adventures in cataloging

July 30th, 2014 by Laura Taylor

Today is a big day for the library! We’re upgrading our library software, which means that, for the time being, I can’t actually do part (most) of my job. Thus, I’m going to tell you about it!

Do you ever wonder where we get our materials? How many we get? What happens once they get here? How they’re cataloged? No? Well, I’m going to share anyway.

You might think, as a relatively narrowly-defined special collection, that we wouldn’t acquire a large amount of materials regularly. To a degree, this is true. There are only so many Maine women writers and they only wrote (or are writing) so many things.

Right?

Well, yes. And no.

We’re always finding new materials. Always. We find them in some ways you might expect – being introduced to a new writer, buying newly published books, acquiring somebody’s personal papers – but also in some ways you might not expect. Like, “Hey, what’s that box over there in the corner that’s been sitting there for so long nobody actually notices it anymore?” Oh! It’s full of books nobody’s ever cataloged! Or perhaps we’re processing a collection and find a whole bunch of periodicals in it that need to be added to our online catalog.

(I am extremely glad these things keep popping up since it’s a very large part of my job – to catalog our holdings and add them to our online catalog. What would I do if they didn’t keep coming?)

As it happens, I’ve received an unusually large amount of materials over the last few weeks. Of course, this immediately followed a moment in time where I started to think I might actually get caught up on all my cataloging! Silly me.

I thought it might be entertaining to share where these books and other items have come from and give you a little sneak peek at a few things that aren’t even in the catalog yet.

Quite a few of them are books we received from a collector. Most of the two stacks on the left in the photo above are books with covers designed by Sarah Wyman Whitman. She was an artist and illustrator and was responsible for a large number of book covers for Houghton Mifflin in the late 19th century. She lived in South Berwick, Maine for a time and was friends with Sarah Orne Jewett. Many of Jewett’s covers were designed by Whitman, employing her typically simple yet elegant design principles. The books in this batch encompass a large number of writers already in our collection: Margaret Deland, Lucy Larcom, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Blanche Willis Howard, Annie Fields, Julia Ward Howe and a handful of others, including Jewett. Thus, these are books that we will keep not only for their authors’ sake, but also because of the cover designs.

Also in the piles are some books that we’ve had sitting around for reference purposes and are finally now getting around to adding to our catalog. This is another category of materials we have here that perhaps you’ve been unaware of: books that may not be written by or about Maine women writers but which are nonetheless relevant to our collection. For example, in this current batch we have books on women and nature, feminism, and digital preservation. The first two are relevant in that they pertain to women, Mainers or not, and the last one is relevant to the actual act of collecting and preserving information – an act that we here think about every single day!

Additionally, not pictured, there are two large boxes of periodicals sitting beside my desk – various journals that started out in our manuscript collections and were found in processing. We add journals, magazines and newspapers to our online holdings so that our patrons will know exactly which issues of which periodicals we have! Often, though not always, we are also able to tell why we have a particular issue – for example, perhaps one of our writers published a short story in a particular issue of a particular publication. We do our best to make a note of these things, since the more information we include, the easier it will be for us (and you!) to find what we’re looking for.

We also have, not yet cataloged, some delightful one-of-a-kind artists’ books by the Ant Girls. Artists’ books appear on my desk not infrequently and are one of the most interesting, yet challenging, parts of my job. Many, though certainly not all, are one-of-a-kind. Even if they aren’t, there are maybe only a handful of others out there and those may or may not have been cataloged (or even purchased!) yet by another library. Normally, with a mass-produced book, someone, somewhere, has cataloged it before I do. This means that when I catalog it, I get to piggyback off of their information, using what I want to, deleting what I don’t, and adding a few things specific to our institution. But with these, that’s not possible, so I have to start from scratch. (And that would be why they aren’t done yet…)

There you have it! A small sampling of some of the things that come across the desk of a cataloger.

 

The Ant Girls

March 17th, 2014 by Cathleen Miller

My day began on Friday with the pleasure of looking, following the lines and textures of ant-marks, and listening to stories of making.  Rebecca Goodale (one of the Ant Girls) brought tiny books, pamphlet and coptic-bound books, books that came tumbling out of their boxes, books with wings and pieces of leaves, books that spoke of the collaboration created by their colony of four.


