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Celebrating the Cather Collections
Director of the Library Andrew Scrimgeour, alumna, trustee, and donor Barbara Morris Caspersen, Baldwin Professor of Humanities Merrill Skaggs, and President Robert Weisbuch all took pleasure in announcing a major, new Cather collection acquired for the Library. The gathering took place on campus September 30, at the opening session of an international colloquium on Willa Cather.Photograph: Karen Mancinelli Page 

Two Cather Gifts Dazzle Colloquium Scholars

By Andrew Scrimgeour, Director, and Professor Merrill Skaggs 

The Burroughs Cather Collection is the fifth major gift in a dazzling array of Cather materials to come to Drew University in recent years. President Robert Weisbuch announced the acquisition September 30, before an audience of Cather scholars assembled in Great Hall for a major colloquium devoted to the author. Weisbuch paid tribute to the generosity of Finn and Barbara Caspersen, whose vision to make Drew a center of Cather study has built the renowned collection here.

In cadence with the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, the Cather Colloquium brought scholars from across the country to share research on the University's previously acquired Cather collections of Frederick B. Adams, Jr., the Caspersens, Earl and Achsah Brewster, and Yehudi Menuhin.

The range of papers that lucky attendees heard at the colloquium was both wide and deep. For example, Friday morning began with John J. Murphy's quarrel with Frederick B. Adams. Adams was our ace collector who saved the most valuable Cather artifacts, including the fragment entitled "Cécile," which he assumed was an alternate ending to the novel, Shadows on the Rock. Cather discarded the ending, but Adams saved the fragment. Murphy doubts that it was ever meant for the novel's finale. Where in the text one imagines Cather placed that fragment, before she excised it, can change the novel's interpretation. While that intention will always remain highly speculative, Joseph R. Urgo started off Saturday by showing us how to read Cather's tangible, and devastatingly satirical, letter to literary critic Gorham Munson. At the least, Cather reveals here a biting sense of humor and puts to rest any questions about whether she ever laughed. The humor problem rests with readers who take her too solemnly.

Cather Scholar David Porter, with Fran Holt, granddaughter of Earl and Achsah Brewster, who were friends of the author. A collection of letters written by the Brewsters to their daughter, Harwood, are among the Willa Cather holdings at Drew. Harwood Brewster was Mrs. Holt's mother.

From evidence in the collection, Jessica Rabin demonstrated that Cather took her poetry seriously - and kept on writing it to her last years, giving her collections away to friends for keepsakes. That fact changes perceptions of Cather's values and interests as strongly as Marilyn Callander's survey of the philosophers Cather was reading and reflecting in her work. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Santayana all re-emerge in the fiction, as Callander demonstrated, and their influence on the author can be proved from notes or material here at Drew.
Finally, Wendy Perriman demonstrated that Cather knew dance lore, especially ballet, from the time she was captivated by Pavlova and the Ballets Russes. She was a sophisticated observer of the dance troupes that came to New York and thus felt competent to write an article about how to train young dancers for the ballet; the article was published in McClure's, and is among those in the Drew collections.

Conference Colleagues Joe Urgo and Laura Winters found themselves in good company with Merrill Skaggs during a break between sessions.


The Colloquium concluded with a spectacular surprise to mark the birthday of Professor Merrill Skaggs - the purchase of autograph letters from Edith Lewis, Cather's long-time companion. The thirteen letters, composed of 68 pages and approximately 4,250 words of text, were written to Harwood Brewster Picard, the daughter of American expatriate painters, Earl and Achsah Brewster. Lewis mentions Cather in six of the letters and discusses her in some detail in three of these. The letters were purchased through the generosity of Marilyn Callander, who wrote her doctoral dissertation under Skaggs in 1987.


A Birthday Tribute Director Andrew Scrimgeour announces the extraordinary gift of Edith Lewis letters from Caspersen School alumna, Marilyn Callander, in honor of Professor Skaggs, who celebrated her birthday during the colloquium.

