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The Road to Publication

Jane Metters LaBarbara
January 16, 2019

Blog post by Lemley Mullett, Program Assistant

Marc Harshman, the poet laureate of West Virginia since 2012 and an author from Marshall County, donated his life’s work collection to the WVRHC’s Distinguished West Virginians project. His collection reflects his dedication to both his craft and to Appalachia: not only do we have many of his rustic poem collections such as Believe What You Can, and Green-Silver and Silent, but many letters to and from publishers about his children’s books also are part of the collection–plus many manuscript drafts enclosed therein.

Publishing writing has always meant facing a lot of rejections. Marc Harshman is no exception, as evidenced by the dozens of rejection letters kept in his correspondence folders. His children’s book All The Way To Morning, published in 1999, went through many rejections and revisions from different publishing houses for nearly ten years beforehand, and its journey can be tracked through the archived correspondence. Under All The Way To Morning’s original title, Falling Asleep, the piece was rejected in 1990 by Clarion Books and in 1991 by Hyperion with little fanfare. However, the publisher Simon & Schuster saw promise in the tale, even if they could not immediately accept it, and worked with Harshman over the course of two years to fine-tune it. Here is one example from 1993:

A scanned letter from the Simon & Schuster publishing house, written by Joanna Guinther to Marc Harshman. It praises Harshman’s work and suggests continuing edits, such as organizing the book’s multicultural locations. Transcription:  "Dear Marc Harshman, I’m sorry to have held onto ALL THE WAY TO MORNING for so long. I’ve now had a chance to discuss it with our new President and Publisher, Willa Perlman, and we feel it needs a little more fine tuning. The multicultural aspect needs to be more even-handed; the choices of country feel too random. You have three entries from the US, and you’ve left out one continent (Oceania) altogether. Why not substitute Australia and maybe an African country for the two rural U.S. entries (especially since the narrator is probably camping in yet another rural part of the U.S.)? We also thought it  might be nice to provide a sort of subtle logic by putting the countries in geographical order. We could start on the West Coast of the U.S., go around the world to the west (Australia, Japan, Cambodia, Egypt, Italy, Norway, Brazil), and end up in an East Coast city. We might even be able to put a map on the endpapers so readers could follow along. There’s a bit of a problem with the initial set-up. You imply that kids are going to sleep at the same moment all around the world. Can you reword the second paragraph on p. 1 so as not to suggest that bedtime happens simultaneously everywhere? We’d like to see more representative sounds for each place; not stereotypes, but something evocative."

But ultimately it was rejected from that company as well due to employee changes (and a very regretful letter from the editor who had been so enthusiastic in the first place).

Harshman continued to send the edited story around, only to face more rejections. Hyperion Books again rejected it in 1997, this time with slightly more detail but no less pickiness:

A scanned letter from Hyperion Books for children, written by Katherine Tegen. Rejects two of Harshman’s manuscripts, citing poor visual elements. Transcription: "Dear Mr. Harshman:  Thank you for sending When Heaven Sends Hail and All the Way to Morning. I'm sorry to say that I don't feel we could publish these successfully.  Although When Heaven Sends Hail has some nice moments, I don't feel that the story has enough visual possibilities to make a compelling picture book. All the Way to Morning has a lovely read-aloud quality to it, but I didn't find that the images particularly evoke the country they are meant to -- many of the sounds can be found in many of these places. It's an interesting concept, but a difficult one to execute.  Thank you for thinking of me, however, and good luck with finding the right home for these projects.  Sincerely, Katherine Tegen Executive Editor"

So many years of rejections could get disheartening for anyone! But on his website, Marc writes about All The Way To Morning‘s journey briefly, which finally brings us to its successful end:

Like ONLY ONE I believe this book, too, came as a gift, although I actually do not recall its inception. Unlike the earlier book, however, this one was not immediately accepted by my editor. But I always liked the idea, worked it through some significant revisions, and just kept sending it around. Then Judith Whipple at Cavendish read it and loved it at first sight.
So had I.

Harshman clearly had a vision for this work, and saw it through to the end.

The Marc Harshman papers, once processed, will be available as part of the Distinguished West Virginians collection.


All of This is Now Yours: Works from 1923 are Now Copyright Free

Jane Metters LaBarbara
January 7, 2019

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

“Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.”

The first few lines of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by poet Robert Frost, pictured below.  One of the great masterworks now entered into the public domain.

