This episode features a conversation with archivist Melissa Watterworth Batt about poet Charles Olson (1910-1970) and his collection which documents an intensive study into Herman Melville’s personal library and the marginalia found within it. Olson worked with Melville’ relatives as well as librarians, private collectors, and book dealers to attempt to track down the “lost five hundred,” the approximate number of books Melville’s widow had sold to a Brooklyn dealer in 1892 after Herman’s death. In addition we discuss Olson’s book, Call Me Ishmael (1947) which incorporated his research, the history of Herman Melville’s whaling experiences, and his own postmodern poetics. This is part 1 of a 2 part conversation featuring seafaring songs and archival recordings, check out part 2 here.

Featured Collections

Call me Ishmael

The Charles Olson Research Collection

The Melville Project

Featured Media

Melville’s Marginalia Online

Spanish Ladies by Paul Clayton – Whaling And Sailing Songs (From The Days Of Moby Dick)

Logo by Melica Stinnett

About The Author

Graham is an Archivist overseeing the Human Rights and Alternative Press Collections at the UConn Library, Archives & Special Collections. His work focuses on the archivist as activist and expanding access to archives for a diverse audience. His personal interests deal with settler colonialism in antebellum Kansas Territory and Civil War memory.

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