Guide to the Robinson Jeffers / Frank H. Armstrong Collection

Processed by Special Collections staff
Department of Special Collections
Davidson Library
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone: (805) 893-3062
Fax: (805) 893-5749
© 2003
Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Robinson Jeffers / Frank H. Armstrong Collection, 1926-1980

Collection number: Mss 53

Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara

Contact Information:

  • Department of Special Collections
  • Davidson Library
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara, CA 93106
  • Phone: (805) 893-3062
  • Fax: (805) 893-5749
  • Email:
  • URL:
    Processed by:
    Special Collections staff
    Date Completed:
    04 March 2003
    Encoded by:
    David C. Gartrell
© 2003 Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Robinson Jeffers / Frank H. Armstrong Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1926-1980
Collection number: Mss 53
Creator: Jeffers, Robinson, 1887-1962
Extent: 1.5 linear feet (2 oversize boxes and 1 record container)
Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
Physical location: Boxes 1-2 (Del Sur Oversize); Box 3 (Annex 2)
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions


Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

Preferred Citation

Robinson Jeffers / Frank H. Armstrong Collection. Mss 53. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Acquisition Information

Donation in memory of Frank H. Armstrong by his sister, Jean (Mrs. Edwin) Corle, and his mother, Mrs. Horace Armstrong, ca. 1971-1972. Subsequent additions by donation and purchase, to ca. 1980.


The poet Robinson Jeffers was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1887. His father, a Presbyterian minister, saw to it that the young Jeffers received a classical education, tutoring him in Greek and Latin at an early age. The family spent a good deal of time in Europe as well, and Jeffers attended several boarding schools in France and Switzerland. In 1903, the family settled in Los Angeles, California, where Jeffers would soon graduate from Occidental College. In school, Jeffers began submitting his poems to student publications, and would continue to do so after entering graduate school at the University of Southern California. After a year of studying literature, however, he returned to Switzerland to study philosophy at the University of Zurich.
Around this time, Jeffers met Una Kuster, a woman three years older and married to a prominent Los Angeles attorney. As their friendship deepened over the next few years, they would discover intellectual and emotional connections that led them to fall in love. Jeffers returned from Zurich to enter medical school at USC. He soon dropped out and enrolled in the forestry program at the University of Washington in Seattle. After a year, however, he abandoned this course as well and returned to Los Angeles and Una. Throughout, he had continued to write poetry, mainly derivative love poems to Una that he had privately printed in 1911 under the title Flagons and Apples. Finally, in 1913, Una was divorced from her husband and immediately married Jeffers. They moved to Carmel and started a family.
Robinson Jeffers' first commercially published work, Californians, came in 1916, but his reputation did not begin to develop until he found his true voice in Tamar and Other Poems (1924). Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Jeffers' reputation grew as he explored the philosophy he termed "Inhumanism," which held that humanity needed to recognize that it held little significance compared with the beauty of the universe. He began to fall from favor during World War II, and his career was in decline when Una died of cancer in 1950. Jeffers remained at "Tor House," the rugged retreat on the California coast they had lived at for more than thirty years, until his death in 1962.
Frank H. Armstrong began to collect the works of Robinson Jeffers in 1930, when he was a sophomore at Yale, and within a decade had acquired most of what was available to the public. Hoping to find rare books or manuscript materials, he opened a correspondence with Una Jeffers in 1943. Born in 1910 in Winnetka, Illinois, Frank was the son of Horace Armstrong, chairman of the board of the giant Chicago canned goods corporation Reid-Murdock & Company. After graduating from Yale and attending the Sorbonne in Paris, Frank Armstrong received a law degree from Michigan Law School in 1936. He then moved to Los Angeles to work as an attorney for the firm of Mitchell, Silberberg, Roth & Knupp. After the United States entered World War II, Armstrong worked as a civilian assistant to the Army in Washington D.C., before moving back to Winnetka. Later, he returned to California, and settled in Palm Springs with his family. His mother moved to Santa Barbara, as did his sister Jean when she married book collector and author Edwin Corle. When he died in 1969, Frank Armstrong was buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery, and his mother and sister donated his Robinson Jeffers collection to UCSB.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection contains three portfolios, with correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, magazines, and various pieces of ephemera related to Robinson Jeffers, such as announcements, broadsides, flyers, and handbills, as well as three large matted photographic portraits. The bulk of the correspondence is between Una Jeffers and Frank Armstrong. Also included is a bust of Jeffers by Gordon Newell, an admirer and friend of Jeffers.
Signed, first editions by Jeffers, some also donated by Jean (Mrs. Edwin) Corle, have been cataloged separately and may be searched on Pegasus, the UCSB University Libraries online catalog. Included is a limited edition (no. 6 of 15) bibliography printed in 1933 by the Walpole Printing House. There also are fine press items such as Apology for Bad Dreams, printed on a hand press by Ward Ritchie in Paris, 1930, in a limited edition of only 30 copies.