Portrait of Robert Frost

January 1, 2019, is more momentous than the first day of a new year, it is also the date that works from the year 1923 now shed their copyright status and enter the public domain.  From films to fiction, paintings to music, all forms of media created in 1923 are now available for everyone to use, edit, and evolve, because, with the lifting of copyright restrictions, all of this is now yours. 

This new introduction of copyrighted works into the public domain has been heavily covered by the news media.  The Atlantic magazine, among others, have written about it.  Even The Guardian has covered this influx of formerly copyrighted materials because the American copyrights of British citizens have now fallen away.  Literature by Virginia Woolf, mystery novels by Agatha Christie, and several stories by the humorist P.G. Wodehouse, the author of the Jeeves and Wooster stories, are now copyright free.  Also included are novels by D.H. Lawrence, poems by e.e. cummings and William Carlos Williams, fiction by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, and many, many more. Besides these recognizable names, there are many others who created works that have been lost to time. With the release of copyright, these works, popular in their day, may now be rediscovered. 

Spine and cover of "Tarzan the Invincible" book

This release of works into the public domain is considered unprecedented, as the Guardian describes it, due to a twenty year embargo.  As the Guardian noted in a 2002 article, due to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, more than twenty years were added to existing copyrights in order to continue protection of works by Walt Disney, such as the iconic animated figures of Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck, novels by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as songs such as An American in Paris, by George and Ira Gershwin. 

Image of Donald Duck, Mickey, Pluto, and Goofy

Other works such as Edith Wharton’s A Son at the Front, and Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay, as well as non-fiction including Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis, are now copyright freeSilent films such as Charlie Chaplin’s The Pilgrim, D.W. Griffith’s films, The Birth of a Nation and Broken Blossoms, both starring Lillian Gish, are also available. 

Portrait of Lillian Gish

Silent film actress Lillian Gish

This release of formerly copyrighted materials brings some of the greatest works of the 20th century available for poets, playwrights, film makers, novelists, and artists, to use, to inspire, and to enjoy.  All of this is now yours.

If you’d like to see some of the works that have now entered the public domain in the first edition, such as the poems of Robert Frost, and the novels of D.H. Lawrence, please contact Stewart Plein, rare books curator, for an appointment.



Gems in the Orum, Eskey, and McCaffery Family Papers

Jane Metters LaBarbara
December 17, 2018

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC.

Family papers are a relatively common sight in archives like the WVRHC. We collect them because they tell the stories of the people of our state and region, and because they can be great genealogical resources. The WVRHC has hundreds of collections of family papers, ranging from collections with just a few items to collections like the Siler Family Papers, which contain over 150 boxes of material.  I’m currently processing the Orum, Eskey, and McCaffery Family Papers, detailing intersecting family lines from Sherrard, WV, and I wanted to share a few items from the collection that I found particularly special.

Mitten, 1880

It is common for family papers to include photos, letters,genealogies, sometimes even deeds and other legal documents, but this is the first time I have encountered a tiny mitten as part of a collection. This mitten was knitted by Margaret (Maggie) M. Eskey (1853-1884) in December 1880,when she would have been in her late 20s. According to the included note, she gave it to a friend, who then returned it to the family in 1916. I like to imagine it was a holiday gift meant to be worn by a doll.

Meat Curing Recipe

The Orum family had a farm in Sherrard, WV, and Joseph Orum’s cured meat recipe, seen here, has been preserved by the family. According to a note, “Grandfather Orum’s cured meat was famed all over the countryside.” The recipe cures 200 lbs. of meat.

WWI Soldier’s Letter

Ellsworth Everett Eskey (1896-1963) wrote to his father on Nov. 24, 1918. According to the letter, this day was designated for writing letters to family, and censorship had been lifted, allowing Ellsworth to write a lot of details in this letter about where he had been and what he had been doing.

He describes some of his travels to his father, along with a few descriptions of combat:

…The Germans sent over a barrage one morning which lasted forty five minutes and which artillery experts say costs at least a million dollars. We didn’t have a single man killed so you can see luck was with us.

He also reflects on the upcoming holiday, how much he misses his family, and happy memories of home:

I will miss you all so much at Christmas time my mind goes back to the little home at Sherrard where Santa Claus used to visit us regularly each December 25th and while you and Mamma always had so much to worry about and so little to buy with, yet you always had everything for us at this time of year to make our little hearts happy, as I look back at it I often wonder how you manage it and I know that we all realize that we have the best Dad and the sweetest mother ever.

