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British Association for American Studies


Resources for American Studies: Issue 50, June 2000


Resources for American Studies: Issue 50, June 2000


  1. BAAS Library and Resources Sub-Committee Meeting February 2000
  2. The Whitney Museum of American Art
  3. Western Americana at Yale
  4. Useful websites
  5. Library acquisitions
  6. News

BAAS Library and Resources Sub-Committee Meeting February 2000

Minutes of the Sub-Committee Meeting held at the British Library, St Pancras, London, 3 February 2000

1. Present

Mr R J Bennett (BL, Boston Spa) Secretary, Miss A Cowden (U. of London), Ms L Crawley (JRULM), Dr K Halliwell (National Library of Scotland), Mr D G Heyes (BL, London), Ms J Kemble (Eccles Centre), Mr J Pinfold (Rhodes House Library – for first item only), Dr I R Wallace (JRULM) Chair, Ms L Williamson (Rhodes House Library) Treasurer. Apologies: Ms K Bateman (USIS Reference Centre), Dr K Boddy (UCL)

1a. Welcome and Farewells

Dr Wallace welcomed Prof. P. Davies (Chair, BAAS) to the meeting. Prof. Davies explained that Dr Boddy had taken a new post at Dundee University. He was standing in for her and a new representative from BAAS would be selected in due course.

Dr Wallace explained that he had invited Mr Pinfold to the meeting so that the Sub-Committee as a whole could express its gratitude for the huge contribution that Mr Pinfold had made to the work of the Sub-Committee during its lifetime. In reply, Mr Pinfold commented that he had very much enjoyed being part of the group and paid tribute to the ‘can-do’ approach of its members, who, despite carrying on their full-time jobs, had given time and effort to achieve many notable successes. He also emphasised the importance of the links with BAAS. Mr Pinfold also added that the Oxford Institute was regrettably about 4-5 weeks behind schedule, but still expected to open later this year. Mr Pinfold invited the Sub-Committee to visit the Institute and to hold a meeting there. In addition he commented that no decision had yet been made on Ms Williamson’s replacement (see 4, below) but he was confident that her successor would be in post by the time the Institute opened and that s/he would be closely associated both with the Sub-Committee and BAAS.

2. Minutes of the previous meeting were signed as a correct record

3. Matters Arising

Dr Wallace suggested that all Sub-Committee members consider any other institutions with strong American Studies collections that might be interested in having representation on the Sub-Committee. He also reported that at the recent BAAS Executive Committee there had been a strong welcome for the idea of the 2000 seminar.

4. Treasurer’s Report

Before Ms Williamson gave what constituted her final report, Dr Wallace paid tribute to her outstanding contribution to the work of the Sub-Committee, both in her official capacity as Treasurer and Projects Sub-Committee Chair, and also by her overall enthusiasm, commitment and vitality.

Treasurer’s Report for 1999/2000

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Regretfully, as I am leaving England to return to the United States, my participation in this group will come to an end with today’s meeting. So, this is my final report as Hon. Treasurer of BLARS, having served in this capacity for the past couple of years. Looking back, it is pleasing to note that the times have been good to us. Our accounts show an increases balance in hand of some £1200 (£2974.12 today vs. £1760.04 on 9th February 1998). This happy state of finances can be attributed largely to the profits made on Looking to the Future, our seminar of 18th June 1998 (£651.87), as well as to catching up on payments due from advertisers in our Newsletter. Coutts, Thompson Henry, and Blackwell’s have all made payments through the forthcoming issue no.50 of the American Studies Library Newsletter.

Turning to the statement of accounts for just this past year, from 2nd March 1999 through 3rd February 2000: in brief, on the income side, we have carried forward an opening balance of £1775.80 from the March 1999 meeting (historically, the AGM, hence an annual reckoning at this time). Added to this are credits of £1260.00 from advertisers in the American Studies Library Newsletter and £10.99 for bank account interest earned, bringing the total credit balance to £3046.79.

The total figure for the expenditure side is £72.67, which covers catering costs for two Sub-Committee meetings and travel expenses for one committee member.

