Vassar Quarterly - Spring/Summer 2017 - 6
With the advent of smartphones and social media,
people are capturing a greater number of moments
than ever before, yet the vast majority of these images
are never printed. A photograph as a tangible object
has become a thing of the past, a charming remnant of
a time when taking a photograph was a rarified event.
Other People's Pictures: Snapshots from the Peter J. Cohen
Gift, a new exhibition at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art
Center at Vassar College, pays tribute to that time gone
by. It offers a glimpse into how the medium used to
function in the lives of amateur photographers. On
view July 14-September 17, the exhibition will feature
200 small black-and-white photographs, mostly of
American women from the early and mid-twentieth
century, selected from a gift of more than 500 donated
by enthusiastic collector Peter J. Cohen.
The photos presented in Other People's Pictures harken back
to a time before the age of social media and cell phones.
Papers of Poet James Merrill
to Join Special Collections
A collection of books and papers relating to the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James
Merrill has been donated to the Vassar College Libraries by the poet's longtime
friend and neighbor Bannon Jones McHenry '52.
Merrill and McHenry's friendship spanned many years. They lived in the same
building on Manhattan's upper East Side immortalized in Merrill's poem "164 East
72nd Street." McHenry created an extensive archive of her friend's works, including
a number of items inscribed to her by Merrill. The collection donated to Vassar
includes all of Merrill's printed works, books about him, books from his library,
photographs, and correspondence.
Although the body of Merrill's work encompasses plays and prose, he is most
well known for his poetry. Merrill, who died in 1995, was widely regarded as one of
the leading poets of his generation. Over the course of his career, he won nearly
every major literary award in America. He received two National Book Awards for
Poetry for Nights and Days (1966) and Mirabell: Books of Numbers (1978). Merrill's
long Ouija-inspired epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover (1982) won the
National Book Critics Circle Award, and he was awarded the inaugural Bobbitt
National Prize for Poetry by the Library of Congress for his book The Inner Room
(1988). He also received both the Bollingen Prize for Poetry and the Pulitzer Prize,
the latter for a book of occult poetry called Divine Comedies (1976).
"This Merrill collection is a significant acquisition for Vassar," says Ronald Patkus,
head of Special Collections. "It offers an important view on the man and his work, and
his connection to Vassar through this extraordinary friendship only adds to the value
for us. This collection also complements Vassar's holdings of other 20th century
writers, such as Elizabeth Bishop and Mary McCarthy.
The Bannon McHenryJames Merrill Collection
will reside in the Archives
and Special Collections
Library. In coming weeks,
the materials will be
catalogued, and when this
work is complete, the
collection will be available
to researchers. The library
is also planning an
exhibition of the materials,
likely to take place in time
to commemorate the 25th
anniversary of Merrill's
death in 2020.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
James Merrill had been a friend
and neighbor of Bannon Jones
McHenry '52, who donated
Courtesy of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center / Vassar Archives and Special Collections
Other People's Pictures