Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The HoardersMaterial Deviance in Modern American Culture$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Scott Herring

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226171685

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226171852.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

Collyer Curiosa

Collyer Curiosa

(p.19) 1 Collyer Curiosa
The Hoarders

Scott Herring

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the role that Collyer Brothers syndrome played in hoarding’s historical formation. This cultural history of Homer Collyer and Langley Collyer surveys sensational reports regarding two of the most famous hoarders in modern America. It argues that representations of the Collyers facilitated a cultural shift in hoarding as a curious abnormality. Descriptions of these two eccentrics in newspaper articles after their deaths in 1947 treated their disorderly mansion in Harlem and their belongings as a freak show. Magazines and novels supported this image of these men as pathological hoarders, and they influenced the concept of hoarding as a form of chronic disorganization. Exploring how these early accounts of hoarding also connected to depictions of Harlem and its residents, the chapter finds that reports on individuals treated as insane hoarders were influenced by social anxieties over urban social disorder.

Keywords:   hoarding, mental illness, Homer Collyer, Langley Collyer, disorganization, freak show, eccentrics, Harlem

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.