Arrangements to consult Cather material can be made prior to visiting the Library by calling or writing Dr. Linda Connors at 973-408-3474,

New Jersey Initiative Databases Support Business and Medical Humanities Programs

By Elizabeth Patterson, Government Documents Librarian 

Thanks to a collaborative effort between state library groups and the state legislature, the Drew community now has access to seven new databases through the New Jersey Knowledge Initiative (NJKI)

The aim of the New Jersey Knowledge Initiative is to promote economic growth in the state by providing access to business, biotechnology, engineering, and technology databases through public and private college and university libraries, the state library, tech- nology companies funded by the New Jersey Economic Develop- ment Agency, and the business incubators supported by the New Jersey Science and Technology Commission.

The seven NJKI databases available to the Drew Community help support two Drew programs: the newly created Business, Society, and Culture undergraduate minor and the Medical Humanities program of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.

Business-related databases include: 

  • Business Source Premier, the leading database of its kind, provides full text for over 8,000 serials and information in all disciplines of business. Users can also obtain market research reports, industry reports, country reports, company profiles, and more.
  • Regional Business News is updated daily with current news from over 50 business publications. 

Extensive medical resources include:

  • Biomedical Reference Collection: Comprehensive, which is designed for medical professionals, researchers, and students. It covers such disciplines as clinical medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pre-clinical sciences, and the health care system.
  • CINAHLCumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature provides indexing for 2,719 journals from the fields of nursing and allied health dating back to 1982. CINAHL covers nursing, biomedicine, health sciences librarianship, alternative/complementary medicine, consumer health and 17 allied health disciplines.
  • Pre-CINAHL provides access to the newest journal article references, while they are being indexed for the CINAHL database.
  • MEDLINE, from the National Library of Medicine, is the world's most comprehensive source of life sciences and biomedical bibliographic information.

We invite you to explore these new offerings, through the Library Online Resources page of the Reference Resources listed on the website. Electronic Resources by Name is a handy starting point at: 


The Director's Corner

Crimes in the Library: A Confession

Drew University has a new president. All segments of the community - faculty, staff, students, alumni/ae, and trustees alike - have been going "all out" to impress Dr. Robert Weisbuch with their unique and indispensable roles in University affairs. It is a time to put the best foot forward and make good impressions. Certainly any revelations of the untoward should be avoided during this get-acquainted period, but sooner or later someone is bound to blow the whistle on the unfortunate - some would call it criminal - activity in the Library. I might as well come clean and make a full disclosure now and throw the Library on the mercy of President Weisbuch. So here it is - we have been mistreating our most venerable citizens of the Library, the books.

We certainly didn't mean to. It was inadvertent. For the last decade or so, our attention has been diverted to technology and the miraculous transformations it has brought to scholarly communication. We parted company with the card catalogue and bulky runs of periodicals and indexes. In their place we welcomed an online catalog, some 20,000 electronic journals, dozens of databases, and chat reference services - all accessible 24/7. We've created finding aids for our growing special collections and archives and put them online, accompanied by scanned source documents and images.

This is heady business, and it has consumed us. We didn't stop buying books, of course. After all, the output of academic and university presses continues to grow, not shrink, and many disciplines in the social sciences and all of the humanities are still dependent on the monograph. Nevertheless, we have neglected the care of the venerable book while we showcased the glitzy newcomers.

A district attorney might well seek grand jury indictments for the following charges:

