Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2016 Issue

Bob Dylan's Archive to be Housed in Oklahoma

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From Dylan Archives to Dylan Store. The times they are a-changin'.

An archive representing the creative genius of a man who was the voice of a generation has come out of the shadows, to be accessible to scholars in an institutional setting. That voice of the baby boom generation is the freewheelin' Bob Dylan; the institution the University of Tulsa. Huh?

 

The archive consists of over 6,000 items, spanning Dylan's career. They go back as far as the 1950's, when no one outside of his hometown in Minnesota had ever heard of him. The high points of his career are generously represented. From the unplugged folk troubadour of the early 1960's, to the controversial electrified Dylan of the late '60's, to the Blood on the Tracks time in the 1970's, it's all here. After that, a new generation and new spokesmen took over as the voice of youth. Dylan's role was supplanted by the Bee Gees. :'-(

 

The most notable item in the archive appears to be a notebook from 1974 with handwritten lyrics for songs from the Blood on the Tracks album, including Tangled Up in Blue and Idiot Wind. It was his biggest selling album. There are sketches and written notes for Tarantula, Dylan's shot at poetry without musical accompaniment. Naturally, there is much more, including his earliest recordings from 1959.

 

While it has long been surmised that Bob Dylan must have a collection of his personal memorabilia, the extent of this archive came as something of a surprise. With Dylan about to reach his 75th birthday in a few weeks, his seeking a permanent home for it should not be surprising. However, it was not a gift. Rolling Stone magazine said that it was sold for an estimated $15-$20 million. They also said it had been estimated to be worth $60 million, so perhaps Dylan sold it at a discount so that it would end up at a library associated with the University of Tulsa.

 

Nevertheless, that is a lot of money. If Dylan was once the voice of a generation that eschewed material wealth for peace, love and freedom, his orientation since the days he bunked with friends while introducing his songs to the beat community of New York has changed over the years. He is believed to own 11 homes, some of which are quite luxurious. Dylan is quite secretive about his personal life, almost never giving interviews. He is known to have had two wives and three children, but rumors persist that he has had more of each. His secretiveness is such that it is conceivable that this could be true despite his being such a major public figure. Certainly, there have been numerous other women with whom he has been involved. It also should be noted Dylan has not been accused of being ungenerous to those in his life, at least not financially, even if he has not always been the perfect family man. All of this requires a substantial amount of money.

 

Dylan, whose appearances were limited as he quickly rose to great renown in the 1960's, today tours constantly. Two reasons have been given for it. One is financial – that he needs the money to support his lifestyle, in particular, maintaining his many homes. That is ironic since, being constantly on the road, he has little time to spend in them. The official Bob Dylan website is essentially a commercial venture, selling everything Bob Dylan, from music to t-shirts. The other reason given for his constant touring is that he truly is a rolling stone, unable to settle down anywhere, a man who must keep moving to survive.

 

But why Tulsa? The money? Something else? Perhaps this is like asking why Dylan chose to record an album of Frank Sinatra songs. Mysterious. Thankfully, as best I know, Sinatra never returned the favor.

 

As to the new location for his archive, Dylan has no particular connection to Tulsa. He grew up in Minnesota. He lived in a couple of places, but all within that state. When he had perfected his craft well enough to try taking it on the road, he headed to New York City. That is even farther, both measurably and spiritually, from Oklahoma. He hung around Manhattan, befriending the beats and their culture, singing his folk songs, and developing a following that would soon explode as he reached people's souls in a way few, if any others, of his generation did.

 

University of Tulsa President Steadman Upham issued a statement that attempted to explain their good fortune. "Because of the level of scholarship available through the university and its partners," he explained, "TU is the perfect keeper of the Bob Dylan Archive." That kind of begs the question. Aren't there comparably good keepers in New York, or Minnesota? Aren't the kind of scholars likely to want to study Dylan's work in depth more likely to be found in New York City than Tulsa?

 

Perhaps Dylan's comment, part of a PR release, explains his motivation: "I’m glad that my archives, which have been collected all these years, have finally found a home and are to be included with the works of Woody Guthrie and especially alongside all the valuable artifacts from the Native American Nations. To me it makes a lot of sense and it’s a great honor." Whether the money or Woody Guthrie was the primary motivation only Dylan knows, and one can be sure he will not tell us. There is no question Guthrie's music had a major impact on Dylan. It is likely no one else was as influential on him, and Dylan has long acknowledged that debt. When he made it to New York, he made a point of often visiting his idol. Unfortunately, by then Guthrie had been institutionalized for Huntington's disease, which not only ravishes your body, but also your mind. He was not in a position to mentor his disciple.

 

For Guthrie's archive to be housed in Tulsa makes perfect sense. He was born and raised in Oklahoma. He sang about the hard times of the Depression, and few people were as badly impacted by those times as the people of Oklahoma. At one point he took off for California, like so many fellow "Okies" in Grapes of Wrath times, though he got into the music rather than the agricultural business in California, later migrating to New York. However, even there, Guthrie maintained his Okie identity. His archives belong in Oklahoma. As for Dylan, well, I guess if you are a troubadour, you live your life like a rolling stone, Tulsa makes as much sense as anyplace.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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