Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Willa Cather

Last Novel: Cather Manuscript Anchors Collection

By Professor Merrill Skaggs

For the past two years, an archive of valuable Cather teaching materials has been growing rapidly at Drew. Most recently the Library has acquired the working manuscript of the author's last novel, Sapphira and the Slave Girl through the generosity of Finn and Barbara Caspersen.

The highly coveted manuscript is one of a kind and intimately reveals how Cather edited and changed her own work in progress. The Caspersen Cather Collection at Drew now comprises a remarkable range of items, including the private collection of Frederick B. Adams, former director of the Pierpont Morgan Library, as well as the Caspersens' own substantial Cather collection. Fans of the author will find in the collection a complete set of first editions inscribed by Cather to her longtime friends, Earl and Achsah Brewster, who helped Cather research background information for One of Ours and earned her lifelong affection. The collection also contains the Brewsters' extensive personal correspondence. The fascinating family letters offer glimpses of biographical information about Cather previously unknown to scholars.

The Brewster materials were followed to Drew by the private Cather collection of Sir Yehudi Menuhin, a Cather protégé in his youth. While the Brewster items suggest new insights into Cather's taste in the visual arts, the Menuhin materials affect how we understand her taste in music. Individual items related to Cather studies continue to arrive at Drew, contributed by such Cather lovers as Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial board member Jay Yost. These contributors all want to preserve Cather materials and keep them accessible to interested scholars.

Cather's title character, Sapphira, modeled on her great-grandmother, resembles at the end of her life the novelist who wrote this last novel: "She never lowered her flag."

Library and Caspersen School Will Host Cather Colloquium this Fall

All Cather readers, teachers, and scholars are invited to celebrate this exceptional collection in a two-day colloquium to be held at Drew University, September 30 to October 1. Established Cather scholars, as well as beginners and graduate students who have researched materials in the Caspersen Collection, will report on their new findings. All who are interested in Willa Cather are invited to attend. All are also invited to pursue original research in the Drew Caspersen Cather Collection. For access to the materials through the Library's Special Collections, contact Dr. Linda Connors, For more information about Cather studies or the conference, contact Professor Merrill Skaggs ( for assistance. 

Kornitzer Prizes Awarded

By Elise T. Zappas, Humanities Cataloger

The Bela Kornitzer Award was established ten years ago to honor the best non-fiction book written by a member of the faculty or graduate of Drew University. The prize has been awarded five times. On each occasion the prize has been won by a member of the faculty. Even though alumni/ae publications have been nominated for each round of competition, the playing field has been hardly level, given the number of outstanding books published each year by the faculty.

Alicia Kornitzer Karpati, daughter and son-in-law, Noémi and Michael Neideorff, and grand-nephew, Dr. Ori Eyal, join Governor Tom Kean at the Friends Gala in January.

Brian Regal, winner of the first Bela Kornitzer Award for a book published by a Drew graduate, with Alicia Karpati

Alicia Karpati, who endowed the award in honor of her journalist brother, decided to create a second award so that the distinguished publications of Drew graduates could be honored as well. The first Bela Kornitzer Award for a book published by a Drew graduate was announced at the Library Gala on January 29. It was awarded to Dr. Brian Regal, Assistant Professor of U.S. History and the History of Science at TCI College of Technology in New York, for his book, Henry Fairfield Osborn: Race and the Search for the Origins of Man. Henry Osborn (1857-1935) was the most revered paleontologist of his time and president of the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Regal's intellectual biography deals primarily with Osborn as scientist and his unusual and often unpalatable theories about the evolution of the races. The book is a fascinating history of American science in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the impact of the circles of powerful and wealthy people — including Osborn and his family — who funded scientific research.

The winner of the Faculty prize was Dr. Catherine Keller, Professor of Constructive Theology. Her groundbreaking work, The Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming, is concerned with interpreting the story of creation in Genesis 1:2 and the impact of that interpretation on modern discourses in theology, feminism, literature, and ecology.

Professor Catherine Keller (right), wins this year's Bela Kornitzer Award for her book, The Face of the Deep: a Theology of Becoming. She is picture with with Governor Kean and Dr. Scrimgeour.

Dr. Keller posits that the concept of creatio ex nihilo, "creation out of nothingness," is not found in Biblical text, but was invented by theologians and propounded over the centuries to give God absolute power over creation. According to Dr. Keller, God clearly created everything out of chaos, the "formless deep" or Tehom that already existed. She believes that creatio ex nihilo restricts both the creator and the creation and that the "drying out" of chaos and creation undermines and threatens the wisdom of the primal waters and God as "intertwined with the Deep." 



