Our Chronology (1935-1975)

1930s        1940s          1950s          1960s          1970s

MH dynamite - Johnson -1937

President Johnson ready to deliver the dynamite blast that will break ground on Mayflower Hill in 1937. The move to the new campus helped Colby re-envision itself in many ways.

The 1930s: New vision and energy


The Colby Library Associates is formed with Frederick Pottle ’17 as president.

Librarian Danton discovers more rare books and unique materials in library backlog scattered around campus. The library staff is concerned about the safety of the materials. Manuscripts are sent to the Treasurer for safe keeping. The growing collection of rare books is gathered in a secured section.


Librarian Rush requests a special fund to expand the now-esteemed Thomas Hardy Collection being developed by Professor Carl Weber and reports that Weber’s 1936 Checklist (published by the library) has sold over 100 copies. Weber curates a Thomas Hardy exhibit in the library as part of the Maine Library Association’s meeting on campus.


The George Fred Terry Collection of Lincoln memorabilia is given by his wife.

Copies of Weber’s Checklist continue to sell. The Librarian adds several volumes to the Thomas Hardy Collection. More rare books are discovered in library storage. The college carpenter adds two more sections to the rare book collection’s locked cabinet.

200 books from the Thomas Hardy Collection are placed on exhibit in the library to commemorate the 97th anniversary of Hardy’s birth. 100 pieces from the Terry Collection are also exhibited. The library’s Lovejoy Collection is exhibited to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lovejoy’s death.

Rush purchases the library’s first specimen of fore-edge painting for the growing Book Arts collection. He shows the book to Carl Weber, who was not aware of this book art. Weber would become a leading authority on fore-edge painting.

Librarian Rush reviews plans for the new library on Mayflower Hill with the architect and other librarians.


A large glass door cabinet, given to the library by the Classical Languages Department, becomes the new home for the growing Thomas Hardy Collection. The locked cabinets will continue to be used for rare books as they are discovered.

Two library exhibits, on Robert Browning and Thomas Wise, are featured in “Notes on Rare Books,” a column in the New York Times.

The Landau Mathematical Library is loaned to the Colby library for an indefinite period. It is the private mathematical library if the late Edmund Landau of the University of Gottingen. The Rebekah Owen Hardy Collection is given to the library by Carroll A Wilson. The collection contains autographed and annotated volumes with many enclosures, making the collection rich and unique.

The library continues to sell occasional copies of Weber’s Checklist. Weber authors a monograph on the Rebekah Owen Hardy Collection. It is published with an allocation from the Treasurer and the Librarian oversees sales.

The Library exhibits books by Kenneth Roberts, Robert Browning and Thomas Wise (a “Jekyll and Hyde” exhibit with accompanying pamphlet).


The Book Arts Collection with over 100 items is received from Edward F Stevens ‘89, also two limited edition Grolier Club medallions. The Hardy Collection received several more additions. More are books are discovered in storage and placed in the locked case, which is again expanded by two sections.

The Miller Library cornerstone was laid on 29 September 1939 during Colby Library Day, a daylong program exploring the importance of libraries within the liberal arts curriculum.

Items from the Lincoln Collection, Hardy Collection and Edwin Arlington Robinson Collection are exhibited.

Weber’s Checklist has sold out. Weber’s Rebekah Owen-Thomas Hardy monograph is nearly sold out. A pamphlet containing two short stories by Hardy is printed by the library for exchange purposes.

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Air Force on old campus - early 1940s

Air Force enlistees arriving on the old campus in the early 1940s. They will complete military coursework before departing for active duty. Wartime affected many of Colby’s operations and plans.

The 1940s: Practical realities and personal resolve


At the recommendation of President Johnson, Professor Carl Weber, head of the English Department, is appointed Curator of Rare Books. Weber had been acting in this role unofficially for several years. Librarian Rush uses the term “Special Collections” in his 1941 report.

Books, manuscripts and personal papers of Edwin Arlington Robinson are deposited with the library and announced publicly by H Bacon Collamore. A steel cabinet has been installed in the college’s vault at the First National Bank to house the Robinson Collection.

