We are thrilled to announce that the long multi-year journey of this unique archival library project has finally come home to a place where it can be accessed widely and preserved. Lost & Found has been involved in the journey, documentation, and preservation of the Maud/Olson Library for a number of years, with the direct participation of some of our current students and alumni. Finally, this extraordinary resource will now be fully accessible to the community in Gloucester and the public at large.

M.C. Kinniburgh talks to audience members at the CUNY Graduate Center during a 2019 event "Archival Poetics: A Discussion and Traveling Exhibition of the Maud/Olson Library"

Read an interview here with Mary Catherine Kinniburgh about her new book Wild Intelligence: Poets’ Libraries and the Politics of Knowledge in Postwar America, just out from the University of Massachusetts Press, in collaboration with Lost & Found Elsewhere, in which Mary Catherine, former Lost & Found editor and CUNY Graduate Center alumna, writes in detail about the Maud/Olson Library. Learn more about the recent acquisition from the story below that appeared in the Gloucester Times:

(left) Charles Olson, c. 1960s (right) Olson’s apartment at 28 Fort Square, Gloucester, MA, January 11, 1970s. Photographs by Charlie Lowe for the Gloucester Daily Times. Collection of the Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA.

The Cape Ann Museum Acquires the Ralph Maud/Charles Olson Library

The Cape Ann Museum (CAM) is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Ralph Maud/Charles Olson Library from the Gloucester Writers Center.

The collection, containing over 4,000 volumes, documents the reading and knowledge-building practices of Gloucester-based and renowned poet Charles Olson as well as the scholarly method of book collecting and bibliography by scholar and book collector Ralph Maud. The Maud/Olson Library will be housed in the Janet & William Ellery James Center at the Cape Ann Museum Green.

Charles Olson (1910-1970) is one of the major poets of the 20th century. Born in Worchester, MA, Olson spent summers in Gloucester beginning at an early age. The poet would later describe it as the city that raised him and as the summer-time refuge he turned to as an adult for poetic inspiration. Throughout his life, and during his time at Black Mountain College, Olson had a profound influence on countless contemporary poets.

Ralph Maud (1928-2014) was a friend of Charles Olson, the leading authority on Olson’s life and work, and professor of English at Simon Fraser University. Maud’s interest in the sources that informed Olson’s poetry led to collecting a copy of every book that Olson owned, read, or referred to. His book Olson’s Reading is a key text in Olson studies.

Outside this collection's strength in highlighting Olson's works and process, the Ralph Maud/Charles Olson Library tells us much about the literary history of Cape Ann over the past few centuries. With Olson's passion for his adopted hometown, many of the volumes pertain to the history of Gloucester and Cape Ann. Researchers will also be drawn to rare magazines and periodicals pertaining to the counterculture of the 1960s and works by numerous authors who visited, spent time in, and were inspired by the region.

The Maud/Olson Library will find itself with familiar company at CAM as its Library & Archives’ holdings are already rich with literary figures. Chief among them is the sister library of Gloucester-based American author and poet Vincent Ferrini. Gifted to the Museum during his lifetime and acquired after his passing in 2007, Ferrini’s Library contains more than 3,500 volumes. In addition to the Ferrini Library and accompanying archival collection, the Museum is the proud repository for the papers of Gloucester-born authors and journalists, Peter Anastas, Joseph Garland, and Barbara Erkkila, as well as the vast archive of artist, children’s author, and leader of the Folly Cove Designers, Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios.

This acquisition is part of the Museum’s initiative to add 150 significant works of art and archival items to the collections to mark its 150th anniversary in 2025.

The Museum would like to extend its sincere thanks to the Gloucester Writers Center for this generous donation as well as to the enthusiastic team of volunteers last week that made the physical transfer of this collection to the James Center possible.

Watch the recording of Mary Catherine Kinniburgh's, lecture about her new book Wild Intelligence: Poets’ Libraries and the Politics of Knowledge in Postwar America, hosted by the Grolier Club. Kinniburgh will discuss her new book which includes the Maud/Olson Library and explores how the characteristics of 20th-century counterculture poets' libraries shed light on the history of information management and knowledge preservation, and underscore the idea that a life of poetry (and perhaps even book-collecting!) is a political and spiritual act. The event is also available to watch on the Grolier Club's Vimeo Channel. Watch the lecture here: