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Identifier: R-MC 086

Angus K. Gillespie Papers


  • 1979-2002

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection contains material pertaining to two of Angus Gillespie's book's, Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike and Twin Towers: The Life of New Yok City's Twin Towers. The Looking for America materials include notes, clippings used for research, and multiple drafts of the chapers. Twin Towers material also includes research and writing materials, along with material gathered by Gillespie after September 11, 2001. The folders document Gillespie's writing process, which involves outlines and multiple drafts, and also demonstrate his efforts to promote his books.

Both books delve into the iconographic natures of the physical entities that serve as their subjects and their transformation into the symbolic. The materials in this collection demonstrate the extensive research Gillespie undertook regarding the physical structures, their portrayal, and how people regarded them.


12 Linear Feet (22 manuscript boxes, 1 box of cassette tapes, 1 oversize box, 1 newspaper box)

Language of Materials



Angus Gillespie is an American Studies professor at Rutgers University. He is a folklorist who focuses mainly on myths and legends of the United States. The series in this collection so far contain records related to two of his books: Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike (1989) co-authored with Rutgers University professor Michael Rockland, and Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center (1999). Included in this collection are materials about the destruction of the towers on September 11, 2001. Gillespie added another chapter addressing September 11 in the book's second edition (2002).

<emph render="bold">Biographical Sketch</emph>

Angus Gillespie was born in 1944 and spent his youth in rural Virginia. He graduated from Yale University in 1964 with a BA in American Studies and received a Doctorate in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975. At Rutgers, from 1973 to 1975, he was an instructor of American Studies. Subsequently he was an assistant professor from 1975 to 1981, an associate professor from 1981 to 2000 and a full professor from 2000 to the present. Gillespie continues to teach American Studies at Rutgers. He currently resides in New Brunswick, NJ with his wife, Rowena Cosico Gillespie with whom he has two sons, Neil and Tristan.

Gillespie founded the New Jersey Folk Festival in 1975 and still serves as executive director. The yearly festival is held the last Saturday of April on the Douglass College Campus of Rutgers. The festival is organized around a theme that highlights various traditional, indigenous cultures. An estimated 15,000 people attend the festival each year. For more information, see the festival website and/or New Jersey Folk Festival collection finding aid.

Gillespie is the author of three books and has contributed to or edited others. His first published book in 1980 is titled Folklorist of the Coal Fields, The Life and Work of George Korson, based upon his doctoral thesis for the University of Pennsylvania. His second book, the subject of Series I in this collection, is Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike, co-authored with Rutgers professor Michael Rockland. He is also the author of the best selling non-fiction work Twin Towers, The Life of the New York City's World Trade Center. The book was first published in 1999 and re-released following September 11, 2001 when it then became a best seller.

Gillespie has also contributed to and edited works on folklore, regional culture, and foodways. He has won many awards and honors including two Fulbright scholarhips and the The New Jersey Folk Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. More information about Gillespie and his accomplishments is available from his website.


The Gillespie materials are arranged into two series based on order of publication.

  1. I. Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike
  2. II. Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center

Processing Information

The collection was delivered to the archives in multiple accessions and thus processed at different times as the focus of student projects. In the case of Looking for America, the materials from the accessions have been integrated although they can be told apart due to the use of different numbering systems for the chapters (Roman or Arabic). Occasionally, two folders are labeled as having the same draft version number for a chapter. Comparing the versions and edits inside may help determine which draft preceded which. In the case of Twin Towers, a later accession containing post September 11, 2001, materials (some of which noted the surge in sales in Gillespie's book, others documenting the day and reactions to its events) also contained material for the first edition of the book. Due to the history-making events of September 11, the series is divided into pre and post-September 11 materials.

Special Collections and University Archives has received other materials from Gillespie that will be included in this collection and added to the finding aid once processed.

Guide to the Angus K. Gillespie Papers, 1979-2002 R-MC 086
Full Edited Draft
Kate Harto, Tara Kelley, and Valerie Addonizio
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English

Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository

Rutgers University Libraries
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
169 College Avenue
New Brunswick NJ 08901-1163
732-932-7012 (Fax)