The John M. Hill Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS.0209

  • Staff Only

Description of Series

Correspondence - Incoming. Incoming correspondence of 2 letters and 5 post cards, dating from 1916 to 1931. The correspondence is alphabetically arranged: Cabre, Ramon, Jan. 25, 1916; Faudo, Jose Manuel Lope, Aug., 1916; The Hispanic Society of America, Oct. 8, 1931; Sarpy, Melletta, Apr. 4, 1922; 2 illegible signatures, May 4, 1922, Apr. 8, 1929.

Memorial Resolution. There is a xeroxed copy of this resolution, marked “Fac. Counc. Doc. No. 13 1966-1967”, which was prepared by Theodore E. Dorf, Walter Poesse, Richard S. Sherman, and Merle E. Simmons.

Plays. There is a photoduplicated copy of El Cavallo Vos Han Muerto, comedia famosa de Lope De Vega Carpió, and a typescript carbon copy of Si El Caballo Vos Han Muerto, comedia famosa de Luis Velez De Guevara.

Research Notes. Approximately 150 pages of holographic notes in Spanish.

Notebook. A typescript list of books in the Spanish collection of John M. Hill, dated Oct. 1, 1958, is found in this notebook.

Post Cards. Approximately 100 picture post cards of New York City, Washington, D.C., Versailles, Tangiers, Spain, and Portugal.


  • multiple

Language of Materials


A Brief Evaluation

The unique value of the Collection left to Vanderbilt by John McMurry Hill (1887-1966) lies in its inclusion of many titles of the 16th and 17th centuries. A large number of the volumes are entirely unavailable for purchase today; during the past two decades and more university libraries in the United States have taken about all of the earlier Spanish books that could be found, as book dealers' catalogues show.

Professor Walter Poesse of Indiana University, formerly Professor Hill's student and then his colleague, reported for a faculty committee after Professor Hill's death that the latter's interests were largely in lexicography and the drama of the 16th and 17th centuries. The list of the Hill books in the JUL Collection bears this out. For example, there are no less than six editions of the Spanish Academy Dictionary, beginning with the first edition in six volumes of 1726-39. Specialized studies of the Spanish language are numerous: representative volumes are the Academy Grammar of 1917, the Plan General of 1914 for an historical dictionary (a plan never carried out), the Aguado Glosario sobre Juan Ruiz, Aicardo's 1906 list of words left out of the Academy dictionary, Alba's Suplemento de todos los Diccionarios (1918), the rare Aldrete Del origen ... de la lengua catellana (1674), Alemany's Vocabulario de Gόngora. There are also the eight-volume Anejos de la Revista de Filología española on aspects of the language and literature, many Cancioneros (ancient ballad collections), Baist's Die spanische Sprache Bello's famous grammar. Numerous studies of diclects appear: Garrote's Dialecto vulgar leonés. Bayo's Vocabulario criollo-español sudamericano, Besses' Diccionario de argot español. Ancient dictionaries are representedt: Las Casas' 1570 Vocabulario de las dos lenguas toscana y castellana, Covarrubias' 1611 Tesoro and Its 1674 reprint with additions, Minsheu's Dictionarie in Spanish and English (London, 1599), Oudin's Tesoro de las dos lenguas española y francesa of 1675, Stevens' New Spanish and English Dictionary of 1707.

A selection of the most valuable volumes would include the above of the 16th and 17th centuries and also the 1628 edition of Rengifo's Arte poética española, the 1624 edition of Barthius' Pornoboscodidascalus Latinus, Mexia's Silva de varia lección of 1662 and hie Treaaurie of Ancient and Moderne Times (London, 1613). The famous satirist Quevedo is represented by a 1650 edition of his Parnaso español, a 1670 edition of Las tres musas, a 1686 French edition of Les visions, a 1642 printing of his Advertencias. Other volumes of the 16th and 17th centuries might be mentioned. Especially noteworthy is Lebrija'a Latin dictionary of 1585, as also the 1604 edition of Alemán's Guzmán de Alforache and Diocsorides'1695 book on medicine; there is also a 1638 edition of González Dávila's Historia del Rel Don Henrique el Tercero.