The balance in hand, then, is £2974.12, showing a gratifying increase of £1198.32 over March 1999. However, I’m afraid that this increase will be quickly depleted when the British Library catches up with billing us for two issues of the Newsletter! It should be noted that the sum of £463.68 continues to be earmarked for the Newspaper Project, so that £2510.44 represents the uncommitted balance in hand. This will be augmented by £250.00 when Chadwyck-Healey’s payment for advertisements in the July 1999 (no. 48) Newsletter is credited to our account. Nic Sinclair, of Chadwyck-Healey, is looking into the question of payment of our 26th August 1999 invoice, and I will pass the results of the inquiry (hopefully, a cheque) on to my successor.

There are two further matters that the new Treasurer may wish to follow through with. First, I have been negotiating with Douglas McNaughton, of Edinburgh University Press, about having an A4 flyer advertising the BAAS paperbacks series inserted inside copies of a forthcoming issue of the Newsletter. He is now thinking along the lines of distributing a 20-page A4 American Studies brochure, due out in March. As our Newsletter is A5 size, the possibility of a separate mailing was suggested, for which EUP would pay the cost of envelopes and postage. We would presumably charge more than the £250 which was quoted for distributing the A4 insertion. He would appreciate being given a ring by my successor sometime in March to discuss possibilities.

In closing, then, I want to say that I have enjoyed my role as Treasurer of the group, made easier through the help of Dr. Janet Beer, Hon. Treasurer of BAAS, in verifying our account details. She tells me that her term of office ends in April, so my successor in this post will be working with her successor, but I trust that these transitions will not cause undue problems. My very best wishes to all members of the Sub-Committee for the continuing success of the group.

Linda Williamson

Hon. Treasurer BAAS LARS
3rd February 2000.

5. Report from the Projects Sub-Committee

Dr Halliwell said that there was little new to report since the last meeting. He reported that he had arranged for two placement students to do three weeks work each, and that in the longer term he was hoping to have a German student to do a longer stint on the project. He was confident that work, as agreed at the last meeting, would be done.

6. Newsletter

Mr Bennett reported that issue No. 49 had just been distributed. Ms Kemble announced that she would be leaving the Eccles Centre and that issue No. 50 would be her last as editor. She added that she hoped to be able to complete the index to the entire run of Newsletters

7. Seminar

All members agreed to the detailed proposal drawn up at the previous meeting. Dr Wallace suggested that a small committee take this forward. He proposed Prof Davies, Dr Wallace, Dr Halliwell and Mr Bennett who agreed.

8. Sub-Committee Membership

  1. Vice-Chair: Dr Wallace reported that he had discussed the proposal to nominate a Vice-chair of the group with Prof. Davies. Dr Halliwell was proposed. The Sub-Committee agreed.
  2. Treasurer: Ms Crawley had indicated her willingness to serve in this capacity. The Sub-Committee agreed.
  3. Newsletter Editor: Ms Kemble proposed Mr Heyes as her successor. The Sub-Committee agreed.

It was noted that Dr Beer was standing down as Treasurer of BAAS.

9. Updates from Members’ Libraries

Mr Halliwell reported that the National Library of Scotland was contemplating buying catalogue records for the Sabin Collection and enquired whether other libraries had experience of doing this. Mr Heyes reported that the British Library was buying the Early American Imprints Collection complete with catalogue records.

Ms Kemble reported that the Eccles Centre was hosting a new Fellow: Anne Sharp Wells from the Virginia Military Institute. She is working on three guides to the BL’s collections: the 1930s, Colonial America in the 17th Century, and Anglo-American diplomatic relations.

Mr Bennett and the British Library were thanked for their hospitality.

