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.

New Resource: Subject Guide for The Eugene Istomin Collection

Special Collections and University Archives is highlighting items from the Eugene Istomin collection within the Literature and Rare Books collections with a new subject guide, The Eugene Istomin Collection!

Eugene Istomin was a great American pianist, renowned for his artistry in recitals, chamber music and orchestral solos. Among his many accolades, Istomin was the Director of the University of Maryland piano festival, and beginning with President Eisenhower’s administration through the 1980s, Eugene Istomin served as a cultural ambassador, performing on three occasions at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. In addition to his music, Eugene Istomin had many other interests, including visual arts, literature, history, and sports.

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New Exhibit: Mysteries, Monsters, and the Macabre

Fall is coming to campus! Leaves will be changing color, there will be a crisp cool breeze and longer nights, and Halloween is right around the corner! To help you get into the mood for the spooky season visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to explore our latest exhibit in Special Collections and University Archives titled Mysteries, Monsters, and the Macabre.

Mysteries, monsters and the macabre have plagued our minds for millennia. Medieval creatures lurking in the depths of the sea. Ghastly gothic tales of murderous guilt. An unexplainable 15th century code rumored to provide the key to immortality. Memorializing the dead with plaster casts. A curious purple vampire with a compulsive urge to count all he sees. These are a few of the intriguing stories you’ll uncover when literature, folklore, and history converge in the Special Collections exhibit Mysteries, Monsters, and the Macabre.

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The ABCs of Katherine Anne Porter: A is for…

Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) is a celebrated Modernist writer who has a big presence in Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland. Today we’re kicking off a new series of blog posts that will introduce you to Porter’s life and works using the ABCs.

A new letter will be posted each week, so stay tuned!

A is for Abels!

Cyrilly Abels (1903-1975) was a long time friend and agent of Katherine Anne Porter. The pair met when Porter wrote a story for Mademoiselle magazine, where Abels was the managing editor for more than a decade. Porter enjoyed writing the for the magazine because Abels wasn’t rigid in her requests. Porter had creative freedom to write fiction or nonfiction on any subject she liked and deadlines weren’t an issue. Abels gladly accepted a piece when it was completed and paid Porter well for her contributions. 

Porter highly distrusted agents, editors, and businessmen in the literary world. However, in 1962 when Abels set out on her own as a literary agent, Porter immediately became a client. Abels understood Porter’s writing habits and artistic temperament better than most. As an agent, Abels helped coordinate appearances, manage contracts, and act as a filter between for Porter and the publishing industry. She strongly advocated for Porter’s work to receive the recognition and remuneration it deserved. 

Abels acted as confidant as well, giving pep-talks to boost Porter’s morale. It wasn’t uncommon for the pair to go long stretches without seeing one another. So, their friendship was built through correspondence, talking about all manner of things, but especially gardening and fashion. Abels would send baskets of flowers to let Porter know she was thinking about her or even gift Porter money when she was in need. Paul Porter recalled his aunt’s relationship with her agent, writing “Cyrilly Abels was [one of] two people in her long life KAP never said an unkind word about, or tolerated one.”

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

Browse the finding aid to the Katherine Anne Porter papers and the Cyrilly Abels papers to learn more about their relationship! Schedule an appointment to visit the reading room in Hornbake Library to explore the collections in person.


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: African American and African Pamphlet collection

The African-American and African Pamphlet Collection consists of 20th century materials on African, African-American, and Caribbean culture and literature. The collection spans the years 1905 -1979, although the majority of the pamphlets date from the 1960s and 1970s. The pamphlets are in English, French, and a variety of African languages, such as Swahili, Tsonga, Tswana and Xhosa. Some of the unique publications include a transcript of a 1931 worker’s trial by the U. S. Communist Party on a race-related incident, 1970s university studies on integration, and texts of speeches given by American radical leaders and leaders of African countries.

The collection is organized in thirteen series that include; African Culture and History, African Literature, African-American Culture and History, African-European Literature, American Literature, Black Workers in America, Canadian Literature – Poems, Caribbean Culture and History, Caribbean Literature, Desegregation, Race Relations and Racism, Revolutionary and Radical Literature.

Explore the African American and African Pamphlet 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.

Special Collections Spotlight: The Early Printed and Manuscript Leaf collection 

The Early Printed and Manuscript Leaf collection consists of printed and illuminated manuscript leaves from Europe dated from the 12th -16th centuries. The collection includes 70 whole and partial leaves, representing a variety of styles and techniques that serve as a sampling of early print and manuscript book history. “Leaves” refers to a single sheet that was once part of a bound book. Manuscript books were entirely hand-produced, representing the earliest form of bookmaking across Europe. With the emergence of the printing press and movable type in Europe in the 1400s, printers utilized mechanical techniques to produce books more quickly than their manuscript counterparts. The collection is an excellent resource on book history and the art of printed and manuscript books.

The leaves in the collection were originally part of a variety of texts including several books of hours, Bibles, missals, and the Cologne Chronicle. The leaves come from a variety of countries in Europe, particularly Italy, France, and Germany.

Explore the Early Printed and Manuscript Leaf collection finding aid.

To view any early printed or manuscript leaves 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 Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 3

We’re back with a final look at the captivating advertisements printed in the Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines in UMD Special Collections. We previously took a look at patriotic, employment, and novelty advertisements in Part 1 and beauty and wellness products in Part 2. Now we take a look at mid-century consumerism, fashion, and technology!

Advertisements in the 1950s highlight the cultural shift after World War II, emphasizing consumerism and the American Dream of a nuclear family with a beautiful home full of the latest appliances. The “Kalamazoo Direct to You” advertisement, offers readers “rock bottom factory prices” and the convenience of catalog shopping, as seen in the ad below from the October 1940 issue of Astonishing Stories.

