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Helen Godey Wilson catalog of books by William McFee


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Helen D. Wilson was born on May 10, 1879 and died August 20, 1937. She was an avid book collector who collected books by William McFee, by Wilbur Daniel Steele, and about the early history of America, particularly the French explorations in North America in the early days of the American West. She was the daughter of Dr. Harry and Nannie McMichael Godey and the granddaughter of Lewis A. Godey, publisher of Godey's Lady's Book. She was married to Alan Dickson Wilson, who died in 1935. Together they had one daughter, Helen Hope Dechert. Wilson's personal library was given to Robert Dechert, her son-in-law, who later presented it to the University of Pennsylvania Library.

William McFee was an English writer of sea stories, born on June 15, 1881, aboard the Erin's Isle, a three-masted ship owned by his father, who was a sea captain. McFee was educated at the East Anglian School in Suffolk, England, and pursued a career in engineering, working as an apprentice with McMuirland's, and later with Yorkshire Engineers before serving as junior engineer on his uncle's ship, the Rotherfield. He served with the American Merchant Marine in 1913, but in 1914, returned to England to serve with the Royal Navy during World War I. Following the war, McFee returned to the United States and worked as an engineer at sea with the United Fruit Company until 1924, at which point writing became his profession. In addition to books which were largely nautical, he wrote reviews for The New York Sun and the New York Times. McFee died on July 2, 1966.

This collection contains an alphabetical catalog of William McFee books owned by Helen Godey Wilson, listing particulars of publication, a physical description, with some provenance information. The catalog is written in Wilson's own hand. The collection also includes a 1930 letter from McFee to Wilson regarding her acquisition of several of his books; a bibliographic checklist of McFee's first editions; sales lists of William McFee books from various booksellers, including the Frank Hollings Bookshop; and a biographical sketch of McFee by Harry E. Maule, which contains a bibliography of McFee's works, annotated by Wilson.

Gift of Robert Dechert, 1959.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kelin Baldridge
Finding Aid Date
2017 April 24
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Bibliographic checklist of first editions.
Box 1 Folder 1
Binder (originally holding foldered material, now empty).
Box 1 Folder 2
Catalog of William McFee works.
Box 1 Folder 3
Harry E. Maule's William McFee: A Biographical Sketch, 1923.
Box 1 Folder 4
Letter from William McFee to Helen Godey Wilson, 1930 April 13.
Box 1 Folder 5
Sales lists of William McFee works.
Box 1 Folder 6

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