On Friday, July 26th, I was privileged to be among the select few present at the pretigious Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas Campus in Austin when the Lord family formally donated the 14,000 pages of Robert E. Howard typescripts Glenn had collected throughout his lifetime. To say it was a momentous occasion would be an understatement. The entire collection fit into nine boxes (eight of which are shown above) and contains stories, poems and letters. In addition to Glenn’s wife Lou Ann, son James, daughter Glenda and his three living granchildren, myself, Jack and Barbara Baum, Rusty Burke, Mark Finn, Paul Herman and Dennis McHaney were also in attendance.
Twenty years before his death, Glenn Lord was pondering what to do with his massive collection of original Howard typescripts when he would eventually pass away. That was 1991 and Paul Herman was attending law school at the University of Texas and while visiting with Glenn one day, Glenn asked Paul what he should do with his vast collection, which included thousands of pages of Howard’s original manuscripts. Glenn considered the Houston Public Library. While the library is a fine organization, it is not a world-class archival facility. They wouldn’t know what to do with such a valuable and rare collection. A light bulb went off above Paul’s head and he suggested the Harry Ransom Center. While he had never been to the facility, he knew of it and they work that was done there to preserves valuable, historical items. So he got in contact with Dr. Richard Orem, who was and still is the head librarian for the Center. What is the Harry Ransom Center you may ask? Here is a brief description from the Center’s Wikipedia webpage:
The Harry Ransom Center is an archive, library and museum at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in the collection of literary and cultural artifacts from the United States and Europe for the purpose of advancing the study of the arts and humanities. The Ransom Center houses 36 million literary manuscripts, 1 million rare books, 5 million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art. The Center has a reading room for scholars and galleries which display rotating exhibitions of works and objects from the collections.
Paul asked Dr. Orem if he knew who Robert E. Howard was. Dr. Orem replied he did and further stated the Center had a collection of his books. Then Paul asked him if he had ever heard of Glenn Lord. Dr. Orem replied in the affirmative and said the Center had a set of The Howard Collector. Next Paul laid out the proposal for Glenn to donate the Howard typescripts when he passed on. Dr. Orem enthusiastically agreed and arranged for Paul to take a behind the scenes tour of the facility. Impressed, Paul soon returned with Glenn and they were given the grand tour. And so it was settled – when the time came, Howard’s typescripts would be donated to the Center, preserved and maintained for future generations to view, study and use for scholarship.
Well, that time has come. The formal announcement was made today and soon Howard fans and scholars will have complete access to Howard’s manuscripts.
It took a bit of doing to get the boxes of typescripts ready to donate, as described by Paul over on the Robert E. Howard Forums, but the collection is right where it belongs — saved for posterity just as Glenn wished it to be. An invaluable legacy that will live on forever.
Here is a video from Austin television station KXAN on the donation of the Lord collection to the Harry Ransom center filmed by Ben Friberg.