Thursday, February 24, 2011

Miller Collection of Wit and Humor

We thank Christopher Morgan, of the Boston "We've Come for the Davenport" Chapter of the Robert Benchley Society, and Rosemary L. Cullen, of the P.G. Wodehouse Society, for this information about the Miller Collection of Wit and Humor at Brown University:
The Miller Collection, consisting of approximately 40,000 volumes, is the personal library of Bernard, Saul, and George Miller, amassed over a period of fifty years. The brothers assembled the best collection of American humor in private hands, unequalled in any American institution, which they donated it to Brown University Library in the early 1990s.

The Collection consists primarily of 20th-century American imprints, but also includes significant sections of 19th-century joke books, British imprints, works in Russian, Hebrew, French, German, and Italian, and 19th-century editions of classic works of humor. The Collection includes much important early humor material, such as Joe Miller's Jests, or The Wit's Vade-Mecum (London, 1739), and Yankee Notions, or, The American Joe Miller, by Sam Slick (London, 1839).

The Collection includes works by Fred Allen, George Allen, Gracie Allen, Steve Allen, Woody Allen, Alan King, Allan Sherman, and H. Allen Smith. There is topical humor of every conceivable kind, such as sex, medicine, the law, sex, politics, sports, sex, and plumbing. There are also sections of comic novels, familiar essays by humorists, political satire, light verse, theatrical memoirs of comedy performers, American and European folk humor, ethnic humor, vaudeville routines, collections of political cartoons, paperback joke and cartoon books, and playscripts; and a notable section of "Army joke books", pulp periodicals from the World War II era.
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Robert Benchley Society

For more information about the Robert Benchley Society, local chapters near you, our annual Award for Humor, and our Annual Gathering, visit The RBS Website