65 items from the Hardy Collection have been borrowed by four institutions for exhibition purposes in the past several years.

The Book Arts Collection is being expanded and promoted. The Colbiana Collection is being expanded with books by Colby authors and biographical information on early graduates.

Exhibits of items from the Book Arts and Rare Book collections commemorate the 500th anniversary of printing with movable type. An exhibit of Thomas Hardy materials celebrates Hardy’s centennial with an accompanying pamphlet.


A comprehensive index of the Lincoln Collection is completed and submitted to the Colby Alumnus.

The Robinson, Hardy and Book Arts collections have been expanded through gifts. Special Collections is now newsworthy via the college publicity department, with articles in local, New York, Boston and London newspapers bringing more attention and gifts.

President-elect Bixler gives 75 James Family letters to the library. First edition presentation copies of Robinson volumes are received via the George Burnham estate. Dr Charles Spencer ’90 gives a 15th century bound manuscript of the Four Gospels. Rufus Jones gives his manuscript of “A Small Town Boy.”

Special Collections materials provide the library with several publication opportunities related to Thomas Hardy and William James.

Exhibits utilizing rare books commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hardy’s Tess, the centenary of William James and the works of William Wordsworth.


Indexes for the Alumnus and Oracle have been completed to date and an index for the Echo is in progress, to enhance the Colbiana Collection.

Exhibits using the Rare Book Collection include first editions of Tennyson, Wordsworth, Ben Ames Williams (with manuscript, a gift of the author) and Henry James (with letters).

Curator Weber has prepared an edition of two Hardy works and a volume of Robinson letters for publication by the library.

A temporary treasure room is completed within the fireproof Women’s Union on Mayflower Hill and most of the library’s rare and unique materials are relocated there pending completion of Miller Library.

The Colby Library Quarterly is established as a project of Curator Weber working with the Colby Library Associates. It is funded by four CLA members and aims to showcase rare items in the library.


Exhibits in the library feature rare and unique items from the Book Arts (Merrymount Press) and Lincoln Collection. Curator Weber maintains two exhibit cases in the temporary treasure room on Mayflower Hill.

The library published a checklist of the Lincoln Collection and a bibliography of Professor Carl Weber.

Gifts from the Colby Library Associates include several Kelmscott Press imprints, most notably the Works of Chaucer. Other rare book donations, such as Mammotrectus Super Bibliam by Johannes Marchsinus published in Venice in 1476, are received, also additions for the Colbiana Collection.

The Library promotes a Bibliography one-term course titled “Books and the Library” to expand its bibliographic instruction. The first part covers efficient and effective use of library materials while the second part explores books arts, development of printing and history of library using slides of items in the Rare Book Collection.


The library budget has been sharply decreased. Special Collections has had few additions this year but they are noteworthy: works by Sarah Orne Jewett, William Morris, Robert Louis Stevenson. The Hardy, Robinson and Book Arts collections received gifts, also the library’s first example of fore-edge painting.

A January 1945 report to the Miller Library Committee by Librarian Rush, as part of the sub-committee on the library areas within Miller, indicates that a Treasure Room on the first floor is well placed. Rush asks questions regarding the intended role of the library as it moves to Mayflower Hill: a general repository for scholarly resources or as one specifically serving of faculty teaching? The priority of acquiring special collections materials is unclear within the context of constrained resources and multiple demands.


Librarian Warner reports significant donations related to book arts, Jacob Abbott, and Charles Dickens, also a sizable addition, from H Bacon Collamore, to the Robinson manuscript collection. The treasure room in the Women’s Union holds numerous exhibits and scholarly talks to engage the student body.

Curator Weber presents his collection of Housman’s A Shropshire Lad to the library at the February 1946 meeting of the Colby Library Associates. The gift, reported in the Colby Library Quarterly, brings in additional Housman items.


In February 1947, James Humphry III is appointed Librarian. Gilmore Warner remains on staff as Associate Librarian and also teaches in the History Department.

Miller Library opens for classroom use in March 1947. The branch library in the Women’s Union remains open. Contents of the old library are moved to Miller in April. An open house is held in Miller in June.

