Columbia Library columns (v.9(1959Nov-1960May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )

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  v.9,no.2(1960:Feb): Page 4  



4                                   Mark Van Doren

my desk, and the next month I took a few more. It was always
with the idea of having two copies of something in two different
places. I did not think that both my house and Columbia Univer¬
sity would burn on the same day. After thirty-five years they filled
seventeen boxes, and when I was ready to leave Columbia last
June (I hope I am being both frank and respectful) I did not know
what to do with them except give them to the University. I am
going to say more about the reason than that. But that is how it
begins.

I am also giving them to the University because I love it. But
this is why they exist. I never kept them from any notion that
they were immortal; I kept them out of habit somewhat as a
squirrel keeps nuts in the ground, and I did not always know what
was up there in those boxes. In a sense, I still do not. Not all of the
things I have written are here. Some are I do not know where,
I do not know what happened to them; some manuscripts that
should be here, perhaps, are not. A few were distributed during
World War II, under the auspices of the Book and Author War
Bond Committee, of which I happened to be chairman. This was
an enterprise that the United States Treasury started in order to
promote the sale of war-bonds. Meetings were held in various
cities of the United States, and at those meetings there was an
auction of bonds; the person or the company or the institution
that bought the most had as a result the privilege of presenting to
the local Ubrary (Springfield, Massachusetts, or whatever town
or city it might be) one or more manuscripts that authors had
contributed. Virtually all of the living authors of the United
States, and of England for that matter, contributed manuscripts.
Einstein wrote out a "fair copy" of his first relativity paper, for
instance. It was auctioned at one of these meetings. A number of
my manuscripts went that way, and they are in various libraries
of the country, as many thousands of manuscripts are. I wanted
to say that.

I wanted to say, too, that if you are looking at any of these
papers in the exhibit cases at the side of the room, you may be
  v.9,no.2(1960:Feb): Page 4