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Guide to the Donald Culross Peattie and Louise Redfield Peattie Papers
Mss 94  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Donald Culross Peattie and Louise Redfield Peattie Papers
    Dates: 1912-1984
    Collection number: Mss 94
    Creator 1: Peattie, Donald Culross, 1898-1964.
    Creator 2: Peattie, Louise Redfield, 1900-1965.
    Collection Size: 50 linear feet (40 boxes)
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    Abstract: The bulk of the collection relates to the writings of Donald Culross Peattie, but there also is substantial material regarding Louise Redfield Peattie's writings. In addition, there is some personal/family material.
    Physical location: SRLF.
    Languages: English

    Access Restrictions

    None. Materials stored off-site; advance notice required for retrieval.

    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

    Donald Culross Peattie and Louise Redfield Peattie Papers, Mss 94, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchase and donation in several increments, mainly from the Peattie family, 1966-1996.


    Donald Culross Peattie (DCP), naturalist, author, and editor, was born in Chicago on June 21, 1898, the son of Robert Burns Peattie (1857-1930) and Elia Cahill Wilkinson (1862-1935). He grew up in Chicago and Omaha, where his father was a leading newspaper editor and his mother (EWP) became a well-known literary critic for the Chicago Tribune. She also was a poet and novelist, her works including Pippins and Cheese (1897), Lotta Embury's Career (1915), Sarah Brewster's Relatives (1916), Newcomers (1917), and Painted Windows (1918). Several of her books were designed by Bruce Rogers.
    As a child, Peattie accompanied his mother to the Great Smokies region of western North Carolina, which he later described in his books Flowering Earth and Road of a Naturalist. It was at Tryon, North Carolina, that he began to discover the beauty of nature that was a dominant theme of his work.
    Peattie first attended the University of Chicago, studying French, but a tramp along the Appalachian Trail, together with a visit to the famous 'glass flowers' at Harvard, convinced him that his future lay in science. He talked his way into Harvard as a student of botany and graduated cum laude in 1922.
    Following Harvard, Peattie began his career with the U. S. Department of Agriculture, working in the Division of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction, under the leadership of the brilliant plantsman and explorer David Fairchild. He came to Fairchild as the winner of the Witter Bynner Poetry Prize, and also as the author of a book eventually published as Flora of the Tryon Region of North and South Carolina. Fairchild perceived his divided loyalties as plantsman and writer, and encouraged him to seek horizons other than the world of botanical exploration.
    In 1923 Donald Culross Peattie married Louise Heegaard Redfield, who he had known since high school. They collaborated on their first books, Down Wind and Cargoes & Harvests, and DCP wrote a column for the Washington Star, some of which later became part of An Almanac for Moderns. In 1928 they moved to the southern part of France, where they lived for five years and produced several books. On their return they lived at the farm in Glenview, Illinois, which was the birthplace of Louise Redfield. In 1937 they moved to Santa Barbara, California.
    DCP achieved his greatest fame with An Almanac for Moderns (1935), which was awarded the Limited Editions Club's gold medal. He also was author of numerous other works, including: Cargoes and Harvests (1926), Bounty of Earth, with LRP (1926), Up Country, with LRP (1927), Down Wind, with LRP (1929), Flora of the Sand Dunes and the Calumet District of Indiana (1930), Vence, the Story of a Provencal Town (1930), Port of Call, with LRP (1932), Flora of the Tryon Region of North and South Carolina (six parts; 1928-1932), Sons of the Martian (1932), Natural History of Pearson's Falls (1933), The Bright Lexicon (1934), Singing in the Wilderness (1935), The Happy Kingdom: A Riviera Memoir, with LRP (1935), Green Laurels (1936), A Book of Hours (1937), A Child's Story of the World (1937), A Prairie Grove (1938), This Is Living, with Gordon Aymar (1938), A Gathering of Birds (1939), Flowering Earth (1939), Audubon's America (1940), The Road of a Naturalist (1941), Forward the Nation (1942), Journey into America (1943), Immortal Village (1945), American Heartwood (1949), A Cup of Sky, with Noel Peattie (1950), A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central America (1950), Sportsman's Country (1952), A Natural History of Western Trees (1953), Lives of Destiny (1954), Parade with Banners (1957), and The Rainbow Book of Nature (1957). He also was a roving editor for Reader's Digest (from 1943), writing dozens of articles for it and other magazines. He died in Santa Barbara on November 16, 1964.
    Louise Heegaard Redfield Peattie (LRP) was born June 14, 1900. She was the daughter of Robert Redfield (1870-1920), the youngest District Attorney Chicago had known up to that time. Her brother was Robert Redfield (1908-1958), the noted anthropologist at the University of Chicago. Through her father's mother, she was connected with the Kennicott family. Her mother, Bertha Alexandra Dreier, was the daughter of the Danish consul in Chicago. Donald and Louise met in the high school of the University of Chicago, where he was editor of the school paper and she was a contributor. They learned printing together and set the type for his first work Blown Leaves (1916). They were married on May 22, 1923, and had four children: Celia Louise, Malcolm Redfield, Mark Robert, and Noel Roderick.
    Louise Redfield Peattie was author of several novels, achieving fame in 1936 with the publication of American Acres. Other works included Dagny (1928), Up Country, with DCP (1928), Down Wind, with DCP (1929), Pan's Parish (1931), Wine with a Stranger (1932), Wife to Caliban (1934), Fugitive (1935), The Happy Kingdom: A Riviera Memoir, with DCP (1935), Tomorrow Is Ours (1937), A Child in Her Arms (1938), Lost Daughter (1938), Star at Noon (1939), The Californians (1940), and Ring Finger (1943). She also was the author of numerous articles. She died on February 19, 1965.
    Further information on Donald Culross Peattie and Louise Redfield Peattie may be found in:
    Concise Dictionary of American Biography. Who's Who in America, 1962-1963.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The bulk of the collection relates to the writings of Donald Culross Peattie, but there also is substantial material regarding Louise Redfield Peattie's writings. In addition, there is some personal/family material, primarily in the Biographical/Bibliographic Files and Correspondence. The collection is organized into 11 series.


