Created by John MacKay Shaw

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John Shaw was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 15, 1897. In 1911, he immigrated with his mother and two sisters to Philadelphia where his father had already found work and a place for the family to live. He quit school at the age of 14 and went to work as an errand boy at John Wanamaker's Department Store. Later he took stenographic courses at the Wharton Business School. He enlisted in the Army in 1917 and was stationed in France with the Ambulance Corp during World War I.

When he returned to the U.S. in 1919 he became part of the steno pool for Mitten Management, which operated the transportation system in Philadelphia. Thomas Mitten, the President of the company, drew him out of the pool to be his personal secretary. His interest in people led Shaw to write fliers that were distributed to passengers on the trolleys and trains, his first public relations job. After Mr. Mitten's death, Shaw went to work for the Bell Telephone System, and remained a public relations executive with that company until he retired in 1959. Part of this job was to serve as liaison for the company in the production of the weekly classical music radio program "The Bell Telephone Hour." Based on research he conducted, he also redesigned the Yellow Pages for New York City. He changed his name legally to John MacKay Shaw to distinguish himself from all the other John Shaws he had discovered. He chose MacKay in honor of his mother's uncle, the renowned scholar, navigator, and teacher John MacKay of Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.

When his two children were young, Shaw read and sang to them often. He recited poetry, sang the old Glasgow drinking songs, Gilbert and Sullivan, and songs of the Gay Nineties. However, the children wanted to hear poems about them, not about other children. He promised to write them if they would provide the subjects for him to write about. Each year between 1933 and 1937, he collected the poems he had written that year and had them printed in pamphlets which he sent to friends at Christmas. Too soon the children outgrew the pleasures of poetry, but Shaw never did. Realizing that other fathers must have written poems for their children, he went looking for them in the second-hand bookstores. Thus began his collection of Childhood in Poetry.

For thirty years, while continuing to work for the Bell System, John MacKay Shaw haunted the second-hand bookstores of Great Britain and the United States, poring over catalogs in the evenings, searching out and purchasing rare and first editions of poetry for, about, and by children. He studied the books, read and wrote about them and their authors, and discoursed extensively with other collectors and scholars. He became a member of the Grolier Club and the American Library Association.

Upon retirement in 1959, Shaw gave his collection of almost 6,000 volumes to Florida State University (FSU) Libraries. For the next 25 years, Shaw went to the library daily to study, write, and talk about his books. He continued adding to his collection. FSU provided secretarial support. Jim Birchfield helped him as curator; later Fred Korn served in that capacity. Shaw was an active member of the St. Andrews Society, the Friends of the FSU Libraries, and the Presbyterian Church. He initiated the FSU Libraries' Scottish Collection in 1975 by a donation of 100 of his books. Other Scots donated books and ephemera too, not only to the Scottish Collection but to Childhood in Poetry, including former director of the New York Public Library, George Fraser Black. In 1967 and 1969, the Friends of the FSU Libraries published two hardcover illustrated volumes of the poems Shaw had written for his children: The Things I Want: Poems for Two Children (1967) and Zumpin, More Poems for Two Children (1969).

All during his collecting years, as he discovered new material, Shaw typed information about it into the pages of his notebooks. He collected catalogs, articles, ads, and items other than reading material as well-- anything that related to childhood and poetry. He stored non-book items in labeled envelopes and folders as well as in his notebooks, and even in the books themselves. These items and the notes he kept for each book provided the source material for his 11-volume annotated bibliography, Childhood in Poetry, which includes a keyword index to the poems as well. In addition to scholarly journal articles, Shaw published several monographs covering various categories of authors. He also gave talks to professional librarians and English teachers around the U.S. and read to children in the local schools.

On the recommendation of Jim Walters of FSU's Department of Child Development, the FSU faculty awarded John MacKay Shaw the Doctor of Humane Letters degree on May 24, 1972. Shaw died in Tallahassee, FL on March 15, 1984.

From the guide to the John MacKay Shaw Collection, 1737-2007, (Repository Unknown)

