You may be asking yourself, “why is DCA posting about the Poetry Society of America?” If you are asking that question, you don’t know about Gustav Davidson. Davidson was executive secretary of the Poetry Society of America from 1949 to 1965, after which time he was elected executive secretary emeritus, and DCA has his papers. I am personally very fond of this collection in that it was one of the first collections that I processed. Additionally, it was a somewhat unique experience for our Archives in that it consists primarily of books. But before I get into the collection materials, here is a little bit more about Davidson himself:
Gustav Davidson was born in Warsaw, Poland on December 25, 1895. His family moved to New York City in 1897. He received his bachelor and master degrees from Columbia University in 1919 and 1920 respectively. During the twenties and thirties, he wrote and published both dramatic works and poetry and founded and edited several literary magazines. In 1940, he founded Fine Editions Press and he was an integral part of the American poetry establishment through the rest of his life. In 1965, he published his most well known book, A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels. Davidson married Mollie Strauss in 1942. He died February 6, 1971 in New York City.
As for the collection, the majority of this material consists of books from Davidson’s personal collection, many of which are inscribed. There are some letters, clippings, photographs and promotional brochures interfiled with the books. Also included in the collection are photographs, clippings, diaries, correspondence, drawings, awards, poems, programs, bulletins, and publications.
Items of special note include a drawing of Robert Frost by Oscar Berger and a letter signed by Robert F. Kennedy (which made me tear up a little as I held it). The full finding aid is available on the Tufts Digital Library.
Materials were donated to DCA by Babette Bandler in 1999.