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John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection

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John MacKay Shaw was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 15, 1897. He immigrated to the United States as a child in 1911. He enlisted in the Army in 1917 and was stationed in France with the Ambulance Corp during World War I.

Shaw went to work for the Bell Telephone System as a adult, and remained a public relations executive with that company until he retired in 1959. He changed his name legally to John MacKay Shaw to distinguish himself from all the other John Shaws he had discovered while working a project redesigning the Yellow Pages for New York City. He chose MacKay in honor of his mother's uncle, the renowned scholar, navigator, and teacher John MacKay of Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.

When his two children were young, Shaw read and sang to them often. He recited poetry, sang the old Glasgow drinking songs, Gilbert and Sullivan, and songs of the Gay Nineties. However, the children wanted to hear poems about them, not about other children. He promised to write them if they would provide the subjects for him to write about. Each year between 1933 and 1937, he collected the poems he had written that year and had them printed in pamphlets which he sent to friends at Christmas. Realizing that other fathers must have written poems for their children, he went looking for them in the second-hand bookstores. Thus began his collection of Childhood in Poetry.

For thirty years, while continuing to work for the Bell System, John MacKay Shaw haunted the second-hand bookstores of Great Britain and the United States, poring over catalogs in the evenings, searching out and purchasing rare and first editions of poetry for, about, and by children. He studied the books, read and wrote about them and their authors, and discoursed extensively with other collectors and scholars.

Upon retirement in 1959, Shaw gave his collection of almost 6,000 volumes to Florida State University (FSU) Libraries. For the next 25 years, Shaw went to the library daily to study, write, and talk about his books. He continued adding to his collection. Shaw died in Tallahassee, Florida on March 15, 1984.

For more information about John Shaw, see the finding aid for his personal and collection papers.

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poetry of sacred song
poetry of sacred song
Additions to the Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection in the Library of the Florida State University.
rudiments of grammar in verse, or, A party to the fair
rudiments of grammar in verse, or, A party to the fair
by Madame Leinstein, embellished with thirteen beautifully coloured engravings., Approximate dates inferred from dates of titles listed in publisher's ad and from dates of Dean and Munday according to Hall, T.R. Some printers and publishers of conjuring books, p. 36-38., This edition differs in several respects from another undated Dean and Munday edition of the same work: the t.p.'s differ in the spelling of the author's name, in the form of the publisher's name, and in typography; p. [6]-7 differ in layout; the cover titles vary in fullness; the other edition has a Dean & Munday ad on p. [4] of wrapper., Printed on one side of leaf only; blank pages included in pagination., Illustrations hand-colored., A.K. Newman & Co. ad on p. [4] of wrapper; see Hall, T.R. Some printers and publishers of conjuring books, p. 44 on cooperation of Dean & Munday and A.K. Newman & Co., No. 3640 in: Shaw, J.M., Childhood in poetry.
search after happiness
search after happiness
Dedication dated May 10, 1773, Includes preface, Frontispiece engraved by B. Tanner after Stothard, The search after happiness is in verse; Joseph made known to his brethren in prose, Not in Welch, Amer. children's books.
ship that Tom built
ship that Tom built
Caption title., Hand-colored ill., No. 3791 in: Shaw, J.M., Childhood in poetry.
simple flower
simple flower
The Agnes Gregory Collection.

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