The extant correspondence of NERC is sadly incomplete. What remains is about 1 linear foot of official correspondence, separated into file folders by past officers of the organization. It dates back to the mid-1960s, and declines precipitously following the advent of email in the 1990s. The files also include a few (unreadable) floppy disks and some past membership lists.

Leicester Bradner of the English Department at Brown University appears to have been a longtime secretary of NERC, and perhaps it was he who began to preserve what correspondence remains. Kenneth Gouwens of University of Connecticut has been the custodian of these documents since assuming the presidency of NERC in 1999.

In a letter acoompanying the transfer of these files to UMass Lowell in Fall 2012, Ken Gouwens wrote the following:

When I inherited the NERC archive it was not organized at all…. What remains is a stack of file folders that fit easily into two upright cardboard boxes, I’d say about the equivalent of less than half a desk file drawer. The bulk of it is correspondence. There are three floppy discs, unreadable at least by me, that probably just contain(ed) very dated mailing lists. Some lists are printed out.

The chief item of interest is the correspondence. It dates back at least to the 1960s. My impression from skimming it ca. a decade ago is that academia pre-1980 was a more leisured pursuit than it is today. Harvard and Brown were big players, and initially I think it was heavily Ivy League. A longtime secretary was a certain Leicester Bradner of Brown U., from the English Department, I think. There is a story to be told, I believe — if anyone sees a point in telling it — about the growth of Renaissance Studies and especially its greater inclusiveness over time.

Rev. 10/14/2012

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: