Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Susan Otis Thompson papers, 1965-1992, bulk 1970-1980

Summary Information

Abstract

The papers consist primarily of correspondence and documentation related to her professional activities as a professor, a librarian, and a scholar of early print and book history.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1561
Bib ID 6915494 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Thompson, Susan Otis
Title Susan Otis Thompson papers, 1965-1992, bulk 1970-1980
Physical Description 1.05 linear feet (1.05 linear feet 2.5 document boxes)
Language(s) English
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection has been left in its original physical order but has been intellectually arranged into six series. Although a few papers have been assigned as general correspondence, it should be noted that all six series contain correspondence specific to their respective topics. Series I. Columbia University School of Library Service, 1972-1987, Undated Series II. Correspondence -- General, 1969-1992 Series III: Professional Development, 1976-1977, 1980, 1986, 1991-1993 Series IV. Publications, 1965-1986 Series V. Service and Committees, 1971-1979, 1982 Series VI. Speaking Engagements, 1971-1980.

Description

Summary

Thompson's papers consist primarily of correspondence, clippings, and printed materials related to her professional activities as a librarian, teacher, and scholar of book history.

The strength of the papers lies in their documentation of topics pertaining to the history of libraries, books, and library science in the late twentieth century. A scholar in early book history and book design, her papers contain documentation and artifacts from Thompson's research, as well as correspondence with Leo Wyatt, L. Carrington Goodrich, and Herbert Kleist. Thompson's papers also document the activities of the now-defunct School of Library Service at Columbia University, including the establishment of a rare books librarianship concentration that would later become the Rare Book School, and the activities of numerous library- and book history-related organizations, most notably the formative years of the American Printing History Association (APHA). The papers also include manuscript drafts, speeches, and correspondence related to Thompson's research, publications, and speaking engagements.

Of additional note is a manuscript on the state of libraries in Nigeria and Kenya (1965). A small set of black-and-white photographs are included with the report.

The collection contains a small amount of information describing the Grolier Club's contribution to the establishment of the Columbia University rare books progam, but little else of note. Papers related to the William Morris Society are too few to be considered significant.

The material type of the collection is mixed.

  • Series I. Columbia University School of Library Service, 1972-1987, Undated

    This series consists of correspondence, newsletters, committee minutes, notes, and event documentation related to the activities and operations of the Columbia University School of Library Service. The series includes a selection of issues of Library Service News, offering insight into the regular activities of the department, faculty, and alumni, as well notes, place cards, and photographic slides from early printing and private press exhibits held in the library. This series also contains documentation of the establishment of a program concentration in Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Special Collections, including an unsigned letter draft presumably written by Terry Belanger in which he details the need for the program and provides a brief synopsis on the Grolier Club's association with it, and on the 1987 conference on Libraries and Scholarly Communication in the United States sponsored jointly by Columbia University and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

  • Series II. Correspondence -- General

    This series contains correspondence and related materials that do not explicitly relate to Columbia University's School of Library Service or Thompson's professional development activities, publications, service activities, or speaking engagements. (Correspondence related to such categories are housed in their respective series.) This series contains correspondence with Leo Wyatt on the topic of calligraphy (1977-1981), L. Carrington Goodrich on the disputed timeline of Oriental printing (1969-1992), and Herbert Kleist on book bindings (1974-1975).

  • Series III. Professional Development, 1976-1977, 1980, 1986, 1991-1993

    This series contains documentation of seminars and conferences that Thompson attended as an attendee rather than a speaker. Invitations, schedules, and lists of registrants are included.

  • Series IV. Publications and Manuscripts

    This series contains correspondence, manuscripts, clippings, and notes related to articles and books written by, edited by, and compiled by Thompson, including Caxton: An American Contribution to the Quincentenary Celebration (1976) and American Book Design and William Morris (1977). This series also contains a manuscript report on the state of libraries in Nigeria and Kenya (1965) with a small set of accompanying black-and-white photographs.