Related Materials


Dame Judith Anderson Collection (PA Mss 6), with material on Jeffers' translation of Medea, which he wrote specifically for the actress.

At other institutions:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin.

Collection Contents


Series 1.  Scrapbooks/Portfolios

Box 1: 1

Blue Scrapbook

Abstract: [ Mainly correspondence, arranged chronologically]

Aug. 18, 1931. 1 ALS, Robinson Jeffers to Mr. Smith, his publisher's editor, referring to work soon to be published (Descent to the Dead).


Apr. 5, 1938. 1 ALS, Ward Ritchie to Frank Armstrong, describing "The Apology for Bad Dreams."


May 9, 1939. 1 TLS, Lawrence Clark Powell to Jake Zeitlin, discussing Jeffers' poems "The Cloud" and "Pelicans."


July 3, 1943. 1 TL, Ben Abramson, Argus Book Shop, to Una Jeffers regarding a copy of House-Dog's Grave for Frank Armstrong, Winnetka, Illinois.


July 16, 1943. 1 ALS, Una Jeffers to Mr. Abramson, offering "Rock and Hawk" and "One Sundown" ["Winter Sundown"] for a friend.

Abstract: [Gives the history of "Rock and Hawk." Makes an offer of seven other items. The poet is writing; she doesn't know what. Remarks on the troubled times and his difficulty in writing steadily.]

July 31, 1943. 1 TL, Frank Armstrong to Una Jeffers, suggesting a price for the offered books.


Aug. 4, 1943. 1 ALS, Una Jeffers to Frank Armstrong, commenting on manuscript of "Winter Sundown" poem.Going to San Francisco for the first time in nine months (before went "at least once a month").


Aug. 10, 1943. 1 TL, [Frank Armstrong] to Una Jeffers, acknowledging receipt of "Rock and Hawk" and asking for "October Weekend." Remarks on bust of Jeffers by Archie Garner.


Aug. 13, 1943. 1 ALS, Una Jeffers to Frank Armstrong, regarding sale of further items.

Abstract: [Mentions a "box of things" upstairs. Maurice Evans has called Garth in the Pacific for Judith Anderson. Melba Bennett, biographer, has a house nearby for month; Jeffers disinterested. Una traces family back to 1636. Prefers careful, if colorless record, for biography.]

Aug. 30, 1943. [Frank Armstrong] to Una Jeffers, commenting on Jeffers items, support for biography, and trip to Ireland where he visited Cuala press and met Yeats' sister.


Sept. 10, 1943. 1 ALS, Una Jeffers to Frank Armstrong, writing of trip to Irelan

Abstract: [No manuscripts available at present. RJ keeps manuscripts of books intact. Whitney has RS, WPS, C, DJ, and TL through Ruder, a New York bookseller. They still have Solstice (151 pages), Such Counsels, and Be Angry at the Sun, valued at $500 each. Cruel Falcon and Distant Rainfall lent to exhibit and stolen. Give Your Heart misplaced. Two blimps constantly over today. Landing boats practicing in front of Tor House.]