  • Housing the books in crowded conditions. The stacks are so congested that the books don't have elbow room, let alone adequate breathing space. Major new collections that have arrived cannot be processed and are marooned in storage locations outside the Library. The Library administration has failed to make real to the University that a crisis looms in the stacks. Moveable compact shelving units for the entire lower level of the Learning Center have been recommended for five years as an interim solution, but funding continues to be elusive.
  • Placing the books in unattractive environments. Many of the books are housed in the dark and foreboding recesses of the old Rose Library stacks. Lighting is inadequate, and some undergraduates are actually apprehensive of entering those areas unaccompanied after dark.
  • Subjecting the books to humiliation. Most books enter the library fully clothed. Library staff immediately strip the books of their colorful jackets and consign them to the stacks in a state of permanent immodesty. Public libraries tend to leave the dust jackets on the volumes. Academic libraries, however, forfeit the valuable information on the covers as well as the attractive dress that often draws a reader to a title in a bookstore. A drab volume does not catch the eye of the browser.
  • Making it difficult for students to locate the books. The Library uses the Dewey Decimal System. The long call numbers - often extending to 15 numbers and letters - make it difficult for students to find titles in the stacks. Have you tried to locate a Shakespeare volume lately? Converting the collection to the Library of Congress classification system would simplify the retrieval of books from the shelves.
  • Discriminating against the books in promotional materials. New databases and electronic services are given lots of attention in the Library newsletter and other promotional efforts. Why aren't books given equal time? Couldn't reviews of new titles and profiles of special densities of books in the stacks become de rigueur?

Those are the particulars of the case. The Library is prepared to plead guilty to the charges and to restore the book to its rightful pride of place, if clemency, and financial assistance, can be found.

- Andrew D. Scrimgeour 

Bookplate commissioned to mark the extensive
library of James F. White, noted historian of liturgy,
that recently came to Drew. It features a watercolor by
his friend, Donna Marshall, and captures a pasture
scene near his beloved farmhouse in Vermont.


Recent Gifts to the Library

The Library acknowledges with thanks recent gifts from the following individuals:

Financial Support 
Rebecca Rego Barry, G'01
Mrs. Patti Becker
Finn M. W. and Dr. Barbara Morris Caspersen, G'83, '86 and '90
Cynthia A. Cavanaugh, G'03
Exxon Education Foundation
Thomas A. Goldwasser
William N. Haggerty III
Mrs. Kathleen Havens
Mr. Keith Havens
Miss Julia LaFalce
Dean Edwina Lawler
Russell D. Lewis
Marilyn S. Linden
O.J. Moore
Professor Alan Nadler
David Spiller
Dr. Nancy A. Spiller, G'0
In memory of Emmy Doescher, mother of Susan Crater, Library staff member, from the Adele and Leonard Block Foundation.
In memory of Dr. Mary-Louise Mussel, from Dr. Sloane Drayson-Knigge, G'02, Mark Shenise, and Bruce Lancaster. In honor of Dr. Karla Simcikova, G'04, from Professor Emerita Joan Steiner.
In honor of Professor Merrill Skaggs, from Dr. Marilyn B. Callander, G'87, for the purchase of Edith Lewis letters for the Willa Cather collections.

Professor Emeritus Robert Bull and
Dr. Vivian Bull
Florence Campbell
Professor Emeritus David Cowell
Scott Elliott
Arthur Giger, G'71
Bernadette Micchielli, C'85
Dr. A. Johan Noordsij
Professor Emeritus Doug Simon
Estate of Ambassador Richard L. Walker
Dr. Donald E. Weatherbee
Clare White
Gifts in Kind to the Methodist Library 
The Rev. Marian E. Kingsley
Judith May Newton
Calvary United Methodist Church, Nashville.

The Burroughs Cather Collection at Drew University

By Lucy K. Marks, Special Collections Cataloger 

The Burroughs Cather Collection at Drew University is comprised of books, letters, and a journal documenting the friendship between Willa Cather and Louise Guerber Burroughs. Ella Louise Guerber was born in Allentown, Pa. in 1900, graduated from Cedar Crest College, and received a library degree from Columbia University. She was a reference librarian at the Denver Public Library in 1925 when Willa Cather arrived to do background research for her novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop. Despite the twenty-seven-year difference in their ages, they immediately became friends, visiting and writing regularly until Cather's death in 1947. In 1926 Guerber moved to New York to take a position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in 1928 married Bryson Burroughs, the Curator of Paintings there. He died of tuberculosis in 1936. Louise Burroughs remained at the museum until her retirement, moving then to Baltimore and finally to Princeton , where she died in 1985.