The books and all of the other components of this two-year work-in-progress are on their way to the USM Atrium Gallery in Lewiston for the show “Ant Farm: At the Nexus of Art and Science” opening April 11.  The “Ant Girls” (Rebecca Goodale, Colleen Kinsella, Vivien Russe and Dorothy Schwartz) have been working as a group, passing paper and books between them, all members making marks on every piece of work.  The collaboration formed a strong bond among the four women, making the recent passing of Dorothy Schwartz all the more poignant as they prepared for the opening of their show and worked to finish pieces.  You can follow their process on their blog “Ant Girls”.

I am looking forward to the show on April 11, and am especially excited to see the installations of fungus farms and nuptial swarms.

One of the best parts of my job is getting to see fresh work that is still filled with the energy of the creators.  I enjoy hearing the stories of creation, too–the conceptualization of an idea that finds its fruition in something we can hold or look at close up.  It is a deep thrill for me, and an honor, to witness the creative process and its products.  I look forward to housing some of these beautiful creations in our collection to educate and excite students, researchers, and others interested in the intersection between art and science.

The Ramona Barth Collection

February 7th, 2013 by Sophie Glidden-Lyon

Just before her 43rd wedding anniversary in 1976, Ramona Barth typed up a two page “Proposed 5 Year Plan and Contract” and presented it to her husband, Rev. Joseph Barth. It was her 65th birthday, and an argument that had occurred just ten days before had inspired her to lay out exactly how she thought the next five years should go. The resulting “contract” is a surprisingly funny, tongue-in-cheek list of demands, or rather “needs” as Ramona clarifies, since according to her, “demands is an unfeminine, unladylike, un-Christian word never to be part of the vocabulary of a ‘true woman’ and has for a lifetime pushed Pavlovian buttons of horror and anger in spouse Joseph.”

Line by line, Ramona lays out her expectations – the uses of shared space, who retains control over the kitchen and her willingness to, “…in sickness and in health to continue to protect his egg shell ego as per my record of the decades.” I was unable, much to my amused pleasure, to tell how much of it was serious, and how much was tongue in cheek. What is clear, however, is Ramona Barth’s wit. Whether or not the barbs directed at Joseph were sincere did not change the sentiment behind them. Barth had expectations and boundaries and she was not about to defer to her husband. Feminism was not simply a political ideology for Barth, but rather an integral part of the way she lived her life. That it bled into her marriage so acerbically is not a surprise.

For the past few months, I’ve been processing the Ramona Barth collection and the above mentioned contract is one of my favorite discoveries, and perhaps one of the more revealing pieces of material. Feminism had long been a part of Barth’s life, particularly in it’s applications to marriage, motherhood and religion. A graduate of the Jackson College for Women at Tufts, and the Meadville Theological Seminary at University of Chicago, Barth spent most of her adult life writing about and organizing around second wave feminism. The newly processed collection contains her work from grade school to graduate program, and Barth’s passion for feminist theory, and critical thinking shines through it all.

When Barth attended Tufts in the early 1930’s, secondary education was still unusual for a woman. But Barth embraced the intellectual atmosphere with gusto and she took to the notion of cultural, political and personal critique like a fish to water. In 1931, Barth had an essay published in the Tuftonian, the university’s literary magazine, entitled Formula C2K. In it she pushes her classmates to ask questions of everything. “Now is the time to doubt,” she writes, “to question, to wonder just how much we should accept and how much we should reject from the many and complex beliefs that have been handed down to us.” This was a philosophy she took to heart, and carried with her into her married life, into her political life and her spiritual life.

The daughter of a congregational minister, religion and spirituality were strong presences in Barth’s life from the very beginning. She preached a sermon from her father’s pulpit in 1930, when she was 19 years old. It was the first time a woman had ever preached in the 150 year history of this particular church. A prolific writer throughout her education and beyond, Barth’s collection is dotted with gems of feminist, Unitarian thought. In 1974, she wrote an essay entitled “Why We Burn: A Feminist Exercise in Exorcism,” which detailed all the multitude of sexist and misogynist passages from a wide variety of religious tracts. “Why burn?” she writes, “The answer is simple. Read your Bible – your Bibles of the world, and then ask, how else raise the theological consciousness of an obtuse, callous, sexist society?” It became clear to me, while processing this collection, that writing was as much a part of Barth’s activism as the protests she attended, and the events she organized.

