Jean Paton vs. William L. Pierce and the Battle of Book Titles


In the spring of 1991, Jean Paton issued a book prospectus under the title “The Encyclopedia of Adoption.” An unfortunate coincidence, however, discouraged her from immediately pursuing the project. She received a flyer from the publisher Facts On File announcing the publication of a book with the identical title by William L. Pierce, president of the National Committee for Adoption, an organization opposed to opening adoption records and Christine Adamec, a free-lance writer. A decade earlier, Paton had described Pierce as “a rather horrid person,” a lobbyist for a Texas-financed group who was “running around the country introducing very repressive [adoption] legislation.” She fired off a letter to Facts On File, denying its publicity blurb that the book “fills a void,” and complained that the book “uses my title to present a very limited and biased view of the subject.” Even in anger, Paton could not suppress her puckish wit. She concluded her letter by stating that she regretted the publication of a book by Pierce under any title, “but especially so under a title I had already announced. But I am sure he cares not a tittle.”


About E. Wayne Carp

I am the Benson Family Chair in History and Professor of History at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. To read more about me, please visit my website,

Posted on February 15, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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