Leaving the Library

I had been there many times before. Not actually to this particular library but to others like it. Some were located on college campuses, others in private homes. Some sprawled through many rooms, including the bathroom; others were confined to a single room. One had no windows; another overlooked a lake. Most were crowded. All were dusty. Each was the domain of a scholar. Each was the accumulation of a lifetime of collecting. Each reflected a well-defined precinct of specialization. But what they also held in common on the day of my appearance was the stark fact that their owners had died. And by declaration of their will or by the discernment of their families, I was called upon to claim the bereft books for the university library.

So last month I stood in the doorway of a distinguished but forlorn library, a short distance from the Golden Dome of Notre Dame in South Bend, ready to perform the last rites on the extensive library of James White, the noted historian of liturgics and beloved friend of Drew University. I always pause before entering these libraries. I can't barge in. That would be disrespectful.

As I survey the room, I find myself wishing that I had a ritual to invoke, for the study I am about to disrupt is a private, beloved retreat — an inner sanctum for reading, writing, and reflection. And since it is here that someone wrestled with ideas, sought integrity of expression, and brought to birth fresh-jacketed voices, the book-studded room seems sacred. Sometimes I think I should take off my shoes — a physical act with which to show my respect.

What first caught my eye was the calendar on his desk — a small, scenic calendar from Vermont Life. It displayed "October 2004." Professor White died on October 31, 2004. It was as if time froze on the eve of All Saints Day. A two-volume stack of Calvin's Institutes held pride of place in the middle of the desk as undoubtedly the last books he consulted. Bach's choral preludes were in the CD player, and my first act was to fill the room with the music White loved and played on the spinet piano in the adjacent room. Then, before anything was disturbed, I photographed the room.

On these occasions, I prefer to inventory and box the books by myself. It is a way not only to get to know the library well but to commune with the former presider of the room. The placement of individual books as well as the adjacencies of groups intrigue me. Are they topical categories, project groupings, a map of intellectual terrain, or the constraints of space and shelving? Which books are closest to the desk? Which are consigned to the bottom and top shelves? Which comprise the essential reference works? Inscriptions in volumes tell of personal and professional friendships, correspondence charts a career, and drafts of published works illumine their genealogy.

Taking the books from their familiar niches is poignant work. What has taken years to create, I am dismantling in a matter of days. But I find solace in knowing that these well-loved but orphaned books have been adopted and will become the companions of a new generation of scholars.

— Andrew D. Scrimgeour 

Library Gala Celebrates Authors, Books, and Drew's President

On Saturday, January 29, the Friends of the Library hosted the sixth Library Benefit Dinner in support of the Book Endowment Fund. The gala featured Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian Dr. James McPherson, who discussed the "Global Impact of the American Civil War" before a welcoming crowd of one hundred thirty Library supporters at Kirby Theatre.

Photographs by Debbie Weisman and A. Scrimgeour

Dr. James McPherson conversing with Michael Neidorff and delivering the evening address.

Cocktails and dinner followed in the elegant atmosphere of historic Mead Hall, where special guests, announcements, and presentations added to the festivities. At the end of the cocktail hour, Director Andrew Scrimgeour joined with special guest, Alicia Kornitzer Karpati, to present the 2004 Bela Kornitzer Book Awards.

Gala guests enjoying dinner in Mead Hall; and Library supporters Michael and Marilyn Dee.

Friends of the Library Advisory Board members were happy to preside over the festivities. Pictured from left to right are Dr. Andrew Scrimgeour, Director of the Library; Professor Merrill Skaggs; Dr. Epsey Farrell; Professor Jonathan Rose; President of the Friends, Dr. Lynn Harris Heft; Dr. Ashley Carter, Director of the Charles A. Dana Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti; and Mrs. Bertha Thompson.

Governor Kean had the added pleasure of announcing a lectureship in Eastern European History, Jewish History and Holocaust Studies in honor of Mrs. Karpati's late husband, George Karpati. A gift from Noémi and Michael Neidorff, the Karpatis' daughter and son-in-law, the lectureship will also support an event that will benefit the Library.

Drew University President Tom Kean was honored by the Friends of the Library for his leadership of the university over the past fifteen years. On behalf of the Friends, Lynn Harris Heft presented Kean with a hand-illuminated rendering of his favorite Biblical quotation: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." The calligraphy was crafted by Denver artist David Ashley.

The Trustee Room overflowed with guests, including Henry and Audrey Parker (right), along with Paige and Nicky L'Hommedieu.

The Friends of the Drew University Library would like to thank all the contributors to the Book Endowment Fund who enabled the benefit dinner to be such a success.

Poking fun, alumna Lynn Harris Heft elicits a hearty chuckle from Drew's president.

