Bibliographical Society

Annual Letter 2014

February 21, 2014

Dear Fellow Members,

The Society’s annual meeting for 2014 will be held on Friday, March 21, at 4:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library. Following a brief business meeting, we will hold another in our series of programs featuring short papers by current Virginia graduate students who are working in the general area of bibliographical and textual studies. The program will consist of the following four speakers (listed here with their topics):

James P. Ascher: the Paris edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia

Caitlin Conley: the text of Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona

Stephanie Kingsley: an analysis of a typescript of Ellen Glasgow’s In This Our Life

Ben Lee: Robert Frost’s revised poems and books

Following the papers, there will be a reception in the rooms of Rare Book School on the first floor of Alderman Library.

In the business part of the meeting, preceding the talks, the winners of the Battestin Fellowships for this year will be announced, and the prizes in the Society’s biennial student book-collecting contest will be awarded. The Battestin Fellowships, which were given for the first time last year, are named in honor of Martin Battestin, emeritus professor of English at UVA, and his wife Ruthe, a literary scholar and long-time member of the Society’s Council, who has made extraordinary contributions of many kinds to the Society. The aim of the fellowships is to provide summer support for research in the UVA library by graduate students who are working on bibliographical or textual projects. The fellowship selection committee consists of Michael Suarez, David Whitesell, and me. Acknowledgment should be made here of the work of our Projects Committee (Terry Belanger, Nicole Bouché, and Anne Ribble, chair), which set up the framework for the fellowship program.

This year’s book-collecting contest is the fiftieth that the Society has sponsored–making Virginia’s the fifth oldest of the approximately fifty such collegiate contests in the United States. Winners will receive cash prizes and gift certificates from local booksellers. The first-place winner will also receive the BSUVA Fellowship for Rare Book School, providing a tuition-free opportunity to take one of RBS’s renowned courses. And the first-place winner will be eligible to participate in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. (Our previous winner, Andrew Ferguson, placed third in that national contest in 2012.) In addition, all contestants will be invited to attend an informal talk on book collecting by David Whitesell, curator in the Small Special Collections Library. Selections from the winning collections will be on display in a case on the first floor of Special Collections during the Virginia Festival of the Book (of which our meeting is a part) and for several weeks afterward. I wish to express the Society’s gratitude to Ruthe Battestin for chairing the contest committee and overseeing all the details that the contest involves; to David Whitesell and Fred Ribble, the other two contest judges; to  avid Whitesell again for his willingness to give a talk to the contestants; to the local booksellers who have contributed prizes; to Michael Suarez for the Rare Book School Fellowship; and to Terry Belanger for designing the contest poster.

Also in the business part of the meeting, we will vote on the election of one Councilor. This year it is Terry Belanger’s term that is ending. As you all know, he is the founder of Rare Book School, a University Professor at UVA, and an internationally known spokesman for the world of bibliography. His service on the Council has been indispensable, and we are fortunate that he is willing to stand for re-election (term ending in 2021).

Our meeting, as I mentioned, is part of the Virginia Festival of the Book. This year’s Festival, the twentieth, runs from March 19 through 23, and its roster of programs can be seen on its website, at We hope that many of our out-of-town members will find more reasons to come to Charlottesville at that time because there will be many events to attract them.

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 During the past year, work has continued on several publications. An impressive new volume of Studies in Bibliography, the fifty-ninth, will be published soon, and a collection of my essays on  bibliographical history will probably be out before our meeting. Also in preparation is a volume of collected essays by Paul Needham, one of the greatest scholars of fifteenth-century books in the history of bibliography. And Gordon B. Neavill’s bibliography of the Modern Library, which will be a major contribution to publishing history, will in due course be added to our substantial list of electronic publications. Each new volume of Studies is distributed by the University of Virginia Press, and the Society’s Secretary-Treasurer has a limited supply of most earlier volumes. All of the Society’s other available publications in printed form can be ordered, at a 10$ discount, from Oak Knoll Books (

I want to give special thanks to our vice president and editor, David Vander Meulen, and his assistant, Elizabeth Lynch, for the wonderful care and thoughtfulness with which they produce the Society’s publications and maintain the Society’s great publishing tradition. I also want to express our enormous gratitude to Anne Ribble, our Secretary-Treasurer, for her expert and congenial handling of the Society’s day-to-day business. And it gives me great pleasure to thank all the members of the Council as a group for their loyal service to the Society: Ruthe Battestin, Terry Belanger, Nicole Bouché, David Seaman, David Vander Meulen, and David Whitesell.

On behalf of the Council, I thank all of you for your support. I look forward to seeing many of you at the annual meeting, and I send best wishes to you all.

Yours sincerely,

G. Thomas Tanselle