Text: Dwight R. Thomas, “A Note on the Directory,” Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844 (1978), pp. 697-698


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A Note on the Directory

When a letter or other document which has been entered in the chronology is mentioned in the directory, it is identified by the relevant date. For example, the directory entry for James Ackerman states that this lithographer was one of Poe's Philadelphia acquaintances. The document which provides reasonably conclusive evidence that these two men knew each other is Poe's April 1, 1841, letter to Thomas Wyatt. Complete bibliographical information for this letter is given in the chronology for April 1, 1841; when it is cited in the directory, it is identified only by this date and by the name of Poe's correspondent. Since the directory is intended to serve as a bibliography of sources on Poe's Philadelphia associates, complete bibliographical information is given under the relevant entry for a reminiscence published by one of these figures, or for a work dealing with him, even though that reminiscence or work has been previously identified. For example, John Sartain's Reminiscences of a Very Old Man is cited in the chronology, but bibliographical information for the volume is repeated in the directory entry for this popular engraver.

Several biographical dictionaries are cited in an abbreviated fashion throughout the directory. The best source of information on Poe's contemporaries is the ­[page 698:] twenty-volume Dictionary of American Biography, edited by Dumas Malone and Allen Johnson (New York: Scribner's, 1928-1936). Many nineteenth-century Americans omitted by the DAB are discussed in the six-volume Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson and John Fiske (New York: Appleton, 1888-1889). occasionally, a figure who fails to appear either in the DAB or in Appleton's will be included in the ten-volume Biographical Dictionary of America, edited by John Howard Brown and Rossiter Johnson (Boston: American Biographical Society, 1906); this source is identified as “Brown.” Poe's British contemporaries appear in the Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, edited by Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee (1885-1901; rpt. London: Oxford University Press, 1937-1938); it is cited as the “DNB.”

Additional sources for many American writers are described in the fourth edition, revised, of the Literary History of the United States: Bibliography, compiled by Robert E. Spiller and others (New York: Macmillan, 1974); this volume is cited as the LHUS Bibliography. Two collections of bibliographic essays provide guidance to Poe's major contemporaries: the revised edition of Eight American Authors, edited by James Woodress (New York: Norton, 1971), and Fifteen American Authors Before 1900, edited by Robert A. Rees and Earl N. Harbert (Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1971).





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