The Caxton Club brings together archivists, authors, binders, book artists, collectors, conservators, booksellers, designers, editors, librarians, publishers, scholars, and others. Members from these diverse backgrounds form a community that shares a love of printed, handwritten, and digital books and related textual objects, such as pamphlets, broadsides, and ephemera. The club provides a forum to learn about the arts, history, and technologies of these materials, as well as a space to share the joys of appreciating and collecting them.


Upcoming Caxton events

    • 04/21/2021
    • 6:30 PM (CDT)
    • 4/21/2021 | 6:30 PM CT/7:30 PM ET via Zoom. Advance registration required via website.

    April Evening Program


     Jacqueline Goldsby


    Gwendolyn Brooks

    US postage stamp, 2012

    For nearly 50 years, between 1944 and 1993, Gwendolyn Brooks stayed in consistent contact with Elizabeth Lawrence, her longtime editor at the publishing firm Harper & Brothers. These epistolary threads contradict the critical consensus that, when Brooks left Harper’s to publish with the independent Black publishers in 1967, she cut her ties with her “white” firm irrevocably. This presentation explores the rich and rarely considered archival trove of two under-known literary histories. First, how did these two women—one, white, and a powerful editor at one of America’s longest-standing, most prestigious publishers; the other, a rising young Black poet-mother from Chicago—manage to sustain such a fruitful literary alliance? Second, how did Brooks develop as an experimental poet with a mainstream commercial firm?

    Brooks’ correspondence with Lawrence sheds light on how the women managed to bond within the notoriously patriarchal corporate culture of mid-20th century US publishing. Crucially, these letters also reveal how their spirited quarrels about Annie Allen (1949) shaped that collection into its innovative and Pulitzer Prize-winning form. Read along these grains, their correspondence demonstrates how the editorial confidence each held for the other urged Brooks to “not be afraid to say no”—or, that is, to assert the aesthetic independence that would define her later poetry published by Black independent firms (Broadside Press and Third World Press) during the late 1960s through the 1980s.

    Jacqueline Goldsby is Chair of the Department of African American Studies; and Professor, Departments of English, American Studies, and African American Studies, Yale University. Dr. Goldsby’s first book is A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature, (University of Chicago Press, 2006). Other works are in progress.

    • 04/30/2021
    • 10:00 AM (CDT)
    • 4/30/2021 | 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM CT via Zoom Webinar. Advance registration required via website.

    To download/print the flyer for this event, click here.

    The Language of Flowers genre is at the intersection of botany, horticulture, natural history, art, poetry, and women’s studies. This 19th-century popular literary trend presented the world of botany through dictionaries of flowers and associated meanings, and floral poetry and prose, offering a sentimental view of natural history. A properly arranged bouquet was said to convey a “secret message” for the recipient. The “social media” of its day, this Victorian literary fad, led to many editions of works being published, with multiple titles by successful authors.


    The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lenhardt Library presents this symposium as the capstone event for a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to conserve and digitize language of flower genre editions.


    The symposium is presented in collaboration with the Caxton Club, an organization bringing together a diversified group of authors, binders, collectors, conservators, dealers, designers, editors, librarians, publishers, scholars, and other interested individuals; into a community who share a love of books and provides them a forum to learn about their history, production, and preservation; to heighten their appreciation of outstanding content, design and production; and to share in the joys of fine books.


    The Lenhardt Library is a partner in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL is revolutionizing global research by providing free, worldwide access to knowledge about life on Earth.

    Schedule: (All times CT)

    9:45 – 10 a.m. Zoom room opens

    10 a.m.

    Welcome and Introducing the Language of Flowers

    Leora Siegel, Senior Director, Lenhardt Library, Chicago Botanic Garden


    10:30 a.m.

    Keynote: Speaking with Flora

    Ann Shteir, Professor Emerita, York University, Toronto, Canada


    11:30 a.m.

    Floriography Deconstructed

    Brent Elliott, retired Librarian and Historian, Royal Horticultural Society, London


    12:15 p.m.