Library and Resources Sub-Committee

Notional ACCOUNTS 2.3.99-3.2.00 (confirmed with BAAS)

Opening balance 1775.80
Coutts-advertising for Newsletters 47-50 300.00
Thompson Henry – advertising for Newsletters 47-50 325.00
Blackwell’s – advertising for Newsletters 43-50 635.00
Bank account interest earned 10.99
TOTAL 3046.79
AGM refreshments 28.80
Refreshments for 3.6.99 meeting 18.37
Committee expenses:Martin Walker 3.2.99 meeting 25.50
TOTAL 72.67
Total income 3046.79
Minus total expenditure 72.67
Closing Balance 3.2.00 2974.12
Minus Balance held for Newspaper Project 463.68


N.B. Invoice outstanding: Chadwyck-Healey for advertising in Newsletter – £250.00


The Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum houses one of the world’s foremost collections of twentieth-century American art. The Permanent Collection of some 12,000 works encompasses paintings, sculptures, multimedia installations, drawings, prints and photographs, and is still growing.

The Museum was founded in 1931 with a core of 700 art objects, many of them from the personal collection of founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney; others were purchased by Mrs Whitney at the time of the opening to provide a more thorough overview of American art in the early decades of the century. Mrs Whitney favoured the art of the revolutionary artists derisively called the Ashcan School, among them John Sloan, George Luks, and Everett Shin, as well as such realists as Edward Hopper and American Scene painters John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton. Her initial gift, however, also comprised many important works by early modernists Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, Max Weber, and others. Virtually all the works collected by the Museum for the next twenty years came through the generosity of Mrs Whitney.

Although Mrs Whitney’s acquisition budget was rather modest, the Museum made the most of its resources by purchasing work of living artists, particularly those who were young and not well known. It has been a long-standing tradition of the Whitney to purchase works from the Museum’s Annual and Biennial exhibitions, which began in 1932 as a showcase for recent American art. A number of the Whitney’s masterpieces came from these exhibitions, including works by Arshile Gorky, Stuart Davis, Reginald Marsh, Philip Guston, and Jasper Johns. Even today, the Museum continues to enrich the Permanent Collection via the Biennial; among recent acquisitions are works by Mike Kelley, Matthew Barney, Louise Bourgeois, Zoe Leonard and Matthew Richie.

Following Mrs Whitney’s death in 1942, and the death of the Museum’s first director, Juliana Force, in 1948, it became evident that to keep pace with the burgeoning artistic activity in the United States, the Whitney needed to substantially augment its acquisition funds. In 1956, a group of supporters formed Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art. This organisation became responsible for acquiring some of the most spectacular paintings and sculptures represented in the collection. In addition the collection has also been greatly enriched through the generous gifts of other major collectors. These included the gift of over one hundred sculptures by Howard and Jean Lipman, and Lawrence H. Bloedel’s bequest of paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, William Baziotes, Milton Avery and Fairfield Porter.

The Frances Mulhall Achilles Library

The Whitney’s Frances Mulhall Achilles Library is the most comprehensive research collection in the field of twentieth century American art. It currently houses more than 30,000 books and exhibition catalogues and more than 10,000 archival files on American artists. Originating as the personal collection of the Museum’s founder, the Library has been adding research materials on American artists for the past seventy years. Its special collections include a repository for the extensive documentation of American art compiled by thirty museums and college art departments between 1942 and 1948 under the auspices of the American Art Research Council.

Museum Archives

The Whitney Museum’s Archives represent a unique collection of artists correspondence, curators’ research notes, exhibition records, photographs, Trustees minutes, the Edward Hopper Archives, the papers of Gloria Vanderbilt Whitney and the Museum’s early administrators, and other institutional papers to the present time. These records document the evolution of the leading institution of twentieth century American art and, in so doing, contribute to the broader story of American art.

Library Fellows

The Library Fellows of the Whitney comprise some fifty bibliophiles who support the research collections and programs of the Frances Mulhall Achilles Library. Members meet two to three times per year for readings and lectures at public and private libraries.

A special feature of the Library Fellows is its publishing program. Since 1983 the Library Fellows has published one fine press book per year in its Artists and Writers Series. Each book combines original artwork by a living American artist with new writing by a distinguished American author. The most recent title is Notes on a Room (1998), with etchings by Richard Artschwager, offset lithographs by Louise Lawler, woodcuts by Sol LeWitt, essays by Gini Alhadeff and the late Brendan Gill, and poems by Daniel Halpern.