Curator Weber’s 1947 report notes, in particular, a very large gift for the James Family Collection, from H Bacon Collamore, and additions to the Kelmscott Press Collection. The Colby Library Quarterly continues to bring in donations through greater visibility of the Treasure room and its contents. The treasure room is not used by faculty but, increasingly, by students for their individual research or for class visits, as in the Freshman English course.

Special exhibits in the treasure room in the Women’s Union are mounted for particular classes and for the Colby Library Associates meetings. A group of student members of the Colby Library Associates formed the Bibliophiles’ Club in order to explore bookish interests and book collecting. Significant coverage in major newspapers of Colby’s rare and unique materials has resulted in attention and use by scholars.

Curator Weber requests a permanent annual allocation for the Treasure Room, stating its benefit to the college and its institutional prestige.


In December 1947, the contents of the temporary treasure room in the Women’s Union are relocated to the Edwin Arlington Robinson Memorial Treasure Room in Miller Library, thus completing the move of all library materials to Miller. The Room is officially opened on December 12th and it featured the Robinson Collection and newly-acquired portrait of Robinson by Lilla Cabot Perry.

In their June 1948 reports, Librarian Humphry and Curator Weber note significant gifts from H Bacon Collamore (James family Collection) and James Augustine Healy, to establish his collection of Irish literature at Colby. Healy’s first gift is part of his collection of Cuala Press items.

The Librarian and Curator work together to resolve particular equipment issues in the Treasure Room. The Cataloguing Department continues to catalog Treasure Room materials.


James Augustine Healy presents first editions of James Brendan Connolly to his growing collection of Irish literature. Connolly celebrates his 80th birthday at Colby as Dean Ernest Marriner gives a talk on Connolly’s like and work. Healy presents additional Cuala Press items and also hundreds of books for the circulating collection.

Acquisition of the personal library of Thomas Sergeant Perry, from his daughter Margaret Perry, is announced as well as receipt of the poetry library of Harold Trowbridge Pulsifer, from his wife Susan Nichols Pulsifer. Both libraries are to be housed in special rooms when space becomes available.

Curator Weber reports that every section of the Freshman Composition course has visited the Treasure Room. Student and faculty use of the rare book collections has increased although the use is not substantial. The reclassification of thousands of Hardy and Robinson items, to correct past errors, has been accomplished by Librarian Humphry and the Cataloguing Department.


Librarian Humphry reports a large gift of books printed by the fine Anthoenson Press, which produces the Colby College Press publications. Significant additions to the Healy Collection and Sarah Orne Jewett Collection are noted.

Curator Weber reports progress in cataloguing and promoting the Treasure Room materials and requests resolution of facilities issues such as installing window screens to protect the collections.

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1956 convocation

The second (1956) of three academic convocations initiated by President Bixler in the 1950s to invigorate and strengthen the intellectual life of the campus.

The 1950s: Expansion and advocacy


Librarian Humphry is granted a leave of absence in May 1951, recalled to active military duty. Elizabeth Libbey, Associate Librarian, acts in his stead.

The Treasure Room offers exhibits throughout the year that align with topics selected for Colby Library Associates meetings.

Curator Weber reports that every freshman encountered the Treasure Room through the Freshman Composition sections but it is not clear what impact these class visits have on active use of the collections.

Librarian Humphry has completed the Vale Press Collection. Anticipating a year’s sabbatical leave, Weber has made arrangements with Acting Librarian Libbey to have a Treasure Room during open hours.


Acting Librarian Libbey reports three major gifts – the Pulsifer poetry collection, the Carpenter collection of illustrated children’s books (from Julia Carpenter) and additions to the Cuala Press and James Brendan Connolly collections. The final portion of the Thomas Sergeant Perry library is received in September 1951.

The Colby Library Associates hold six programs during the year. An exhibit of Maine imprints is offered as part of Waterville’s sesquicentennial celebration, held in July 1952.