    Volumes on View

    Stacy Stoldt, Manager, Public Services and Rare Book SpecialistLenhardt Library, Chicago Botanic Garden


    12:45 p.m.

    Moderated Panel Discussion


    1:30 p.m.

    Final thoughts


    Speaker Biographies:

    Floriography Deconstructed

    Brent Elliott was formerly Librarian, then Historian, of the Royal Horticultural Society. He has written on the history of gardens, the history of botany, and the history of botanical art.  Among his books are Victorian Gardens (1986), The Royal Horticultural Society 1804-2004 (2004), RHS Chelsea Flower Show (2013), and Federico Cesi’s Botanical Manuscripts (2015), the last-named part of the publication of the Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo. He was the founder-editor of the Occasional Papers from the RHS Lindley Library. He has been a member of the Victorian Society’s Buildings Committee for over 40 years, and was a member of the English Heritage Historic Parks and Gardens Advisory Committee for 21. He is currently president of EBHL, the European Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Group.

    Speaking with Flora

    Ann “Rusty” Shteir is Professor Emerita in Humanities and Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her Ph.D. was from Rutgers University in Comparative Literature, and her teaching, research, and writing have been on women and nature in historical and cultural perspectives. Her prize-winning book Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora’s Daughters and Botany in England, 1760-1860 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) has just been issued in Chinese translation. She co-edited Natural Eloquence: Women Reinscribe Science (1997) and Figuring It Out: Science, Gender, and Visual Culture (2006). Her interest in visual dimensions of nature and culture has led into publications and ongoing research about Flora, the mythological goddess of flowers. A current work-in-progress is an interdisciplinary edited collection about women and botany in 19th-century English Canada.

    Introducing the Language of Flowers

    Leora Siegel is the Senior Director of the Lenhardt Library, one of the treasures of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Its 150,000-volume collection encompasses resources on gardening, botany, plant conservation, and landscape design, in formats from rare books to e-books. Library initiatives focus on public engagement, collections, and collaborations. Siegel holds master’s degrees in both Library and Information Science and Natural Resources and Environmental Science, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, and serves on the board of the Chicago Collections Consortium and Caxton Club.


    Volumes on View

    Stacy Stoldt is the Library Public Services Manager and Rare Book Specialist at the Chicago Botanic Garden's Lenhardt Library. She holds a master’s degree in Library Science, with a focus on the history of the book. She studied bookbinding, illustration processes, and researching rare books resources at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School. Stacy presents programs at the Lenhardt Library, including Meet the Rare Books, which provides interpretation and introduces rare books and primary sources to students, researchers, the curious, and the general public. Stoldt serves as chair of two committees for the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, the leading professional organization in the field of botanical and horticultural information.


    Lenhardt Library, Chicago Botanic Garden

    • 05/14/2021
    • 12:30 PM (CDT)
    • 5/14/2021 | 12:30 PM CT/1:30 PM ET via Zoom. Advance registration required via website.
    • 487

    May Daytime Program


     Sara Quashnie

    We’re stepping pretty far out onto the limb with this presentation. Really, how likely is it that these will resonate with Caxtonians?

    • Stories about books, maps, documents, ephemera
    • Tales of people who collected, sold, and cataloged them
    • Generous illustrations featuring rare and important materials
    • The resources of one of the great university Americana collections
    • Introductions to women and men whose stories are fresh as they are intriguing

    Yes, it’s a risk. But we’re taking the chance and inviting Sara Quashnie, who coedited Americana Is A Creed for the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. This wonderful book includes autobiographical sketches and essays about thirty two people whose stories are remarkable and impacts are lasting.

    Sara Quashnie is old enough to have collected history and MSLIS degrees, to be on staff at the Clements, and to have coedited our featured volume … but young enough to be at home on Zoom — where she is frequently a featured presenter on the library’s virtual Bookworm programs. Why not take a chance and register today?

Daytime Programs

Evening Programs


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PO Box 2329,
Chicago IL 60604-9997

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