Think you’ve seen some memorable holiday cards? Imagine receiving a complete Robert Frost poem, beautifully packaged with fine paper and showcasing artwork by distinguished painters or woodcutters.
Some individuals—many at Dartmouth, in fact—received these cards from 1934 to 1962. Produced mostly by the boutique printer Spiral Press, the cards—running up to 20 pages in length—included such well-known Frost poems as “The Gift Outright,” “A Cabin in the Clearing,” and “The Wood-Pile.” The press run grew from 775 in 1934 to 17,055 in 1962.
Frost had a warm relationship with Dartmouth all his life. He attended the College in 1892 and he served as a Ticknor Fellow in the Humanities from 1943 to 1949.
Dartmouth’s Rauner Special Collections Library has an extensive collection of the cards, including copies of the first-ever example—“Christmas Trees”—which was produced without Frost’s knowledge in 1929. Later, Frost expressed admiration for the card and he agreed to help produce them on an annual basis in 1934.
Rauner’s collection also includes cards with handwritten notes from Frost to librarians at Baker Library and other friends in Hanover. In 1951, Frost accompanied the "A Cabin in the Clearing" card with this note to Dartmouth bookstore employee Ruby Dagget: “in hopes that you will carry it like a lesson to your schoolhouse in the wilds of Vershire.” Vershire is a nearby town in Vermont.
With titles such as “An Unstamped Letter in Our Rural Letter Box” (1944), or “A Young Birch” (1946), or “On a Tree Fallen Across the Road” (1949), many of the poems conjure the rural New England scenes which Frost so famously described.