Joseph Quincy Adams Memorial Studies

Joseph Quincy Adams Memorial Studies

Joseph Quincy Adams Memorial Studies

Joseph Quincy Adams Memorial Studies


Fear no more the heat o' th' sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages

On November 10, 1946, Joseph Quincy Adams completed his worldly tasks. The end was not unexpected, for his health had failed rapidly, and he had been sustained chiefly by his courage and an unconquerable will. Yet his gentleness never failed, nor his quiet humor.

Rarely is a man blessed, as was Dr. Adams, with the capacity and good fortune to win equal renown as a teacher, as a productive scholar, and as an administrator. His students love to talk of his stimulating lectures, of the wide range of his learning, of his keen insight, and, above all, of the rich personality which revealed itself equally in the patient direction of a dissertation and in the interpretation of literature.

More than local fame came with the publication in the learned journals of Dr. Adams's earliest notes and essays. These manifested the qualities that characterize all his major works: awareness of problems, grasp of the essentials, mastery of detail, power of organization, and cogency of statement. To these may be added originality and imagination. The notes collected through the spring and summer of 1946 for a revised edition of The Dramatic Records of Sir Henry Herbert indicate that he was then at the height of his intellectual powers.

From the events of his career as teacher, editor and author at Cornell, few of even his closest friends could have guessed, when Dr. Adams came to the Folger Shakespeare Library, that he would within a few years prove to be a statesman of the first rank in the field of research library administration. Approaching the responsibilities of directorship as he would a scholarly problem, he first made it his business to ascertain from the correspondence of Henry Clay Folger the purposes of the Founder of the Library, and then he projected and put into execution the plans which would bring to rich fruition Folger's life-long dreams.

Putting aside his cherished plans for the lucrative Adams edition of Shakespeare, the initial volumes of which, Hamlet and Macbeth, had won instant success, he identified himself completely with the Library and devoted himself exclusively to institutional problems: the building of the collections, the plans for cataloguing books and manuscripts, the . . .

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