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Finding Aid for the Carey McWilliams Correspondence, 1924-1975 (bulk 1924-1950)
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Collection Details
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  • Processing History
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Oral History

  • Title: Carey McWilliams correspondence
    Collection number: 1356
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 1 linear ft. (2 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1924-1975 (bulk 1924-1950)
    Abstract: Carey McWilliams (1905-1980) was a writer, lawyer, journalist, lecturer, activist, as well as Chief of the California Division of Immigration and Housing (1938-1942) and editor of The Nation (1955-1975). This collection contains correspondence, primarily letters written to McWilliams.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Creator: McWilliams, Carey, 1905-

    Processing History

    Collection 1356 was donated to the Library in 2004 by McWilliams's son, Wilson Carey McWilliams. At the time of accessioning, the papers were organized in an approximate alphabetical order. In 2006, Andrea Eitsert rehoused the materials and created a folder-level inventory of the items to facilitate enhanced access to materials and to generate a finding aid.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Carey McWilliams Correspondence (Collection 1356). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 5390623 

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Wilson Carey McWilliams, June 2004.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Correspondence.


    Carey McWilliams was born December 13, 1905 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He completed his Juris Doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1927. From 1927-1938, McWilliams was an attorney at the law firm Black, Hammack in Los Angeles. In 1938, he was appointed as Chief of the Division of Immigration and Housing of the State of California, a position he kept until 1942. During the period from 1945-1955, he began his long association with The Nation, becoming successively contributing editor, associate editor, and then editorial director. From 1955-1975, he was The Nation's editor. In addition to his editorial duties, McWilliams was a prolific lecturer and writer, speaking on many subjects and contributing articles and essays to numerous publications. After his retirement from The Nation, he continued to write a regular column for that publication. His monographs include Ambrose Bierce, a biography (1929); Louis Adamic and shadow America (1935); Factories in the field: the story of migratory farm labor in California (1939); Ill fares the land: migrants and migratory labor in the United States (1942); Brothers under the skin (1943); Prejudice: Japanese-Americans, symbol of racial intolerance (1944); Southern California country: an island on the land (1946); A mask for privilege: anti-Semitism in America (1948); North from Mexico: the Spanish-speaking people of the United States (1949); California: the great exception (1949); Witch hunt: the revival of heresy (1950); and his autobiography The education of Carey McWilliams (1979). In the late 1970s, McWilliams was briefly a Regents Lecturer at the University of California Riverside and then taught one quarter at the University of California Los Angeles in the History Department. He died of cancer at the age of 74 on June 27, 1980 in New York, New York.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains Carey McWilliams's correspondence, primarily letters that were written to him. Many of the letters are from writers mentioning reviews or articles he composed about their work. Some of them discuss future writings or McWilliams's work on topics such as Ambrose Bierce, Louis Adamic, George Sterling, and western regionalism. The collection also contains fan mail, letters addressing McWilliams's research or political causes, some of McWilliams's responses, and assorted supporting materials.

    Related Oral History

    The following oral history is available through the UCLA Library Center for Oral History Research:

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    McWilliams, Carey, 1905- --Archives.
    Authors, American--20th century--Archival resources.
    Periodical editors--United States--Archival resources.