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Heinlein (Robert A. and Virginia G.) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Use Restrictions
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Alternative Form of Material Available
  • Robert A. Heinlein, 1907-1988
  • Virginia G. Heinlein, 1916-2003
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Separated Material
  • Processing Information
  • Related Collections
  • Additional collection guides

  • Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
    Title: Robert A. and Virginia G. Heinlein papers
    Creator: Heinlein, Robert A. (Robert Anson), 1907-1988
    Creator: Heinlein, Virginia
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.095
    Physical Description: 175 Linear Feet 366 boxes, 2 oversize folders, 3 oversize items
    Physical Description: .016 GB 795 digital files
    Date (inclusive): 1907-2004
    Abstract: The collection documents the professional and personal lives of science fiction author Robert Heinlein and his wife, Virginia Heinlein. Materials in the collection include manuscripts, short stories, articles, book reviews, screen plays, television and radio programs, personal and professional correspondence, legal and financial papers, illustrations, photographs, slides, scrapbooks, yearbooks, memorabilia, and realia.
    Physical Location: Stored offsite: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
    Language of Material: English


    Collection open for research.

    Use Restrictions

    Copyright for the items in this collection is owned by the creators and their heirs. Reproduction or distribution of any work protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the copyright owner. It is the responsibility of the user to determine whether a use is fair use, and to obtain any necessary permissions. For more information see UCSC Special Collections and Archives policy on Reproduction and Use.

    Preferred Citation

    Robert A. and Virginia G. Heinlein papers. MS 95. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Robert and Virginia Heinlein in 1967, 1972, 1985, 2004.

    Alternative Form of Material Available

    The digitized archive of this collection can be found at the following website.
    1. Title: Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Archives: A cooperative project between The Heinlein Prize Trust and the UC Santa Cruz Special Collections and Archives.

