The papers of Barbara McLain contain personal correspondence and other communications
related to books and book collecting. McLain appears to have been an avid collector
of twentieth century literature and first editions, especially those of Christopher
Morley and Ernest Hemingway. The papers are arranged in two series: I.
Correspondence, 1928-1956, and II. Other Papers, 1919-1970.
There is extensive correspondence from Ben Abramson, owner of The Argus Book Shop,
sent to Barbara McLain, first from Chicago and then New York, between 1928 and
The discussions in these letters are wide-ranging, beginning with formal reading
suggestions and growing to include more personal topics, such as a vacation Abramson
took to Mexico and his thoughts on World War II. The correspondence breaks off
abruptly in 1953. There is one folder of drafts of letters sent from McLain to
Abramson, but these letters are much fewer in number than Abramson's.
Catalogs, book announcements, and invoices that document McLain's book buying are
also present in the collection. The catalogs are all from The Argus Book Shop
Argus Books, but there are announcements and invoices from a number of other book
sellers as well, including James F. Drake, Inc. of New York, and the Artemisia
Shop in San Diego. Several folders of personal and family papers also show McLain's
interest in books and book collecting, with lists of books she read and articles
book collecting techniques.