[1943]. 1 TLS, Frank Armstrong to Una Jeffers, referring to Jeffers books he received from her.

Abstract: [Says he started collecting husband's books in 1930, when he was a college sophomore. Will send a portrait (side view) of the Jeffers bust by Archie Garner.]

5 b/w photographs


Birthplace of Robinson Jeffers, Ridge Ave., Allegheny, n.d.; Group photo with Jeffers, Una, Donann, and Judith Anderson, n.d.


Jeffers next to Davidson bronze bust, n.d.


With Una in boat, Co. Mayo, Ireland, 1937


Yeats' tower, Co. Galway, Ireland, July 1937.


1 newsclipping "Columbia to Film Two Jeffers Poems," namely "Roan Stallion" and "Thurso's Landing." N.p., n.d.

Box 1: 2

Red Portfolio

Abstract: [Various ephemera relating to Jeffers, arranged chronologically]

Announcement in Southern California Daily Trojan (USC) that Robinson Jeffers to be present at the Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremonies, Apr. 25, 1940


Material laid in Jeffers books (mainly clippings of reviews), 1940-1948


Tower Beyond Tragedy - Handbill for production starring Judith Anderson, at the Forest Theatre, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, July 2-5, [1941]


Lonely Eminence - Review of Be Angry at the Sun and Other Poems, in Saturday Review, Apr. 25, 1942


Rock and Hound (holographic poem, with inscription: - Copied for Frank H. Armstrong - Sincerely, Robinson Jeffers. Tor House, Carmel, California, September 2, 1943


Lime Kiln Press - Prospectus for Tragedy Has Obligations, [1973]


First Day Issue envelope and stamp - "American Poet Series, Robinson Jeffers, 1882-1962," stamped Aug. 13, 1973


First Day Issue envelope and stamp - "American Arts Series, Honoring Robinson Jeffers," stamped Jan. 31, 1975


Beilke, Marlan - Shining Clarity: God and Man in the Works of Robinson Jeffers (prospectus), [1977]


The Condor - Broadside (reproduction of Jeffers poem first appearing in the June 9, 1904 edition of The Youth's Companion), 1977


Tor House (flyer), ca. 1978


Ward Ritchie and Robinson Jeffers

Abstract: [A printed Ward Ritchie checklist, works by and about Robinson Jeffers, on the occasion of a lecture by Ward Ritchie at California State University, Long Beach, April 23, 1979, noting that all of these publication are in the Robinson Jeffers Collection at California State University, Long Beach Library, Department of Special Collections. 15 "Tor House: Lines from Robinson Jeffers" - Flyer for film by James Eddy Hatch, spoken by Burgess Meredith, [1980]]
Box 1: 3

Green Portfolio

Abstract: [Mainly whole issues of magazines and newspapers in which Jeffers items appeared, arranged chronologically]

Jeffers, Robinson - "Noon" (poem), The New Republic, July 21, 1926


Harrowed Marrow (cover story, review of Jeffers' book Thurso's Landing), Time, April 4, 1931


Robinson Jeffers Honored by College from which He Graduated 30 Years Ago (article on commemoration at Occidental College), The Carmel Pine Cone, May 3, 1935


Masters, Marcia - "From the hands of World-Famed Poet" (cover story on Jeffers and Tor House), Los Angeles Times, Sunday Home Magazine, Feb. 2, 1947


Older, Mrs. Fremont - "He Built Her a Tower" (article on Jeffers and his wife Una), American Weekly, February 25, 1951


look only: seclusion (article on Jeffers and Tor House), Los Angeles Times, Sunday Home Section, July 20, 1958


Series 2.  Oversize

Box 2: 1

1 b/w photograph of Robinson Jeffers (inscription on back to Dame Judith Anderson, from Cole Weston; notes negative by Edward Weston and print by Cole Weston), 1933

Box 2: 2

2 b/w photographs of Robinson Jeffers, by Leigh A. Wiener (gift of Dame Judith Anderson)

Box 3

Bust of Robinson Jeffers, by Gordon Newell, n.d.