Recent Gifts

The Library acknowledges the recent generous gifts of:

  • Kathryn Faber, Ada Feyerick, Joseph J. Harzbecker, Jr. 
  • Amanda B. Johnson, Julia LaFalce, Alan Nadler 
  • Norma B. Nudelman, Ruby Riemer 
  • Cynthia Waneck, Emma Lee Yu 
  • Lorelei C. P. McConnell, in honor of Dr. John Bicknell 
  • Evelyn S. Meyer, in memory of Susan Wijdenes
  • CLA alumnus W. Barry Thomson, class of 1974, donated a copy of his extensively illustrated new book, The Somerset Hills: New Jersey Country Houses, v. 1. (Far Hills, N.J.: Mountain Colony Press, 2004) written with John K. Turpin.
  • James Fraser donated two important reference works: Bibliography of Yiddish Books on the Catastrophe and Heroism by Philip Freedman and Joseph Gar (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem Martyrs and Heroes' Memorial Authority; New York: Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, 1962) and Bibliography of Articles on the Catastrophe and Heroism in Yiddish Periodicals, by Joseph Gar, v.1. (1966).
  • CSGS alumna Dr. Michiyo Morita donated two copies of her book, Horace Bushnell on Women in Nineteenth-Century America (Dallas: University Press of America, 2004). Dr. Morita is Associate Professor at the General Research Institute, Seigakuin University, Ageo, Japan. 

Citizens of the World: The Correspondence of Earl and Achsah Brewster

By Lucy Marks, Methodist and Special Collections Cataloger 

Drew University Library has recently acquired the personal correspondence of Earl and Achsah Brewster, American expatriate painters who lived in Italy, France, and India during the first half of the twentieth century. The 1700 letters and postcards — a gift of Finn and Barbara Caspersen — span nearly fifty years, from the Brewsters' courtship and marriage in 1910 and the birth of their daughter, Harwood, in 1912, through the death of Achsah Brewster in 1945 and Earl Brewster in 1957. Several hundred letters were written by Earl and Achsah to each other, while the vast majority are from Earl or Achsah to Harwood, during her school years in England and adult life in France and the United States.

The letters document everyday events in the life of a family — news of friends and relatives, plans for travel, extensive reading and study, parental advice. Read as an intimate chronicle of a family circle, they are moving, entertaining and always engaging. But the Brewsters were no ordinary family, and their circle included some of the most prominent literary, artistic and political figures of the day, including Willa Cather, D.H. Lawrence, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Gandhi.


The Brewster family circa 1920Photograph: Drew University Library Special Collections

The poet Vachel Lindsay introduced Earl Brewster to Achsah Barlow in 1904, when both were art students in New York. The couple married in 1910 and immediately sailed for Sicily. Except for a short visit in 1923, they never returned to America. Earl traveled frequently to find galleries that would exhibit their paintings, and they gradually established themselves as artists in Europe. On Capri in 1921, they met D.H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda von Richthofen Lawrence (henceforth "Uncle David" and "Aunt Frieda" to Harwood), and the families maintained a close friendship and frequent correspondence. The tour of Etruscan sites and antiquities that Earl Brewster and Lawrence made together in 1927 became the inspiration for Lawrence's Etruscan Places.

Achsah Brewster had been the Smith College roommate of Edith Lewis, Willa Cather's longtime companion, and letters to Harwood make frequent reference to "Aunt Edith" and "Aunt Willa." The Drew Library also owns the Brewsters' collection of Cather's novels, which she inscribed to them, as well as several of her letters to Earl and Achsah.

The Brewsters' deep attraction to India and their extensive study of eastern religion and philosophy were evident from their earliest correspondence in 1910, and during their years in Europe they visited both India and Ceylon. In 1935 they sailed again to India, to make it their permanent home.

Settling in the ancient northern city of Almora, they studied, painted every day, and associated with many Indian and British writers, mystics, artists, historians and political figures. Among the latter were several members of the Nehru family, and letters to Harwood include references to Jawaharlal Nehru's parents, his siblings and his brilliant daughter, Indira.

The Brewsters' correspondence evokes an era and a philosophy of life that seem very remote today. Deeply spiritual, alive always to the beauties in nature, and conscious of a daily pleasure simply in being, Earl and Achsah Brewster were also passionately engaged in the life of the mind. Most astonishing was their easy familiarity and intellectual engagement with seemingly all of western and eastern philosophy, art, languages, literature, culture. The Drew University Library is indeed fortunate to have this intimate chronicle of a couple who were truly citizens of the world. 

Library Exhibits

Main Library

Through April 10
African Beaded Arts from the collection of Professor Philip Peek and Patricia Peek.

April 18 - May 22
Are You Ready For Your Close-up, John Wesley? Digitizing an Archival Collection.

June - July
Photographs of Ireland by Donald Bender, College Class of '48, sponsored by Alumni Affairs.

