Introduction to Melville Society Archive
The Melville Society Archive, housed in the Research Library of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, was dedicated in 2002. Maintained by the Melville Society Cultural Project, it is a growing collection of rare editions, scholarly books and papers, and art works. The Archive consists of five major book collections, as well as several smaller ones, papers of The Melville Society, collections of the papers of Jay Leyda, Walter Bezanson, and Joyce Sparer Adler, and an ever-growing art collection, augmented each year by a piece of contemporary Melville art created by a living artist.
Donations of duplicate books are put into the Book Donation Program, which sends Melville texts, biography, and criticism to libraries, universities, and institutions abroad. The Book Donation program was instituted after the first international meeting of the Melville Society in Volos, Greece, in 1997, and has since sent collections to Russia, India (two institutions), China (two institutions), Palestine, the Ukraine, Algeria, Iran, Argentina, and Uruguay (nine countries on four continents!).
The Melville Society Archive is composed of the following separate collections:
Thomas Wendel 300 volumes
Harrison Hayford 951 volumes
Merton M. Sealts, Jr. 269 volumes
Robert D. Madison 129 volumes
General Collection, including gifts from Walter Bezanson & Gail Coffler, Joyce Sparer Adler, Douglas Robillard, and others 600 volumes
There are three additional collections:
Jay Leyda, which consists of the 22 volumes that came with the Jay Leyda Papers
Literature of the Sea, donated by Jill Barnum and Haskell Springer
Frederick Douglass, donated by Wyn Kelley
A complete Finding Aid has been created for the Jay Leyda Papers.
The rest of the papers are stored in boxes. The Melville Society Cultural Project has an ongoing project to create lists of the contents of the boxes. As these lists are completed, they will be put up on the Melville Society website.
Melville Society Papers: 7 boxes
The first five boxes house correspondence and materials from the founding of The Melville Society in 1945 until 1981. The proposed creation of a complete edition of the works of Herman Melville is discussed at length in this correspondence. The edition was to be published by Packard and Company of Chicago. The Collected Poems of Herman Melville, edited by Howard P. Vincent, was published by Packard and Company, but the remaining books became the Hendricks House edition. The Hendricks House edition was never completed; eventually, all of Melville’s writings were published in the now-complete Northwestern-Newberry edition of The Writings of Herman Melville. The papers in the sixth box were donated by Dennis Berthold and include records, materials, and incorporation tax documents up until 2005. The seventh box consists of Sanford Marovitz’s Secretary Records 1994-1997. A complete listing has been created for Boxes 1, 5, 6, and 7 and a partial listing for Box 2. As Boxes 2-4 are completed, the listings will be put on the Melville Society website.
Walter Bezanson Papers: 5 boxes
The Walter Bezanson Papers were donated by Walter Bezanson and Gail Coffler. They include correspondence, manuscripts, copies of Melville Society Extracts and off-prints marked by Bezanson, newspaper and magazine clippings, and research materials, especially in reference to Bezanson’s editions of Clarel (both the Hendricks House and Northwestern–Newberry editions) and his Northwestern-Newberry edition of Israel Potter. Complete listings of all five boxes exist.
Joyce Sparer Adler Papers:
Lists of the contents of the Adler papers have not yet been created.
III. ART WORKS: