'Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Nancy H. Marshall "A Visit from St. Nicholas" Collection of Clement Clark Moore's Immortal Poem
December 1, 2017 to January 2, 2018
A Scratch & Sniff Night Before Christmas book cover
Moore, Clement Clarke. A Scratch & Sniff Night Before Christmas. Illustrated by Maggie Swanson. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 2007.

Most people today know Clement Clarke Moore’s enchanting tale of the mysterious Christmas Eve visitor, St. Nicholas. A noted theologian and biblical scholar, Moore (1779-1863) wrote this classic poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” in 1823. Nancy H. Marshall started collecting editions of Moore’s poem, today better known as The Night Before Christmas, over 45 years ago.

At first she bought inexpensive books to fill her children’s stockings and decorate her home during the Christmas holiday. Over time, her collection became more comprehensive as she acquired both rare and early editions and contemporary twentieth-century publications. After having spent more than a decade as the dean of William & Mary Libraries, Marshall began donating her collection to Swem Library’s Special Collections Research Center in 2005. Today, students, scholars, and visitors young and old enjoy the many treasures of the Nancy H. Marshall “A Visit from St. Nicholas” Collection.

Drawing inspiration from Moore’s words, “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads,” the focus of this year’s exhibit is the food culture of Christmas, highlighted both in Moore’s poem and in the wide variety of other books and items in this collection. Each piece in this showcase symbolizes a different aspect of holiday food traditions, present or past.

Curator: Jane Snyder, Special Collections Graduate Assistant and MA Candidate in History.
Exhibit Design: Abram Clear, SCRC Graphics Student Assistant.
Fabrication and Installation: Jane Snyder; Jennie Davy, Exhibits Manager; and Dana Florczak, Undergraduate Student Assistant.


Photos of the display are available at W&M Libraries on Flickr.