Scope and Contents
||Poems, essays, correspondence, and catalogs make up the bulk of the Edgar Allan Poe
Collection, 1766-1974 (bulk 1829-1850). The collection is organized into two series:
I. Poe Works and Letters, 1829-1911, and II. Materials about Poe and His Works,
1766-1974. This collection has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective
||The Poe Works and Letters series contains about fifteen works mostly handwritten by
Poe, some of which are fragments and all of which are from the last fourteen years
of his life. About seventy letters written by Poe are also present, spanning
1829-1849 and readily demonstrating Poe's wide range of correspondents. Most of
letters are personal, though many include details of business and pleas for loans.
Many of Poe's letters and works are accompanied by correspondence between book
dealers and William Koester, descriptions of the items as they appeared in auction
or sale catalogues, and other provenance information.
||Materials about Poe and His Works is a broad-ranging series which encompasses a large
number of letters between friends, relatives, collectors, and critics of Poe.
not all of the correspondence is specifically about Poe, it provides context for
life. Also included in this series are a number of works, most about Poe's life
work, but also some contextual works. Additionally, there are many items of Poe
ephemera, much of it collected by James Whitty, as well as a number of items
withdrawn from books donated by Poe scholars and fans, and a few forgeries which
were at one time attributed to Poe.
||Series I. Poe Works and Letters, 1829-1911
||The Poe Works and Letters series is divided into four subseries: A. Works,
1835-1911; B. Letters, 1829-1849; C. Legal Documents, 1841-1848; and D.
Personal Effects. Because each work and letter in this series is described
individually in the following container list, there are no separate indexes
of Poe works or correspondents included in this guide. "Moldenhauer numbers"
(e.g. M1, M2, etc.) are included in the following container list; these
numbers correlate with detailed bibliographical descriptions that appear in
Joseph J. Moldenhauer's A Descriptive Catalog of
Edgar Allan Poe Manuscripts in the Humanities Research Center Library
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973).
||The Works subseries, arranged alphabetically by title, includes fourteen
complete and partial critical essays written by Poe as well as two long
tales and six drafts and copies of poems. A complete version of The Domain of Arnheim, written on small pieces
of paper connected together and then rolled into two scrolls, is
particularly noteworthy as is a published copy of The
Raven and Other Poems with corrections and revisions by Poe.
Other complete pieces include handwritten and typescript versions of "The Spectacles," a Valentine's Day poem to
Miss Olivia Hunter, and an essay on American poetesses. Fragmentary pieces
of other works are also present, including segments of a proposed critical
work to have been called Literary America, as well as some pieces associated
with Marginalia, and a fair copy of the last stanza of "The Raven." A unique and particularly
beautiful item, Selected Poems of Edgar Allan
Poe, is an illuminated manuscript containing "The Raven," "The Bells," and "Lenore," produced and bound by Messrs. Robert Riviere &
Son in 1911.
||The Letters subseries contains seventy-one letters or fragments of letters
written by Poe between 1829 and 1849. While the majority of the letters are
personal correspondence, many of the letters carry a business-like tone as
Poe frequently sought financial support from his friends and acquaintances,
either in an effort to start a new project or merely for subsistence. The
recipients of this correspondence include Charles Bristed, George Eveleth,
George Graham, Horace Greeley, Rufus Griswold, Sarah J. Hale, John P.
Kennedy, Estelle Anna Lewis, John Neal, Frances S. Osgood, Frederick W.
Thomas, Sarah Helen Whitman, and others. This subseries also includes a
single letter received by Poe, from Nathaniel Parker Willis.
||The small Legal Documents subseries includes several promissory notes signed
by Poe to various friends and business partners including John W. Albright,
John Bisco, and L. A. Godey, as well as contracts signed with John Bisco and
G. P. Putnam.
||The Personal Effects subseries includes a lock of Poe's hair and a file of
letters and certified documents authenticating a desk used by Poe when he
worked for the Southern Literary
||Series II. Materials about Poe and His Works, 1766-1974
||The Materials about Poe and His Works series is divided into four subseries:
A. Works about Poe, 1766-1973; B. Correspondence about Poe, 1780-1974; C.
Poe Ephemera and Book Withdrawals; and D. Poe Forgeries. Some of this
material is, at best, loosely associated with Poe, and represents the
collecting proclivities of Whitty and Koester.
||The Works about Poe subseries, arranged alphabetically by author, contains
Hervey Allen's Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar
Allan Poe, Julian Hawthorne's "My
Adventure with Edgar Allan Poe," Thomas Mabbott's thesis New
Light on Poe: Additional Notes on the Poems Prior to 1831, and Walt
Whitman's essay "Edgar Poe's
Significance." In addition to writings specifically about Poe there
are a number of poems by Poe's contemporaries and a few items which provide
historical context for Poe's life. These include a 1781 petition signed by
David Poe, a contract for the sale of land by Joseph Logan in 1818, poems by
Estelle Lewis, and John Ambler's last will and testament (1766). Also
present in this section are several works describing the Whitty and Koester
collections. Individual items in this section are listed in the Index of
Works by Other Authors in this guide.
||The Correspondence about Poe subseries contains materials specifically
relating to Poe as well as to the collection of his writings. For example,
William Griswold carried on extensive correspondence with George Woodberry
concerning a proposed book, The Life of Edgar Allan Poe, which was never
written, and several letters were written to Griswold seeking to purchase
his Poe materials. There are also a few letters from people associated with
Poe, such as John Allan and Maria Clemm, which are present because of that
association, rather than any specific references to Poe in the letters. Some
of the more notable correspondents in this section include Charles
Baudelaire, Charles Dickens, Horace Greeley, William Griswold, Oliver
Wendell Holmes, John P. Kennedy, William Koester, David Poe, Edmund Stedman,
James H. Whitty, George Woodberry, and others. Individual letter writers are
listed in the Index of Correspondents in this guide.
||Poe Ephemera and Book Withdrawals includes booksellers' descriptions of Poe
materials, letterhead and bills from hotels Poe stayed in (not bills to
Poe), notes and letters found in collections of books by and about Poe
donated to the Ransom Center, and a collection of receipts and signatures of
people connected to Poe or who are otherwise well known. A list of the
authors of these signatures and receipts is included in this guide.
||The final subseries is Poe Forgeries. This section contains two letters and
one poem which were previously attributed to Poe, but which have since been
identified as forgeries. The poem "The Lady
Hubbard" was printed in Godey's
Magazine in December 1849 along with a letter, dated April 1, 1849,
and both were attributed to Poe. The second letter, addressed to Thomas
Warren Field and dated August 9, 1845, was copied from either the facsimile
reproduced on the cover of the William E. Benjamin catalogue (No. 30, April
1890), a rare catalogue of Poe materials, or possibly from the original
letter. The original letter was most recently located in the Bradley Martin
Collection, New York.