Work: Special Collections, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
215 898 7088 (phone); 215 573 9079 (fax)
traister@pobox.upenn.edu (e-mail)
URL: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~traister/


B.A. (English literature), Colby College, June 1963.

M.A. (English literature), New York University, June 1964.

Ph.D. (English literature), New York University, October 1973.

M.S. in Library Service, Columbia University, October 1976.

Additional education:

Intermediate training seminar (library organization and administration), The New York Public Library, March-June 1979.

Introductory training seminar (library organization), The New York Public Library, February-March 1980.

Automated systems in rare books and special collections, Columbia University, March 1980.

Library Management Skills Institute, Office of Management Studies, Association of Research Libraries, at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, March 1984.

Strategies for Special Collections Librarianship, Columbia University Rare Book School, July 1986.


French, Latin, German (reading knowledge only).


3/91 to date: English-language literature bibliographer, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, University of Pennsylvania.

3/91 to date: Curator, Research Services, Department of Special Collections, Van Pelt Library.

12/83-2/91: Curator of Special Collections/Assistant Director of Libraries for Special Collections, Van Pelt Library.

5/82-11/83: Assistant Curator of Special Collections, Van Pelt Library.

12/81-6/82: Curator of Special Collections, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA.

9/77-11/81: Librarian, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, The New York Public Library.

5/77-6/77: Intern (cataloger), Special Collections, Department of Printed Books, Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, England.

1/77-8/77: Special Projects Bibliographer (part-time), Lehigh University.

1/76-5/76: Intern (cataloger), The Library Company of Philadelphia.

Other experience

Teaching: Composition and literature:

Teaching: Librarianship:



Literature, history, and library history:

Dissertation: "'Pity the Tale of Me': A Reading of Sidney's Astrophil and Stella." Richard C. Harrier, adviser. Abstract in DAI, 34 (1973-4), 7724-A.

"Introduction," pp. v-xii, in American Encyclopaedia of Printing, ed. John Luther Ringwalt (Philadelphia 1871), rpt. in Nineteenth-Century Book Arts and Printing History, no. 21 (New York 1981).

"Addendum to the Thom Gunn Bibliography," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 75 (1981), 354.

"Sidney's Purposeful Humor: Astrophil and Stella 59 and 83," ELH: A Journal of English Literary History, 49 (1982), 751-64.

"Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, Sonnet 89," The Explicator, 42 (Winter 1984), 2-3.

"'To Portrait That Which in This World Is Best': Stella in Perspective" [Astrophil and Stella 29 and 9], Studies in Philology, 81 (1984), 419-37.

"The Elsevier Republics," in The Elsevier Republics: Guide to the Microfiche Edition (Bethesda, MD.: Congressional Information Services, Inc., 1988), pp. 1-14.

"Book," International Encyclopedia of Communications, Erik Barnouw, Editor in Chief (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), I:209-17.

"Reluctant Virgins: The Stigma of Print Revisited," Colby Quarterly, 26:2 (June 1990), 75-86.

Human Documents: Tom Phillips's Art of the Page. An Exhibition Selected from the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1993.

Being Read: The Career of Howard Fast. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Libraries, 1994.

"The History of the Herman Teerink Collection of Jonathan Swift at the University of Pennsylvania Library," Swift Studies, 10 (1995), 80-88.

"Noticing Howard Fast," Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies, 20 (1995), 525-541.

"'You Must Remember This . . . ': or, Libraries as a Locus of Cultural Memories," in Cultural Memory and the Construction of Identity, edited by Dan Ben-Amos and Liliane Weissberg (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999), pp. 202-230.

"The Furness Memorial Library," in The Penn Library Collections at 250: From Franklin to the Web, ed. Michael T. Ryan and J. Dennis Hyde (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Library, 2000), pp. 60-79.

"Obituary" [Ruth Samson Luborsky], The Spenser Review, 33:3 (Autumn 2002), 20-21

"The Press and the Poets" [The ELM Press, Eleanor Wilner's Precessional, and Susan Stewart's The Elements], in Collaborations: Enid Mark and The ELM Press (Wallingford, PA: The ELM Press, 2003), pp. 15-25.

"Afterword," Teaching Bibliography, Textual Criticism, and Book History, ed. Ann R. Hawkins (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2006), pp. 178-184.