This collection also includes a wealth of genealogical information, and a great many photos, all of which are identified. Once it is processed, the finding aid will be added to our Guide to Archives & Manuscripts.


The History of McLoughlin Brothers Children’s Books

Jane Metters LaBarbara
December 10, 2018

Blog post by Anna Schein, Associate Curator for Printed Ephemera, WVRHC.

McLoughlin Brothers, Inc. was a New York publishing firm which pioneered the use of color printing technologies in children’s books.  Actively publishing between 1858 and 1920, the company was particularly well known for its early use of hand-stenciled colored illustrations and its later printing techniques using chromolithographs and photo engravings.

Book cover of The Night Before Christmas, Showing Santa Claus' face

The company flourished under the leadership of John McLoughlin, Jr., who learned wood engraving and printing while working for Elton & Co., a publishing company owned by his father, John McLoughlin, Sr., and engraver/printer, Robert H. Elton.  After McLoughlin, Sr. and Elton retired, John, Jr. had control of the business.  He started to publish picture books under his own name and made his younger brother, Edmund McLoughlin, a partner in 1855.

McLoughlin Brothers Books, Games and Paper Toys

Book cover of Old Fashioned Jack Straws, showing a boy and girl dressed in fine clothing

By 1886, McLoughlin Brothers, Inc. was publishing a wide range of children’s toy books, chapbooks, large folio picture books, linen books, puzzles, games, and paper toys.  Many of the earliest and most valuable board games in America were produced by McLoughlin Brothers of New York.  Following the death of John McLoughlin, Jr. in 1905, the company struggled. McLoughlin Brothers, Inc. was sold to Milton Bradley in 1920.  At the time of the sale, game production stopped.  Milton Bradley’s McLoughlin Division moved from New York to Springfield, Mass. and continued to publish children’s books until World War II.

McLoughlin Brothers, Inc. Toy Books

Book cover of the Adventures of Henny Penny and her Friends, showing a girl with a chicken, and two chickens dressed like humans.

The term toy book originated in England during the 18th century when John Newbery began printing “gift books”, such as A Little Pretty Pocket-Book (1744), with small toys included in the packaging.  At the beginning of the 19th century, when John Harris became owner of Newbery’s publishing firm, he began to publish small (4 inches by 5 inches), color-illustrated children’s books.  Early toy books were hand-colored and six to eight pages in length.  The covers were made of heavy, durable paper since the books were meant to be played with by small children.

The most well-known publisher of toy books in the United States was McLoughlin Brothers, Inc. of New York.  McLoughlin Bros. “indestructible toy books” were printed on linen.  Lists of toy books appear in McLoughlin Brothers publisher catalogs.  Some McLoughlin Brothers catalogs have been digitized by the American Antiquarian Society, the Hagley Digital Archives, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

McLoughlin Brothers Christmas Books

Book cover of The Robin's Christmas Eve, showing a robin singing on a holly bush.

In the late nineteenth century, the most popular Christmas books were versions of Clement Clark Moore’s The Night Before Christmas, a Visit From Saint Nicholas.  The original poem was first published in 1823 but did not appear in published book form until 1845.  According to a December 2016 article (“The Books of Christmas”, Antique Lynx):

“In Great Britain the leading publisher of such Christmas books was Raphael Tuck; in the United States it was clearly the McLoughlin Brothers. Already a major producer of children’s books, McLoughlin Brothers seemed to excel at Christmas books.  They provided many versions of The Night Before Christmas and similar holiday volumes as the 19th century ended and the 20th century began.  Most of the books were of high quality, they drew on fine die-cut illustrations and appeared either on very good paper or near linen-type paper.” 

Repositories of McLoughlin Brothers, Inc. Archives

Book cover of Three Little Kittens, showing two kittens washing clothing in a tub and one kitten hanging items up to dry on a line.

McLoughlin Brothers archival materials and publications are held privately by many libraries, societies, and private collectors. The American Antiquarian Society holds one of the largest collections of McLoughlin Brothers archives including over 1,700 picture books, games, paper toys, publishers’ catalogs, and original art work.

More than 145 early McLoughlin Brothers children’s books have been digitized and are available through the Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/. The University of Pennsylvania also has a McLoughlin Brothers Online Books page at http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu

The University of Southern Mississippi and the University of South Florida also have large collections of children’s books which include many of those published by McLoughlin Brothers.