    Robert A. Heinlein, 1907-1988

    Robert Anson Heinlein was born July 7, 1907, in Butler, Missouri and died May 8, 1988, in Carmel, California. Son of Rex Ivar, an accountant and Bam Lyle Heinlein, he was the third of seven children. He married Elinor Curry in 1929 but they divorced in 1931. His second marriage to Leslyn McDonald lasted from 1932 until their divorce in 1947. He married his third wife, Virginia Doris Gerstenfeld, on October 21, 1948 and stayed with her until his death in 1988. None of the marriages produced any children.
    Robert attended University of Missouri in 1925 and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, graduating in 1929. He completed his graduate studies in physics and mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1934.
    In 1929, Heinlein was commissioned as an ensign by the U. S. Navy, became lieutenant, junior grade serving aboard the aircraft carrier Lexington before becoming gunnery officer on the destroyer Roper. He suffered from seasickness and eventually contracted tuberculosis, which caused him to be retired from active duty in 1934 on a small pension. After the Navy, Heinlein worked at a variety of jobs besides writing. He was owner of Shively & Sophie Lodes silver mine, Silver Plume, Colorado from 1934-35, ran as a candidate for California State Assembly in 1938, and worked as a real estate agent during the 1930s. He also worked as an aviation engineer at Naval Air Experimental Station, Philadelphia, 1942-45, was a guest commentator during Apollo 11 lunar landing for Columbia Broadcasting System in 1969, and delivered the James V. Forrestal Lecture at the U.S. Naval Academy, in 1973.
    His writing career spanned almost five decades, from 1939-1988. After working as an engineer during World War II, Heinlein returned to writing short stories and juvenile fiction in the late 1940s. It was during this time that he moved from the genre magazines in which he had made his reputation to more mainstream periodicals, particularly the Saturday Evening Post. About his career with the pulp magazines, Heinlein noted, "They didn't want it good. They wanted it Wednesday." (Pace, 1980).
    As Joseph Patrouch wrote, "Heinlein was the first major science-fiction writer to break out of category and reach the larger general-fiction market, and therefore he was the first to start breaking down the walls that had isolated science fiction for so long." In a poll taken by Astounding Science Fiction magazine in 1953, eighteen top science fiction writers of the time cited Heinlein as the major influence on their work. His fictional writings repeatedly anticipated scientific and technological advances (Pace, 1988), from atomic power plants to water-beds.
    In 1959 Heinlein published the first of what became a string of controversial novels. Starship Troopers, 1959, speculated on future societal changes, postulating a world run by military veterans. It spawned a deluge of controversy among his fans, and yet Starship Troopers is still one of Heinlein's most popular novels. It won a Hugo Award and has remained in print for more than three decades.
    Heinlein followed Starship Troopers with Stranger in a Strange Land , which tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a Martian with paranormal cognition, who establishes a religious movement on Earth. Members of his 'Church of All Worlds' practice group sex and live in small communes. Stranger in a Strange Land is perhaps Heinlein's best-known work. It has sold over three million copies, won a Hugo Award, created an intense cult following, and even inspired a real-life Church of All Worlds, founded by some devoted readers of the book.
    In subsequent novels Heinlein continued to speculate on social changes of the future, dealing with such controversial subjects as group marriage and incest. In The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress , lunar colonists practice a variety of marriage forms because of the shortage of women on the moon. In, I Will Fear No Evil, an elderly, dying businessman has his brain transplanted into the body of a young woman. He then impregnates himself with his own sperm, previously stored in a sperm bank. Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long explores varieties of future incest through the immortal character Lazarus Long.
    In the novel Friday, published in 1982, and later in Job: A Comedy of Justice and The Cat Who Walks through Walls: A Comedy of Manners, Heinlein tempered his social speculations by combining serious subject matter with rollicking interplanetary adventure.
    In the 1950s, Heinlein entered the field of television and motion pictures. His novel Space Cadet was adapted as the television program, Tom Corbett: Space Cadet . He wrote the screenplay and served as technical advisor for the film Destination Moon, described by Peter R. Weston of Speculation magazine as "the first serious and commercially successful space flight film" which "helped to pave the way" for the Apollo space program of the 1960s. Heinlein also wrote an original television pilot, "Ring around the Moon," which was expanded without his approval by Jack Seaman into the screenplay for the film Project Moonbase . The 1956 movie The Brain Eaters, was based on Heinlein's The Puppet Masters, also without his knowledge or approval, and in an out-of-court settlement, Heinlein received compensation and the right to demand that certain material be removed from the film.
    In 1994, Red Planet was made into a mini TV series, and The Puppet Masters was released starring Donald Sutherland. Starship Troopers, released in 1997, became his most notable film adaptation.
    1. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    2. Authors Guild of America
    3. U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association
    4. Retired Officers Association
    5. Navy League
    6. Association of the U.S. Army
    7. Air Force Association
    8. World Future Society
    9. U.S. Naval Institute
    10. Minutemen of U.S.S. Lexington
    11. California Arts Society
    12. National Rare Blood (donors) Club
    13. American Association of Blood Banks
    1. Guest of Honor, World Science Fiction Convention, 1941, 1961, and 1976
    2. Hugo Award, World Science Fiction Convention, 1956, for Double Star
    3. Hugo Award, World Science Fiction Convention, 1960, for Starship Troopers
    4. Hugo Award, World Science Fiction Convention, 1962, for Stranger in a Strange Land
    5. Hugo Award, World Science Fiction Convention, 1967, for The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
    6. Boys' Clubs of America Book Award, 1959
    7. Sequoyah Children's Book Award of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Library Association, 1961, for Have Space Suit--Will Travel
    8. Locus, magazine readers' poll, Best All-time Author, 1973 and 1975
    9. National Rare Blood Club Humanitarian Award, 1974
    10. Nebula Award, Grand Master, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, 1975
    11. Council of Community Blood Centers Award, 1977
    12. American Association of Blood Banks Award, 1977
    13. Inkpot Award, 1977
    14. Doctor of Human Letters (L.H.D.), Eastern Michigan University, 1977
    15. Distinguished Public Service Medal, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 1988 (posthumously awarded), "in recognition of his meritorious service to the nation and mankind in advocating and promoting the exploration of space"
    16. The Rhysling Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association is named after the character in Heinlein's story, The Green Hills of Earth
    17. Tomorrow Starts Here Award, Delta Vee Society
    1. Olander, Joseph D., and Martin Harry Greenberg, eds. "Robert A. Heinlein." New York: Taplinger, 1978.
    2. Pace, Eric. "Robert A. Heinlein is Dead at 80; Renowned Science Fiction Writer." New York Times. May 10, 1988 p.D26.
    3. "Robert A. Heinlein." Contemporary Authors Online. Literature Resource Center. Gale, 2004.
    4. Robert A. Heinlein. Internet Movie Database. 2007.
    5. Samuelson, David N. "Stranger in the Sixties: Model or Mirror?" Critical Encounters: Writers and Themes in Science Fiction, edited by Dick Riley. New York: Ungar, 1978.
    6. Slusser, George Edgar. "The Classic Years of Robert A. Heinlein." San Bernadino, CA.: Borgo Press, 1977.

