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William Butler Yeats Collection

Collection Number
SC 294

Introduction and Reference Information

Ancillary Materials
Box and Folder Descriptions
Facts, Photocopy and Copyright
Image Numbering
Index of Correspondents
NLI Number Notes
Manuscript Abbreviations
Name Abbreviations
Originals and Copies
Research Inquiries


William Butler Yeats, 1865-1939, was a prominent Irish poet and playwright, as well as a leader in the Irish Literary and Theatre Movements. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.

This guide represents a work-in-progress. The original draft was completed by Project Archivist Peggy L. McMullen in September, 1988, finishing a complex, challenging, and difficult project begun by Arthur F. Sniffin in the fall of 1985. Throughout this period of arranging and describing elusive and sometimes indecipherable documents, we were able to draw on the expertise of Dr. Narayan Hegde. First as a graduate student, and subsequently as a consulting scholar, he had worked intermittently with the collection from its arrival at Stony Brook's Center for Contemporary Arts and Letters in 1975. Other graduate students who worked on the initial indexing of the collection in the mid-1970s were Linda Bauer, Terry Lichtenstein, and Jerry Schecter.

Special Collections Department staff started planning for the housing and processing of the Yeats Collection in 1983. I am indebted to Rose C. Brown and Susan C. Rose for their continuing contributions to the overall planning, organizing, and housing of the collection, and for providing various kinds of support during the project. Timothy D. Cary and Lee R. Hiltzik also worked on many aspects of planning and implementing the project. Subsequently, Diane E. Englot has helped in revising and editing the collection.

Arthur F. Sniffin was the first Project Archivist. Additional professional project staff was added in December 1985 with the appointment of Peggy L. McMullen as Assistant to the Project Archivist. Funding for the last year and a half of the project was erratic. Because of this, professional staff was reduced to one, except for a brief three month period when Barbara Kitt Williams joined the project. Arthur Sniffin resigned to accept another appointment in September 1987. Peggy McMullen, who had left in March, 1987, because of budgetary uncertainty, returned in August, 1987, as Librarian/Archivist to oversee the completion of the project.

Throughout most of the project, part-time student assistants helped with various processing tasks. Graduate students included Geri Zuckermann and Ellen Gardiner. Undergraduates who worked on the project included Neeta Daryani, Michelle Douchette, Sonia Evelyn, Elizabeth Freeman, Sofia Kafas, Annette King, Sonja Mains, Simon Marchant, Gretchen Vega, and Liza Ziegler.

Although the very difficult work of sorting the collection has been completed, several tasks remain. These include additional listings of folder titles and verification of the contents of all folders, especially in the context of name and title authority lists that are being developed. In addition, National Library of Ireland [NLI] numbers are to be added to each entry, as appropriate, which will complete the NLI Index in this guide.

Ancillary Materials
Materials related to the development and cataloging of the collection are available in the Special Collections Department upon request. These include the bound white volumes. [In 1976, the entire microfilm collection was photocopied and bound up in 307 volumes (34 linear feet).] The Special Collections Department leaflet, William Butler Yeats: Research Guide, lists numerous ancillary materials, used in past and recent processing.

Box and Folder Descriptions
Box and folder descriptions in this guide generally list a title once. However, material with that title may appear in more than one folder, or, one folder may contain more than one title. A folder title followed by several manuscript abbreviations usually indicates that there is more than one folder for that particular title. Researchers are encouraged to check folders near the desired entry to locate possible additional materials.

Image Numbering
Because the images on the microfilm are unnumbered, sequential numbers have been assigned to each microfilm and image, as illustrated below. As noted below, two-digit reel number is always separated by a zero from the four-digit image number.

(reel #)0(image #)
2103242 = Reel 21, image number 3242
0600010 = Reel 6, image number 10

Index of Correspondents
The Index of Correspondents near the end of this guide combines, in one alphabet, without making distinctions:

names of writers and recipients of letters, memoranda, or notes
names of writers of letters, memoranda, and notes that have been enclosed with other correspondence
names of persons who have annotated or appended notes to other writers' letters
names of a few persons who took W.B. Yeats' dictation and wrote the letter or note for him; e.g., Mrs. Yeats and Ezra Pound.
Every effort has been made to verify the names and include a complete listing of the correspondents. Researchers are encouraged to note corrections.

Originals and Copies
The collection includes some copies of copies, rather than copies of original manuscripts. Although this is not generally noted in this guide, the information is frequently noted on the folders themselves. For information on the location of originals, researchers may wish to consult: Conrad A. Balliet, comp. W.B. Yeats: A Census of Manuscripts (NY: Garland Publishing, 1990.), as well as Richard J. Finneran, et al's Partial List, as edited by Conrad A. Balliet which identifies some original locations; and scholarly publications and editions of Yeats' correspondence and works.