McLoughlin Brothers Children’s Books in the West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries

The West Virginia and Regional History Center’s Printed Ephemera Collection includes more than 40 McLoughlin Brothers children’s books.  The majority are older imprints published in New York.  Those in the public domain and not too fragile to scan have been digitized and are available online as part of the WVRHC Printed Ephemera Collection digital finding aid at: https://printedephemera.lib.wvu.edu/.     

For further information about McLoughlin Brothers children’s books, see:

Hagley Digital Archives, http://digital.hagley.org/

“McLoughlin Brothers”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McLoughlin_Brothers

Wasowicz, Laura. American Antiquarian Society, http://www.americanantiquarian.org/mcloughlin-bros

Wasowicz, Laura et al.  Radiant with color & art: McLoughlin Brothers and the business of picture books, 1858-1920. Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 2017.


The Importance of a Good Cookbook

Jane Metters LaBarbara
December 5, 2018

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

Recently the West Virginia and Regional History Center received the gift of hundreds of cookbooks that are part of the Lucinda Ebersole Collection.  Ms. Ebersole was bookstore co-owner, cookbook enthusiast, editor, and book collector. Her collection of cookbooks spans the late nineteenth century up to 2016.  The much beloved cookbook pictured here arrived as part of the larger Ebersole collection.

Beneath the hand sewn plaid cover is the Rumford Complete Cook Book printed in 1918.  Nearly every page is covered with handwritten recipes, cooking spills and splashes marking favorite recipes, clippings pasted on pages that completely cover the text and recipes attached by paperclips.

Yellow, blue, and red cookbook cover

Yellow, blue, and red cookbook cover

This bears all the signs of a treasured cookbook.  The original binding has been recovered, the spine of the book is broken and the pages are stained throughout, a testament to the many meals and desserts made from these pages.  The detail above shows the hand stitching used to cover the book with cloth.

The Rumford Complete Cook Book was first published in 1908 by the Rumford Chemical Works, in Rumford, Rhode Island, to promote their baking powder.  The author, Lily Haxworth Wallace, was a well-known cooking expert.  A graduate of the National Cooking School in London, England, Ms. Wallace moved to the U.S. about 1900 where she became an expert on American cuisine.  She authored several cookbooks and was a regular contributor to the women’s magazines.  The Rumford Cook Book was reprinted many times; 40 editions were published from 1918 to 1947.

Inside back cover of cookbook, showing how the cover was sewn over the boards, and showing notes and a clipping on the endpaper

The inside back cover shows how the cloth was sewn over the boards.  A recipe is jotted onto the back cover, some figures have been added to the endpaper along with a clipping of the poem, The Living Tree.

Although there’s no title for the handwritten recipe on the right in the image below, from the list of ingredients it looks like a recipe for pumpkin pie. The cook has pasted another pumpkin pie recipe over the next page.   Both recipes include ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, the traditional pumpkin pie spices.

Pumpkin pie recipes in cookbook, one handwritten and one a clipping

This recipe for rolls has been handwritten on a separate sheet of note paper, taped across two pages of the Rumford Cook Book and dated March 3, 1947.  The name, Virginia Smith, has been written at the bottom of the recipe.

Recipe for rolls taped into cookbook

This book was more than an essential cook book for the owner.  It also contained clipped copies of poems and inspirational sayings.  A Mother’s Day card has been slipped between the pages.  Baking must have been a favorite part of this cook’s repertoire as most of the added recipes are for breads, pies, cookies, candies, and frostings.  Recipes for lemon pie, vanilla drop and peanut butter cookies, raisin pie, spice cake, fudge frosting, baked bananas, as well as light bread, and corn bread are all handwritten.  Another recipe written on an index card from Jane Davis makes 70 cookies.  Mustard beans, lima beans, and corn recipes for canning are also included as are recipes for barbeque beef, tomato catsup (sic), and greens.

A favorite handwritten recipe must have been this one for mincemeat pie because the page is so heavily stained with splashes and splatters.  Here’s her recipe, just as she wrote it in the cookbook:

Mince Meat Pies –

Meat off one hogs head

8 apples (diced)

9 boxes of raisins

2 pounds brown sugar

1 cup vinegar

Ginger, 1 table spoon




Nut meg

Cook 30 minutes or longer, seal up.

If you’d like to see this cookbook, please call and make an appointment with rare books curator, Stewart Plein.  You can also stop by the West Virginia and Regional History Center to see our collection of West Virginia cook books.

Happy Cooking!