As a young mother, Barth engaged her feminism through writing and publishing articles on motherhood and domesticity. She held lecture series with her husband, Rev. Joseph Barth, during which the pair would debate topics such as “Meaningful Marriage” and “Men and Women – Do They Play An Equal Role?”

Later in life, Barth took part in protests in connection with the National Organization for Women (NOW) and ultimately helped found the Maine chapter of NOW. Her reverence for historical icons such as Margaret Fuller and Anne Hutchinson led her to organize a multitude of events commemorating such figures. She took part in performances, celebrations and memorials, and clearly drew much of her political and spiritual inspiration from these women. Another large presence in her papers is the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, whom Barth held in high regard. She became closely involved in the centennial celebration of the poet’s life, and wrote on her extensively. Barth’s passion for and personal connection to these women is obvious throughout the collection and I found it powerful to see so clearly the source of inspiration for a seasoned activist like her. She devoted time, energy and much of her writing to them, and seemed to get much in return.

Barth’s papers are a treasure trove, and an interesting glimpse into the thoughts and life of one of the many women who made up the larger movement. Her commitment to the cause – fighting to advance equal rights for women – rings out in everything she wrote, from her school papers, to that five year plan and contract. Barth knew what she had to offer and she worked hard to make her voice heard. That voice is a very distinct one and her message is clear: Question everything you take for granted, and never back down.

Just the Thing: Recent Acquisitions at the MWWC

August 8th, 2012 by Catherine Fisher

“I am a Thing-finder, and when you’re a Thing-finder

you don’t have a minute to spare.”

Pippi Longstocking, in Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

 

Might you be, like Pippi, an avid collector? Is there a certain breed of stuff that you treasure, and thrill to whenever a fresh one of its kind falls into your grasp? A pristine addition to the classic stamp collection, maybe? A rare bit of Elvis memorabilia? How about fine art at an auction, or fridge magnets on vacation? Or maybe you’re one who likes to bag hurricanes, volcano eruptions, or 4,000-footers. Or maybe you just like BOOKS.

Even if you’re not one to stockpile anything in particular and your home looks more like a Zen temple than the thing-finder pad of Pippi Longstocking, still I’ll bet you can muster an imagining of what the collector’s thrill feels like. To capture and cherish something really special, and then share it with others who are equally (or even more) jazzed by it…it’s a happy pursuit that can be as much about the communion of the likewise-interested as it is about the treasured objects themselves.

Here at the Collection, collecting (and protecting) is, of course, a large part of what we do. And even though that’s the case, and has been so for over fifty years, adding new gems to it never gets old. It’s still delicious to slit the packing tape on a plain, cardboard shipping box, lift out a brown paper bundle, peel away its wrapper and release a beautiful book we’ve been expecting. Sometimes it’s old and rare, sometimes it’s fresh and new, and always it’s the one we’ve been waiting for.

And what could be even better? Picture this, if you will: It’s afternoon in our lovely, sunny space, and an author (or an author’s descendent, or agent) comes in and says, “I’ve got a bunch of boxes in the back of my car. Where should I park to bring them in?” Or, “It’s finally here! The book I was researching here last year finally came out this month. Here’s a copy for the Collection.” Or, someone arrives and announces, “We found these papers and notebooks in our barn. Would you be interested?” These are great moments. And equally as enjoyable is the visit to an author’s home to collect her papers, where we get to listen to her talk about her writing life, her home life, and her plans for her next chapter. Just yesterday we traveled to York where Rose Safran generously passed on to us the archive of her art-related journalism, unpublished book manuscripts, commercial work and teaching materials. What a stimulating morning!

Whether it’s books, notebooks, manuscripts or letters; photographs, memorabilia or all of the above; whether it’s by an author who’s well- or little-known, living or deceased; whether it’s a gift or a purchase acquired in person or by mail…new additions to the Collection always feel to me like the addition of fresh cells to the body, key pieces in assembling the whole of what we can and want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On display right now at the Collection are some of the items we’ve recently acquired, both manuscript material and books. Here is a brief synopsis, with hopes that you’ll visit and enjoy them for yourself.

Manuscript material and artist’s books

Theodora Kalikow

This new collection of professional papers of the recently-retired University of Maine, Farmington president, spanning 1974-2012, includes her scholarly articles, presentation papers and organization materials; published reviews and newspaper articles; correspondence; awards; interviews with Kalikow and a bound student thesis on her. Kalikow is taking over as the next president of the University of Southern Maine, just a day or two after her retirement from Farmington!