Among the printed materials in the collection are two dozen books, nineteen of them by Cather, including many presentation copies.
The journal kept by Louise Burroughs from late 1925 to early 1927 recounts her first meetings and early friendship with Willa Cather and her growing acquaintance with members of Cather's circle, including Edith Lewis, Cather's longtime companion, Rudolph Ruzicka and Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant. The earliest entries were made several months after the events described, as Burroughs wished to preserve the details and impressions of her first meetings with the novelist. "The excitement began on the 4th of August," she starts. Though starstruck at the unexpected appearance in Denver of a writer whose work she greatly admired, Burroughs also felt an immediate rapport and trust that was clearly reciprocated. In a note at the front of the journal, she stresses that this record is simply for her own pleasure and interest, "for the sole purpose of keeping fresh in my mind my adventures with Willa Cather." She directs that should anything happen to her, the journal be destroyed unread, because "I would not be guilty, even inadvertently, of 'the vulgar treachery of public familiarity with my betters,' as Mr. Beer so neatly put it."

A selection of the seventy-five letters in the collection written by Willa Cather to Louise Burroughs between 1925 and 1946.
Photograph: Masato Okinaka

Of the nearly one hundred letters in the collection, covering the years 1925-1960, seventy-five were written by Willa Cather to Louise Burroughs between 1925 and 1946. Cather continues to ask for research assistance, writes about her current reading of Anatole France, Walter Scott, Turgenev, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and reflects on her work, including Death Comes for the Archbishop, Shadows on the Rock and The Song of the Lark. There is light-hearted gossip about the MacDowell Colony; profound grief at the deaths of Isabelle McClung Hambourg and Roscoe Cather; and references to such varied friends and acquaintances as Yehudi Menuhin, Mabel Dodge Luhan, the Lindberghs, and D.H. Lawrence, about whom she declares that he is the "Puritan reformer" and she the "pagan." The collection also includes five letters from Burroughs, her unfinished holograph draft of memories of Cather, and sixteen letters from ten other correspondents. Among these last are four letters from Edith Lewis and a letter written to Cather (later sent by her to Burroughs) from her Nebraska friend, Anna Pavelka, on whom the character of Ántonia was modeled. In addition, there is an undated, unsigned typescript, with Cather's manuscript corrections, of her poem, "The Lament," dated by Burroughs "Xmas 1926" and later published as "Poor Marty."

The chance meeting of Willa Cather and Louise Burroughs brought together two people of great warmth and lively intellect. Rich in anecdote, emotion, and biographical and literary detail, the Burroughs Cather Collection is a fascinating and moving record of a professional and personal friendship deeply treasured by both women.


Enthusiasm is only the beginning of their credentials_._

Following a series of retirements, the Library has brought on board several new faculty and staff members in recent months.

Both new and familiar faces in these positions include (left to right): Cathy Ryan, Reference Librarian; Susan Unger, Interlibrary Loan Supervisor; Ernest Rubinstein, Theological Librarian; James Farrugia, Systems Librarian; Lisa Miller, Methodist Cataloger; Caspersen students Jeevan Gurung, Preservation Assistant, and Cheryl Oestreicher, Archives Associate; and Jennifer Heise, Library Web Manager and Reference Librarian. Not pictured is Elizabeth Patterson, who returned to the Library last January as Reference and Government Documents Librarian.


Recalling student days, alumnus Rev. Frank Ostertag devoted yet another Wednesday, as he has so often since the early 1990s, preserving, transcribing, and annotating lecture and sermon tapes of his former Drew professor, Carl Michalson. The culmination of his volunteer work is a bound volume, which he compiled and edited, entitled "The Michalson Tapes at Drew University," shelved in the reference section of the Library. Currently he is working on a second volume documenting Michalson's work. 
In addition to volunteering his time on the Michalson project, Ostertag recently contributed to the University Archives his student notes from roughly fifty years ago for the classes of former Drew faculty Mildred Moody Eakin and James V. Thompson. Dr. Sloane Drayson-Knigge and Dr. Janet R. Stafford, both alumnae, are already making use of his material for their study on Eakin, who pioneered the field of religious education to combat anti-semitism and racism. Thompson was head of the Christian Education Department.

