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The John MacKay Shaw Collection

The John MacKay Shaw Collection consists of books, works of art, manuscripts, catalogs and ephemera related to childhood. The collection includes bibliographies, biographies, literature, poetry, and criticism.

John MacKay Shaw


John MacKay Shaw (1897-1984) was an AT&T Executive who began collecting related to childhood in the 1930s. From this hobby the collection grew. Following his retirement in 1959, Shaw gave his collection of almost 6,000 volumes to Florida State University Libraries. For the next 25 years, Shaw went to Strozier Library daily to study, write, and talk about his books. Throughout his collecting years, as he discovered new material, Shaw typed information about it into the pages of his notebooks. He collected catalogs, articles, ads, & items other than reading material as well. In addition to scholarly journal articles, Shaw published several monographs based on his collecting interests. He also gave talks to professional librarians and English teachers around the U.S. and read to children in the local schools. The FSU faculty awarded John Mackay Shaw the Doctor of Humane Letters degree on May 24, 1972. After an evening spent with the Friends of the Library, Shaw died in his sleep on March 15, 1984. His collection serves as a lasting legacy to his passion for collecting works representing childhood in poetry.

The John MacKay Shaw Collection

   The John MacKay Shaw Collection consists of the Childhood in Poetry Collection and other materials he collected that document the books and poets and relate to the six themes that are evident throughout the Collection: bibliography, biography, children, collecting, publishing, and writing. These additional materials are organized into several series and subseries documenting the career of this notable collector. The Shaw Life series comprises biography,  business files, church and education materials, correspondence, and personal files; Professional Files contain Shaw Correspondence and the Collection's History and Operation: Literary Materials include Shaw Bibliography Notes and Source Materials, Theme Materials in Childhood in Poetry, Shaw Writings, Autographed Materials, and Writings by Others who used the Shaw Collection; Promotional Materials inlcude catalogs and advertisements; Other Printed Materials comprise magazines, catalogs, and newspaper articles; Audiovisual Materials contain films, photographs, and recordings. Additional materials include artwork, memorabilia, and the books in the Childhood in Poetry Collection. The Shaw Collection has grown immensely and it currently comprises over 35,000 volumes and 69 linear feet of archival material.

   The Shaw Collection includes the works of numerous well-known authors: Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat, Robert Burns' To A Louse, A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, Eugene Field's The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, Edward Lear's A Book of Nonsense, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline, Joseph Moorat's Humpty Dumpty and other Songs, and two books of poems written by John MacKay Shaw himself, Zumpin and the Things I Want: Poems For Two Children.

Guide to Locating Materials

The John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection: A Scholar's Guide to Locating Materials

-Childhood in Poetry Bibliography - Shaw's 11-volume annotated bibliography, available in the Special Collections reading room.

First published in 5 volumes in 1968, the 5th volume is a keyword in the index to the poems.

Three supplements were published, in 1972 (3 vols), 1976 (2 vols), and 1980 (1 vol).

Helpful Hints: An author may appear in all four issues, or in only one issue. The 2nd supplement (1976) incorporates the poems from all three issues in its keyword index. The keyword index in the 3rd supplement includes only the poems that appear in books listed in the 3rd supplement.

-Libraries Online Catalog

Search 22,000 books from  FSU Libraries Catalog

Go to

Click on "Advanced Search" under the search box.

Leave the empty search boxes blank.

Choose from the drop-down menu next to Location "Strozier, Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection."

Click on the SEARCH button just above the LOCATION field.

You will see over 22,000 results.

-Archival Materials

Search 137 boxes of manuscripts, photos, and other non-book items using the finding aid to the Shaw collection, available online and on paper in the reading room:

Click on the "FA Finding Aids" box to see the entire inventory.

The Table of Contents indicates the oder in which the different series, or categories, of the collection appear, such as Bibliography and Sources, Correspondence, Autographed Materials, etc.

Scroll through each series to find an author or subject.

Record the box and folder numbers of the items you want.

Fill out a green slip at the Special Collections reference desk; a staff member will retrieve the items you requested.

Strengths of the Collection

-Robert Burns

-Lewis Carroll

-Theodor Geisel

-Phyllis McGinley


Dr. James D. Birchfield, Curator of Rare Books at the University of Kentucky, was the Shaw Collection Curator from 1973 - 1980 and wrote an informative piece about the collection:

Special Collections & Archives

FSU Library Catalog
Use Advanced Search to limit Location to “Strozier, Special Collections”
Finding Aid Database
FSU Digital Library

Reading Rooms
Special Collections Research Center
Main Floor, Strozier Library
Monday–Thursday, 10 am–6 pm
Friday, 10 am–5:30 pm
(850) 644-3271

Claude Pepper Library
Claude Pepper Center 
Monday–Friday, 9 am–5 pm
(850) 644-9217

Exhibitions and Public Spaces
Special Collections Exhibit Room
Main Floor, Strozier Library
Monday–Thursday, 10 am–6 pm
Friday, 10 am–5:30 pm

Norwood Reading Room
Second Floor, Strozier Library
Monday–Thursday, 10 am–6 pm
Friday, 10 am–5:30 pm

Heritage Museum
Werkmeister Reading Room, Dodd Hall
Monday–Thursday, 11am–4 pm

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