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creatorOf John MacKay Shaw Collection, 1737-2007
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associatedWith Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, 1836-1907 person
associatedWith Barton, Bernard, 1784-1849 person
associatedWith Belloc, Hilaire, 1870-1953 person
associatedWith Bewick, Thomas, 1753-1828 person
associatedWith Blake, William, 1757-1827 person
associatedWith Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861 person
associatedWith Browning, Robert, 1812-1889 person
associatedWith Bryant, William Cullen, 1794-1878 person
associatedWith Burns, Robert, 1759-1796 person
associatedWith Carleton, William, 1794-1869 person
associatedWith Carman, Bliss, 1861-1929 person
associatedWith Carroll, Lewis, 1832-1898 person
associatedWith Cory, Fanny Y person
associatedWith Cowper, William, 1731-1800 person
associatedWith Daly, Thomas Augustine, 1871-1948 person
associatedWith Dalziel, George, 1815-1902 person
associatedWith De La Mare, Walter, 1873-1956 person
associatedWith Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886 person
associatedWith Dodge, Mary Mapes, 1830-1905 person
associatedWith Douglas, Lord Alfred Bruce, 1870-1945 person
associatedWith Drinkwater, John, 1832-1937 person
associatedWith Dunbar, Paul Laurence, 1872-1906 person
associatedWith Eliot, Ebenezer, 1781-1849 person
associatedWith Farjeon, Eleanor, 1881-1965 person
associatedWith Field, Eugene, 1850-1895 person
associatedWith Fyleman, Rose, 1877-1957 person
associatedWith Gale, Norman R. (Norma Rowland), 1862-1942 person
associatedWith Geisel, Theodor Seuss, 1904-1991 person
associatedWith Gilbert, William Schwenck, Sir, 1836-1911 person
associatedWith Grahame, Kenneth, 1859-1932 person
associatedWith Graham, Stephen, 1884-1975 person
associatedWith Graves, Robert, 1895-1985 person
associatedWith Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771 person
associatedWith Greenaway, Kate, 1846-1901 person
associatedWith Guest, Edgar A. (Edgar Albert), 1881-1959 person
associatedWith Hemans, Felicia Dorothea Browne, 1793-1835 person
associatedWith Herbert, Alan Patrick, Sir, 1890-1971 person
associatedWith Herford, Oliver, 1863-1935 person
associatedWith Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894 person
associatedWith Hood, Thomas, The Elder, 1799-1845 person
associatedWith Housman, Alfred Edward, 1859-1936 person
associatedWith Howitt, Mary, 1799-1888 person
associatedWith Hunt, James Henry Leigh, 1784-1859 person
associatedWith Johnson, Burges, 1877-1963 person
associatedWith Keats, John, 1795-1821 person
associatedWith Kerlan, Irwin, 1912-1963 person
associatedWith Kingsley, Charles, 1819-1875 person
associatedWith Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936 person
associatedWith Lamb, Charles, 1775-1834 person
associatedWith Lang, Andrew, 1844-1912 person
associatedWith Larcom, Lucy, 1824-1893 person
associatedWith Lear, Edward, 1812-1888 person
associatedWith Levertov, Denise, 1923-1997 person
associatedWith Lindsay, Nicholas Vachel, 1879-1931 person
associatedWith Locker-Lampson, Frederic, 1821-1895 person
associatedWith Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882 person
associatedWith Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891 person
associatedWith Macdiarmid, Hugh, 1892-1978 person
associatedWith Macdonald, George 1824-1905 person
associatedWith MacGregor, Archie person
associatedWith Masefield, John, 1878-1967 person
associatedWith Mayfield, John person
associatedWith Mcginley, Phyllis, 1905-1978 person
associatedWith Millay, Edna St. Vincent, 1892-1950 person
associatedWith Milne, A. A., 1882-1956 person
associatedWith Montgomery, James, 1771-1854 person
associatedWith Morley, Christopher, 1890-1959 person
associatedWith Nash, Ogden, 1902-1971 person
associatedWith Noyes, Alfred, 1880-1958 person
associatedWith Phillips, George person
associatedWith Pitter, Ruth, 1897-1992 person
associatedWith Potter, Beatrix, 1866-1943 person
associatedWith Quarles, Francis, 1592-1644 person
associatedWith Richards, Laura Elizabeth, 1850-1943 person
associatedWith Riley, James Whitcomb, 1849-1916 person
associatedWith Rossetti, Christina, 1830-1894 person
associatedWith Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 1828-1882 person
associatedWith Russell, George William A. E. person
associatedWith Saxe, John Godfrey, 1818-1887 person
associatedWith Scollard, Clifton 1860-1932 person
associatedWith Scott, Walter, 1771-1832 person
associatedWith Sendak, Maurice, 1928- person
associatedWith Shaw, John MacKay, 1897-1984 person
associatedWith Sigourney, Dora Sigerson, 1868-1918 person
associatedWith Southey, Robert, 1774-1843 person
associatedWith Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894 person
associatedWith Tabb, John Banister, 1845-1909 person
associatedWith Tennyson, Alfred, 1809-1892 person
associatedWith Thackeray, William Makepeace, 1811-1863 person
associatedWith Watts, Isaac, 1674-1748 person
associatedWith Whittier, John Greenleaf 1807-1892 person
associatedWith Wordsworth, William, 1770-1850 person
associatedWith Yeats, William Butler, 1865-1939 person
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