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"The Untimeliness of the Walt Whitman Exhibition at the New York Public Library: An Open Letter to Trustees," by Charles F. Heartman


Held at: John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center [Contact Us]1315 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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Charles F. Heartman (1883-1953) was a German immigrant collector, book dealer, and publisher who is best known for championing American literature, establishing hundreds of rare book collections among libraries across the United States. Beginning his American career in New York City, Heartman moved his operations several times over the course of his life, making homes in Vermont, New Jersey, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. In Mississippi Heartman and his wife attempted to found a "book farm," a uptopian community of writers, artists, and intellectuals. While he may have associated with a educated and creative crowd in his personal and business pursuits he nevertheless seems to have drawn the line at public expressions of same-sex love and attraction, as this 1925 pamphlet makes clear.

Called "An Open Letter to the Trustees," Charles F. Heartman's criticism of the New York Public Library's exhibition on the works of Walt Whitman argues that the "obscene" nature of Whitman's poetry should disqualify his works from being presented in a public forum such as an exhibit at the prestigious institution. Sixty copies of the privately printed pamphlet were released in advance of the text appearing in the American Collector (v. 1, no. 3 (Dec. 1925)), a monthly magazine about book collecting edited by Heartman himself. The pamphlet—-a saddle stitched booklet of 5 numbered pages—-includes a photograph of "Walt Whitman and his 'friend' Peter Doyle" and contatains both Heartman's empassioned letter to the library trustees as well as an ensuing "personal statement."

Gift, Michael J. Toklish, 2018

John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center
Finding Aid Author
John Anderies
Finding Aid Date
September 28, 2018
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