Nancy H. Marshall

Nancy H. Marshall, author of The Night Before Christmas: A Descriptive Bibliography of Clement Clarke Moore’s Immortal Poem, was a retired Dean of University Libraries at The College of William and Mary. She collected Christmas memorabilia and editions of Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas, more commonly known today as The Night Before Christmas, for nearly half a century. Her extensive collection has been donated to the Special Collections Research Center of William and Mary’s Earl Gregg Swem Library. 

Ms. Marshall has a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University and her M.A.L.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retirement in 1997 provided the impetus and opportunity to realize a lifelong dream to publish a history of Moore’s poem. She began intensive research and writing of this scholarly bibliography, but soon realized that she wanted to make it equally appealing and attractive for the general reader. 

As Connie Kearns McCarthy, Dean of University Libraries at The College of William and Mary, wrote in her Foreword to the book: Nancy Marshall has captured the sense of enchantment and the thrill of the chase in her scholarly bibliography. The sense of enchantment comes through in the recounting of the history of the tale as well as the story of her personal involvement and study of Clement Moore and the publishing history. The thrill of the chase has been a part of her life for forty-five years. Any collector knows the thrill of being immersed (Nancy did use the term “obsessed”) in a subject that leads to new adventures and new quests for materials that must be added to the ever growing collection. 

In terms of building her collection, Nancy had this to say: As time passed, it became apparent to me that I would need to devote much more of my time, talent and treasure if I were going to build my collection into the comprehensive one I envisioned. As a result, my collection is now approaching one thousand editions and other items relating to the poem. Gradually, I began to realize that it was, perhaps, one of the largest collections held in private hands, and that someday it would be incumbent upon me to compile a bibliography as my contribution to the scholarly record. This, then, is what you have in hand – a labor of love built upon a lifetime of collecting.

She thoroughly enjoyed the last years of her life with her husband on the Maine coast near Portland. Nancy’s love of this poem, holiday gift giving & decorations, as well as the spirit of Christmas will continue on with her children, grandchildren and those who had the privilege of knowing and meeting her during this journey.