"A Tract for Its Time: Walter Van Tilburg Clark's The Ox-Bow Incident and American Interventionism" (in progress).


"Selling Off: A Plain and Easy Pathway to Health for Rare Book and Manuscript Libraries" [on library deaccession], American Book Collector, n.s. 2, no. 5 (September-October 1981), 35-43.

"How Much Research Would a Research Librarian Do If a Research Librarian Could Do Research?" in Options for the 80s: Proceedings of the Second National Conference of the Association of College and Research Libraries, ed. Virgil F. Massman and Michael D. Kathman, Foundations in Library and Information Science, 17 (Greenwich, CT: Jai Press, 1982), 2:463-70.

"Goodbye to All That: A Case Study in Deaccessioning," Wilson Library Bulletin, 56 (May 1982), 663-68.

"Rare Book Collections: The Need for Interpretation," Wilson Library Bulletin, 58 (October 1983), 115-19.

"Books about Books," in Rare Books 1983-84: Trends, Collections, Sources, ed. Alice D. Schreyer (New York: Bowker, 1984), pp. 81-92.

"The Rare Book Librarian's Day," Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, 1:2 (Fall 1986), 93-105.

"Publication of Reference Tools for Special Collections," The Reference Librarian, no. 15 (Fall 1986), pp. 89-107

"A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale: The Profession of Rare Book Librarianship in the 1980s," Library Trends, 36:1 (Summer 1987), 141-156 [special issue: "Recent Trends in Rare Book Librarianship"].

["John Parker,"] in A Book For Jack: Words To, By and About John Parker . . . (Minneapolis: Associates of the James Ford Bell Library, 1991), pp. 241-44.

"Dreiser and Libraries," PACSCL News, 1:2 (December 1991), 1-8.

["Agostino Ramelli, Le diverse et artificiose machine, Paris 1588"]; and (with Roland Mushat Frye), ["Book of Common Prayer, Boston 1928 (i.e., 1930)]," in Vision of a Collector: The Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection at The Library of Congress (Washington, DC: The Library of Congress, 1991), pp. 50-52, 402-404.

"What Good Is an Old Book?" Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, 7:1 (1992), 26-42.

"Garbage or Treasure? The Case for Acquiring Rare Books," The Chronicle of Higher Education (January 13, 1993), p. A48.

"Rare Books and Special Collections," World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services, 3rd ed., Robert Wedgeworth, General Editor (Chicago: American Library Association, 1993), pp. 698-703.

"Seduction and Betrayal: An Insider's View of Internal Theft," Wilson Library Bulletin, 69 (September 1994), 30-33.

"Rare Book Libraries," in International Encyclopedia of Information and Library Science, ed. John Feather and Paul Sturges (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 388-393.

"Is There a Future for Special Collections? and Should There Be?" RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, 1 (2000), 54-76.

"Private Libraries," in International Dictionary of Library Histories, ed. David H. Stam (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001), 1:140-144.

"Public Services and Outreach in Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Libraries," Library Trends, 52:1 (Summer 2003), 87-108 [special issue: "Special Collections in the Twenty-first Century," ed. Barbara M. Jones].

"What's a Library For?" Studies in Education [Germantown Friends School], no. 89 (Summer 2005), pp. 10-18.

"University of Pennsylvania Library, Rare Book and Manuscript Library: The Horace Howard Furness Memorial," and "University of Pennsylvania Library," in Celebrating Research: Rare and Special Collections from the Membership of the Association of Research Libraries: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Association of Research Libraries, ed. Philip N. Cronenwett, Kevin Osborn, and Samuel A. Streit (Washington: Association of Research Libraries, 2007), pp. 198-199, 295.

An untitled essay on the function of exhibitions for special collections (in progress).

An untitled essay on the relationship between academic theory and special collections (in progress).

