Wittliff ephemera - The Collector's Institute

I recently purchased a batch of ephemera having to do with William D. (Bill) Wittliff and his Encino Press in Austin, Texas--pieces he designed and printed. Several pieces seem a good fit for the content of this blog, so the book-related ones will be featured here during the next week or so.

Up first, The Collectors' Institute.


This is a program designed by Bill Wittliff for the Second Annual Meeting of the Collectors' Institute. Wittliff signed (initialed) the back of the program. I had never heard of this group before, so I did a little research to see what it was exactly and what became of it (assuming it is no longer around).


The Handbook of Texas Online has an article on the Collectors' Institute (the link above), submitted by the former (and only) president of the Collectors' Institute, Jenkins Garrett. There, I learned that the Collectors' Institute existed from 1968 to 1980. It was, writes Garrett, "a private association of collectors of library materials, including books, manuscripts, documents, and maps, cosponsored by the Texas State Historical Association and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin."

As you read further, you realize this group collecting interest focused on some pretty interesting material and, to that end, invited some of the giants of Texas Belles-lettres, publishing, and book design to speak to the group. What an opportunity that was! Workshops were also held to address collector interests.


The meeting's itinerary, presented in the program above, gives an indication of the what one could expect at these meetings. Looks like some pretty distinguished bookmen giving talks, conducting roundtable discussions, or being honored. Very interesting and educational, by all appearances. The group had twelve such annual meetings, but never met again after the 1980 meeting. I don't know why, perhaps interest waned toward the end.

I hope to find more ephemera and related items about this organization and its meetings and workshops. Meanwhile, here's Jenkins Garrett's article in full (in case the link doesn't work or disappears in the future):
COLLECTORS' INSTITUTE. The Collectors' Institute was a private association of collectors of library materials, including books, manuscripts, documents, and maps, cosponsored by the Texas State Historical Association and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. It was organized on November 23, 1968, with more than 150 members. Between the fall of 1969 and 1980 twelve annual meetings were held, with programs of general interest in the area of publishing, authors, and collections. Speakers included Carl Hertzog, Hallie Stillwell, Lawrence Clark Powell, Archibald Hanna, J. Evetts Haley, and John Graves. In addition to annual meetings, workshops were held each spring. The workshop programs focused on questions of interest to collectors, such as identity, preservation, repair, and maintenance of printed and manuscript material.

Through 1973 transcripts of the meetings were published and distributed to the membership. Jenkins Garrett was president of the Collectors' Institute from 1968 through 1980. From its organization in 1968 through the fall of 1970 Kenneth Ragsdale, a fulltime staff member of the Texas State Historical Association, served as voluntary secretary and coordinator of the institute. In 1974 John Payne, a fulltime employee of Humanities Research Center, volunteered to take over these responsibilities. He served through the fall meeting of 1980. The organization was discontinued after that meeting.

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