The Senior Scholars program is adopted in spring 1953, necessitating the library to plan for acquiring specialized materials. The Colby Library Associates hold seven programs during the year, five of which were accompanied by exhibits. Featured are the Thomas Bird Mosher Press, Beatrix Potter, Vernon Lee and the Cuala Press.

The library holds an essay contest with suggested topics: The Collecting of a Student’s Library’ What Makes a Book a Classic; The Value of the Treasure Room Collection to Colby’s Student Body.

Gifts are received relating to book arts, Vernon Lee, Edwin Arlington Robinson, the Cuala Press, Sarah Orne Jewett, Henry James, the Rubaiyat, Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Harold Trowbridge Pulsifer, Colbiana, Margaret Deland.

Curator Weber reports that the student body has shown little or no interest in the Treasure Room collections despite arranged visits by Freshman and Sophomore English students in September 1952. Weber sees his efforts to engage the student body as a failure. However, the collections have seen more use by faculty. Significant publications concerning the collections have brought greater visibility and have aided the completion of doctoral degrees by visiting scholars. Weber notes that the strong dependence on gifts could be alleviated if an endowment was established for the Treasure Room.


Acting Librarian Libbey reports that cataloguing of the extensive Perry and Pulsifer libraries, and their relocation to the Treasure Room locked stacks, has been completed.

Curator Weber acknowledges the decision of James Augustine Healy to supplement his gift of Cuala Press books with the gift of his entire collection of modern Irish literature. This extensive acquisition necessitates discussion of insufficient space, staffing and budget for the Treasure Room. Weber emphasizes the commitment made by the college to properly house the Healy, Perry and Pulsifer libraries. He recommends that, if the college will not allocate adequate resources to process and store its rare books and special collections materials, it should stop accepting such gifts altogether.


Librarian Humphry returns from military duty in July 1954. He notes that space in Miller Library is at a premium. Housing of the extensive Healy Collection has been discussed with the donor, who has offered funds for constructing the room. The indecision of the college concerning rooms for the Perry and Pulsifer libraries remains an anxious situation for both donors, the Librarian and Curator Weber.

Significant acquisitions for Special Collections relate to Sarah Orne Jewett (letters) and James Brendan Connolly (first appearances, given by the author). The family of Nathaniel Butler gives Hannibal Hamlin’s personal Bible. H Bacon Collamore gives an extensive collection of first editions of modern American authors from his own library. The Capon Collection of graphic arts is received, with an article written by Librarian Humphry for the Colby Library Quarterly.


Librarian Humphry has hired a rare book cataloguer to address the serious cataloguing backlog of Special Collections materials. The pressing issue of rooms allocated for the Perry and Pulsifer libraries has become urgent. Expansion of the library’s circulating collection also exacerbates the Miller space problem. He recommends removal of non-library departments to make full use of the building.

Ruth Robinson Nivison, within her rights as depositor of the Robinson Collection, requested release of one manuscript (“Maya”) for auction to support Poetry Magazine. The buyer of the manuscript, Louis H Silver, returned the item to Colby as a donation.

Gifts are received for the Hardy and Jewett collections. Professor Richard Cary is planning to publish an edition of Jewett letters using the collection. The noteworthy 1493 Liber Chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle) is received from Harris A Dunn, a professional associate of James Augustine Healy, who facilitated the gift.


Librarian Humphry reports continued expansion of the library’s collection and use of the materials. Space is an issue for both book storage and readers. The cataloguing backlog of Treasure Room materials has been somewhat alleviated but remains an urgent matter given the special skills required. The Vernon Lee and Eugene Lee-Hamilton collections need especial attention.

Librarian Humphry retires at the end of the 1956-1957 academic year. The anticipated retirement of Curator Weber in 1959 necessitates planning for administration of the Treasure Room and editorship of the Colby Library Quarterly.

Significant gifts are received from James Augustine Healy for his Irish literature collection, notably the works of J. M. Synge. Healy also facilitated an extensive gift of James Brendan Connolly materials from his daughter, Brenda Connolly, on the recent event of Connolly’s death.

