers includes correspondence from Sydney Cockerell, Jane Morris, and William Morris, a manuscript by Stopford Augustus Brooke, as well as books from Morris’ personal library, the Kelmscott press, and others, as well as ephemera. Books printed at the Kelmscott Press and other works by and about William Morris can be found in our rare books collection.

View our online exhibit “How We Might Live: The Vision of WIlliam Morris”

Explore the subject guide, William Morris and the Kelmscott Press.

Browse the finding aid for the William Morris papers.

Check Out Previous Blog posts on William Morris.

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.

What is a Subject Guide?

A Subject Guide, sometimes called a LibGuide, is a web page developed by library staff that focuses on a specific subject area. In any subject guide you may find databases relevant to the subject area, links to websites, journals and magazines, recommended books, library contacts for a specific subject, and much more.

Special Collections Spotlight: Carolyn Davis collection of Louisa May Alcott

The Carolyn Davis Collection consists of more than 300 books by and about Louisa May Alcott. This collection contains examples of almost all of Alcott’s most popular works as well as a number of her lesser-known writings. Among these titles are her first book Flower Fables, early to modern printings of Little Women, and a number of other works such as Little Men, Jo’s Boys, and Under the Lilacs. The collection also encompasses some biographies of Alcott, books about Concord, Massachusetts, magazine articles, newspaper articles, and ephemera.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) is widely known as author of Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, to the transcendental philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott and Abigail May, Louisa grew up in Concord, Massachusetts with her three sisters. The family often experienced severe poverty and Louisa’s income became pivotal to the family’s survival. She worked as a nurse, seamstress and domestic servant until the publication of her first book, Flower Fables, in 1855 which netted the author thirty-two dollars.

With the publication of Little Women in 1868, Alcott achieved critical and financial success. The characters of the novel were drawn from those of Alcott’s sisters, and many of its episodes from those she and her family had experienced. Alcott’s masterpiece was followed by a succession of wholesome domestic narratives, the so-called Little Women series.

Since Alcott’s death her reputation has been reappraised as a result of the discovery of a large number of sensational “pot-boilers,” written in secret and published anonymously or under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard. These tales, written prior to the publication of Little Women, earned her between $25 and $100 each from periodical story papers. Beginning in 1975, republication of Alcott’s sensational stories spurred interest in her long out-of-print novels. The discovery of these stories has led to a recognition of Alcott as a far more complex and prolific writer than was originally thought. 

Explore the Carolyn Davis collection of Louisa May Alcott finding aid.

To view any of Louisa May Alcott’s works 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: I is for…

Image!

Katherine Anne Porter’s image is striking and instantly recognizable. She was a young beauty with dark brown that was transformed stark white due the stress and treatment of Spanish Influenza in 1918. Her hair had been white for so long, she was sometimes mistaken for a blonde in black and white photographs. Even the postage stamp that was created in her honor in 2006 originally portrayed Porter as a blonde as a result of using black and white photos as reference.

As a well-known author, Porter tended to be very formal with her appearance with strong ideas about she looked and should be portrayed. She felt pictures of her, especially on book jackets or in newspapers, needed to be dignified to match her serious dedication to writing. She is often photographed professionally to show her unsmiling with her preferred ¾ profile. Porter felt that portrait style was more distinguished and flattering to her face shape. When not being photographed for media reasons, Porter is quick to smile, showing the still elegant but much more relaxed and private version of herself.

Porter was also close friends with photographer George Platt Lynes (1907-1955), who photographed Porter on many occasions. She was often posed in evening gowns with soft lighting, with the effect of creating an aura of old Hollywood glamour to Porter’s beauty.

You can see digitized photos of Katherine Anne Porter through Special Collection’s Digital Repository or visit the Maryland Room in-person. Browse the finding aid for the Katherine Anne Porter papers 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.