Bibliographical Society

Annual Letter 2018

February 21, 2018

Dear Fellow Members,

The Society’s seventy-first annual meeting will be held on Friday, March 23, 2018, 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 five speakers (listed here with their topics):

  • Bridget Reilly: Illustrations in The Atlantic Souvenir
  • Victoria Tovig: The Binding of the 1894 Century Edition of Kipling’s The Jungle Book
  • Aubrey Geyer: The Editing of American Women’s Magazines in 1945
  • Neal David Curtis and Samuel Vincent Lemley: Reconstructing the University of Virginia’s First Library

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 are named in honor of Martin Battestin, professor of English at UVA, and his wife, Ruthe, a literary scholar and long-time member of the Society’s Council (and now an Honorary Councilor), 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.

This year’s book-collecting contest is the fifty-second 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 a scholarship generously donated by 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. 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 Anne Ribble and David Whitesell for overseeing the details of the contest; to Barbara Heritage, Fred Ribble, and David Whitesell for serving as judges; to the local booksellers who have contributed prizes; and to Michael Suarez for the Rare Book School scholarship.

Also in the business part of the meeting, we will vote on the election of two Councilors. First, my current term ends with this meeting, and I have agreed to continue serving for another term. Second, we need to fill an open position created by Ruthe Battestin’s retirement last year. For this slot I am delighted to announce that John Casteen has agreed to fill out her term, ending in 2022. John is a former president of UVA, a University Professor, and a member of the English department. His long support for this Society has taken many forms, including his willingness to be our speaker at last year’s meeting.

Since our last annual meeting, the Society has published a reprint of Gordon N. Ray’s Books as a Way of Life. Originally published by the Grolier Club and the Morgan Library in 1988, it has long been out of print and in demand; It joins another book of Ray’s on our list, The Art Deco Book in France, 2005. In the coming months, two more publications will appear: a collection of essays on type and paper by John Bidwell and the sixtieth volume of Studies in Bibliography; and before the end of the year a volume collecting my essays on descriptive bibliography is likely to come out. And work is proceeding on several volumes of essays by Paul Needham. In addition, substantial progress has been made on what will be a major addition to our electronic publication program, Gordon B. Neavill’s landmark bibliography of the Modern Library. 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 (

Another of the Society’s activities is the granting of funds to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library for the purchase of significant works in the history of bibliography, and David Whitesell’s learned searching has again added to the library’s holdings. Also this past year we gave $15,000 to Rare Book School to support scholarships (the third time we have done so) and $4250 to help support its “Bibliography among the Disciplines” conference in Philadelphia last fall.

I want to give special thanks to our vice president and editor, David Vander Meulen, and his assistant, Elizabeth Lynch, for their extraordinary work in editing and producing the Society’s publications; the Society’s great tradition of publishing Studies and important monographs is being splendidly maintained. I also want to express our enormous gratitude to Anne Ribble, our Secretary-Treasurer, for her thoughtful and efficient handling of the Society’s day-to-day business, which includes the fellowship competition. And it gives me great pleasure to thank all the members of the Council as a group for their loyal service to the Society: Terry Belanger, David Seaman, John Unsworth, David Vander Meulen, and David Whitesell. On behalf of the Council, I thank all members of the Society for their 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