Library Professional News

Linda Connors, Head of Acquisitions and Collection Development, presented a paper, "The Irish as Other: British Conceptions of Irish Identity in the 1840s Periodical Press" at the 2005 conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in July. 

Kathy Juliano, Circulation Supervisor, was honored with the Nelson Thayer Community Service Award in May from the Graduate Student Association of the Caspersen School. The award recognized her professionalism and lasting contribution to the life of the graduate community.

Cheryl Oestreicher, Archives Associate, was awarded the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellowship at Princeton University 's Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library for the summer of 2005. She processed and described the collection of papers from Dr. Margaret Snyder, updated finding aids using Encoded Archival Description, and created an exhibit entitled "1945: A World United and Divided" utilizing both University and Public Policy archival collections documenting the end of World War II and the beginning of the United Nations. The exhibit is on view through January 2006.

Ernest Rubinstein, Theological Librarian, published a book review entitled, "From Trauma to Trust?" of Rabbi Irving Greenberg's For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter Between Judaism and Christianity (Jewish Publication Society, 2005) in the Spring 2005 Harvard Divinity Bulletin.

Andrew Scrimgeour, Director, published an online article, discussing the archives of the Society of Biblical Literature, which are housed at the Drew Library. "Inventories of the Past, Intimations of the Future: The Archives of the SBL" appears in the SBL Forum,, vol. 3, no. 8, September 2005 ( 9/9/2005 ). He also delivered the keynote address, "The Quest for the Real Jesus," at the twentieth anniversary celebration of the Jesus Seminar in Santa Rosa , California , on October 21.

Jennifer Woodruff Tait, Methodist Librarian, reviewed three recent books on Methodism for the August 5, 2005 , online newsletter of Christian History and Biography. The link is: In addition, her article, "New Wine, New Wineskins," was published in Christian History and Biography's Winter 2005 issue; a review of the book_, Hidden Treasures: Guidelines for Local Church Historiography_ by Adonis Booyse appeared in the A.M.E. Church Review 's October-December 2004 issue; and a review of Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Timothy Larsen et. al., was published in the Fall 2004 ATLA Newsletter.

University Library Exhibits

Main Library 
James F. White: Teacher, Scholar, Churchman An exhibit drawn from the library and archives of James F. White, Special Collections, Drew University Library. Curated by Andrew Scrimgeour, Director.
November 2, 2005 - January 13, 2006.
Selections from the Archives of the Society of Biblical Literature, Special Collections, Drew University Library,
January 18-February 28, 2006.
Methodist Library 
Are You Ready for Your Close-up, John Wesley? Digitizing an Archival Collection, curated by Jennifer Woodruff Tait, Methodist Librarian, through April, 2006.

Exploring the Cather Collections at Drew featured items from four of the Library's special collections of Willa Cather materials. Researchers and students are encouraged to use the collections to further their studies of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author.


World Year of Physics

In August, Dr. Ashley Carter, Director of the RISE Program in science, mounted an exhibit in the Library on Einstein, marking the 2005 World Year of Physics and the 100 th anniversary of Einstein's groundbreaking publications. For a glimpse into this event, and access to related links, consult the World Year of Physics website at:

Rose Room Offers Students An Inviting Study Space

With the move of the University Writing Center to a more central location in Brothers College, the Library has been able to restore the small but elegant room on the second floor of old Rose to its former function as a reading and study space. Students may recognize the sofas, tables, and chairs from other locations around the building, and the room still needs refurbishing, but those who wend their way into the Rose Room will find an inviting study and discussion space.

About Visions


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

EDITOR: Anna S. Magnell

PHOTOGRAPHS: A. Magnell, M. Okinaka, K.M. Page, A. Scrimgeour

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

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

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