Monday, July 15, 2013

* Spanking the Beinecke

The Marble Armadillo:
Beinecke Rare Book Library
at Yale

Miss Wilder with my parents
 at the dedication of Miller Library's
restoration of
Thornton Wilder's study and memorabilia,

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Paul Keane
Date: Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 5:13 PM
Subject: Re: Miss Isabel Wilder's notes and cards
To: tappan wilder
Cc: Harry Adams , "Sterling, Greg E", Craig Henrici , Christine Weideman, Larry Dowler

Tappan Wilder, Literary Executor

Thornton Wilder Estate

Dear Tappy,

Since you think  Beinecke  best, I will defer to your  opinion, if you ask the proper  Beinecke person to get in touch with me.

I will not try to persuade him/her --- or anyone else --- that my small folder has literary significance. Nor will I beseech. 

A request will however be honored.

 What I offer  is the record of a twenty-year association between a 31-year-old divinity student and a 76- year-old neighbor which  blossomed into friendship.  It is deeply sentimental and I want it to remain intact.

Your aunt was an intellectual godmother to me.

Your image of me spanking Beinecke --- that great marble armadillo --- is a hoot.

 It would bloody only  the spanker's hand.

Best to you,


On Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM, tappan wilder <> wrote:
Dear Paul-

I am very sorry that you did not feel you needed to consult me or, for that matter Penelope Niven, before spanking the Beinecke.  Had you done so  I  would have told you that  the Beinecke is  THE place for your Isabel Wilder material to —and I believe Penny would have done the same.

Institutions evolve over time. What  they are one minute is not what they are the next, etc., etc. Thru it all, the Beinecke has stood tall for being the single most important place  where Thornton  Wilder and Wilder FAMILY materials are centered,  and thus most conveniently found for  students of the subject(s).

Let us now  forget and remember no more.

Best wishes,


From: Paul Keane []
Sent: Monday, July 15, 2013 12:23 PM
To: Christine Weideman
Cc: Sterling, Greg E; Craig Henrici; Harry Adams; Larry Dowler; Tappy; Allen Packwood
Subject: Miss Isabel Wilder's notes and cards

Christine Weideman, Head
Manuscripts and Archives Division
Sterling Memorial Library
Yale University

Dear Christine:

    I want to thank you for referring me to the Churchill Archives Centre. They were enthusiastic and respectful in accepting my donation. I was delighted to interact with them. Link

    Over the last five years I have donated  all items I felt had historical value to various organizations; Thornton Wilder's desk; the Macintosh Chalice; D. Hoyt's painting; and now the Churchill Cigar and scrapbook. 

     Now that Dean Sterling and former Hamden Mayor Craig Henrici have agreed to find suitable recipients for my Mt. Carmel Burying ground plots,
I have one  item  left  which needs to be rescued from the capriciousness of history and of heirs: 
  •  About fifty handwritten notes and cards from Miss Isabel Wilder to me, beginning in 1976 and spanning  last  20 years of her long and fulfilling life.(1900 -1995).NOTE  I studiously avoided asking Miss Wilder about her brother during our entire 20 year friendship, so these notes reflect the generosity of HER heart and the  energy of her graciousness, not literary history.

     I read yesterday  in Penelope Niven's Thornton Wilder, a Life  that Miss Wilder "withheld" (until after her death)  from  the Thornton Wilder archive at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book Library about "90 banker's boxes"  (p. xiv) worth of  documents, as she  continued to write her own book about her brother.

     I do not want my tiny but very sentimental folder to go to Beinecke.  It would be lost in a tsunami of documents.  Miss Wilder deserves better than that.

      Will you accept it in my own papers even though those papers are in your "Kent State Collection" which I helped establish with Larry Dowler 37 years ago in 1977? 

    I will be happy to have them cross-referenced to the Beinecke Collection, but I do not want them physically located there.

   I am courtesy copying  Tappy Wilder here since he is literary executor of his uncle's estate and involved  therefore with the Beinecke collection. I can assure him that my interest is the preservation of these items written by his aunt in a way which ennobles her enormous contribution to her brother's creativity and legacy.

   You can see some of my other exchanges with Miss Wilder about her donation of her brother's  desk and study memorabilia to the Hamden Mayor's Bicentennial Commission at this link

    Again, my thanks for your wonderful suggestion that I donate to the Churchill Centre.

   I hope you will embrace my offer of  this small donation.



Paul D.Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

 Tappan Wilder, Literary Executor, Thornton Wilder estate
 Harry B. Adams, Chaplain Emeritus, Yale University
 Gregory E. Sterling, Dean, Yale Divinity School
 The Hon. Craig Henrici, ESQ., former Mayor, Town of Hamden
 Lawrence Dowler, Archivist Emeritus, Harvard University
 Allen Packwood, Director, Churchill Archives Centre

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