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Michael von Uchtrup collection of Jonathan Williams correspondence and ephemera


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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

American poet and publisher Jonathan Williams (1929-2008), often associated with the Beat poets and the Black Mountain School, is known as a founder of The Jargon Society, a publishing firm that popularized the poetry of the post-World War II American avant-garde.

Williams attended St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. from 1941-1947 and earned his degree in art history from Princeton University in 1949. Following his time at Princeton, he attended the Chicago Institute of Design (1950-1951) and Black Mountain College (1951-1956).

While Williams saw himself primarily as a poet, he is best known for his role as the founder, editor, and publisher of The Jargon Society, the small publishing house located in Highlands, North Carolina. Williams founded the Jargon Society with artist David Ruff (1925-2007) in 1951. Known as "a poet's press," The Jargon Society was the first small poetry publishing company to garner critical acclaim and marked the epoch of Williams's career. The press featured the Black Mountain and Beat poets and published an eclectic collection of experimental verse, essays, and photography.

Throughout his career, Williams gave frequent readings, lectures, and seminars and served as poet-in-residence at several universities and organizations including the University of Delaware in 1977.

"Jonathan Williams." Contemporary Authors Online, 2008. Accessed December 13, 2016. Gale Biography in Context (GALE|H1000106571). "The Jargon Society." The Jargon Society. Accessed December 13, 2016.

Michael von Uchtrup has worked with artists and art institutions since 1987 as a freelance curator, archivist, lecturer, editor, and researcher. He specializes in the arts of the second half of the 20th century. Uchtrup first met poet Jonathan Williams in 1996 at an event held by Granary Books in New York City. The meeting sparked the beginning of a friendship that continued until William's death in 2008.

"Michael Von Uchtrup" Archive - Ray Johnson Estate. Accessed December 13, 2016. Other biographical information derived from collection.

The Michael von Uchtrup collection of Jonathan Williams correspondence and ephemera details the relationship that developed between Williams and von Uchtrup in the 1990s and provides insight into Williams's publishing career, writing, travels, and daily life.

The collection comprises correspondence between the two men, as well as published materials by and about The Jargon Society. Several selections of Williams's poetry, newspaper clippings, book catalogs, and exhibition programs related to the Black Mountain School and The Jargon Society are also included.

The collection is arranged in four series: I. Correspondence; II. Publications by Jonathan Williams and The Jargon Society; III. Publications about Jonathan Williams; and IV. Ephemera. Each series is arranged chronologically.

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons (6 inches)

Purchase, October 2015

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2016 March 10
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Box 1 Folder F1
Box 1 Folder F2
Box 1 Folder F3
Box 1 Folder F4
Box 1 Folder F5
Box 1 Folder F6
Box 1 Folder F7
Box 1 Folder F8
Box 1 Folder F9
Box 1 Folder F10


Bell, Millicent. The Jargon Idea, (1963), undated.
Davenport, Guy. Jonathan Williams, Poet, 1969.
Patterson, Tom. "Fun and Doom: Jonathan Williams, maverick poet of the Nanthalas." Brown's guide to Georgia. College Park, Ga., Alfred Brown Pub. Co. , 1980.
Russell, John. "Jonathan Williams. (Reading and Writing) (column)". The New York Times Book Review. 88., 1983.
[Autobiography] Cloches a Travers Les Feuilles. Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series. Detroit, MI: Gale Research. 12: 339-358., 1990.
Tamulevich, Susan. "Black Mountain Bard". Mid-Atlantic Country, 1990.
"A Nest of Testimonials", circa 1999.

Williams, Jonathan, Poet's Silhouette (1951), postcard, 1978.
Exhibition checklists, 1979.
Mister Magazine, vol. 3, no.5 (1980) photocopy, undated.
Other ephemera, 1985, undated.

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