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: 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.

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: 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.

Featured Collections: League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters is a national, non-partisan and grassroots organization striving to expand voting rights and get all people mobilized to vote. The League was founded shortly after the passage of the nineteenth amendment granting women the vote.

Article about the League of Women Voters

In 1921, the Women’s Suffrage League of Maryland affiliated with the recently formed League of Women Voters of the United States. The non-partisan organization has, throughout its history, focused on a number of causes helping to shape American history. In particular, the League has been interested in elections and voting, women’s rights, education, child labor, collective bargaining, food and drug legislation, housing, the Poll Tax, civil rights, and the Equal Rights Amendment. In addition to these concerns, the local Leagues have been interested in local issues, including redistricting and reapportionment, state taxes and expenditures, the Maryland constitution, and state and local election laws, balanced local development, improvement of health services, and the establishment of juvenile correctional facilities, busing, urban planning and zoning, transportation, housing, public health, public safety, voter services, and environmental quality.

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Special Collections Spotlight: Girls’ Series Books

The Rose and Joseph Pangani Collection of Girls’ Series Books consists of 300 books published from 1917-2005, with a large portion published from 1930 to 1969. “Series books” are books that consistently feature the same protagonist. However unlike “books in a series”, the characters in “series books” seldom mature, age, or change. The protagonist in a “girls’ series” book is usually a girl in her late teens or early twenties who goes on adventures on her own or with a small group of friends around her age. The heroines of girls’ series usually had an interesting career such as an amateur sleuth, a nurse, or a stewardess. Girls’ series books were often disparaged for their formulaic plots and the cheap manufacture of the books themselves.

The majority of books in this collection were donated by Elissa Pangani in honor of her parents Rose and Joseph Pangani. The collection includes series such as the Nancy Drew Mystery Series, the Cherry Ames Nurse Stories, the Dana Girls Mystery Stories, and the Vicki Barr Flight Stewardess Series.

Explore the Rose and Joseph Pangani Collection of Girls’ Series Books finding aid.

To view any Girls’ Series Books in Special Collections 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.