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Friday, December 06, 2013

All his books were put in his room

Whether you've just wrapped up your holiday gift-giving or you're currently planning and shopping, I thought this letter from Eleanor Elkins Widener offered a poignant reminder of the power of holiday traditions.


Eleanor Elkins Widener, autograph letter signed to Philip H. Rosenbach. [December 1912?]. RCo I:181:31
Eleanor Elkins Widener, autograph letter signed to Philip H. Rosenbach. [December 1912?]. RCo I:181:31
Eleanor Elkins Widener, autograph letter signed to Philip H. Rosenbach. [December 1912?]. RCo I:181:31

Mrs. Widener's son,  Harry Elkins Widener died on the Titanic on April 15, 1912.  A young book-collector, Harry had been Dr. Rosenbach's client, friend, and protege. After his death, his mother continued to acquire books that he had wanted, eventually donating his collection to Harvard (along with a new library to hold it) in accordance with Harry's wishes.

This letter, written on mourning paper, presumably dates from December 1912 and speaks of the solace Mrs. Widener found in Harry's collection and in continuing holiday traditions. She had always bought Harry books for Christmas and here she writes to Philip Rosenbach, thanking him and Dr. R for a printed tribute Dr. Rosenbach had produced, and then explaining  "I must also thank you for the Xmas present you sent him. All his books were put in his room the same as each year, whilst we could not see him--I know he was with us."




Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library.

 

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