Rachel Carson

These additions to our Rachel Carson collection, dated 1951, 1962-1963, include correspondence between Carson and literary agent Joan Daves; a photograph of Carson by Erich Hartmann; 2 Carson postage stamps; a copy of her commencement address to Scripps College; and an exhibition catalogue.

Grace M. Calvert

A 1915 daily diary of Grace M. Calvert of Park Street in Portland has been added to our Manuscript Volumes collection, which includes diaries, ledgers and daybooks, copy books, scrapbooks, albums and other personal volumes of unpublished women writers of Maine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lael Morgan

Adding to the wealth of books and periodicals previously given by this journalist/photojournalist who has covered Alaska since the early 1960s, this extensive new acquisition contains over fifty years worth of clippings, notebooks, correspondence, sailing logs, book manuscripts, photographs, videos, slides and memorabilia, including her gold pan!

 

Sissy Buck

We acquired this beautiful artist’s book, She Tells Me, from Cumberland Foreside artist Buck along with another of hers entitled Scarlet Strawberry Runners (Angus). These join a third already in our collection, In Her Memory Garden.

 

Barbara Goodbody

We received Salutation to the Dawn as the generous gift of this Cumberland Foreside artist. The accordion fold book contains original text and eight vibrant photographs of the sunrise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katy Perry

A large amount of new material has been added to the collection of this Hallowell columnist and spans the years 1966-2012. Included are manuscripts and clippings of her articles in the Capital Weekly, Hallowell Register, Portland Press Herald and other publications.

 

Rose Marasco

Two framed photographs from Marasco’s “Domestic Objects” series have joined the sizable collection of her work already gracing our walls. We hope to follow the acquisition of Egg Diary and Sink Diary with more pieces from the series in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books

 

The earliest volume on display at the moment is the 1921 Journal of the Thirty-seventh Annual Convention of the Department of Maine Woman’s Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic at Portland, Maine, June 15 and 16. This slim book in a soft red paper cover records the general proceedings of the convention as well as the detailed reports given by various office holders, with a photograph of each woman accompanying her account.

 

 

Annette Vance Dorey’s Maine Mothers Who Murdered 1875-1925: Doing Time in State Prison explores the incarceration of 3 dozen female murderers in the Thomaston prison. Dorey, of the Androscoggin Historical Society and University of New Brunswick, presented on this topic at our Spring Academic Conference in March.

 

 

Red Nails, Black Skates: Gender, Cash, and Pleasures on and Off the Ice, by Erica Rand, Professor of Art and Visual Culture and of Women and Gender Studies at Bates College, is Rand’s depiction of her experience as a queer femme participating in the sport of ice skating, “a sport with heterosexual story lines and rigid standards for gender-appropriate costumes and moves.”

 

 

Maine Moderns: Art in Seguinland 1900-1940, is a beautiful book by Libby Bischof, assistant professor of history at the University of Southern Maine, and Susan Danly, curator of graphics, photography and contemporary art at the Portland Museum of Art. This companion piece to their show at the museum last September explains how forsaking New York pressures for summers on the coast of Maine influenced personally and artistically modern artists such as photographers Paul Strand and Gertrude Kasebier, painters Marsden Hartley and John Marin, sculptor Gaston Lachaise, and others.

 

Pionierin der Arktis: Josephine Pearys Reisen ins ewige Eis might not be destined for repeated use by visitors to the Collection given that it is in German, but it was very exciting for us to receive it in the mail one day, as its very personable author Cornelia Gerlach traveled from Germany to explore the Josephine Peary Collection at the MWWC for her research. We had such a great time with her.

 

 

Three books of poetry are included in the display, just a fraction of those we have added in the last six months. The language of Alicia Fuller’s Tenants is gritty and real as it comes up against and embraces daily life in all its raw imperfection; Drift: A Poem by Kirstin Hotelling Zona is a meeting of the pulsations of the earth body and the body human; and When No One is Looking, by Red Hawk pipik-w-ass (Carol Dana) paints the Indian Island experience of this Penobscot teacher, historian and conservator with both personal and universal strokes.