  • Series V. Service and Committees, 1971-1979, 1982

    This series includes correspondence, minutes, and related materials documenting the committees and advisory councils on which Thompson served. (Service specific to the Columbia University School of Library Service is located in Series I.) This series contains documentation from the first annual conference of the American Printing History Association (1976), which is also co-located in Series IV and VI.

  • Series VI. Speaking Engagements

    This series contains correspondence, documentation, notes, and text of speeches delivered by Thompson at panel, conference, and seminar appearances.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Name of Collection; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Accrual

No additions are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed by Kellie Walsh (Rutgers University, 2012).

Finding aid written by Kellie Walsh (Rutgers University, 2012) March 2011.

Revision Description

2011-05-20 File created.

2011-06-02 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Adams, Rrandolph Greenfield, 1892-1951 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
American Library Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
American Printing History Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
American Printing History Association. Annual Conference Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Arts and crafts movement Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Association of College and Reference Libraries (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Association of College and Reference Libraries (U.S.). Rare Books and Manuscripts Section. Preconference Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Beilenson, Edna, 1909-1981 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bellanger, Terry Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Book design -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Book design -- United States -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Caxton, William, approximately 1422-1491 or 1492 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. School of Library Service Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. School of Library Service -- : History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dunlap, Joseph R (Joseph Riggs), 1913- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Goodrich, L. Carrington (Luther Carrington), 1894-1986 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Graphic arts -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Grolier Club Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
History of the book Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kleist, Herbert, 1902-1986 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Leslie, Robert L., 1885-1987 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Librarianship and information studies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries -- Kenya Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Libraries -- Nigeria Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Morris, William, 1834-1896 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Conservation Advisory Council (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New York Library Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New York Metropolitan Reference and Research Library Agency Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Printing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Printing -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rare Book School Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rare books Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Shoemaker, Richard H Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Thompson, Susan Otis Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Trumbull College (Yale University) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wyatt, Leo, 1909-1981 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Susan Otis Thompson was a teacher, author, editor, lecturer, and researcher, best known for her scholarship on William Caxton and the history of the book.

Thompson enrolled at Columbia University's School of Library Service, where she earned both her M.S. (1963) and D.L.S. (1972). She began as an intern in the University Libraries Reference Department. She gradually took on teaching duties and rose through the academic ranks, becoming a teaching assistant, lecturer, preceptor, assistant professor, and finally an associate professor in 1978. Starting in 1966 she began teaching a course on the History of the Book that she would continue to teach until the school's closing in 1992. She also contributed, alongside Terry Belanger, to the establishment of Columbia's Master's program concentration in Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Special Collections, the first of its kind in the U.S. (1973). This program would later become the independent Rare Book School, now located at the University of Virginia.

With research interests in rare books and manuscripts, book and printing history, library history, rare book librarianship, book design, typography, graphic arts, and the Arts and Crafts movement, Thompson published American Book Design and William Morris in 1977 (Bowker), which was reprinted in 1996 by Oak Knoll Press and the British Library. As both a writer and editor, she contributed to numerous publications, including The Arts and Crafts Movement in America 1876-1916 (1994), The Heritage of the Graphic Arts Lecture Series: A Complete Listing (1994), and William Caxton: An American Contribution to the Quincentenary Celebration (1976), a chapbook published by the Typophiles printed for the Caxton International Congress (1976), which marked the 500th anniversary of the introduction of printing into England. Thompson also spoke around the country at seminars, conferences, and panel discussions.

Thompson was an active member of numerous book history societies, including the Typophiles, the William Morris Society, and the Corrodentia Society, and in 1977 she became one of the first women allowed to join the Grolier Club. She was also a founding member of the American Printing History Association (APHA) (1974) and served as the editor of APHA's semiannual journal Printing History from 1979-1983.

Thompson died of breast cancer in 2008.