Reviews (selected):

Journal of Library History, 13 (1978), 486-7:

Printing History, 1, no. 2 (1979), 40-2:

American Book Collector, n.s. 1 (1980)-n.s. 3 (1982):

American Book Collector, n.s. 2 (January-February 1981), 49-52:

American Book Collector, n.s. 2 (March-April 1981), 60-73:

Phaedrus, 8 (1981), 82-3:

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 75 (1981), 493-8:

Printing History, 4 (1982), 71-3:

Shakespeare Bulletin, 1:11 (1982-3), 22-4:

Shakespeare Bulletin, 1:12 (1982-3), 20-1:

Shakespeare Bulletin, 2:12/3:1 (1984/1985), 41-3:

Printing History, 6 (1984), 28-30:

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 79 (1985), 581-4:

Sidney Newsletter, 6:2 (1985-6), 17-20:

Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, 1 (1986), 65-69:

College and Research Libraries, 48 (1987), 177-180:

Library Resources and Technical Services, 32 (1988), 83-85:

Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, 3 (1988), 66-73:

Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, 4 (1989), 121-6:

Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, 5 (1990), 110-13:

CAN: Conservation Administration News, no. 48 (January 1992), pp. 24-5:

MultiCultural Review, 2:2 (June 1993), 56:

Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, 12:2 (1998), 122-123:

The Library Quarterly, 69:1 (1999), 130-133:

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 94:4 (December 2000), 577-578:

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 96:2 (June 2002), 310-315:

The Library Quarterly, 72:4 (October 2002), 504-507:

The Library Quarterly, 73:3 (July 2003), 357-359:

JASNA News [Jane Austen Society of North America News], 20:2 (Spring 2004), 19:

JASNA News [Jane Austen Society of North America News], 22:1 (Spring 2006), 16:

The Library Quarterly, 77:3 (July 2007), 345-347:

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 102:2 (June 2008), 252-254:

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 103:2 (June 2009), 245-248:

Shakespeare Bulletin, forthcoming:

Selected addresses:

Modern Language Association of America, Chicago, December 1977:
"Robert Burton, Anthony Powell, and the Anatomy Form."
The Typophiles, New York, December 1978:
"What Is So Rare as a Rare Book Librarian?"
The New York Map Society, New York, April 1979:
"Early Maps in the Rare Book Division of The New York Public Library."
Shakespeare Summerfest, American Museum of Natural History, New York, September 1981:
"The Book in the Age of Shakespeare."

Repeated: The Book Arts and the Humanities, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ, February 1982.
Repeated: Printing and the Book Arts: The Tradition of Quality, The New York Public Library, May 1983.

Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design, New York, September 1981:
"The History of Printing, 1450 to the Present."
Association of College and Research Libraries, Second National Conference, Minneapolis, October 1981:
"How Much Research Would a Research Librarian Do If a Research Librarian Could Do Research?"
American Library Association, annual conference, Philadelphia, July 1982:
"Special Collections Materials in Publicly-Accessible Stacks: A Problem in Library Security."
The Philobiblon Club, Philadelphia, October 1982:
"A Modest Proposal: Towards a Greater Philadelphia APHA Chapter."
Rare Books and Manuscripts Section/Association of College and Research Libraries/ALA, annual preconference, Los Angeles, July 1983:
"Librarians Meet Scholars: Scholars Meet Librarians: A General Stillness Descends."
Mid-Atlantic Renaissance Conference, annual meeting, Philadelphia, November 1983:
"Anamorphic Portraits of Stella in Sidney's Astrophil and Stella."
Columbia University, New York, December 1985:
"The Rare Book Librarian's Day."

Repeated: The Franklin Inn, Philadelphia, February 1986.

The Program in the History of the Book in American Culture, American Antiquarian Society, Conference on Teaching the History of the Book: Methods and Concepts, Worcester, MA, June 1987:
"Teaching the History of Books and Printing in Library School."
Rare Books and Manuscripts Section/Association of College and Research Libraries/ALA, annual preconference, Stanford, June 1987:
"One Man's Meat: Canonical and Non-Canonical Texts and Acquisitions in Special Collections."

Repeated: The Philomathean Society, University of Pennsylvania, April 1988.
Repeated: Friends of the Library, University of Pennsylvania, November 1990.
Repeated: Louisiana State University, October 1991.

Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, March 1988:
"How Did Fine Books Get Printed?"

Repeated: May 1990, Bryn Mawr College.
Repeated: Pforzheimer Lecture, The New York Public Library, March 1997.
Repeated: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, November 1999.

Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, May 1988:
"Reluctant Virgins: The Stigma of Print Revisited."

Repeated: Seminar on Shakespeare, Columbia University, September 1988.
Repeated: Columbia University School of Library Service, July 1989.
Repeated: Renaissance Forum, Graduate Center, City University of New York, October 1989.
Repeated: The Book and the Idea of the Book, Third Annual Pennsylvania Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, University of Pennsylvania, October 1989.