Curator Weber repeats earlier concerns about the lack of progress in completing the library building to address promises made to donors, notably Margaret Perry and Susan Pulsifer. Additionally, there has been no decision made on housing the college’s archival materials, the Colbiana Collection, which has been an intruder in the Treasure Room since its opening.


Librarian Humphry resigns in October 1957 and John McKenna is appointed his successor.

Librarian McKenna reports continued gifts from James Augustine Healy, also a rare copy of St Ambrose’s Commentary of the Gospel of Luke (1476). The Civil War diaries and papers of Richard Cutts Shannon ’62 were presented by his son.

A grant of $400 from the American College and Reference Libraries is used to purchase an exhibition case for the Treasure Room. Space issues in Miller have worsened as library usage has increased. The Librarian urges a comprehensive discussion of the demands for Miller services and how the library spaces can be best utilized.

Curator Weber’s final report gives an assessment of the Treasure Room and its growth. The Colby Library Quarterly remains a respected and effective means for promoting the collections and encouraging donations.

He notes that use of the Treasure Room is minimal by both faculty and students. There is more interest in the collections from non-Colby scholars and students. He recommends a successor who is keenly interested in using the materials at this critical juncture. He sees no one on the current Colby faculty suitable for the Curacy.

Weber will continue editorship of the Colby Library Quarterly until the August 1959 issue. Discussion is needed on whether this particular responsibility should reside formally within the Curator’s purview.


Librarian McKenna reports that, in February 1959, classrooms and faculty offices were moved to the newly-completed Lovejoy building, leaving several areas available for library use. Long term configuration of Miller Library needs careful discussion, which must include the college’s promises of dedicated rooms for the Healy, Perry and Pulsifer libraries. In addition, the rapidly growing Colbiana Collections must be addressed.

Professor Richard Cary is appointed Curator of Rare Books. In his first report, he defines a modified collecting strategy to emphasize Maine, New England and United States authors. Dedicated cataloguing assistance has uncovered valuable materials that will be described in forthcoming issues of the Colby Library Quarterly.

Extensive donations include items received from James Augustine Healy (Irish literature) and President Bixler (James family Collection). Bern Porter ’32 gives a collection of fine printings from the Bern Porter Press.


Librarian McKenna anticipates completion of the Administration Building, which will yield much-needed areas for library use. He recommends that the president convene a special committee to examine library-related issues.

Curator Cary reports for the Division of Rare Books, Manuscripts and Special Collections. A comprehensive rearrangement of the collections has improved accessibility. Some materials have been deaccessioned into the circulating collection. Classroom chairs in the Treasure Room have been removed to increase exhibition areas.

The Colby Library Quarterly has changed in format to accommodate longer scholarly articles, with each issue devoted to a single author. A promotional brochure has been produced to encourage membership in the Colby Library Associates.

Significant donations include an extensive collection of Willa Cather’s works, more books for the Healy Collection and typescripts annotated by Erskine Caldwell.

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Bixler - CLA - Mar 1965

President Emeritus Bixler addressing the Colby Library Associates in March 1965. The CLA would remain a vital force behind Special Collections into the 1970s.

The 1960s: New opportunities


Librarian McKenna acknowledges significant gifts for the Treasure Room: additional books from James Augustine Healy (Healy Collection); manuscripts and letters from Margaret Perry (Thomas Sergeant Perry Collection); and, manuscripts and letters from Mrs. Lienhard Bergel to establish the Elizabeth Akers Allen Collection.

Administrative offices moved from Miller Library to the newly-completed Eustis Building in March 1961. Some academic departments will move into the library building. Librarian McKenna met with an architectural consultant and campus administrators to discuss renovations of the Miller Library facility, recommending that library needs be given priority over those of other residents of the building.

The implementation of Jan Plan will have an impact on library demands and services.

Curator Cary reports that all extraneous furnishings have been removed after the administrative offices relocated to Eustis, thus allowing office space for the Curator and Special Collections Cataloguer. The Robinson Room is now used solely for storage and exhibition of the collections.

Weeding of irrelevant and duplicate materials has improved the storage conditions. Recent issues of the Colby Library Quarterly features Vernon Lee, Edwin Arlington Robinson and James Stephens. James Augustine Healy donated more books and also a bronze bust of Stephens for the Healy Collection.

