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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in three series.
R. K. Webb's Professorial Memorial Collection contains materials related to the lives and work, and professional memorials for, three Columbia University professors known by Webb: J. Bartlet Brebner, Stephen Koss, and Garrett Mattingly. The collection documents the work of the Brebner Memorial Fund, and includes promotional and organizational records, correspondence to and from Webb and other officers of the Fund, lists of microfilm materials to be acquired by the Fund, and papers regarding the memorial volume for Brebner. Other materials regarding Brebner include Brebner's research notes and chapter drafts of his unfinished book on industrializing Britain, academic articles retained by Brebner and some unrelated ephemera.
The Professorial Memorial Collection also documents the activities of, and professional memorial for, Stephen Koss, and the relationship between this student of Webb's, and later, Webb's colleague and friend. The collection includes materials from Koss's memorial, extensive correspondence between Webb and Koss, Webb's letters of recommendation for Koss, and other material concerning Koss's efforts to facilitate access to The Woods Collection.
Lastly, the collection contains materials concerning the professional memorial and festschrift for Columbia University Professor of History Garrett Mattingly.
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 three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions. Some personal material may be restricted due to the presence of personal names and information.
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.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Professorial Memorial Collection: Brebner, Koss, Mattingly, Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Material at Columbia
Additions are not expected
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Source of acquisition--Professor Emeritus R.K. Webb. Date of acquisition--1993.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Collection, processed Justin Jackson, GSAS 2012 6/2008.
Finding aid wittten by Justin Jackson, 2008.
2009-03-05 File created.
2009-04-13 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Professor of History Emeritus R.K. Webb, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, graduated from Columbia University with a Ph.D. in History in 1951 and taught in the History department at Columbia from 1953 to 1985, before moving to the Department of History at UMBC. Webb is a noted scholar of British social history and British working-class literature, and a former editor of the American Historical Review, the central scholarly history journal for the history profession in the United States. The papers in this collection document the lives and work of three professors whom Webb knew personally. As a graduate student at Columbia University, Webb received instruction from Professor of History John Bartlet Brebner (1895-1957), a well-known historian of Great Britain, British constitutional law and history, and Atlantic and Canadian history who taught at Columbia from 1925 until he died in 1957, and Professor of History Garrett Mattingly (1900-1962), who taught the history of early modern Europe at Columbia from 1948 until 1962, one year before he died. As Professor of History at Columbia University in the 1950s and 1960s, Webb instructed and mentored Stephen Koss (1940-1984), who later taught at Barnard and Columbia University until his death in 1984.
Webb was central to preserving the memory of the lives and contributions of Professors Brebner, Koss and Mattingly to Columbia University and the historical profession. Webb co-founded and coordinated the Brebner Memorial Fund (which was chaired by Professor Garrett Mattingly) soon after Brebner's death. The Memorial Fund was intended to foster Columbia University Department of History graduate students' study of historical topics relevant to Brebner's research by facilitating the acquisition of microfilms of British newspapers and other primary sources. Webb also preserved Brebner's research notes and chapter drafts of an unfinished book on industrializing Britain that Brebner was preparing when he died. According to Webb, the book and the accompanying notes and drafts had their origins in a popular lecture course Brebner taught at Columbia in the 1940s and 1950s. Webb and other colleagues interested in Brebner's project decided that Brebner's four chapter drafts in these files, while "admirable and elegant as they are as summaries of his matured views on the mid-eighteenth century" were not ready for publication at the time.
Webb also participated in the memorialization of Barnard College Professor of History Stephen Koss, a former gradate student of Webb's at Columbia, and later colleague and friend. Correspondence between Webb and Koss in 1965 regarding Koss's dissertation, which Webb determined had to be nearly completely revised, caused considerable tension between Koss and his mentor, and in part illustrates the shifting norms of formality and formal communication and address in academic and professional life in the 1960s. This "contretemps" was clearly a sensitive matter for Webb, who attached to it his only note regarding any of the papers he donated in this collection.
Webb noted that his very formal addressing of Koss as "Dr. Mr. [sic] Koss" after recently addressing his correspondence to Koss with "Dear Stephen" had to be appreciated in a context of not only correspondence regarding Koss's dissertation, but Webb's professional maturation in the rather more formal environment that characterized academic life before the cultural revolutions of the 1960s"a background that probably few of my younger colleagues could understand in this informal age. I recall so vividly the transition from 'Mr.' to first-name status with my own teachers - - Howard Robinson at Oberlin, J.B. Brebner and Garrett Mattingly at Columbia, H.L. Beales at the London School of Economics - - it was long in coming and arrived at rather late in each of the relationships. And I know that in the 1960s I was still concerned about scrupulousness in this matter: in the simplest form that, prior to completion of the doctorate, when one was still, so to speak, sitting in judgment, maintaining a formal style was more appropriate. I have largely abandoned that scruple because present-day undergraduates would find it astonishing to be addressed by anything other than a first name, a case applying a fortiori to graduate students." Webb also followed Koss's frustrated efforts to facilitate access to The Woods Collection, an archive dealing with the history of the twentieth-century British political press, a topic on which Koss was an expert, and contributed to professional memorials for Koss that culminated in a volume in his honor, J.M.W. Bean, ed., The Political Culture of Modern Britain: Studies in Memory of Stephen Koss (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1987).
Webb also preserved materials concerning the professional memorial and festschrift for Columbia University Professor of History Garrett Mattingly, who supervised Webb's studies as a graduate student at Columbia along with Brebner. Webb participated in the professional memorial and helped to prepare a volume of essays dedicated to the memory of Mattingly and his scholarship, From the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation: Essays in Honor of Garrett Mattingly, edited and with an introduction by Charles H. Carter (New York: Random House, 1965).