'Twas The Night Before Christmas

The Nancy H. Marshall "A Visit from St. Nicholas" Collection
December 4, 2015 to January 15, 2016

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

At first, she bought inexpensive books for her children’s stockings and to 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 University Libraries at the College of William & Mary, Marshall began donating her collection to William & Mary Libraries’ 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.
Continuing our annual tradition, this year’s exhibit showcases the variety of form that has proliferated since the poem’s publication more than 180 years ago. Each of the fourteen verses of Moore’s beloved poem are shown here in a different type of book, from Grandma Moses paintings to pop-ups. The unifying factor is the poem itself, highlighting how associated it has become with Christmas in cultures all over the world.


Images of the exhibit are available from Swem Library on Flickr.

 Curator: Sam Packer, Archives Graduate Apprentice and MA Candidate in History. Exhibit Design and Installation: Jessica Molz, SCRC Graphics Student Assistant, and Jennie Davy, Burger Archives Specialist.