Donors have been encouraged to adopt particular collections for Jacob Abbott, Laura E Richards, Willa Cather, Laurence Housman and Thomas Bird Mosher imprints. Gifts have been received for writers Margaret Flint, Laura E Richards, Kenneth Roberts, Booth Tarkington, Ben Ames Williams, Mary Ellen Chase and Thomas Sergeant Perry. Additional Robinson materials include the 1910 portrait of EAR by William Sherman Potts.


Librarian KcKenna notes decisive changes in the Miller Library facility, completed during the summer of 1961, to improve services. Architectural consultant recommendations include placement of the Colbiana Collection on the third floor. Jan Plan has placed extra demand on the reference and periodical collections, in particular, and some adjustments are needed as this new program develops.

The Spa, on the ground floor of the Miller building, detracts from the academic nature of Miller Library. The administration is urged to consider relocation of the Spa.

Curator Cary reports that promotion of Colby’s book and manuscript collections, via personal correspondence and public presentations by the Curator, has resulted in heightened donations, requests for scholarly use and membership in the Colby Library Associates.

Recent issues of the Colby Library Quarterly featured Mary Ellen Chase, Julius Seelye Bixler and Laura E Richards. The resignation of the Special Collections cataloguer and insufficient budget is unfortunate.

New acquisitions include items related to the Mosher Press, Jacob Abbott, Mary Ellen Chase, John Masefield, Laurence Housman, Willa Cather and Laura E Richards. The presidential autograph collection is now complete. Additional volumes are received for the Healy Collection.


The John and Catherine Healy Memorial Room is completed in early March 1963 and the Healy Collection relocated to shelves there in the spring. Construction is started on the third floor of Miller Library, to complete much-needed reading rooms. One room will house the Pulsifer Collection, another will house the Perry Collection.

With the support of Dean Marriner, Librarian McKenna proposes relocating the Colbiana Collection to rooms properly outfitted on the second floor. The collection is in danger of deterioration and loss due to lack of proper archival storage.

The Colby Library Quarterly features Edwin Arlington Robinson, Kenneth Roberts, Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Charles Dickens, Edna St Vincent Millay and other writers well represented in Special Collections. The Robinson Room has been busy with visiting scholars.

A record number of gifts are received, including a tiny book containing the Lord’s Prayer in seven languages, handwritten. Large additions are received for the Edwin Arlington Robinson and the Ben Ames Williams collections.


Curator Cary reports a continued, serious cataloguing backlog in both the Robinson and Healy rooms. The Pulsifer and Perry libraries have been relocated to respectively, the Pulisfer Poetry Room and the Perry Room. Another third-floor room is dedicated, during the Lovejoy Convocation, as the Academy of New England Journalists Room.

Early in September 1963, one second-floor room was prepared for the Colbiana Collection. An adjacent room will be needed to house the entire collection.

The Colby Library Associates continue to purchase materials for Special Collections as well as the reference and circulating collections.

The Colby Library Quarterly features Ben Ames Williams, Sarah Orne Jewett and modern Irish authors, also President Emeritus Bixler and President Strider. A significant addition is made to the Ben Ames Williams collection.


Librarian McKenna leaves Colby in August 1964 to become librarian at Middlebury College. Kenneth Blake become Acting Librarian.

Curator Cary reports significant processing progress due to the addition of a full-time cataloguer in Special Collections and part-time secretarial assistance. A dry-process photocopier has facilitated requests for copies of unpublished and non-circulating materials. In collaboration with the Librarian, a vestibule has been constructed to showcase the memorabilia of Edwin Arlington Robinson, Elizabeth Akers Allen and other Maine authors.

Through the Colby Library Associates, a microfilm file is established of unpublished doctoral dissertations focused on writers represented in the Robinson Room. Student use of Special Collections has increased due to the January Program and Senior Scholars projects.

A marked increase in gifts is seen. Significant additions are reported in the Colby library Quarterly.