National Society of Colonial Dames, New York, November 1990:
"Remembering Benj. Franklin."
Society of American Archivists, Philadelphia, September 1991:
"An Insider's View of Insider Theft."

Repeated: Smithsonian Institution, 1994 National Conference on Cultural Property Protection, Alexandria, VA, February 1994.

Fourteenth Annual Mid-America Conference on History, Lawrence, Kansas, September 1992:
"A Tract for Its Time: Walter Van Tilburg Clark's The Ox-Bow Incident and American Interventionism."

Repeated: University of Virginia, January 2001.

South Carolina Library Association, 67th annual meeting, Charleston, December 1993:
"Is There a Future for Special Collections? and Should There Be?"

Repeated: The Edwin Wolf 2nd Memorial Lecture, The Philobiblon Club, Philadelphia, February 1996.
Repeated: University of Virginia, July 1999.

The Philobiblon Club, Philadelphia, December 1993:
"Getting the Books Up: Thoughts on Mounting an Exhibition of 'Pretty Books.'"
East Central Association of Eighteenth Century Studies, State College, Pennsylvania, October 1994:
"Nazi Book Collectors I Have Not Known: The History of the Herman Teerink Collection of Jonathan Swift at the University of Pennsylvania Library."
American Association of Museums, Philadelphia, May 1995:
"Preventing Insider Theft."
Rare Books and Manuscripts Section/Association of College and Research Libraries/ALA, annual preconference, Bloomington, Indiana, June 1995:
"Some Aspects of the Relationships Between Special Collections and Academic Theory."
Annual undergraduate research honors dinner, Millersville Univerity, Millersville, PA, March 1996:
"Among School Children"
The Lewis Carroll Society of North America, spring meeting, Philadelphia, April 1996:
"Some Considerations for Book Collectors Considering Disposing of their Collections to Libraries."
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, December 1996:
"James Tanis" (invited speaker on the occasion of his retirement as Constance A. Jones Director of Libraries, Bryn Mawr College Libraries).
Seminar on the Book in History, Columbia University, April 1997:
"Teaching the History of Books and Printing" (with Michael T. Ryan).
Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, Philadelphia, May 1998:
"Are There Any New Paths For Book Collectors?" (a plenary address at a conference on What's Hot & What's Not: Changing Trends in Book Collecting).

Repeated (as "Hoosiers: Collecting the Unread and the Uninteresting"): Washington Area Rare Book Group, Washington, DC, May 2000.
Repeated: University of Virginia, July 2000.

University of Virginia, July 1998:
"Dead Books."

Repeated: Rowfant Club, Cleveland, October 1998.
Repeated: Chester County, PA, November 1998.
Repeated: Cornell University, February 2001.
Repeated: University of Edinburgh, June 2002.

Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing, Madison, Wisconsin, July 1999:
"Teaching the History of Books and Printing."
"Le livre exposé: Enjeux et méthodes d'une muséographie de l'écrit," École Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de l'Information et des Bibliothèques, Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon, Lyon, November 1999:
"Exhibiting European Books in American Libraries"

Repeated: University of Virginia, January 2000.

The Dean's Forum, University of Pennsylvania, April 2000:
"U & S: Updike Reads Shakespeare"
Humanities Forum, University of Pennsylvania, October 2002:
"Who Is John Galt?"
Repeated: University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, November 2002.
Repeated: Philobiblon Club, Philadelphia, January 2003.
Repeated: Syracuse University, March 2007 (forthcoming)
Shaping Scholarship in a Changing Landscape: A Symposium, Columbia University, December 2005:
"'Price,' 'Cost,' and 'Value' in Rare Book and Manuscript Collections"
The Book in America: Economic Aspects of the Material Text, University of Pennsylvania, January-April 2006:
"The social, cultural, and physical environment of print and printers in the Early Modern period" (January 13)
"Franklin as Bookman" (January 27)
"Bound and Determined: Identifying American Bookbindings," exhibition, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. January 2007:
"You Can't Tell a Book by Its Cover: or, Bindings? -- Why Bindings?"

Editorial work:

I have edited scholarly books as a freelance editor. These books include:

Richard M. Pious, The American Presidency (New York: Basic Books, 1979).