August - September 17
Einstein's Miraculous Year, curated by Dr. Ashley Carter.

Methodist Library 

Continuing through August
The Diversity of American Methodism: An Illustrated History 

Reflections on Faculty Publications: 2003 - 2004

By Dr. Linda E. Connors, Associate Librarian
[Remarks from last fall's Faculty Publications reception held October 7, 2004.]

I'd like to draw your attention to the bibliography resulting from this exhibit. The titles range from The Sex Lives of Saints to Beginning Programming with Java for Dummies; from A Violent God-Image to Riding the Windhorse; from "The Chameleon Effect as Social Glue" to "The Symbolic Dynamics of Multidimensional Tiling Systems"; from "The Barbed Embrace" to "Religious Intellectuals, Social Change and Women's Bodies."

A plethora of riches, a treasure trove, encompassing all disciplines. Publications of fifty-six Drew faculty are included. And I suspect that despite our efforts to be comprehensive, not every publication is represented here. As a collection development librarian, I carefully peruse this bibliography. Of course I'm checking to be certain we have the publications — not just the books, but also the journals where articles appear. But this bibliography and exhibit also provide me with an insight into the research interests "and by extension, the teaching emphases" of our faculty and allow me to develop collections which support those areas. As an alumna and a long-time member of the Drew community, I want to say a couple of things about teaching.

We value teaching at Drew. We give awards for teaching excellence. We tell prospective students that Drew is a place where teaching is important, where interaction between faculty and students is face-to-face. As an alumna, I can also attest that when one asks alumni/ae what was most important about their Drew experience, the response is always: the professors. What this exhibit tells us is that the great teachers of Drew are also productive scholars in their fields. The faculty not only keep up with the literature in their disciplines, they are actively creating that literature.


The bibliographies for this and prior faculty publications exhibits appear on the Library website at: The Drew University Archives houses a Faculty-Alumni/ae Publications Collection, which is annotated in the following bibliography at:

Monographs are listed in the main catalog, and many are found in the Library stacks, as well as in Special Collections. 

Library Faculty and Staff News

Retirements, Departures, and Arrivals 

Jan Wanggaard, Reference/Government Documents Librarian, and Josie Cook, Head of Interlibrary Loan, celebrated their mutual retirements in December, while Anne Noss, Adjunct Reference Librarian and Library Webmaster, has left, in part, to devote more time to her work on the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection at Asbury Park Public Library.

Dr. Suzanne Selinger, Theological Librarian, will retire at the end of this academic year, as will John Califf, Assistant Methodist Librarian.

While the daily presence of these colleagues will be missed on campus, the Library has welcomed Dr. Elizabeth Patterson in the position of Reference/Government Documents Librarian, and James Farrugia, Systems Technology Librarian. Lois Sechehay is now Head of Interlibrary Loan, continuing the excellent service in that department.

Professional Activity 

Matthew Beland, Acquisitions Assistant, presented a paper at the 2005 Princeton Center for the Study of Books and Media Graduate Student Conference. Its title was "Revolution under Review: The Reception of Crane Brinton's The Anatomy of Revolution."

Lucy Marks, Methodist Cataloger, served on a task force of the American Library Association's Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access. It examined the current rules for cataloging early printed materials and made recommendations for the third edition of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules.

Sarah Oelker, Science Reference Librarian, participated in a panel at the 2005 VALE Users' Conference titled, "Q&A NJ Academic Queue — How is it Working?" The panel was organized by the VALE Reference Services Committee, of which Sarah is a member. VALE is the consortium of the academic libraries of New Jersey.

Andrew Scrimgeour, Director of the University Library, gave a talk at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California at an event that honored John Dillenberger on the occasion of the publication of his autobiography, From Fallow Fields to Hallowed Halls: A Theologian's Journey (Polebridge Press, 2005). He also participated in the spring meeting of the Board of Trustees of Westar Institute and the Jesus Seminar.

Jennifer Woodruff Tait, Methodist Librarian, presented a paper, "True and Capable Heirs: A Survey of Resources on the African-American Episcopal Church," at the American Theological Library Association Annual Conference, June 2004. At the same conference, she was elected Vice-President/ President-Elect of the Methodist Librarians' Fellowship.

About Visions


Dr. Andrew D. Scrimgeour, Director
Drew University Library, Madison, NJ 07940
(973) 408-3322

EDITOR: Anna S. Magnell

PHOTOGRAPHS: Merrill Skaggs, Elise T. Zappas, Jody Caldwell, Andrew Scrimgeour, Lucy Marks, Linda Connors

A complete online archive of past issues of Visions
can be viewed at:

VISIONS is a semi-annual publication.
© Drew University Library

  • No labels