Reading the newspaper the other day, I came across an article about Mayme Clayton, a librarian in California who spent her life amassing a huge collection of African-American history. Not merely huge- enormous and definitive! Before she died last year, she gathered almost 30,000 books, films, sheet music, and ephemera of all kinds, and created her own archive in her garage. Why? Because she saw that no one else was preserving this particular part of the past. So that “children would know that black people have done great things.” On a librarian’s salary, and later on Social Security, she managed to create one of the finest collections of African-American history in the world. And she dug around yard sales and flea markets to do it.
As an artist, writer, reader and unabashed HOARDER, all I can say is I LOVE this lady and her philosophy. HOORAY MAYME!
Hoarding with vision? I’ll say- check this out:
It’s a 1773 book by Phillis Wheatley called Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral. Phillis Wheatley was the first known author of African descent to be published in America, and this is the only known signed edition.
Thankfully the collection is getting moved out of the garage and will for now be restored and archived in Culver City, CA. Her son Avery (a retired art teacher, no less) is now in charge of the foundation to give the Mayme Clayton Collection a permanent home. Wow.
I don’t think it’s coincidental that Mayme was a librarian (book lover!) and her son was an art teacher. It’s the arts that survive the ages and inform future generations (hopefully) about what has passed. It’s the same people who tend to be the caretakers of the past.
Read more about her and her collections here, and join the effort to preserve them for future generations!
I doubt whether any of my collections or obsessions will be historically important.
I have an unnaturally large amount of relatives (and you know who you are!) and friends (and you know who you are, too!) who collect things as well- and some of them DO have historically significant collections. But it’s hard to quantify which things will be valuable in the future. There are different kinds of “value:” aesthetic, educational, personal connection, etc. I’ll just keep hanging on to my stuff- vive la collectors!
What do YOU collect out there??