Librarian Blake reports that Miller Library will require additional storage space in approximately seven years. The Library Committee is exploring possible expansion areas including Averill and Johnson halls.

Special Collections materials are located in various areas throughout the library. Librarian Blake recommends that dedicated spaces be retained while consolidating the other materials into Colbiana, Rare Book and Manuscripts and the Healy Collection of Irish Literature.

Curator Cary reports that a new card catalog and new exhibit case in the center of the Robinson Room have improved access and appearances. Significant gifts relate to Ben Ames Williams, the Civil War, book history (16th through 19th centuries) and popular periodicals with contributions by Maine writers. Additional books for the Perry library are received. Four Colby Librray Associates programs are held.


Librarian Blake explains that continued mutilation, theft and mis-shelving of periodicals has necessitated creation of a new Periodical Room, for greater surveillance. Increased acquisitions for the general collection has burdened the Catalog Department and additional staff is needed.

Curator Cary reports the Special Collections cataloguer has made substantial progress with the backlog of rare books. Membership in the Colby Library Associates has increased steadily. The Colby Library Quarterly remains an effective voice for Special Collections. Twice as many students utilized the collections during the January program, compared with the previous year.

Significant acquisitions are Waldo Peirce’s collection of correspondence with Ernest Hemingway and other associates of the Lost Generation. Bern Porter adds to his collection of avant-garde writers. Rosamond Thaxter gives additional books inscribed by her grandmother, Celia Thaxter. Funds from the Colby Library Associates made possible purchase of letters and manuscripts for major writers. Two programs are given by the Associates.


Librarian Blake reports that carpeting installed in the main reading rooms had significantly reduced ambient noise. Exhibits this year include an extensive display of Bern Porter ’32 materials in the Robinson Room. The Library Committee reviews and supersedes its 1966 recommendations in a February 1968 memo, which urges planning for a major addition to Miller Library and reallocation of present spaces for greater efficiency. Comparisons are made with peer institutions.

Curator Cary notes that a thorough inventory of the manuscript holdings has reduced the amount of extraneous materials such as typed copies and photocopies. The January Program continues to bring students to Special Collections. Two students indexed letters by Vernon Lee, continuing this work into the spring semester.

A wide range of scholarly inquiries attests to the high reputation, throughout the world, of Colby and its repository of rare and unique materials.

Additions to the Edwin Arlington Robinson Collection anticipate the poet’s centennial next year. Waldo Peirce adds books and three scrapbooks to his collection of Ernest Hemingway materials. Other significant donations come from Rosamond Thaxter and Ben Ames Williams. The Colby Library Associates continue to purchase microfilmed dissertations that relate to major writers in Special Collections.

The separation of Commencement and Alumni Reunion into two different weekends has caused the Associates to cease the annual June meeting. Officers will now be elected for two year terms with ballots circulated to the membership via the June issue of the Colby Library Quarterly. The offices of Student Vice-Presidents are eliminated as they no longer serve a useful function. No students competed for the Associates’ Book prize this year.


Librarian Blake notes the urgent need for an audio-visual room managed by a director who can effectively oversee the equipment and provide instruction.

Curator Cary reports the focus of this year being the centennial of Edwin Arlington Robinson. An extensive exhibit in the Robinson Room, several programs and dedicated issues of the Colby Library Quarterly brought attention to this large and distinctive collection.

January Plan projects continue to bring students, researching modern Irish writers, Thomas hardy, Sarah Orne Jewett, the Rubaiyat and other topics.

Bern Porter contributes additional books for his collection of modern and avant-garde writers, with many of the books inscribed by the authors. Additions are received for the Robinson, Jewett, Mosher Press and Celia Thaxter collections.


Based on discussions by the Library Committee and a campus questionnaire, Miller Library will increase its open hours.

Curator Cary reports that the full-time rare books assistant position has been divided into a half-time secretarial position supporting the Curator and a half-time typist for the Special Collections cataloguer. This change has increased the productivity of the Special Collections staff.

The closing weekend-long program for the Robinson Centennial is held in October 1969. The Colby College Press issues a monograph on the reception of Robinson’s work, written by Curator Cary.

