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Clark Dobson collection

 Collection 0072-LIT

Edward Clark Dobson (1939- ), a higher education professor and administrator, developed a warm personal relationship with Katherine Anne Porter that began in 1972 and endured until her death in 1980. During their relationship, they frequently attended Washington, D.C., area concerts and social events. Dobson began collecting Katherine Anne Porter items in 1976, when Porter gave Dobson a copy of her A Christmas Story as a Christmas gift. The collection consists of correspondence, mostly written to and from Katherine Anne Porter; publications; photographs; and memorabilia, which document Porter's literary career and relationship with Dobson.


  • 1901-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1961-1978

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


5.00 Linear Feet (5.00 linear feet and 8 items)

8 Items

Scope and Content of Collection

The Clark Dobson collection spans the period from 1901 to 2005, with the bulk of the materials falling between 1961 and 1978. The collection includes materials that document Dobson's relationship with Katherine Anne Porter. The core content of the collection consists of materials that Porter created, received, or collected during her lifetime. The materials include Porter's correspondence with Dobson, John David Horner, Robert A. Beach, Jr., Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Ted Stevens; four monographs; a significant portion of her music collection; photographs; and memorabilia.


Edward Clark Dobson was born April 22, 1939, in Auburndale, Florida. He graduated from Auburndale High School in 1957, after which he completed an undergraduate degree in music education at Florida State University. After his 1961 graduation, Dobson took a position as a music teacher at Tavares High School in Tavares, Florida. In 1968, he returned to Florida State University, completing an M. A. in music (1969) and a Ph. D. in Education Administration (1972).

Dobson began his career in education administration as the Associate Executive Director of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, a national professional organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C. He served the organization from 1971 to 1974. He subsequently accepted a position at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, where he served as an Assistant Professor of Education and a coordinator for the Doctor of Education Program from 1974 to 1976. In 1976, Dobson returned to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he taught and served in various administrative roles. From 1976 to 1999, he was an Associate Professor of Education Leadership, and, from 1988 to 1998, he was Assistant Dean for Academic Student Affairs. In 1998, Dobson was recognized for his contributions with the Distinguished Service Award from the university's Graduate School of Education. He retired in May 1999 and moved to Lakeland, Florida, near Auburndale. Although Dobson's professional career path diverged from music education, he remains actively involved in music. While in the Washington, D.C., area, he sang in the Wareham Chorale Society; worked with the Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, where he served as a member of the Board of Directors from 1978 to 1995 and as Trustee from 1996 to 1999, and served as an informal advisor to the U. S. Marine Band.

Dobson developed a relationship with Katherine Anne Porter because of his friendship with Robert (Bob) A. Beach, Jr., assistant to the president for University Relations at the University of Maryland from 1966 to 1978. In 1972, Dobson and Jack (John David) Horner met Porter, who was escorted by Beach, at a luncheon at the Army-Navy Club in Washington, D.C. Following the initial meeting, Dobson and Horner developed a warm personal relationship with Porter. Although Porter was in her early eighties, she enjoyed entertaining at her College Park apartment, and Dobson and Horner were often guests. The two men were frequently Porter's chauffeurs for and companions at concerts and social events. After her health deteriorated, Dobson and Horner maintained regular contact with Porter, providing invaluable support for her nephew Paul Porter, especially after his appointment as her guardian in 1977. They were instrumental in locating the Carriage Hill Nursing Home in Silver Spring, Maryland, where Porter was moved in March 1980. Dobson, Horner, Jane DeMouy (whose University of Maryland doctoral dissertation's subject was Porter), and Ted Wojtasik (whom Porter had suggested should edit her letters) planned and held a small gathering for Porter's ninetieth birthday, May 15, 1980. Porter's health continued to decline until her death on September 18, 1980.

Dobson began collecting Katherine Anne Porter items as a result of his friendship with Porter. Dobson was already an avid book collector, beginning his collection of books on music and Florida history as a high school student. In 1976, Porter gave Dobson a copy of her A Christmas Story as a Christmas gift. At nearly the same time, Dobson also began collecting Harrison of Paris imprints, fine press editions published by a firm founded by Porter's friends, Barbara Harrison and Monroe Wheeler. Dobson built his Harrison of Paris collection after receiving a signed copy of the press's edition of Porter's Hacienda from Monroe Wheeler. Dobson's collection of Katherine Anne Porter items grew to include additional publications created and collected by Porter, correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia items.

One particularly unusual item that came into Dobson's possession was Porter's painted wooden coffin. Dobson and Horner acquired the coffin when her nephew Paul Porter disposed of the contents of her College Park apartment. Katherine Anne Porter purchased the coffin in 1974. Joseph Mayhew, the son of one of her neighbors at her College Park apartment, subsequently painted it. Porter kept the coffin in a closet in her apartment and enjoyed entertaining guests by stepping into it. As her wishes were to be cremated, Paul Porter made the decision to dispose of the coffin when he emptied and closed her College Park apartment. Dobson and Horner claimed it, ultimately using it as a closet in their home library. After Horner's death, Dobson donated the coffin to the University of Maryland Libraries for the Katherine Anne Porter Room, where it is housed.


The collection is organized as four series.

Series 1
Series 2
Series 3
Series 4

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries acquired the collection from Dr. Dobson through a series of donations. The first two donations, December 2000 and June 2003, comprise the bulk of the collection. Dr. Dobson donated additional materials in May 2004, August 2004, April 2005, August 2007, October 2007, and August 2008.

Related Material

Materials related to the papers of Clark Dobson may be found in the papers of Katherine Anne Porter and Paul Porter. Miss Porter's papers contain one folder of correspondence between Porter and Dobson. Additional materials in the papers of Katherine Anne Porter that Dobson donated include four photographs of Katherine Anne Porter, Robert A. Beach, John David Horner, and Roger Francisco; correspondence from Marianne Moore to Porter, removed from Porter's copy of The Fables of La Fontaine; and Porter's autograph notes on recto and verso of an estate planning reply card, removed from Porter's copy of The Left Bank Revisited. Dobson also donated Porter's painted wooden coffin, in Porter's memorabilia collection, which is on display in the Katherine Anne Porter Room. Paul Porter's papers contain a photograph of Katherine Anne Porter's painted wooden coffin standing in Dobson and Horner's library. The following monographs donated by Dobson have been incorporated into the University of Maryland's Special Collections holdings of Porter's personal library: The Left Bank Revisited: Selections from the Paris "Tribune" 1917-1934 [DC715.F67] ; My Chinese Marriage [DS725.F7]; Giacomo Joyce [PR6019.O9G5 1968]; The Fables of La Fontaine [PG1811.E3M6 1954]; The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter [PS3531.O752A6 1980]; Noon Wine [PS3531.O752N6]; Images and Shadows: Part of a Life [PN75.O743]; and Katherine Anne Porter: A Collection of Critical Essays [PS3531.O752Z715].

Guide to the Clark Dobson collection
Processed by Anna Yallouris.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742