As we began planning a lengthy piece on AAS president emeritus Marcus A. McCorison for the Almanac newsletter last week, we pulled photographs of him out of the archives for possible use as illustrations. I was struck by this photograph:
In it, Marcus is sitting in his office, which is now my office. On the desk in front of him are papers, a Swann auction catalog marked with our wants, and a copy of his Vermont Imprints. Both the tall clock and the portrait of 1830s AAS librarian Christopher Columbus Baldwin are in the office today, within sight as I write this.
I came to AAS as curator of manuscripts in 1990, just two years before Marcus retired, and in fact I got to know him much better in the years after he left AAS. He continued coming to the library for a variety of research projects, and he routinely sent all of us curators items of interest from book dealers’ and auction catalogs. His knowledge of the AAS collections was such that he was rarely wrong when he found something he thought we didn’t own. He was a true bookman of the kind that scarcely exists anymore.
He was particularly generous to me when I became the Marcus A. McCorison Librarian in 2007. We spent a most memorable day in New York City in 2008 after he had proposed me for membership in the Grolier Club. On an almost unbelievably hot and humid June day he took me to lunch at the Century Club, where the staff knew him by name, and then to visit a former vice-chair of the AAS council, and then to the Grolier Club to meet the admissions committee. It must have been an exhausting day for him (it certainly was for me) but he propelled himself through it with the energy he brought to everything. I’ll miss him, as will countless others who knew him.