The collection also includes photocopies of slips and typescript notes used by a number of scholars when consulting the collection in Ireland. These marked the place where the scholar was working or include other information. The collection also includes a at lease one typed transcription of a handwritten transcription by a scholar of an original manuscript by Yeats.

White Volumes. When the microfilm was reproduced on paper in 1976, the images were bound up, by reel, in volumes with white paper covers--one image per page, each reel containing a certain number of volumes. For example, scholars who have used these volumes cite 22-3-233-34. This is shorthand for the volume that contains reel 22, volume 3, pages 233-34.

The Guide to Bound Volumes, located in three document cases, was prepared by Dr. Narayan Hegde, Dr. David Clarke, and a number of graduate students over a period of years. These pages identify the images in the White Volumes in sequential order by reel and separately by each volume. There are no alphabetical, name, or other indices.

Sequential Guide. When the collection was processed under the supervision of Arthur F. Sniffin and Peggy McMullen, 1986-1988, a listing was created by reel and image, indicating the disposition of the individual pages containing the images. This guide is located in two document cases.

Relationship between Guides. There is no direct correlation between the White Volumes and the Guide to Bound Volumes, and the Sequential Guide and the collection the way it has been arranged in the boxes. However, at times it has been helpful to use the locations in the White Volumes to track down an image in the collection.

NLI Number Notes
The arrangement and description of this collection, which follows archival principles, is by Subgroup, Series, Subseries, Folders, and Items. It is not arranged or described by National Library of Ireland [NLI] numbers, including those in the 30,000 and 31,000 series described in Richard J. Finneran, et al: Partial List of Manuscripts in the Collection of Senator Michael Yeats [Cliff House, Dalkey, Ireland]. And in: Additional Items: John Butler Yeats and Other Family Members. 1978, 1981, 1988. Typescript. Unpublished.

As NLI numbers sometimes include aggregates of manuscript materials with minimal descriptions or descriptions different from those used in this guide, there is not always a direct relationship between these numbers and the archival arrangement in this collection. For example, NLI 30,254 is located in five different locations in this collection.

NLI numbers have been included in this guide to assist researchers. No effort has been made to ascertain that all constituent parts of an NLI number are listed. In addition, an NLI number following an entry in the Box List simply indicates that part or all of that number is reflected in that particular entry. It does not mean that the entry is exclusively described by that number, as it frequently contains much additional material.

Facts, Photocopy and Copyright
The William Butler Yeats Microfilmed Manuscripts Collection was purchased from Caitriona Dill Yeats in 1974 and covers the period from approximately 1775 to 1973. It includes:

34 Reels of 16 mm microfilm (0.35 cubic feet), with a total of 79,579 images, that were processed from 1985-1988.
145 manuscript boxes (50.75 linear feet)
Access to the collection is unrestricted.

Photocopying is limited to twenty-five (25) images without express permission from: United Agents.

Requests for permission to publish any material from the collection should also be addressed to A.P. Watt, Ltd. For permission to publish correspondence, contact Oxford University Press, London.

As the collection includes some copies of originals located in other repositories, it may also be necessary to obtain their permission to publish materials.

As custodians of the microfilm collection, the Special Collections Department suggests the following citation:

Special Collections Department, Stony Brook University.

It may be helpful to include the following information with each citation: Subgroup, Series and Subseries identification, and the box, folder and image numbers; e.g, SGI, SE2, SSC [or] I.2.C; Bx.93, f.56; 0900235.

Manuscript Abbreviations

AL Autograph Letter
ALS Autograph Letter, signed by the author
AMs Autograph Manuscript
AMsS Autograph Manuscript, signed by the author
AMusMs Autograph Music Manuscript Score
AN Autograph Note
C Copy
CT Copy Text
D Document
DS Document Signed
fr. Fragment
GP Galley Proof
PP Page Proof
Pr.Pg. Printed Page
Pr.Pg.Corr. Printed Page, corrected
TD Typewritten Document
TL Typewritten Letter
TLS Typewritten Letter, signed by the author
TMs Typewritten Manuscript
TMsS Typewritten Manuscript, signed by the author

Name Abbreviations
The nicknames and initials below have been indexed, as well as the complete, inverted names.

Jack Yeats, Jack, 1871-1957 (John Butler Yeats, Jr.)
JBY Yeats, John Butler, 1839-1922
Lily Yeats, Susan Mary, 1866-1949
Lollie Yeats, Elizabeth Corbet, 1868-1940
Mrs. WBY Yeats, Bertha Georgie (née Hyde-Lees), 1892-1968
NLI National Library of Ireland, Dublin
WBY Yeats, William Butler, 1865-1939