John Whiteclay Chambers II, The Tyranny of Change: America in the Progressive Era 1900-1917 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980).

Diane L. Willen, John Russell, First Earl of Bedford: One of the King's Men, Royal Historical Society Studies in History, 23 (London 1981).

Richard L. Rubin, Press, Party, and Presidency (New York: W. W. Norton, 1981).

Laura K. Olson, The Political Economy of Aging: The State, Private Power, and Social Welfare (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982).

I have also served as an editor and reader for several periodicals and presses, including:
American Book Collector (formerly Book Collector's Market)
Book review editor, 1979-82.

Bibliography Newsletter (BiN)
Co-editor, 1983-1987.

Bulletin of the New York Shakespeare Society
Editorial Board, 1983-1986.

Sidney Newsletter
Editorial Board, 1985-1990.

University of Mississippi Studies in English
Editorial Board, 1986-

Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship
Editorial Board, 1986-1992.
Editor search committee, 1997-1998.

University of Pennsylvania Press
Reader, 1986-
Editor, Rosenbach Series in Bibliography, 1984-1991.

University of California Press
Reader, 1989-


Peter Nichols, "In the Valley of the Shadow of Death 101," The Pennsylvania Gazette, 97:6 (July-August 1999), 48-52 (http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0799/nichols.html)

Peter Nichols, "Nuclear Fictions," Colby, 90:1 (Winter 2001), TK-TK (http://www.colby.edu/colby.mag/issues/win01/traister/)


American Printing History Association
Trustee, 1979-82.
Chair, Program Committee, 1982-84.
Program chair, 3rd annual conference: "The Decorated Book / The Crystal Goblet: A Reconsideration," New York, September 1978.
Program chair, 4th annual conference: "The Renaissance Book," New York, September 1979.
Program co-chair, 5th annual conference: "The Permanence of Ephemera," New York, September 1980.
Program co-chair, 6th annual conference: "The Mark of the Printer," New York, September 1981.
Co-founder and Secretary, APHA / Manuscript Society Philadelphia Area Chapter, 1983-1986.
Bibliographical Society of America
Nominating Committee, 1981.
Rare Books and Manuscripts Section / Association of College and Research Libraries / American Library Association
Member, Committee on Security (ad hoc), 1979-82.
Member, Continuing Education Committee, 1980-84.
Nominee, Vice Chair / Chair-elect of the Section, 1980.
Seminar co-leader (reader services in special collections: books), RBMS preconference, Boston, June 1980.
Program Chair, 23rd annual preconference: "Growth in the Face of Adversity: The Business of Special Collections in the 1980s," Philadelphia, June 1982.
Chair, Publications Committee, 1983-84.
Member, Publications Committee, 1983-1989.
Member, 1987 Preconference Planning Committee, 1985-1987.
Member, Ethics Committee, 1988-92.
Vice-Chair of the Section, 1989-90.
Chair of the Section, 1990-91.
Member, Executive Committee, 1989-92.
Chair, Nominating Committee, 1991-92.
Member, 1995 Pre-Conference Program Planning Committee, 1993-1995.
Association of College and Research Libraries
ACRL Greater New York Metropolitan Area Chapter: moderator, "Faculty Status, Academic Rank, Job Security, Tenure, and the Academic and Research Librarian: A Forum," Columbia University, April 1981.
Member, subcommittee of ACRL Publications Committee, charged with investigating possibilities for an ACRL-sponsored journal for rare book and manuscript librarians, 1983-84. This journal now appears as Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship (since 1986).
Search Committee (Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship editor), 1997-98.
Research Libraries Group, Inc.
Member, Archives, Manuscripts, and Special Collections Task Force, 1985-1988; AMSC Committee, 1988-1991, steering committee, 1988-1989.
The Oberlin Conference on Theft (Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, September 1983)
Member, organizing committee, 1982-83.
National Endowment for the Humanities
Review panelist, 1982-
Heritage of the Graphic Arts
Organizer and moderator, five lectures on great American libraries, New York, October-November 1981.
North East American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Session leader: resources for eighteenth-century studies in North American libraries, NEASECS annual conference, C. W. Post College, Greenvale, NY, October 1980.
American Antiquarian Society
Advisory Board, Program in the History of the Book in American Culture, 1987-1990.
Other organizations

You can send Traister e-mail concerning this page at traister@pobox.upenn.edu.

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