The mail order advertisement layout that typically featured dozens of small novelties like magic sets (as seen in The Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 1), can be found again in an advertisement in the April 1952 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Instead of penny toys, must-haves for the automobile owner are showcased including seat covers, sun visors, and the “new miracle automatic auto washer”. The familiar “send no money – mail this coupon” line is given top billing, with a small print reminding the reader that payment for the item plus postage is due to the mailman upon delivery.

Portable garages, car radios, “readi-cut homes”, and “haircuts at home” are just a few of the products advertised to the American family. What family could resist an inexpensive way to keep everyone “barber -fresh” with “a complete haircut at home.” At only $0.98, the Sta-neet “magic knob” trims, shaves legs/underarms, thins, cuts and “pays for itself after first time used.”

In the 1950s, the Cold War led to a real fear among Americans that nuclear war with Russia could happen at any time. One of the most unusual advertisements we can across was a plain advertisement printed in the August 1951 issue of Super Science Stories for “Flash-Ready” mask and mittens that protect its wearer from nuclear fallout. 

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The Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 2

A sensational offer! Tremendous price slash! Send no money, your satisfaction guaranteed! 10 day free trial for our readers! We’re back exploring the strange world of science fiction pulp magazine advertisements found in UMD Special Collections! In case you missed it, be sure to check out The Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 1, where we put the spotlight on patriotic ads, mail away novelties, and much more!

For part 2, we take a look at the wellness marketing in science fiction pulp magazines. Advertisements marketing health and beauty were extremely popular. Readers were often bombarded with quick-fix gimmicky offers and products targeting a physical flaw perceived by a self-conscious reader, like the promise to build muscle fast or remove unsightly blemishes. For male audiences, opportunities to “make you a new man” and “develop muscles of a super-man” were common, as seen in the advertisements below. One advertisement from a February 1930 issue of Air Wonder Stories sells exercise equipment that is guaranteed to help you “get strong and amaze friends” and “easily master feats which which now seem difficult.” For the low price of $5, readers can send the coupon to Crusader Apparatus Co. in New Jersey. No money is required upfront, but rather readers pay the postman upon delivery. Satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back!

Is baldness necessary? The Vitex Hair Institute tells readers an emphatic “NO”. Just 10 minutes a day using their hair treatment products will help you maintain a healthy scalp and “help keep baldness away.” If you live in the New York area, this advertisement encourages you to stop by their Fifth Avenue salon and “see convincing proof of the results achieved.”

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Special Collections Spotlight: Science Fiction Pulp Magazines

The Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines contains a variety of science fiction pulp magazines. Pulp magazines were inexpensive popular fiction works published from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, characteristically printed on cheaply made wood pulp paper. Pulp magazines initially contained a variety of different genres of fiction, including mystery and adventure genres, but in the 1920s magazines devoted to science fiction began to appear more frequently. Science fiction pulp magazines typically featured colorful cover art, along with short stories that embraced futuristic and fantasy themes, highlighting technology, space travel, otherworldly creatures, scientific innovation, and unexplored environments.

Some of the pulps such as Air Wonder Stories attempted to provide educational value to their stories by basing them on accurate scientific principles. Other titles, such as Astounding Stories of Super-Science, focused on providing the best price value with high page counts and low prices. The addition of letter columns in pulp magazines helped the fandom surrounding the genre grow as fans began to reach out to the addresses published alongside the letters. As science fiction progressed into the 1930s and 1940s, stories began to place a greater emphasis on plot and characterization. This collection’s titles include multi-genre pulps like The Strand and pulps devoted solely to science fiction such as Stirring Science Stories. Early titles featured stories written by H.G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexander Pushkin, and Jules Verne.

The collection contains 365 volumes of Sci-Fi pulps from 12 different title families. The pulps were published between 1891 and 1990, with the majority published between 1930 and 1961.

Explore the Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines finding aid.

To view any Science Fiction Pulp Magazines 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 Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 1

Looking for a patriotic glow-in-the-dark necktie? How about a convenient portable garage? Can we interest you in a futuristic Sony micro TV? These are just a few of the interesting product advertisements that can be found throughout our Science Fiction Pulp Magazine collection in the Literature and Rare Books collection.

The Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines contains 365 volumes of Sci-Fi pulps, with the majority being published between 1903 and 1961. Pulp magazines were inexpensive popular fiction works published from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, characteristically printed on cheap wood pulp paper. Science fiction pulp magazines typically featured colorful cover art, along with short stories that embraced futuristic and fantasy themes. Within the pages of these magazines are also a multitude of advertisements that provide a glimpse into consumerism, novelty, and American life through the decades.

A common theme in pulp magazine advertisement is asking readers to send away for products in the mail. One example below is the handy “10 tools in one” multi-tool featured in a 1930 issue of Air Wonder Stories. Simply cut out the coupon and send in $1 to receive your own “small but handy article which serves every possible need of the all around mechanic.”

Pistol sling-shots for $1, humless radio tubes, a Dick Tracey radio watch sure to catch the attention of comic book fans, and prize money for the eagle eyed reader who can spot the identical cartoons can all be found within the pages of Air Wonder Stories and Fantastic Adventures in the 1930s and 1940s.

Magic tricks and small novelties such as the “ooh-la- la ring”, a lumnous skeleton, a “wizarddeck” of cards, invisible ink, and the curious “nose blower” could be sent away for as little as 10 cents. The full page advertisement below from the February 1930 issue of Air Wonder Stories, features more than two dozen of these small prizes, likely targeting young readers awed by fantastical sci-fi stories and inventions, looking to spend some pocket change.

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