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
Siegfried Wiesberger was the proprietor of the Peabody Book Shop, a fixture in the Baltimore intellectual scene in the first half of the 20th century, and a friend of many Baltimore writers, including H.L. Mencken. He was born in Bielitz, Austria in 1895, and came to the United States in 1912. After several years' travel in California and Hawaii, he began work at the Peabody Book Shop, under the management of his brother, Hugo, in 1922. In 1931, Hugo died, and Weisberger took over as the shop's owner. Having discovered H.L. Mencken's books at sale for a discount in a drugstore window in 1928, Weisberger sent the author a letter, suggesting his bookstore might be a more fitting place to show his wares. Mencken eventually agreed, and a lifelong friendship between the two men began, during which they shared their disdain for the shallow materialism of American culture. Weisberger sold the shop in 1954, declaring "the age of the boob is upon us," and retired to a farm in New Windsor, Maryland. He moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1974, and died in 1984.
Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken was a noted writer, editor, and social provocateur, famous for his disdain for common morals and received wisdom. Born in Baltimore in 1881, Mencken graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute at age 15, after which he worked days at his father's cigar factory and nights at the Baltimore Morning Herald. He became city editor of the Herald in 1903; and by 1906, he managed the Sunday edition of the Baltimore Sun. His theatre writing for the Sun led him to write George Bernard Shaw—His Plays, which won him the attention of New York literary circles and a position as literary critic for The Smart Set, the city's leading cultural periodical. From 1914 to 1923, Mencken also helped edit this magazine with his friend and fellow drama critic George Jean Nathan, with whom he later started The American Mercury, a cultural magazine which flourished for over a decade. In the 1930s and 40s, Mencken's social criticism fell out of favor, and his study of American English became the focus of his career. From 1919 to 1948, he published several editions and supplements to his linguistic work The American Language (1919, revised 1921, 1923, supplemented 1945, 1948). In addition, he wrote an autobiography in three volumes: Happy Days (1940), Newspaper Days (1941), and Heathen Days. Mencken was also known for his participation as a prosecutor in the Scopes Trial in 1925. He died on January 29, 1956, in the Baltimore row home where he had lived most of his life.
This collection includes material collected by Siegfried Weisberger, proprietor of the Peabody Book Shop in Baltimore Maryland. The collection is separated into three series. The first series contains correspondence between H.L. Mencken and Weisberger, as well as other correspondence concerning Weisberger's personal life and the day-to-day activities of the Peabody Book Shop. The second series contains autobiographical writing and poems by Weisberger, as well as a small number of receipts, lists, and photographs of authors from the Book Shop. The third series contains material related to H.L. Mencken, including manuscripts, published material by and about Mencken (much of it signed), and pictures of Mencken. More information is available at the series level.
Sold by Siegfried Weisberger, 1957.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Sam Allingham
- Finding Aid Date
- 2019 February 7
- 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.