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William Carlos Williams research collection


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

In 1906 William Carlos Williams graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an M.D. He left Penn with not only medical training but also poetic aspirations. About thirty years later a professor of English at the University began to develop a relationship with the poet that eventually led to the accumulation in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of materials associated with Williams and his work, although the bulk of his papers reside at the Beinecke Library at Yale University and the Lockwood Memorial Library at SUNY Buffalo.

The professor was Sculley Bradley, who taught Williams' son Paul at Penn and was editor of the University's literary quarterly, The General Magazine. The first series contains papers directly connected with Bradley: his correspondence with Florence and William Carlos Williams, his correspondence with others about Williams, and the speeches that he gave on the occasions of the conferral of an honorary Doctorate of Letters on Williams in 1952 and the dedication of the Collection of Books by William Carlos Williams at the library at Penn in 1965, after Williams' death. Bradley had been much involved in encouraging the library toward creating such a collection and acting as a channel of communication between the library and the Williams family. At the dedication, Bradley had a conversation with Williams' younger brother Edgar which in time led to the deposit by Edgar of letters between him and his brother, now Ms. Coll. 395. Of the material in this research collection that had been in the possession of the Williams family, such as correspondence addressed to Florence and William Carlos Williams or reviews of Williams' works gathered by clipping services, most probably came to the library through Bradley. He also may have been responsible for collecting many of the journal articles in the series of publications concerning Williams, in addition to the one he wrote himself.

The second series focuses on another individual's relationship over several decades with Williams. James Laughlin, founder of the publishing company New Directions, was the publisher of many Williams works, beginning with White Mule in 1937 and continuing through 1950. Laughlin gave copies of his correspondence with Williams to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The first letters are written by Laughlin in 1935, the last by Williams in 1961. They address the publication and sale of his works in these years. Laughlin also contributed copies of a Williams typescript of a preface and a typescript of a story by himself about his relationship with Williams. The remaining series are General Correspondence (family and others), Writings, Reviews and Advertisements for Williams' Works, Programs/Announcements for Lectures or Readings by Williams, Publications concerning Williams (1906 Penn yearbook, journal articles, newspaper clippings), Photographs, Miscellaneous, and an Oversize box containing a large Christmas card from the Williams to Bradley; reviews; photographs; a printed poem; an 1898 passport for Williams, his brother, and his mother; a plaque for the 1949 National Book Award; a gold medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and two other awards. The bulk of this material probably came through Bradley, but there is also correspondence from another English professor (John Miller) that came to the library from a third English professor (Robert Spiller). The 1906 yearbook comes from yet another source. The existence of a "Williams collection" probably also acted as a magnet for miscellaneous material such as newspaper clippings. Also part of this collection is a self-portrait by Williams, ca. 1914. Florence Williams gave this portrait to the library following William Carlos Williams' death, for which Bradley thanked her in a letter in the collection dated April 2, 1963. This portrait currently hangs in the T. Edward Ross Reading Room of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

This collection documents William Carlos Williams' sporadic relationship with the University of Pennsylvania, primarily encouraged by Sculley Bradley. It includes some personal papers from the Williams family and a handful of typescripts and galleys for works by Williams. It preserves a few letters to Williams from poets such as Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, and Richard Wilbur, along with notes from Pablo Casals and John F. Kennedy. Through newspaper clippings dating from 1928 to 1958 and journal articles dating from 1952 to 1983, the collection provides a record of the reception of Williams and his work in the United States. The Laughlin papers approach the issue of reception from behind the scenes, in terms of publishing decisions and profits, and also demonstrate Laughlin's commitment to publishing new poetry from Williams and others at New Directions Publishing.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
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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17 folders

Description & Arrangement

Letters to Bradley interfiled with carbons of outgoing letters, arranged chronologically.

