Monday, January 8, 2018

Jean Hawkins

Jean Hawkins (b. Malone, NY, April 1874; d. Malone, NY, 12 July 1925)

Emma Jean Hawkins was the only surviving child of George Hawkins (1830-1896) and his third wife Jeannette Robb (1845-1931), who were married in Malone, New York, on 22 November 1871.  The parents were both originally from Canada, but had settled in Malone in the very northern part of upstate New York, near the border with Quebec. The young girl was known as Jean, apparently because her paternal grandmother, Emma D. Hawkins (1808-1888), who lived with them, was known as Emma.

Jean Hawkins graduated from Smith College in 1897, and taught for a few years at the Franklin Academy in Malone. Then she took a two-years course in library science at the State Library School in Albany (B.L.S. 1902),  and then worked as cataloger at the Bryn Mawr College Library (1902-03), followed by a few years as librarian at the public library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She resigned from the Eau Claire public library as of October 1905, and first worked at the  Athenaeum Library in Saratoga Springs, before returning to Albany a few years later, where she worked at the New York State Library while studying further at the State Library School.  From 1910 through June 1920 she was a member of the Faculty at the New York State Library School, teaching classes on classification, subject headings, elementary cataloguing, and loan work. After resigning from the Library School, she was librarian at the National Industrial Conference Board in New York City, and for two summers she was an instructor at the University of Michigan Summer School of Library Methods. She died at her home in Malone, after an illness of several months.

Jean Hawkins published very little, but while working at the New York State Library she compiled what is apparently the first published checklist of ghost stories and tales of the supernatural, the precursor of such works as E.F. Bleiler's Checklist of Fantastic Literature (1948).  It appeared in two parts in the January and April 1909 issues of The Bulletin of Bibliography, and thereafter it was printed in the same year as a small booklet by the Boston Book Company, no. 20 of their Bulletin of Bibliography Pamphlet Series. The late Richard Dalby, in his annotation to the entry for Hawkins in the Marshall Tymn's Horror Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide (1981) called it "an excellent checklist ... of approximately 300 novels and anthologies in the supernatural genre" (p. 475).

Hawkins wrote in her short preface:
This list was begun in a public library to supply the constant demand for ghost stories, which are hard to find because they are often short stories hidden in collections. The idea was to include none in which the mystery was explained, but some of these are now placed at the end under the heading "Humorous." The list has been enlarged to contain other stories of the occult, such as hypnotism, spiritualism, etc., but excludes folk lore and legends (except as these have been used by fiction writers), also satire under the disguise of the supernatural, allegories, fairy stories, tales of the Arabian nights' type and "scientific magic" like that of Wells. Even thus restricted, the material is extensive and the line so difficult to draw that the choice may often seem arbitrary. Some obvious omissions are due to my not being able to see the books.
The list, though superseded, is still useful today, and makes a cornerstone compilation for its time period.
A sample page from near the end of the alphabet
In 2006, when I inquired of the New York State Library, they could tell me nothing of Jean Hawkins, so it is especially nice at last to give Hawkins some recognition at for her pioneering work in the field of supernatural literature. (The 1897 Smith College Class Book sadly notes that a picture of Hawkins "was unfortunately impossible to obtain.")  

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