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Arthur S. Dayton, Correspondence and Catalogs regarding Purchase of Rare Books

Collection Number: A&M 1723

Scope and Contents

Correspondence of Arthur Spencer Dayton (1887-1948), prominent Charleston lawyer and avid book collector. The majority of the correspondence is with American and English book dealers and concerns Dayton’s purchase of rare books including Shakespeare’s four folios as well as other rare Shakespeare volumes; a comprehensive collection of Mark Twain rare editions; Jane Austen rare materials; the 15th century biblical text The Nuremburg Chronicle; and many more rare volumes. Dayton’s collection of rare books forms the basis of the West Virginia and Regional History Center’s Rare Books Collection. Most correspondence takes the form of copies of business letters, but also includes personal letters to friends and colleagues. The personal letters concern Dayton’s view on current politics and the law, health matters, philanthropy, religion, and legal decisions. The content of the boxes of correspondence is as follows: Box 1, ca. 1898-1960; Box 2, 1937-1940; Box 3, 1941-1945; Box 4, 1946-1948; and Box 5, 1949-1952, and undated. The correspondence in Box 5 is mostly from Dayton’s wife, Ruth, regarding insuring art and rare materials, as well as the donations of art and rare materials through her charity.

Addendum of 2018 January, Box 5, folders 3 and 4, includes clippings, printed material, manuscript notes, correspondence, etc. found within the books donated by Arthur Dayton to the Center's Rare Books Collection. Many of the items seem to relate to the books and/or their acquisition, and most are in enclosures that show the call number of the related book. Also includes transcription, scans, and notes (ca. 2007) regarding three letters that were found in the book collection, two from Samuel Clemens and one from Brander Matthews.

A detailed paper guide to this collection can be found in the control folder for A&M 0052. An electronic copy of the same guide is available through a curator at the History Center.


  • Creation: ca. 1898-2007
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1923-1959


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please see the Permissions and Copyright page on the West Virginia and Regional History Center website.

Biographical / Historical

Arthur S. Dayton (1887-1948) was a prominent Charleston, West Virginia, lawyer and an avid book collector. He was born in Philippi, West Virginia, into a long line of lawyers. He was the son of Judge Alston Gordon Dayton who became a lawyer through an apprenticeship with his father, Spencer Dayton. Arthur’s mother, Columbia May Sinsel, was also born into a family of lawyers including her father and brothers. Arthur Dayton received an A.B. degree from West Virginia University in 1907 and a L.L.B. from West Virginia University’s College of Law in 1908. After receiving a master’s degree in English from Yale University in 1909, he returned to Philippi to practice law until 1923. He then moved to Charleston to become a member of the law firm of Poffenbarger, Blue, and Dayton, 1923-1927; Blue, Dayton, and Campbell, 1928-1945; and Dayton, Campbell, and Love, 1945-1948. At the time of his death, Dayton was still in practice with Harry V. Love and Charles M. Love, Jr. He was a member of the Kanawha County Public Library Board, the Charleston Bar Association, the West Virginia State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, Delta Tau Delta, Phi Alpha Delta, and the Presbyterian Church. Following Dayton’s death, his wife, Ruth Woods Dayton, donated his rare book collection to the WVU Libraries and his personal law library to the WVU College of Law where they have honored him by creating The Arthur S. Dayton Professorship. The books donated to the Libraries are now in the West Virginia and Regional History Center and form the core of the Rare Books Collection.


2.1 Linear Feet (Summary: 2 ft. 1 in. (5 document cases, 5 in. each))

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL:

Related A&M Collections

52, 206, 211, 215, 530, 741, 1066, 1111, 1216, 1445, 1723, 3022, 3023


Arthur S. Dayton, Correspondence and Catalogs regarding Purchase of Rare Books
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Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US