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Wallace Stevens Papers: Finding Aid
mssWAS 1-4262  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related materials in the Huntington Library
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Wallace Stevens Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1806-1975
    Bulk dates: 1895-1955
    Collection Number: mssWAS 1-4262
    Creator: Stevens, Wallace, 1879-1955.
    Extent: approximately 6,815 items in 86 boxes, 6 loose volumes, 2 oversize folders, and 1 rolled item
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), one of the foremost American poets of the first half of the 20th century. The collection is comprised primarily of letters written to Stevens, his carbon copy replies, and autograph manuscripts and poems. The crux of the collection is the correspondence between Stevens and his family, scholars, poets, editors, business associates, and friends, and much of it deals with Stevens' poetry. Also included is an extensive collection of genealogical material, in the form of letters, documents, typescripts, and photographs.
    Language: English.
    Finding aid last updated on May 22, 2015.


    The collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please visit the Huntington's website: www.huntington.org.  

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library holds the literary rights for materials acquired in the original January 1975 purchase from Holly Stevens. Stevens retained the literary rights for items acquired by the Library later in 1975 consisting of WAS 2325, WAS 2326, WAS 2329, WAS 2330, WAS 3850-3859, WAS 3861-3865, WAS 3868-3870, WAS 3872, WAS 3874, WAS 3876-3878, WAS 3880, WAS 3882-3889, WAS 3891-3896, WAS 3898-3902, WAS 3904-3913, WAS 3915-3944, and WAS 3963. Upon the death of Holly Stevens, the rights passed to her son, Peter Hanchak. Please contact the Huntington’s Curator of Literary Manuscripts with any questions.
    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Wallace Stevens Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Holly Stevens, January 1975. A few of the items catalogued with the collection were gifts from Wilson E. Taylor and Holly Stevens and later purchases from Holly Stevens. These are noted on the individual folders.
    2 boxes of addenda chiefly related to Elizabeth (Stevens) McFarland were the gift of Jane M. Wilson, McFarland's daughter, in 1977.

    Processing Information

    The collection was processed and a summary report first created on March 29, 1980. In 1998, an initial EAD-encoded finding aid was created. In April 2015, Diann Benti created a box list for the collection and this updated version of the finding aid.

    Biographical Note

    Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) was one of the foremost American poets of the first half of the 20th century. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Stevens retained an interest during his lifetime in his native Berks County, Pennsylvania. His wife, Elsie Viola (Moll) Stevens, came from Reading, and both Stevens and his wife devoted considerable time and energy tracing their family ancestries (primarily in the 1940s).
    Though Stevens refused to consider his life a dichotomy, his poetic activities were accomplished while he was holding a full-time position as a legal advisor for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company in Hartford, Connecticut, the firm for which he acted as Vice-President from 1934 until his death in 1955.
    Stevens began writing verse as a student at Harvard University and had a number of his verses published in the Harvard Advocate and the Harvard Monthly between 1898 and 1900. In 1908 and 1909, Stevens presented his future wife, Elsie Viola Moll, with two little notebooks of poems ( A Book of Verses and The Little June Book) which gathered together short poems Stevens had been experimenting with since leaving Harvard. Between 1914 and 1923, Stevens submitted poems to a number of journals, including Poetry (edited by Harriet Monroe), The Dial and Others (edited by Alfred Kreymborg). In 1923, Stevens' first book of poems, Harmonium, was published. With Harmonium, he began a lifelong association with the publishing firm Alfred A. Knopf Inc. Stevens did, however, offer the Cummington Press, a small fine press, three of his books: Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction (1942), Esthétique du Mal (1945), and Three Academic Pieces (1947). The Alcestis Press, under the direction of Ronald Lane Latimer, printed Ideas of Order (1935) and Owl's Clover (1936).
    Stevens was twice awarded the National Book Award: in 1950 for The Auroras of Autumn (1950) and in 1954 for Collected Poems (1954). He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1955.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains the papers of American poet Wallace Stevens and is comprised primarily of letters written to Stevens, his carbon copy replies, and autograph manuscripts and poems, as well as family photographs, an extensive collection of genealogical research material on the Stevens and allied families, and some ephemera.
    The crux of the collection is the correspondence between Stevens and his family, friends, scholars, poets, editors, and business associates (although there are no letters from the files of Stevens' employer, the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company). Much of the correspondence deals with Stevens' poetry, or provides biographical or ideological information about Stevens. In addition to the 58 boxes of correspondence, there is an additional series containing xeroxes of Stevens correspondence and manuscripts held by other institutions.
    The Stevens family, including Stevens' wife Elsie and their daughter, Holly Bright Stevens, are well represented in the collection, as are Stevens' friends Barbara Church and Henry Hall Church. In addition, there are two boxes of addenda chiefly consisting of documents and photographs related to Stevens' eldest sister Elizabeth (Stevens) McFarland, which were added to the collection in 1977. Other individuals represented in the collection include: E. E. Cummings, Alfred A. Knopf, Robert McAlmon, Thomas MacGreevy, Archibald MacLeish, Marianne Moore, Jose Rodriguez Feo, and John Orley Allen Tate.
    In addition to photographs and documents produced by Stevens family members, there are also over 2,000 pieces of genealogical material, in the form of letters, documents and typescripts, that reflect Wallace and Elsie Stevens' interest in tracing their family ancestry beginning in the early 1940s.
    Items in the manuscripts and correspondence series have been fully indexed alphabetically and chronologically on cards in the Manuscript Catalogue in the Library.

    Related materials in the Huntington Library


    The collection is arranged in 10 series:
    • I. Manuscripts
    • II. Correspondence
    • III. Photographs
    • IV. Honorary Awards
    • V. Xeroxes
    • VI. Genealogical Material
    • VII. Ephemera
    • VIII. Appraiser's Report
    • IX. Audio materials
    • X. Addenda

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Stevens, Wallace, 1879-1955 -- Archives.
    Poets, American -- 20th century -- Archives.
    Reading (Pa.)


    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century.
    Manuscripts -- United States -- 20th century.
    Poems -- United States -- 20th century.


    Cummings, E. E. (Edward Estlin), 1894-1962.
    Knopf, Alfred A., 1892-1984.
    McAlmon, Robert, 1896-1956.
    MacGreevy, Thomas, 1893-1967.
    MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982.
    Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972.
    Rodríguez Feo, José.
    Tate, Allen, 1899-1979.