Western Americana at Yale

By George Miles, Yale University Library.

In the last forty years the Western Americana Collection has become the focal point for western history resources in the Yale Library. But just as the library collected western material before there was a Western Americana Collection, so too, today, many departments within the library remain interested in specific aspects of western history. The co-ordination of these efforts with those of the Western Americana Collection greatly expands the library’s coverage of western history and culture in general. For instance, although the Western Americana Collection features a small belles lettres collection, the chief responsibility for western literature remains with the Yale Collection of American Literature, which contains not only an extensive collection of penny dreadfuls and dime novels but also the manuscripts of such figures as James Fenimore Cooper, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Vardis Fisher, Paul Horgan, A. B. Guthrie, Georgia O’Keeffe, Elizabeth Shepley Sargeant, and Leslie Marmon Silko. In similar fashion, the general collection of modern books and manuscripts at Beinecke Library complements the Western Americana Collection’s interest in frontier history with its coverage of early European exploration and settlement of North America and of eastern Native Americans and their encounter with European culture. The Pequot, Franklin, Vanderbilt, and Taylor collections all contain important rare material that help illuminate America’s frontier heritage.

Other examples of co-operative collection development and public service practices can be seen in Sterling Memorial Library. For example, although the Western Americana Collection aggressively acquires material documenting the scientific exploration of the West, the department of Manuscripts and Archives in Sterling Library remains the principal repository at Yale for the papers of former faculty members. Thus the correspondence and papers of figures like James Dwight Dana, Benjamin Silliman, Jr., Othniel C. Marsh, and William Brewer (among others) are to be found there. Manuscripts and Archives also preserves the papers of Yale alumni active in national affairs, among them George Bird Grinnell, Francis Newlands, and William Kent, all three of whom were major figures in the American conservation movement. Finally, Manuscripts and Archives is home to the John Collier papers and to the letters and papers of Henry Roe Cloud, the first Native American to graduate from Yale.

Another example of collaborative effort can be seen in the handling of western cartographic resources. Manuscript maps and most early western atlases are housed in the Western Americana Collection, but western sheet maps, however acquired, are routinely transferred to the Map Collection in Sterling Library for cataloguing, storage, and use. The Map Collection has also assembled a significant number of early automotive maps from around the country, including many of early western roads. A similar division of responsibility by format occurs in the case of newspapers. The Beinecke Library houses most of Yale’s original files of early American newspapers (defined, in general, as those printed before the introduction of acidic paper stocks in the years after the Civil War), but the Microtext Reading Room, in conjunction with the Newspaper Room, co-ordinates the acquisition and distribution of microfilm files for newspapers of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Some of the University Library’s specialised collections also offer important western resources. The Government Documents Collection at Seeley G. Mudd Library contains a complete run of the Congressional serial set that began with the publications of the Fifteenth Congress as well as extensive files of other government publications, all of which document the federal government’s role in promoting and assisting in the exploration, settlement, and development of the West. Documents of the first fourteen Congresses, which were never controlled by Congress in the fashion of the serial set, are part of the general collection of modern books and manuscripts at Beinecke Library. The collections of the Law Library include not only the various local court reports, but also virtually complete runs of early legislative journals, session laws, and codes for western states and territories as well as for Indian Territory. The Divinity Library has extensive runs of local ecclesiastical publications and many biographical studies of western churchmen. The Forestry and Geology libraries provide important scientific and natural history texts that complement the holdings of the Western Americana Collection.