    Series I: Biographical/Bibliographical Files
    Include articles about DCP and bibliographies/lists of his writings, Mark R. Peattie and Noel Peattie's Biography, as well as other biographical sketches, LRP's diaries, and Noel Peattie's Reminiscences.
    Series II: Correspondence
    Contains two subseries: Personal and Family, and General. Personal and Family correspondence includes material both for DCP and LRP. General correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent or topic; and mostly pertains to DCP's research, travels, writing, and publishers. It includes some drafts of articles and related material; and has some LRP correspondence mixed in. Notable correspondents include Gertrude D. Benchley, Stephen Vincent Benet, George T. Bye (the Peatties' literary agent), Tom C. Clark, August Derleth, William O. Douglas, Clifton Fadiman, Hamlin Garland, Raymond Massey, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Robert Redfield, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, Ida M. Tarbell, Tiffany Thayer/Fortean Society, Mark Van Doren, and prominent botanists such as Thomas Barbour, David Fairchild, William H. Weston, Jr., William M. Wheeler, and G. R. Wieland.
    Series III: Financial Records
    Mainly contains contracts and other records relating to the writings of DCP and LRP.
    Series IV: Lectures and Talks
    Includes a small number of items, only partially identified.
    Series V: Notebooks
    Includes several numbered volumes, both for DCP and LRP. Generally there is no attribution, but DCP's tend to be botanical in nature, with daily entries, lists, keys, and early drafts of writings, while LRP's tend to be early drafts of fiction, with extensive use of dialogue.
    Series VI: Projects
    Contain three subseries: General, Publisher Files, and Subject Files, each alphabetically arranged. General includes lists, notes and drafts of articles. Publisher Files mainly contain drafts of articles for specific publishers/magazines. Subject Files include correspondence, notes, bibliographies, clippings and copies or excerpts of relevant articles, and other related material.
    Series VII: Writings
    Mainly include monographs and articles by Donald Culross Peattie and Louise Redfield Peattie, as well as some book reviews, forewords, introductions, letters to editors, poetry, and translations. There also are a few articles by other family members, particularly Elia Wilkinson Peattie, Malcolm R. Peattie, Margaret Rhodes Peattie, and Noel Peattie. The files most often contain typed drafts, but there also are some handwritten drafts and notes, research files, publicity, reviews, and related correspondence.
    Series VIII: Research Files
    Contain notecards pertaining to DCP's research on trees.
    Series IX: Photographs
    Photographs are black and white prints, and negatives, unsorted but pertaining mainly to family and travel.
    Series X: Scrapbooks
    Contain reviews and other materials relating to DCP's and LRP's writings.
    Series XI: Oversize Materials
    Include larger size scrapbooks of articles, portfolios of articles and personal/family items, as well as a 78 rpm sound recording entitled "Skagway [Alaska] Street Car."

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Peattie, Donald Culross, 1898-1964.
    Peattie, Louise Redfield, 1900-1965.

    Related Material

    Books from the collection are cataloged individually and are located in the UCSB Department of Special Collections. These include works by Donald Culross Peattie, Louise Redfield Peattie, and Elia Wilkinson Peattie, DCP's mother. Please consult Pegasus, the UCSB Libraries online catalog, for further information.
    Additional material for the collection may be forthcoming from family members. Please consult Special Collections staff for further information.
    Early material, pre-dating DCP's and LRP's 1937 move to Santa Barbara, is located at The Grove, 1421 North Milwaukee, Glenview, IL 60025 [tel. 847-299-6096].
    The Library of Congress holds a holographic manuscript of DCP's Flowering Plants of Kennicott's Grove.