 

The three food-related books in the display add to the deliciousness factor of collecting in a more literal way. Baker’s Notes, published by the Scratch Baking Company in South Portland, discloses a few of their recipes and brings the reader into the warm, yeasty atmosphere of the bakery in the wee hours of the morning. Wilma Redman’s Neal Street Cookbook achieves a near-complete compilation of her old New England recipes that have stood the test of time and make one proud to be from around here. And Notes from a Maine Kitchen: Seasonally Inspired Recipes by Kathy Gunst is a literary cookbook that combines personal essays, recipes, cooking tips and foraging information. And in addition to some fun food activities, The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder Through the Seasons by Amanda Blake Soule and Stephen Soule offers fresh, creative activities families can enjoy in harmony and connection with nature.

 

Of course, a display case and side table only allow us to exhibit a small sampling of the treasures that have been gathered into the Collection in recent months, but we’re always more than happy to pull out other precious gems from the archives and let them shine. Because after all, show and tell is definitely one of the best parts of thing-finding, don’t you think?

 

 

New Rachel Carson Acquisitions

May 16th, 2012 by Catherine Fisher

This month Curator Cathleen Miller purchased five items to add to the small (but growing!) Rachel Carson manuscript collection at the MWWC. Three of the acquisitions originate around the time of the September, 1962, publication of Carson’s Silent Spring, her groundbreaking book that documented in detail for the first time the effects of pesticides and insecticides on the natural world. As 2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of this work, which is widely credited with giving birth to the environmental movement in this country and around the world, we are particularly excited to make these items available for research here at the collection.

Already in our collection…

In adding to the professional portrait of Carson in our holdings, these new acquisitions lend balance to the more personal items of correspondence from that period that we already have, dating from 1963 to 1964 and contained in the Elizabeth Coatsworth collection. These intimate letters and notes from Carson to Maine poet and novelist Coatsworth and Coatsworth’s husband Henry Beston have given insight into the last months of Carson’s life (she died on April 14, 1964), showing her determination to keep moving despite being treated for the bone cancer that made her joints ache and walking difficult:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then, shortly after Carson’s death her longtime friend Dorothy Freeman wrote to Coatsworth and Beston:

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now, adding the professional to the personal…

It was just about a year before the earliest of these letters that Carson’s Silent Spring had been published and she was caught in an infamous media storm and chemical industry backlash. In June of 1962, before the September release of Silent Spring, Carson delivered the commencement address at Scripps College in Claremont, California. The date coincided with the publication in the New Yorker of the first of three articles excerpted from the forthcoming book and her speech, entitled “Of Man and the Stream of Time,” emphasized many of the same issues and ideas put forth in Silent Spring. Our newly acquired copy of this address, published by the Scripps College Bulletin, is accompanied by a signed note signed from Carson to one of her literary agents, Joan Daves, on Carson’s personal West Southport, Maine, stationery, indicating she was sending it along for copyright registration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the speech, Carson says to the young graduates of that women’s college:

“Man has long talked somewhat arrogantly about the conquest of nature…now he has the power to achieve his boast. It is our misfortune–it may well be our final tragedy–that this power has not been tempered with wisdom, but has been marked by irresponsibility; that there is all too little awareness that man is part of nature, and that the price of conquest may well be the destruction of man himself.”

A page from each the foreword by Frederick Hard, Scripps College President, and the speech itself:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second item from that period that we have added to the collection is a photographer’s print of the iconic photograph of Carson taken by Erich Hartmann in Southport, Maine, in the spring of 1962. Posing for the jacket portrait that would accompany her serious warning to humankind, Carson leans against a dead tree, wearing binoculars, with her hands in her pockets, looking at the camera with what seems a confident gravity. Together with this photograph we acquired two 17 cent Rachel Carson postage stamps, bearing an illustrated version of the same Hartmann image and issued in 1981 as part of the Great Americans series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The same Hartmann image shown above also is used on the cover of our third acquisition from that period, a pamphlet for an exhibition that took place at the Patten Free Library in Bath, Maine, the following year, August 19 to September 20, 1963. The inner two pages reprint “The Enduring Sea” from Carson’s The Edge of the Sea (published in 1955), and the rear cover has a full page of biographical notes. Our copy of this pamphlet is especially interesting as it has two handwritten corrections made in ink to Carson’s list of honors, possibly made by Carson herself and passed along to her longtime friend and agent, Joan Daves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But a decade earlier…

As exciting as these new acquisitions from 1962-1963 are, perhaps even more intriguing are the earlier items Cathleen purchased: two pieces of 1950-51 correspondence from Carson to the aforementioned literary agent Joan Daves, who was the professional partner of Carson’s primary agent, Marie Rodell. Exciting on the face of it, these additions turn out to be even more interesting than one might gather at first glance because of the bit of professional drama at which they hint.

