Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Greg Locascio
ENGL 501
Summer 2005
Dr. Baker
Bibliographers exercise

Donald Goddard Wing

Donald Goddard Wing devoted his life’s work to a singular pursuit. From 1932 until his death in 1972, Wing “was engaged in creating, compiling, and revising the great work of enumerative bibliography by which he will be remembered, the Short-Title Catalogue of English Books, 1641-1700 (STC)” (Baker 339).
Wing was born August 20, 1904 in Anthol, MA, the son of Frank and Edith Wing. His bibliographic tendencies showed early in his life when around the age of 10 he filled notebooks with alphabetical listings of actors and actresses, including all the roles and movies they appeared in. He attended public schools before entering Yale University. Michael T. Kaufman, in an interview with Wing published in the August 12, 1972 edition of The New York Times, quotes Wing as saying “When I graduated from Yale in 1926, all the seniors were asked what they dreamed of doing, and I said I wanted to read second-hand book catalogues” (Baker 340). Wing also studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, MA, from 1926-27 and earned a master’s degree in English from Harvard in 1928. He received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1932 “for a dissertation on ‘The Origins of the Comedy of Humor’” (340).
Wing married Charlotte Farquhar on June 28, 1930. They had two children, Robert and Cathy. He spent his entire career, from 1928 to 1970, as a librarian and bibliographer at the Yale University library. He was the assistant reference librarian from 1930-39; head of accessions from 1939-45; associate librarian, 1945-65; and associate librarian for collections of the libraries, 1966-70 (Contemporary Authors 437). “In 1967-1968 Wing was the first Yale librarian to be awarded a sabbatical” (Baker 340).
Early in Wing’s career at the Yale Library, he assisted in moving early books to the Sterling Memorial Library building and “began to put together a catalogue of the books Yale possessed in 1742. In his research he discovered that very little bibliographical information was available on books in English published from the 1640s to 1700” (Contemporary Authors 437). No supplement yet existed to A.W. Pollard and G.R. Redgrave’s Short-Title Catalogue, 1475-1640 (1926).
In 1935 Wing won a Guggenheim fellowship to search British libraries for books published between 1640 and 1700. Legend has it he sailed for England with 36 shoe boxes full of bibliographical slips and returned with 51 boxes “after searching libraries at Oxford and Cambridge, as well as collections in Scotland, France and Holland” (437). “Wing supplemented personal inspection by reading printed library catalogues and book-dealers’ catalogues” (Baker 340). Wing also inspected the Thomason tracts, collected papers of George Thomason, a Scottish bookseller in London between 1641-61, which “includes at least twenty-two thousand books, pamphlets and sheets” (340).
The first two volumes of Wing’s STC were published in 1945; volume III in 1951. “The volumes were revised several times,” (Contemporary Authors 437); the most recent, according to www.amazon.com, in August 1998. Wing also wrote A Gallery of Ghosts: Books Published Between 1641-1700 Not Found in the Short-Title Catalogue, published in 1967. This work “is an attempt to locate more than five thousand titles that Wing found listed in bibliographies and booksellers’ or auction catalogue but had not seen” ((342). Located titles were subsequently included in the STC.
There are three major criticisms of Wing’s STC. One is that it includes only a record of holdings in institutions in the British Isles and United States. Theodore Hofman wrote in The Library (Dec. 1994), “to accommodate the corrections and new material, Wing made the disastrous decision to cancel and alter entry numbers, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the old Wing numbers had become indispensable to the world of cataloguing and scholarship.” (As quoted in Baker 342). A third is that Wing’s abbreviations were confusing and too short. But for all of the STC’s shortcomings, literary scholars regard the period from 1641-1700 as “the Wing period” (343). Wing died on October 8, 1972.

Works cited

Baker, William. Rosenblum, Joseph, editor. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 187: American Book Collectors and Bibliographers, 2nd series, Gale Research (Detroit, MI), 1997. pp. 339-43.

Contemporary Authors, Volume 181: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Current Writers, Gale Research (Detroit, MI), 1998. pp. 437-8.

Wing’s bibliography

Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British America and of English Books Printed in Other Countries, 1641-1700, three volumes, Columbia University for the Index Society (New York City), 1945-51, second edition, Volume 1, revised, Modern Language Association (MLA) (New York City), 1998, Volume 2, revised, MLA, 1982, Volume 3, revised, MLA, 1988.

A Gallery of Ghosts: Books Published Between 1641-1700 Not Found in the Short-Title Catalogue, Index Committee of the MLA (New York City), 1967.

“The Making of the Short-Title Catalogue, 1641-1700,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 45 (1951): 59-69, republished in The Bibliographical Society of America 1904-79: A Retrospective Collection (Charlottesville: Published for the Bibliographical Society of America by the University Press of Virginia, 1980), pp. 241-51.

“Wing on Wing,” Yale Library Gazette, 44 (July 1969): pp. 3-7.

Researcher narrative

I started my search about Donald Wing online with ABELL and LION, and came up with the STC. Wing is also listed in association with an index to the Thomason Tracts, because the compilers gained valuable insight from Wing’s STC. So it was a little confusing for me as a researcher to figure out that Wing did not ALSO write the index. I then searched through an index to the Dictionary of Literary Biography at the back of one of its volumes and found Baker’s biography of Wing. This proved to be the most valuable resource into Wing’s research processes and biographical details. The Baker article lists Wing’s daughter as Cathya, while the Contemporary Authors article lists her as Cathy. Baker lists Wing’s date of death as Oct. 8, 1972, but in the lead paragraph writes, “From 1932 until his death in 1971…” (339). Contemporary Authors confirms that Wing died in 1972, but does not list a date. Baker writes that correspondence relating to the STC is in the Donald Wing Correspondence Archive, Yale University Library. Has this correspondence been published in other sources? What value would it have to bibliographers and literary scholars? Has anyone read these correspondences and written any scholarly articles? I also could not find any secondary bibliographic sources pertaining to Wing other than what is cited in Baker and Contemporary Authors.