Significant acquisitions include an extensive collection of Booth Tarkington letters, from Mrs Oscar Cox, and additional books and manuscripts for the Perry Collection, from Margaret Perry.

In an October 1969 Ten-Year Report for President Strider, Curator Cary looks back over the progress made during the 1960s in his Division of Rare Books & Manuscripts. He notes substantial improvements in all aspects: growth of the collections, renovation of physical spaces, robust use by students, faculty and outside scholars, widespread visibility and prestige via the Colby Library Quarterly and Colby College Press.

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Con Con 1972

The second Con Con (Constitutional Convention) in 1972. The early ’70s were marked by shifts in student attitudes and institutional policies.

The 1970s: New directions


Associate Librarian Elizabeth Libbey retires in June 1970.

Curator Cary reports great progress in reducing the cataloguing backlog. Student project focus on modern Irish and avant-garde writers as in previous years. Exhibits in the Robinson Room promote the Booth Tarkington and Thomas Sergeant Perry collections.

The largest gifts supplement the Bern Porter, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Celia Thaxter and Ben Ames Williams collection. The estate of Irene Cooper Willis brings in more Vernon Lee materials. The Healy Fund is used to supplement the Healy Collections via purchases. The Mosher Press Collection is expanded.


Curator Cary acknowledges a substantial acquisition of Edwin Arlington Robinson memorabilia from the Robinson Birthplace. A cash gift from friends of the late Ruth Robinson Nivison enabled purchase of more Robinson letters.

Bern Porter continues to supplement his collection. Former President Bixler gives letters by Albert Schweitzer and books by William James. The Healy Fund allowed purchase of works by neo-Renaissance Irish writers. Ben Ames Williams, Jr added to his father’s collection.

Students have been using the Healy Collection regularly, also other materials. This interest is seen as a positive sign of more scholarly attitudes among the student body.


Curator Cary reports that a comprehensive reclassification of all letters and manuscripts is now complete. A steady deaccessioning of irrelevant items from the books section has yielded funds to supplement the collections of major writers.

A special exhibit, and Colby Library Quarterly articles, commemorate the centennial of Willa Cather.

Donations are received from Bern Porter and Rosamond Thaxter. A significant gift is given by Susan Pulsifer of letters and books, the third large installment for the Pulsifer Collection.

Student use of the collections include analysis of the Nuremberg Chronicle and study of writers in the Bern Porter and Healy collections.


Librarian Blake‘s retirement in 1973 begins a three year period of Acting Librarians.

Curator Cary notes that the remote control security system in the Robinson Room has been revised and extended to the Healy Room. The system when activated will alert campus guards and the Waterville Police Department.

An alphabetical file containing photographs of authors represented in the collection is assembled in order to facilitate their use in Colby Library Quarterly publications and in reference service.

A systematic weeding of volumes unrelated to the Irish Renaissance is instituted in the Healy Room.

A special exhibit on Booth Tarkington is completed in the Robinson Room.

An exceptional number of Thomas Hardy scholars use the Hardy Collection this year. Other writers sought are Edwin Arlington Robinson, Henry James and Sarah Orne Jewett.

Continued gifts are received from Bern Porter, Susan Pulsifer, the Colby Library Associates and Rosamond Thaxter.


In his final report, Curator Cary explains that he sharply curtails solicitations this year in order to concentrate on cataloguing Robinson Room materials and addressing backlog issues.

Research requests continue to come in for Thomas Hardy, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Sarah Orne Jewett and Henry James materials. Colby students are especially attracted to the Bern Porter Collection. Three students visited Porter at his home in Belfast.

Significant donation are received from Susan Pulsifer, John Eastman, Jr (the Thomas Mann Collection), Patrick Ferry (Willa Cather, Thomas Hardy and William Morris/Kelmscott collections), Bern Porter and the Colby Library Associates.

Works consulted:

Annual Report of the Librarian, 1935-1975. Colbiana Collection. Colby College Special Collections.

The Colby Echo. Waterville, ME: Colby University/Colby College. Web. 17 February 2015.

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