Professor Hill's interest in the older drama is well represented by the Teatro antiguo español (Madrid, 1916-35), by García de la Huerta's saventeen-voulme Theatro español of 1785-86 with plays by many authors, by several other works on the theater by Spanish and foreign scholars: Bonilla's Los bacantes, Lord Holland's now rare works on Lope de Vega, Restori's studies in Italy of the 17th-century comedia of Spain's Golden Age. There are several histories, collections and anthologies by the older dramatists. There are twenty comedias sueltas (single editions) of several dramatists. Lope de Vega has thirty-nine entries in the Hill list; Calderón, Tirso, Moreto and others have almost as many.

The breadth of Professor Hill's interest beyond lexicography and the ancient drama is indicated by his acquisition of twelve volumes of Incunables Poéticos Castallanos and the many Spanish classics in them, by fourteen editions of the first picaresque novel, El Lazarillo de Tormes. by fifteen volumes of Libros de antaño (1872-1900). There are twelve entries in the Hill list of Proverbios, six volumes of Publicaciones de la Revista de Filología española (1917-26), numerous works of famous Spanish scholars like Menéndez y Pelayo, Menéndez Pidal, Gallardo, Rodríguez María, Cotarelo. There are French scholars like Mérimée, Morel-Fatio, Foulché-Delbosc, German Hispaniste like von Schaok and Schaeffer, the renowned English soholar Fitzmaurice-Kelly, also George Borrow (The Bible in Spain) (three volumes, 1843) and Martin Hume the historian, Restori the Italian, mentioned above.

There are works on Spanish traditions and folklore, on customs and character. The list has travel books by Brunei and Madame d'Aulnoy. The picaresque novel is represented by many titles, as are the Celestina. Cervantes (twenty-five entries), The Poem of the Cid (twelve entries). Collections are numerous, some of them extensive and now unobtainable in the marke: twenty-one volumes of the Bibliotheca Hispánica, ten of the Bibliotheca Romanica, forty-three of the Clásicos castellanos, twelve of Bonilla's Clásicos de la Literatura española, six of the Colección de Autores españoles, thirty-two of the Colección de Escritores castellanos, eight of the Sociedad de Bibliófilos madrileños, eleven of Opúsculos literarios rarísimos by Duque y Marqués, 115 volumes of Hispanic Notes and Monographs.

To be found in the list is the valuable catalogue of the Boston Library of the Ticknor Collection. Among periodicals there are the three volumes of El averiguador of 1867-68 and the four volumes of El averigador univarsal of 1879-82. The number of pamphlets and offprints totals 1094. Various university publications on Hispanic matters are here, among them California's, Colorado's, Iowa's, Nebraska's, New Mexico's, Pennsylvania's and Texas's.

The above items represent only the most obviously outstanding parts of the valuable Hill Collection, surely one of the best in the United States. It would be an appreciated public service if the Collection compiled by the JUL staff could be published (possibly by the Vanderbilt University Press).


Sept. 3, 1887 Born in Dresden, Tennessee
1908 Received A.B. degree, Vanderbilt University.
1910 Received A.B. degree, Vanderbilt University.
1912 Received PhD. in romance languages from the University of Wisconsin.
1914 - 1915 Spent at University of Madrid.
1915 - 1916 Spent at University of Paris.
1916 Returned to United States and assumed position of Associate Professor of romance languages at Indiana University.
1934 Appointed head of Department of Spanish at Indiana University.
1951 Resigned from headship.
1958 Retired from teaching as Professor Emeritus.
Nov. 6, 1966 Died
Professor Hill was especially devoted to Hispanic literature of the 16th and 17th centuries, the drama in particular, and to Spanish lexicography.

Member: Modern Language Association; American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese; Modern Humanities Research Association; Phi Beta Kappa; Alpha Tau Omega; Hispanic Society of America.


7.55 Linear Feet

Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives


Professor John M. Hill was especially devoted to Hispanic literature of the 16th and 17th centuries, the drama in particular, and to Spanish lexicography.

Member: Modern Language Association; American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese; Modern Humanities Research Association; Phi Beta Kappa; Alpha Tau Omega; Hispanic Society of America.

Finding Aid for the The John M. Hill Collection
Gerald K. Wade
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


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