WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2018

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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The items in the Elbert Collection are rare and varied. They include slave narratives, items pertaining to the Civil War and Reconstruction, a ticket to the Senate for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, books on the first African church in the United States (1862), books by African American writers like Countee Cullen and Paul Laurence Dunbar, fiction by Jean Toomer and Claude McKay, and poetry by Phillis Wheatley, the first published female African American poet in America. In a publication about the 11 collections that comprise the Special Collections at the Clapp Library including the Plimpton Collection, the Alcove of North American Languages, and the English Poetry Collection, among others, the Elbert addition is described accordingly: "Though American in focus, the Elbert Collection is not limited to works by American authors nor to information about slavery in the United States. It includes important works published in England, trans- lations from French, material on the experiment in Liberia, and slave conditions in the colonies of South Africa and in the West Indies." Elberts believed the creative expressions of black poets and writers to be of value that would only increase in importance in the future. History lovers and world travelers, the Elberts began collecting works by black writers from the United States and across the world. Though rare for African Americans to collect books at the time, it was perhaps even rarer that the Elberts would discover Robert Mara Adger, an African American bibliophile from Philadelphia. Adger, a collector and book dealer, was a black man with economic means that afforded him the luxury of book collecting. Over the years, he amassed a private collection of books and rare publications of more than 320 titles, including slave narratives. He was also a founding member and the first president of the American Negro Historical Society. The Elberts pur- chased the extraordinary collection from Adger in 1904. "What makes it valuable as a collection is that before it was Ella Smith Elbert's collection it was Adger's collection," said Ruth R. Rogers, curator of Special Collections at Wellesley College. "The Adger collec- tion and the Elbert collection are like book ends. His is the first book end and hers is the last," Rogers said. Album Imperial d'Haiti, the Empereur and L' Emperatrice Adelina, New York: Lacombe, [1852]. Lithographs. P H O T O S C O U R T E S Y O F W E L L E S L E Y C O L L E G E L I B R A R Y , S P E C I A L C O L L E C T I O N S 108 Making History Come Alive W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 8

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