As Western history has become an increasingly interdisciplinary process, it also seems appropriate to mention that the Yale University Art Gallery, the British Art Center, and the Peabody Museum all have collections that touch upon the American West. Among the Art Gallery’s collections are a series of Titian Ramsey Peale sketchbooks created during Philip Long’s expedition across the Great Plains, a group of John Mix Stanley watercolours made during the Pacific Railroad Survey under the direction of Isaac Ingalls Stevens, a fine collection of Hudson River School landscape paintings that reveal America’s fascination with the process of settlement and its implications for nature, and a small collection of western scenes by artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Frederick Remington. An introduction to Yale’s western art collections can be gleaned from Discovered Lands/Invented Pasts: Transforming Visions of the American West (New Haven, 1992), a collection of essays that accompanied an exhibition of the same name. The British Art Center would appear to be an unusual source for Western Americana, but its collection of British illustrated books includes many rare accounts of travel through western North America. Finally, the Peabody Museum contains not only extensive collections of Native American artefacts, including clothing, tools, and ceremonial objects, but also vintage photographs from early western surveys.

As the Western Americana Collection celebrates over four decades of service to Yale and to the international community of scholars, many parts of the university continue the centuries-long tradition of identifying, describing, and preserving America’s western past.


Useful websites

Women Artists of the American West:

Women Artists of the American West (WAAW) features the contributions that women have made to the art and history of the American west. The site is designed as an interdisciplinary resource and archive which currently contains 17 collections, arranged according to four themes: community, identity, spirituality and locality. The individual collections include an illustrative essay many of which have been written specifically for WAAW by recognised art historians, curators and artists.

“California as I Saw It:” First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849-1900:

Part of the American Memory digital program of the Library of Congress, California as I Saw It, consists of the full texts and illustrations of 190 works documenting the formative era of California’s history through eyewitness accounts. The collection covers the dramatic decades between the Gold Rush and the turn of the twentieth century. It captures the pioneer experience; encounters between Anglo-Americans and the diverse peoples who had preceded them; the transformation of the land by mining, ranching, agriculture, and urban development; the often-turbulent growth of communities and cities; and California’s emergence as both a state and a place of uniquely American dreams.

American Indian Resources

The American Indian Resources website reviews wesites on all aspects of Native American culture. An introductory index is laid out to aid navigation to a particular area of interest. The site is intended for students and teachers, and the general reader alike. The site is a library of Native American literature, culture, education, history issues and language, with the literature links providing access to full text documents of modern prose and poetry, as well as traditional texts.

First Nations Histories

This site for the study of Native Americans contains 240 tribal ‘histories’ of First Nations. They are limited to the lower 48 states of the U.S. but also include those First Nations from Canada and Mexico that had important roles. The ‘histories’ themselves contain information on location, population, language, cultural practice, and detail the history of the nations concerned. At the end of each ‘history’ there are links to those Nations referred to. The histories are organised geographically. The site also contains a bibliography and numerous links to other sites of similar interest.


Library acquisitions

British Library, London.

A collection of material relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church) has been presented to the British Library. The material was donated to the British Library by Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a worldwide leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who flew in specially to make the presentation.

Comprising books, videos and CD-ROMs dealing with the history, beliefs and lifestyle of the Church the collection includes the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (1992), Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (1984) and the CD-ROMs Latter Day Saint Library and Faith in Every Footstep. The material will be available to readers in the St Pancras reading rooms shortly.



The Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

The Eccles Centre has recently published a guide to the North American collections at the British Library, African American History and Life, 1878-1954 and will publish two further guides this summer, The American Colonies, 1584-1688 and The Anglo-American ‘Special Relationship’ during the Second World War. The guides will be distributed free to academic and major public libraries. Additional copies can be purchased from the Centre for £5.00 each. For further information please contact Jean Kemble, The Eccles Centre, telephone 020 7412 7757 or email The complete list of guides published by the Eccles Centre is given below.

An Era of Change: Contemporary US-UK-West European Relations

American Slavery: Pre-1866 Imprints

United States Government Policies Toward Native Americans, 1787-1900

Mormon Americana

United States and Canadian Holdings at the British Library Newspaper Library

Imagining the West

Conserving America

Mining the American West

The Harlem Renaissance

The Civil Rights Movement,

Women in the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-1900

The United States and the Vietnam War

The United States and the 1930s

African American History and Life, 1878-1954

The American Colonies, 1584-1688

The Anglo-American ‘Special Relationship’ during the Second World War