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   Susan Otis Thompson Papers, 1965-1992 [Bulk Dates: 1970-1980]

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Susan Otis Thompson Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

The papers consist primarily of correspondence and documentation related to her professional activities as a professor, a librarian, and a scholar of early print and book history.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1561
Bib ID:6915494 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Thompson, Susan Otis
Title:Susan Otis Thompson Papers, 1965-1992 [Bulk Dates: 1970-1980]
Physical description:1.05 linear ft. (2.5 document boxes)
Language(s): In English
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection has been left in its original physical order but has been intellectually arranged into six series. Although a few papers have been assigned as general correspondence, it should be noted that all six series contain correspondence specific to their respective topics.

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Description

Scope and Content

Thompson's papers consist primarily of correspondence, clippings, and printed materials related to her professional activities as a librarian, teacher, and scholar of book history.

The strength of the papers lies in their documentation of topics pertaining to the history of libraries, books, and library science in the late twentieth century. A scholar in early book history and book design, her papers contain documentation and artifacts from Thompson's research, as well as correspondence with Leo Wyatt, L. Carrington Goodrich, and Herbert Kleist. Thompson's papers also document the activities of the now-defunct School of Library Service at Columbia University, including the establishment of a rare books librarianship concentration that would later become the Rare Book School, and the activities of numerous library- and book history-related organizations, most notably the formative years of the American Printing History Association (APHA). The papers also include manuscript drafts, speeches, and correspondence related to Thompson's research, publications, and speaking engagements.

Of additional note is a manuscript on the state of libraries in Nigeria and Kenya (1965). A small set of black-and-white photographs are included with the report.

The collection contains a small amount of information describing the Grolier Club's contribution to the establishment of the Columbia University rare books progam, but little else of note. Papers related to the William Morris Society are too few to be considered significant.

The material type of the collection is mixed.

Series I. Columbia University School of Library Service, 1972-1987, Undated

This series consists of correspondence, newsletters, committee minutes, notes, and event documentation related to the activities and operations of the Columbia University School of Library Service. The series includes a selection of issues of Library Service News, offering insight into the regular activities of the department, faculty, and alumni, as well notes, place cards, and photographic slides from early printing and private press exhibits held in the library. This series also contains documentation of the establishment of a program concentration in Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Special Collections, including an unsigned letter draft presumably written by Terry Belanger in which he details the need for the program and provides a brief synopsis on the Grolier Club's association with it, and on the 1987 conference on Libraries and Scholarly Communication in the United States sponsored jointly by Columbia University and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Series II. Correspondence -- General, 1969-1992

This series contains correspondence and related materials that do not explicitly relate to Columbia University's School of Library Service or Thompson's professional development activities, publications, service activities, or speaking engagements. (Correspondence related to such categories are housed in their respective series.) This series contains correspondence with Leo Wyatt on the topic of calligraphy (1977-1981), L. Carrington Goodrich on the disputed timeline of Oriental printing (1969-1992), and Herbert Kleist on book bindings (1974-1975).

Series III. Professional Development, 1976-1977, 1980, 1986, 1991-1993

This series contains documentation of seminars and conferences that Thompson attended as an attendee rather than a speaker. Invitations, schedules, and lists of registrants are included.

Series IV. Publications and Manuscripts, 1965-1986

This series contains correspondence, manuscripts, clippings, and notes related to articles and books written by, edited by, and compiled by Thompson, including Caxton: An American Contribution to the Quincentenary Celebration (1976) and American Book Design and William Morris (1977). This series also contains a manuscript report on the state of libraries in Nigeria and Kenya (1965) with a small set of accompanying black-and-white photographs.

Series V. Service and Committees, 1971-1979, 1982

This series includes correspondence, minutes, and related materials documenting the committees and advisory councils on which Thompson served. (Service specific to the Columbia University School of Library Service is located in Series I.) This series contains documentation from the first annual conference of the American Printing History Association (1976), which is also co-located in Series IV and VI.

Series VI. Speaking Engagements, 1971-1980

This series contains correspondence, documentation, notes, and text of speeches delivered by Thompson at panel, conference, and seminar appearances.

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Using the Collection

Offsite

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Susan Otis Thompson Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Finding aid in repository; folder level control.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed by Kellie Walsh (Rutgers University, 2012)

Finding aid written by Kellie Walsh (Rutgers University, 2012) March 2011

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion May 20, 2011 Finding aid written in English.
    2011-05-20 File created.
    2011-06-02 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Adams, Rrandolph Greenfield, 1892-1951PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American Library AssociationPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American Printing History AssociationPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American Printing History Association--ConferencePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Arts and crafts movementPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Association of College and Reference LibrariesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Association of College and Reference Libraries--Rare Books and Manuscripts Section--PreconferencePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Beilenson, Edna, 1909-1981PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bellanger, TerryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Book design--HistoryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Book design--United States--HistoryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Caxton, William, ca. 1422-1491 or 2PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--School of Library ServicePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--School of Library Service--HistoryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dunlap, Joseph R. (Joseph Riggs), 1913-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Goodrich, L. Carrington (Luther Carrington), 1894-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Graphic Arts--HistoryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Grolier ClubPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
History of the bookPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kleist, Herbert, 1902-1986PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Leslie, Robert L., 1885-1987PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Librarianship and information studiesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Libraries--HistoryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Libraries--KenyaPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Libraries--NigeriaPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Morris, William, 1834-1896PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
National Conservation Advisory Council (U.S.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York Library AssociationPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York Metropolitan Reference and Research Library AgencyPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Printing--HistoryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rare Book SchoolPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rare booksPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Shoemaker, Richard H.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Thompson, Susan OtisPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Trumbull College (Yale University)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
TypographyPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wyatt, Leo, 1909-1981PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Susan Otis Thompson was a teacher, author, editor, lecturer, and researcher, best known for her scholarship on William Caxton and the history of the book.

Thompson enrolled at Columbia University's School of Library Service, where she earned both her M.S. (1963) and D.L.S. (1972). She began as an intern in the University Libraries Reference Department. She gradually took on teaching duties and rose through the academic ranks, becoming a teaching assistant, lecturer, preceptor, assistant professor, and finally an associate professor in 1978. Starting in 1966 she began teaching a course on the History of the Book that she would continue to teach until the school's closing in 1992. She also contributed, alongside Terry Belanger, to the establishment of Columbia's Master's program concentration in Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Special Collections, the first of its kind in the U.S. (1973). This program would later become the independent Rare Book School, now located at the University of Virginia.

With research interests in rare books and manuscripts, book and printing history, library history, rare book librarianship, book design, typography, graphic arts, and the Arts and Crafts movement, Thompson published American Book Design and William Morris in 1977 (Bowker), which was reprinted in 1996 by Oak Knoll Press and the British Library. As both a writer and editor, she contributed to numerous publications, including The Arts and Crafts Movement in America 1876-1916 (1994), The Heritage of the Graphic Arts Lecture Series: A Complete Listing (1994), and William Caxton: An American Contribution to the Quincentenary Celebration (1976), a chapbook published by the Typophiles printed for the Caxton International Congress (1976), which marked the 500th anniversary of the introduction of printing into England. Thompson also spoke around the country at seminars, conferences, and panel discussions.

Thompson was an active member of numerous book history societies, including the Typophiles, the William Morris Society, and the Corrodentia Society, and in 1977 she became one of the first women allowed to join the Grolier Club. She was also a founding member of the American Printing History Association (APHA) (1974) and served as the editor of APHA's semiannual journal Printing History from 1979-1983.

Thompson died of breast cancer in 2008.

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