10 folders

Bradley, Sculley. Bradley, Sculley , 1939-1965. 44 items.
Box 1 Folder 1-10

44 items75 leaves

Description & Arrangement

Letters to Bradley interfiled with carbons of outgoing letters, arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

4 folders

Angell, Donald K. , 1952. 3 items.
Box 1 Folder 11

3 items4 leaves

New Directions Publishing Corp. , 1948. 3 items.
Box 1 Folder 11

3 items3 leaves

Fogg, John M. , 1950. 2 items.
Box 1 Folder 11

2 items2 leaves

Lockwood, Dean Putnam , 1951. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 11

1 item1 leaf

Thirlwall, John C. , 1953-1961. 9 items.
Box 1 Folder 12

9 items9 leaves

Westlake, Neda M. , 1957. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 13

1 item7 leaves

Williams, Edgar I. , 1965. 2 items.
Box 1 Folder 14

2 items2 leaves

Williams, Virginia Carnes , 1950. 2 items.
Box 1 Folder 14

2 items3 leaves

Woollcott, Joan , 1961. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 14

1 item1 leaf

3 folders

Citation for Williams' honorary Doctorate of Letters, 1952.
Box 1 Folder 15
Materials connected with Williams books at Van Pelt.
Box 1 Folder 16
Dedication of Williams collection at Van Pelt, 1965.
Box 1 Folder 17

17 folders

15 folders

Laughlin, James , 1935-1961, undated. 69 items.
Box 1 Folder 18-32

69 items111 leaves

1 folder

Copy of typescript of prefatory note by Williams for a re-issue of The White Mule and In the Money.
Box 1 Folder 33
Copy of typescript of Williams poem, "Strengthened by Famine".
Box 1 Folder 33

1 folder

"A Visit (to William Carlos Williams)".
Box 1 Folder 34

21 folders

3 folders

Notes from Williams' trip in Europe with his brother , 1910.
Box 1 Folder 35
Container Summary

1 leaf with notes and sketches, 3 postcards

Letter to Florence from William Carlos Williams , May 25, 1920. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 35

1 item1 leaf

Valentine to Florence from William Carlos Williams , February 14, 1941. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 35

1 item1 leaf

Valentine to Florence from William Carlos Williams , Late 1950s-early 1960s?. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 35

1 item2 leaves

Note from William Carlos Williams' teacher to his mother concerning cards with pictures of women, along with the confiscated cards , circa 1890?. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 36

1 item2 leaves, 15 cards

Papers certifying Florence and William Carlos Williams as godparents of Brian Fornari , August 11, 1951. 2 items.
Box 1 Folder 37

2 items4 leaves

Description & Arrangement

letters to William Carlos Williams, arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

18 folders

Barnard, Mary , 1963. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 38

1 item1 leaf

Beacon Press , 1958. 2 items.
Box 1 Folder 39

2 items1 booklet, 1 leaf

Casals, Pablo, 1957. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 40

1 item3 leaves

Enzensberger, Hans Magnus , 1962. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 41

1 item1 leaf

Kennedy, John F. , 1961. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 42

1 item2 leaves

Knollenberg, Bernhard/ Yale University Library , 1940. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 43

1 item1 leaf

Lee, Muna, 1959. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 44

1 item1 leaf

McDowell, Obolensky Inc. , 1957. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 45

1 item1 leaf

Miller, John G. (including letters from Williams) , 1951-1967. 4 items.
Box 1 Folder 46

4 items4 leaves

Moore, Marianne, 1950-1953. 2 items.
Box 1 Folder 47

2 items4 leaves

Moore, Merrill, 1953. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 48

1 item1 leaf

"Philena" , 1959. 2 items.
Box 1 Folder 49

2 items3 leaves

Pound, Ezra , 1955. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 50

1 item2 leaves

The Shoe String Press , 1959. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 51

1 item1 leaf

Thomas Y. Crowell, Publishers , 1959. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 52

1 item2 leaves

Wells, Ken , 1959. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 53

1 item2 leaves

Wilbur, Richard , 1951. 1 item.
Box 1 Folder 54

1 item1 leaf

[unknown correspondents] , 1891, 1951. 2 items.
Box 1 Folder 55

2 items2 leaves

5 folders

The First President (libretto), galley, 1936.
Box 2 Folder 56
Selected Essays of William Carlos Williams Uncorrected proof, 1954.
Box 2 Folder 57
Typescript of an unpublished scene for A Dream of Love, [undated].
Box 2 Folder 58
Typescript of sketches for the Tyro Theater Group.
Box 2 Folder 59
Reviews by Williams.
Box 2 Folder 60


Arranged chronologically by date of publication or performance.

