The Marguerite Hicks Project

In 1971 Kresge Library at Oakland University in Rochester, MI, purchased the Hicks Collection of Women’s Writings from the 17th through early 20th Centuries from the queer and disabled Detroit socialite and collector, Marguerite Hicks. Hicks began her collection of nearly 1,000 volumes in the late 1930s to support a master’s thesis in English literature, communicating with major antiquarian book dealers in England, including Dobell, Maggs, George Harding, and Blackwell. The collection includes epistles, poetry, amatory fiction, memoirs, cookbooks, conduct manuals, and proto-feminist pamphlets from preeminent women, many first editions, inscribed copies, and corrected proofs. It contains 363 titles with 20 or fewer known copies in the world, and many singularly extant items, and notably a large collection related to the queer relationship of Queen Anne & the Duchess of Marlborough—possibly the earliest interest in collecting materials related to lesbian relationships in Early Modern England. This Collection is even more unique in its conception and makeup considering that Hicks was a disabled queer woman seeking out literature by and about women--and specifically about queer women--before the feminist recovery movement of the 1970s.  

This collaborative multi-pronged project by Megan Peiser and Emily Spunaugle seeks to acknowledge Hicks as a collector, theorize how we find queer and disabled peoples in the archives, how we make connections between collectors and collections, and trace the provenance of the Hicks Collection.

Marguerite Bieber Hicks

from Oakland University Archives

© Megan Peiser 2019

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