Harry Elkins Widener was a 1907 graduate of Harvard University, who tragically died the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Harry’s mother, Eleanor Widener, donated a large amount of money to the university following her son’s death for the construction of the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, more commonly known as Widener Library.
Legend has it that H. E. Widener had an extensive collection of pornography, and that this collection has been stored away in the deepest vaults of Widener library, inaccessible, alongside famous texts like a copy of the Gutenberg Bible.
Joseph heard this legend as an undergraduate student at Harvard University. This particular legend is rarely heard outside of the university student body, probably because it is hardly the sort of knowledge any of Harry’s relatives would want to be spread around. Also, students harboring some resentment toward the library (and all the work they must do there) might find a release in mocking it’s namesake in such a way.