    Virginia G. Heinlein, 1916-2003

    Virginia G. Heinlein was born on April 22, 1916 in Brooklyn, New York, to George (a dentist) and Jeanne Gerstenfeld and had one younger brother, Leon. She died in Florida on January 18, 2003. Virginia attended New York University, majoring in chemistry where she lettered in swimming, diving, basketball, and field hockey. She also reached national competitive levels in figure skating, the sport that became her lifelong passion. In time, she came to speak over seven languages, including French, Latin, Italian, and Russian.
    After graduating in 1937, Ginny worked for Quality Bakers as a chemist until 1943 when she enlisted in the Navy during World War II. She advanced to lieutenant in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES). She served first at the Bureau of Aeronautics, where she met Robert Heinlein in 1944 while both were working at the Naval Air Experimental Station in Philadelphia. She then served as his assistant on several classified development projects as chemist and aviation test engineer. After World War II, she came to Los Angeles to study for an unfinished doctorate in biochemistry at UCLA.
    Virginia married Robert Heinlein in Raton, New Mexico in October 1948. Ginny, as she preferred to be called, became his closest companion, critic, editor, and staunch supporter. She was also his muse and model for many of the savvy, brainy, redheaded female protagonists in Heinlein's oeuvre.
    Robert and Ginny were a formidable team. She fielded and co-coordinated much of his correspondence, and graciously received guests and fans in public appearances and in their home. She worked tirelessly with him on blood drives held at science fiction conventions around the country. Ginny was strong-willed and generous, and totally devoted to Robert. She nursed Robert through two life-threatening illnesses, spending years involved in every facet of his business and social life. Robert credited Ginny for the conception of Stranger in a Strange Land . When their health was robust, the Heinleins traveled extensively; their adventures around the world resulted in the travel memoir, Tramp Royale which Ginny published after his death. There is also evidence to suggest that Ginny also functioned as a political catalyst for the socially liberal Heinlein. Very shortly after their marriage, Robert's change in ideology from liberal to libertarian becomes apparent in his correspondence and his stories.
    After Robert Heinlein's death in 1988 Ginny moved to Florida where she continued her interests in gardening, cooking, reading, and politics. She gathered a selection of her husband's letters in Grumbles from the Grave, printed for the first time his travel memoir Tramp Royale and political handbook Take Back Your Government (originally titled How to Be a Politician), and oversaw the restoration of several texts she felt had been badly edited, including Red Planet , Puppet Masters, and Stranger in a Strange Land . In her later years she was active in an online listserv where she communicated with fans about her husband's work.
    To futher her husband's legacy, she endowed the Robert Anson Heinlein Chair in Aerospace Engineering, at Annapolis, with a gift of over $2.6 million and helped found 'The Heinlein Society', an educational charity dedicated to the Heinlein legacy. She also endowed the public library in Robert Heinlein's birthplace of Butler, Missouri.
    Elaine Woo wrote in her 2003 Los Angeles Times obituary that Greg Bear, a science fiction writer who knew the Heinleins, said he had met women who were inspired to become scientists by Robert's stories. "And Robert," Bear said, "was inspired by Ginny. Ginny was their original."
    1. Drum, Kevin. "Virginia Heinlein." Washington Monthly v.35:1 Jan/Feb 2003
    2. James, Robert. "Virginia Heinlein, a Biography." The Heinlein Society (1999)
    3. Woo, Elaine. "Virginia Heinlein, 86; Wife, Muse and Literary Guardian of Celebrated Science Fiction Writer" Los Angeles Times Jan. 26, 2003. p. B14

