A DESCRIPTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY OF CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE'S IMMORTAL POEM is the first comprehensive and definitive work ever undertaken to document the publication history of this most famous work in all of Christmas literature. Written 180 years ago by a noted theologian and biblical scholar, there are few who do not know Moore's tale of the mysterious Christmas Eve visitor.
Nancy H. Marshall, long-time dedicated collector, brings her in-depth knowledge of Moore and the poem's publication history, as well as her bibliographic skills as a librarian, to bear in this scholarly endeavor.
With 1,001 entries, each face of which includes bibliographic and physical description, this book takes the reader on a bibliographic journey from the first publication of the poem in 1823 in the Troy (New York) Sentinel through the year 2000.
Seven detailed indexes, an historical essay describing the St. Nicholas legend, Clement Moore, and the origin of the poem, with 144 beautiful color and 80 black and white illustrations not usually found in bibliographies, make this an essential reference tool for collectors of Christmas memorabilia, librarians, cura¬tors, booksellers, antique dealers - indeed all who are enchanted by the yearly visit from St. Nicholas.
Clement Moore's The Night Before Christmas has captured the imagination of young and old over many generations. Memories of childhood, parenting, and grandparenting add to each reading and telling of these beloved verses. Nancy Marshall has captured the sense of enchantment and the thrill of the chase in her scholarly Bibliography. The sense of enchantment comes through in the recounting of the history of the tale as well as the story of her personal involvement and study of Clement Moore and the publishing history. The thrill of the chase has been a part of her life for forty-five years. Any collector knows the thrill of being immersed (Nancy did use the term "obsessed") in a subject that leads to new adventures and new quests for materials that must be added to the ever growing collection.
Nancy's retirement in 1997 as Dean of University Libraries at The College of William and Mary has given her the opportunity to engage her passion of collecting. As will be evident in the reading of this bibliography, it is clear that she brings a distinguished career as a librarian to bear in the production of this volume. Her bibliographic and scholarly skills combine to make this work an essential tool in the history of bibliography.
It is an honor to be asked to write this Foreword and to be able to recognize my predecessor for the dual legacy that she leaves to Swem Library. Her first legacy to The College of William and Mary is her leadership role as Dean from 1986 to 1997 in moving the library forward to the eve of the twenty-first century by advocating, planning and launching a major building and renovation project.
The second legacy is a gift of Mrs. Marshall's magnificent collection of Moore's poem. Her collection was built of love and crafted in scholarly research. The gift of the mother, grandmother and librarian will be appreciated and enjoyed for generations to come. It will be most fitting to exhibit this unique collection in the beautiful new library that she helped build.
Connie Kearns McCarthy
Dean of University Libraries
The College of William and Mary
Williamsburg October 2001
This book has been in development for more than forty-five years. It was then that I was given my first box of antique blown glass Christmas tree ornaments by my mother, in, law shortly after my marriage. I was enthralled by their beauty and I began to collect these delicate, holiday decorations whenever and wherever I could locate them. Gradually, the collection grew to include all types of Christmas decorations and memorabilia. As our four children were born, I also started to purchase inexpensive editions of Clement Clarke Moore's poem, The Night Before Christmas, to put into their stockings ". . . hung by the chimney with care. . ." and to place around the fireplace and other areas of our home during the holidays.
For many years, it was more of a haphazard and serendipitous "see it, buy it" method of collecting, but in the early 1980s I became passionate (my family sometimes uses the word "obsessed") about acquiring this title. I was particularly interested in the unique interpretations by illustrators and artists, both famous and not-so-famous, who have shared the gifts of their fertile, creative imaginations and their consummate artistic visions and skills since the poem first appeared in print in 1823.
As time passed, it became apparent to me that I would need to devote much more of my time, talent and treasure if I were going to build my collection into the comprehensive one I envisioned. I began to take every opportunity to acquire the rare and scarce early editions and appearances, as well as the more available and numerous twentieth-century ones, and continue to this day to be ever on the search and prowl for items I do not yet own. As a result, my collection is now approaching one thousand print editions and other items relating to the poem. Gradually, I began to realize that it was, perhaps, one of the largest collections held in private hands, and that someday it would be incumbent upon me to compile a bibliography as my contribution to the scholarly record. This, then, is what you have in hand - a labor of love built upon a lifetime of collecting.
Eventually, every collector begins to think about the final disposition of a collection of such breadth and depth. For me, the decision was a relatively easy one to make. Having spent more than a decade of my professional life as the Dean of University Libraries at The College of William and Mary in Virginia, I know that the University's Earl Gregg Swem Library is the appropriate repository for maintaining the collection and making it accessible to future researchers and scholars. In addition, the skill and ability of the Special Collections staff to mount exhibitions will provide opportunities for all interested individuals to enjoy the many treasures to be found in the Nancy H. Marshall A Visit from St. Nicholns Collection.
I hope you will enjoy this bibliographic journey, and find it a useful source of information as you pursue your own interest in this most-published, most-read, most-memorized, and most-collected book in all of Christmas literature.
Virginia Christmas 200