12 folders

A Voyage to Pagany, 1928.
Box 2 Folder 61
The Complete Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, 1906-1938, [1938?].
Box 2 Folder 62
Paterson, Book 1, 1946.
Box 2 Folder 63
Paterson, Book 2, 1948.
Box 2 Folder 64
A Dream of Love, performances, 1950-1960.
Box 2 Folder 65
The Desert Music and Other Poems, 1954.
Box 2 Folder 66
Selected Essays of William Carlos Williams, 1954.
Box 2 Folder 67
The Dog and the Fever, [1954?].
Box 2 Folder 68
I Wanted to Write a Poem, 1958.
Box 2 Folder 69
Paterson, Book 5, 1958.
Box 2 Folder 70
The Farmers' Daughters, [1961?].
Box 2 Folder 71
Many Loves, performances , 1959-1963.
Box 2 Folder 72

1 folder

Flyers for three events, 1952-1955.
Box 2 Folder 73


Arranged chronologically.

16 folders

The 'Scope, Yearbook, Medical Department, University of Pennsylvania , 1906.
Box 2 Folder 74
Wells, Henry Willis. "Poet and Psychiatrist: Merrill Moore" , 1952.
Box 2 Folder 75
"Doctors Afield: William Carlos Williams" , 1953.
Box 2 Folder 76
"Caedmon Recordings of the Spoken Word", after 1956.
Box 2 Folder 77
Sutton, Walter. "Dr. Williams' 'Paterson' and the Quest for Form" , 1960.
Box 2 Folder 78-79
"William Carlos Williams' Journey to Marriage" , 1961.
Box 2 Folder 80
Sereni, Vittorio. "W. C. W.: An Italian View" , after 1961.
Box 2 Folder 81
Bradley, Sculley. "William Carlos Williams, Poet-Physician" , 1962.
Box 2 Folder 82
Unterecker, John Eugene. "The Architecture of The Bridge" , 1962.
Box 3 Folder 83
Brinnin, John Malcolm. "William Carlos Williams" , 1963.
Box 3 Folder 84
"Notes on Poetics" , 1964.
Box 3 Folder 85
"William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane and 'The Virtue of History " , 1965.
Box 3 Folder 86
"Dr. William Carlos Williams: The Writer as a Physician" , 1970.
Box 3 Folder 87
Wallace, Emily Mitchell. "Penn's Poet Friends" , 1973.
Box 3 Folder 88
William Carlos Williams commemorative issue Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey , 1983.
Box 3 Folder 89
Newspaper clippings re William Carlos Williams , 1949-1963.
Box 3 Folder 90

4 folders

Container Summary

Box 3 Folder 91

11 photographs, 4 negatives, 1 color transparency [1 negative and the transparency are of the self-portrait]

Identified subjects, including Ezra Pound (also 1 negative), James and Nora Joyce, and Robert McAlmon. 9 items.
Box 3 Folder 92

9 items

Unidentified subjects. 6 items.
Box 3 Folder 93

6 items

Landscapes and 1 print of Williams' Pulitzer citation.
Box 3 Folder 94
IX. Miscellaneous: Pamphlet with historical image of the Passaic River; two publications dealing with poetry but not directly with Williams. 1 folder.
Box 3 Folder 95

1 folder

X. Oversize. 1 box.
Box 4

* Williams' translation of Sappho, printed by Poems in Folio, signed and numbered by the poet
* 7 reviews of Williams' work; 3 newspaper clippings re Williams
* Photograph of Williams
* photograph of Williams' portrait
* 1898 passport for William Carlos, Edgar, and Rachel Williams
* Christmas card from the Williams to Sculley Bradley
* Envelope from W. T. Ellis to Williams; plaque honoring Williams' National Book Award for the most distinguished book of poetry in 1949
* 1957 Brandeis University Creative Arts Award
* Pin commemorating Williams' election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1958
* Gold medal presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters

1 box

XI. Williams, William Carlos. Self-Portrait (on display in T. Edward Ross Reading Room, Rare Book & Manuscript Library), circa 1914.

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