Project History

A Brief History of the Steinbeck Bibliography Project

In 1971, Professor Martha Heasley Cox of San José State University organized a very successful Steinbeck conference, and in 1974 she established the Steinbeck Research Center (now the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies). After serving as one of five delegates from the United States and Canada invited to lecture and lead discussions at the 1975 International Steinbeck Conference held in Fukuoka, Japan, she was contacted about the bibliography project. Warren French (then President of the John Steinbeck Society of America) suggested that Professor Matthew Bruccoli ask her to compile a bibliography of Steinbeck for the Pittsburgh Series in Bibliography. She agreed and began work with the help of a student assistant, Ray L. Morrison, who later became Library Director for MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas. Mr. Morrison and Dr. Cox located and photocopied as many articles from journals and magazines as they could manage and placed these in files in the Center. They began with the SJSU collection and then went on to the collections at Berkeley and Stanford. Ray Morrison recalls "spending every weekday afternoon in the Steinbeck Center (situated on the sixth floor of the old Wahlquist Library) answering the phone, filing away articles, typing numerous letters, and copying materials for the Center. On Saturdays, Dr. Cox and I would go to Stanford and UC Berkeley to locate new articles to add to the collection." Professor Cox also worked for several days at the Steinbeck collection of the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. She also made several trips to New York City to work in the New York Public Library, the Lincoln Center archives, and a private collection of a Steinbeck scholar and collector. She spent some time too at Viking Press where she was assigned a room to go through several large cartons of Steinbeck materials and have copies made, if she wished.

For two years, beginning in the fall of 1975, Professor Cox then worked on the bibliographic project with another assistant, Greta Manville, a graduate student at San Jose State University. At one point, Ms. Manville and Professor Cox went to New York to continue research at the New York Public Library and the Lincoln Center archives. Ms. Manville remembers that trip as a wonderful one. They relaxed after a hard day's labor by attending plays at night before returning to their hotel in the theater district. Ms. Manville graduated with a Master's Degree in English in 1978, by which time she had already left the bibliographic project to return to a successful corporate career.

Professor Cox, contemplating retirement in a few years, decided to limit her work at the University to half-time, but to continue teaching, which necessitated her resignation as Director of the Steinbeck Center. She continued work on the bibliography, organizing the collected material—which then existed only on cards recording entries and annotations—and hiring typists to put it all into manuscript form. She found it difficult, however, to make progress without the resources housed in the Center readily available and without assistants familiar with the material. She reluctantly decided to delay publication, even though the bibliography was complete through Steinbeck's lifetime and generally so up to 1979, until entries could be thoroughly checked in the Center and further updated. After a hiatus of several years, Professor Cox contacted Professor Paul Douglass, then in charge of the Steinbeck Fellowship Program, a newly-endowed program begun in 2001 with funds donated by Professor Cox. Professor Cox suggested that Ms. Manville be offered a Steinbeck fellowship at SJSU if she would agree to return to the Center to update the bibliography as her fellowship project. Though she was reluctant at first to take on such a huge labor, Ms. Manville eventually acceded and returned to San José to begin picking up the threads of the project in fall 2002. The bibliography was to be published in book form as originally planned. However, at the advice of several publishers contacted by Professor Cox and Ms. Manville, the goal changed to making the bibliography into an online searchable database accessible through the Center for Steinbeck Studies' Website. During the period of 2003 to 2005, Ms. Manville worked independently to finish the compilation of the bibliography data through 2004 and enter it into a database program. Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Maricopa County Community Libraries provided invaluable help and support in this effort.

In 2005, Ms. Manville presented the Center with the fruits of her labor, founded on the bibliography begun thirty years previously by Professor Cox. Over the ensuing months, Ms. Manville proofread and corrected the bibliography and the staff of the Center for Steinbeck Studies labored to enter her corrections and made others in order to standardize the entries for online use. Those who worked on the bibliography in the last stage of its preparation refined, augmented, corrected, and arranged the data in collaboration with Ms. Manville. They are listed below. Ms. Manville continues to consult with the Center and is working to help update the bibliography further. The entire project has come together as a collaboration with Silicon Valley's (and SJSU's) own Julie Meloni, who has volunteered many hours of her time and given generously of her expertise in programming and databases.

The bibliography is a free resource provided by the Center for Steinbeck Studies in collaboration with the Associated Students of SJSU. Those who have worked on the project since 1975, either as bibliographers or electronic text and web specialists include:

  • Laurel Cox, Student Assistant
  • Martha Heasley Cox, Founder of the Project and the Center
  • Serenity Dean, Student Assistant
  • Paul Douglass, Director of the Center since 2005
  • Josh Gehl, Student Assistant
  • Mohammed Khasimi, Web Designer
  • Diana Kohnke, Student Assistant
  • Lee Lovelady, Volunteer
  • Greta Manville, Steinbeck Fellow and former Student Assistant
  • Julie Meloni, Application Programming and Database Design
  • Ray L. Morrison, Student Assistant
  • Sstoz Tes, Administrative Coordinator of the Center