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection documents the professional and personal lives of science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein and his wife, Virginia G. Heinlein. Series I-II in the collection include Heinlein's manuscripts, short stories, articles, book reviews, screen plays, television and radio programs, personal and professional correspondence, publishers' papers, illustrations, photographs, slides, scrapbooks, memorabilia, and realia.
    In the published manuscripts, short stories and reviews, Robert Heinlein's work centers on space adventure and future human endeavor, especially the challenge of the individual against the institution.
    Galvanized by war and United States political policy, Heinlein drew on World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, science and technology, and the social revolutions of the 1960's and 1970's. His passions are documented in his professional and personal correspondence: research into rare blood groups, bomb shelter construction, human freedom, the right to bear arms, libertarian politics, and the exploration of space.
    Of special interest in the manuscript series, besides the manuscripts themselves, are the research notes and articles, mathematical calculations, formulas, diagrams, and drawings that Heinlein used to shape his stories. This material reveals Heinlein's skill as a researcher and scholar, and provides a fascinating insight to his creative process.
    Robert and Virginia's letters to publishers and agents document the challenges of copyright, contracts, and editorial review. In Heinlein's personal correspondence with his family, and friends: authors, film directors, military comrades, scientists, and scholars, he discusses the changing ideals and morals of his time.
    Of special interest in the correspondence series are the letters from the following individuals who represent the progenitors of early science fiction in print, television and film.
    1. Isaac Asimov, science fiction author
    2. Marion Zimmerman Bradley, fantasy author
    3. John Campbell, editor of Astounding Magazine, science fiction author, scientology aficionado
    4. E.J (Ted) Carnell, British science fiction editor. Ted Carnell's letters from 1942-1945 describe life in London, England during the war. Political and cultural references about the war effort, labor shortages, strikes, and military action may be interesting to the researcher of WWII history
    5. Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author
    6. L. Sprague de Camp, science fiction author
    7. L. Ron Hubbard, pulp and science fiction author, founder of scientology
    8. Fritz Lang, German film director and writer
    9. Captain Caleb Laning, Annapolis classmate, submarine and communications expert
    10. Willy Ley, author, science editor, public lecturer, technical advisor, professor
    11. Irving Pichel, actor, film director
    12. Spider Robinson, science fiction author
    13. Rip Von Ronkel, film writer and producer
    14. William Parker White (A.P. Boucher), author, critic, editor
    Manuscripts and related material, correspondence, and publisher material, represent the largest portion of the collection. Additional descriptive details are included within each series.
    Memorabilia, ephemera and photographs in the collection span Heinlein's earliest years with his family, enlisted naval life, his marriages and travels with Virginia, and Virginia's life until her death in 2003.
    Series II: Virginia G. Heinlein. For more than 40 years, Virginia served as Heinlein's muse, secretary, and companion, and her unflagging dedication to Heinlein's oeuvre was paramount. The Virginia G. Heinlein series includes biographical material, correspondence, and memoirs. The correspondence includes letters exchanged with Robert before their marriage, correspondence with personal friends, and communications with agents and publishers.
    The digitized archive of this collection can be found at the following website.
    1. Title: Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Archives: A cooperative project between The Heinlein Prize Trust and the UC Santa Cruz Special Collections and Archives.


    The collection is organized into two series:
    Series I. Robert A. Heinlein
    1. Subseries 1. Biographical
    2. Subseries 2. Correspondence
    3. Subseries 3. Manuscripts
    4. Subseries 4. Business
    5. Subseries 5. Printed Materials
    6. Subseries 6. Artwork
    7. Subseries 7. Scrapbooks
    8. Subseries 8. Photographs
    9. Subseries 9. Media
    10. Subseries 10. Realia
    Series II. Virgina G. Heinlein
    1. Subseries 1. Biographical
    2. Subseries 2. Correspondence
    3. Subseries 3. Manuscripts
    4. Subseries 4. Business
    5. Subseries 5. Artwork
    6. Subseries 6. Photographs
    7. Subseries 7. Media
    8. Subseries 8. Realia

    Separated Material

    The books from the collection have been cataloged separately.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Debra Roussopoulos, UCSC OAC Unit. Processing completed June 2007. EAD finding aid encoded by Maureen Carey, UCSC OAC Unit.

    Related Collections

    MS58 Eric Temple Bell Papers

    Additional collection guides

    1. Robert A. Heinlein photograph list  
    2. Virginia G. Heinlein photograph list  

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Utopias -- Fiction
    Time travel -- Fiction
    Imaginary wars and battles -- Fiction
    Science fiction, American
    Interplanetary voyages -- Fiction