Undergraduate book collecting prize winners

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A grandmother’s gift was the inspiration for this year’s winner of the Visiting Committee Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting.

Catherine Katz ’13 was the first place winner for her entry “My Grandmother’s Childhood Library: Collecting Early 20th Century Stratemeyer Syndicate Children’s Series.” Katz said her grandmother’s gift of a half dozen original editions of favorite childhood stories helped foster an early love of books.

Those stories included the Bobbsey Twins tales and Nancy Drew mysteries from the 1930s, and Katz said over the years she would hunt through book stores and antique shops in an effort to add to her growing collection. But upon reading revised editions of the Nancy Drew stories written in the ’50s and ’60s, Katz discovered an interesting change.

“In the original stories Nancy was clever and adventurous. But in the 1950s and ’60s editions, she was more of an every person and just average,” Katz said. “They changed her to be more relatable to the times.”

Established in 1977, the Visiting Committee Prize is awarded annually to recognize and encourage book collecting by undergraduates at Harvard. It is sponsored by the Members of the Board of Overseer’s Committee to Visit the Harvard Library.

“Each year we receive some extraordinary entries which demonstrate the unique collecting interests of some of our undergraduates, and this year was no different. The collections submitted to the judges were impressive for their quality and thoughtful approach to collecting,” said Susan Fliss, Interim Librarian of Harvard College.