In 1950, Carson was working as a marine biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Woods Hole, MA, getting ready to publish her second book, The Sea Around Us. In her biography entitled, Rachel Carson: The Life of the Author of Silent Spring (available at the Maine Women Writers Collection), Linda Lear describes the story of a project idea hatched by Carson but never brought to fruition. Fascinated by a collection of illustration plates housed in the Fish and Wildlife Service Library created in Mexico by American ornithologist, illustrator and artist Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Carson had the idea to create a catalog of the images and write an extended introduction to the book. Carson described the project to Daves’ professional partner, agent Marie Rodell, who agreed it was a good idea. She then solicited and received support from the Fish and Wildlife Service, but soon discovered that permissions from the Fuertes estate to reproduce the illustrations and payment for the rights were required. Carson contacted Fuertes’ daughter, Mary Fuertes Boynton, and all seemed good at first until, as Linda Lear explains,

“By winter of 1950, Mary Fuertes Boynton, the painter’s daughter and heir, had made it clear she intended to play a larger part in the project than Carson had anticipated. Carson’s efforts to clarify ownership of the paintings and her use of Fuertes’s correspondence to describe the context of each one had apparently alarmed Boynton, who now planned a biography of her father.”

This brings us to the first piece of correspondence from Rachel Carson to Joan Daves that we acquired from this time, a handwritten 1950 Christmas greeting card in which Carson refers to this shift, saying, “It seems there are many difficulties to be straightened out in the Fuertes matter, but perhaps something will come of it, after all.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But hopes for this project were to unravel even further for Carson, as Lear explains:

“At the end of March (1951), Rachel had written Mary Boynton that Harper had agreed to publish the Fuertes bird paintings in the fall of 1952. Boynton unexpectedly replied that she had decided to edit the book herself since she no longer considered Carson the best choice of author or editor because she had not known Fuertes…

“Boynton not only fired Carson from a project she had initiated but had the audacity to write Carson’s boss, Fish and Wildlife Director Dr. Albert Day, informing him of her decision to remove Carson. Boynton gave no other reason for her change of heart except to quote the opinion of one of her father’s ornithologist friends, George Sutton, who had asked, ‘What does Carson know either about Fuertes or about birds?’

“Rachel was furious. On April 3 she responded to Boynton.

‘It is too bad you have waited until now to make your true position known. The choice of an author for any such book is seldom determined by the desires or willingness of prospective writers to undertake it, and in this instance the decision is in the hands of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the publishers. I do not feel that further discussion of this subject between you and me will serve any useful purpose.’

This brings us to our second piece of newly acquired correspondence from Carson to Daves, a typewritten, signed letter dated July 30, 1951. In it Carson describes her early discussion of the plates with Boynton and refers to what has become now an ongoing conflict, saying, “If Mrs. Boynton does publish her book, she will undoubtedly use some illustrations from her father’s work, but that doesn’t seem to be anything to be concerned about.”

In this letter Carson sounds unworried, but the way Lear describes it, as the controversy wore on Carson was loath to let the matter rest:

“…Rachel was stunned by Boynton’s inexplicable change of mind. She despised personal confrontations, but she was angry, too, and stood her ground, refusing to abandon the book…Considering all the pressures on Carson with the imminent publication of The Sea Around Us, her pending leave of absence [for a Guggenheim fellowship], and the need to begin work on the shore guide, it would have been simpler if she had walked away from the Fuertes project. But Boynton’s insinuations insulted Carson’s reputation as a naturalist and a professional writer…The controversy with Boynton and the Fuertes estate dragged on until February 1953, at which point Carson bowed out. The Fish and Wildlife Service continued adjudicating its interest in the paintings, but by then Carson was committed to other more important literary efforts. In the end, the primary reason Rachel dropped the Fuertes book was her personal distaste for any further dealings with Mary Boynton.”

 The references made to the Fuertes project in these two new additions to our Rachel Carson collection hint intriguingly enough at the matter to prompt one to dig a bit for the more complex story behind them. Illumination of this professional conflict sheds important light on the character of Carson at this early stage in her literary and ecology career, showing a strength and determination that would serve her in her personal health battles and see her through conflict on a much larger professional scale, with the eventual publication of Silent Spring.