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Ernest J. Wessen Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Wessen

Scope and Content of the Collection

Primarily correspondence with related materials including photographs, invoices, newspaper clippings, and dealer catalogs.

Two binders of correspondence labeled "Wessen-Dush Archive" contain original correspondence between Wessen and Joseph F. Dush, an Ohio book collector who acquired much of his collection from Wessen. Volume one includes correspondence with other individuals such as Paul North, Samuel D. Wang, Kenneth Nebenzahl, and with other groups such as the Vermont Historical Society and Yale University Press. Other materials include photographs, biographical information and clippings regarding Wessen, book invoices, and a few item descriptions. Volume two contains correspondence with individuals such as Maxime Schoyer, Roger Butterfield, William H. Vodrey, and Clay Dietrich. Each binder includes a table of contents.

Other correspondence includes Wessen's letters to Ohio collector Arthur Duncan, 1946-1949, and photocopies of his correspondence, 1942-1949, with Jim Scott, an Ohio book scout, bookseller, and librarian. A book of selected correspondence between Wessen and Scott produced by the Northern Ohio Bibliophilic Society is included with the letters.

Related dealer catalogs provide information about Dush's collections. The Ohio Bookhunters catalog contains a memoriam to Wessen.


  • Creation: 1942-1999
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1942 - 1971



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Ernest J. Wessen Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Ernest J. Wessen Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Ernest James Wessen

American bookdealer, book collector, and bibliographer.

Born on December 4, 1897 in Lewiston, Maine, Wessen began collecting books at an early age, and became a prominent antiquarian book dealer during the mid-twentieth century. With a strong interest in Americana, he started the Midland Rare Book Co., in Mansfield, Ohio. Wessen is known for his dealer catalog “Midland Notes,” which he published from 1938 to 1969.

In 1924, he married Yetta Searles, who shared his passion for book collecting. They continued to run the Midland Rare Book Co. until 1970. Wessen died on December 13, 1974.


1.3 Linear Feet (1 record carton)


Correspondence and related materials, 1956-1971, of Ernest J. Wessen of the Midland Rare Book Company of Mansfield, Ohio, and Joseph F. Dush, an Ohio book collector who acquired much of his collection from Wessen. Also contains correspondence with Arthur Duncan, Jim Scott, biographical material and photographs of Wessen, and four dealer catalogs.


Materials listed by type. Correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Collection Stack Location

1 36 2


Gift of John C. Blew, 2016-2017.

Processed by

Catherine Grandgeorge, 2016.

Inventory of the Ernest J. Wessen Papers, 1942-1999, bulk 1942-1971
Catherine Grandgeorge
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States