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Joan London Papers: Finding Aid
mssMI 1-1474  
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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
  • Printed Items Transferred to Rare Book Department of the Huntington Library
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Joan London Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1899-1975
    Bulk dates: 1937-1970
    Collection Number: mssMI 1-1474
    Creator: London, Joan.
    Extent: 1,576 pieces, with clippings and other printed items, in 41 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, and ephemera pertaining to the life and work of California writer and labor activist Joan London (1901-1971), the eldest daughter of author Jack London (1876-1916). Since much of London's work focused on her father, many items in the collection specifically relate to the life and writings of Jack London, in additional to materials about Joan London and on the labor movement in California.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    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]. Joan London Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Purchased from Ronald Randall, July 28, 1983.

    Processing/Project Information

    This collection was processed by Huntington Library staff and originally titled the "Joan (London) Miller Papers." Brooke Dykman Dockter provided supplemental encoding and revisions to the finding aid in 2000, and Diann Benti made additional revisions and updates in April 2016.

    Biographical Note

    Joan London (1901-1971), born in Oakland, California, on January 15, 1901, was the elder daughter of the author Jack London (1876-1916) and his first wife, Elizabeth (Bess) London. Following graduation from Oakland High School, she attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1921. On February 11 of that same year, in Piedmont, California, Joan London married Harlan Park Abbott, from whom she was divorced in 1924. On December 20, 1925, in Sacramento, she married Charles Malamuth, a Moscow correspondent for United Press International, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1930. Subsequently, the two were reconciled while in Moscow and they remarried, but they were separated in 1934 and divorced for the second time in 1935. Finally, Joan London married Charles Lortz Miller in April, 1952, and they resided in Berkeley and, later, Pleasant Hill, California, until Miller's death in August 1970.
    London began her writing career early in life and her articles and other writings were published in newspapers and periodicals beginning in the 1920s. A novel, Sylvia Coventry, appeared as a serial in the Oakland Tribune in 1926-1927. In the late 1930s, London began collecting material about her father in preparation for writing a biography. Through correspondence, she solicited reminiscences from many individuals who had known Jack London and she collected documents as well as clippings and other material relating to his life and work. The resulting biography, Jack London and his Times, was published in 1939 by Doubleday, Doran and Company and reprinted by the University of Washington Press in 1968. Until shortly before her death in 1971, London had been at work on a book initially titled Visiting Rights Only, which was later published posthumously in 1990 as Jack London and His Daughters; it described her childhood and youth in a single-parent home and her feelings towards her absent father. Throughout her life, Joan London retained an interest in her father and maintained an active correspondence with London scholars and collectors concerning his life and her memories of him.
    In addition to her interest in Jack London, London held a lifelong sympathy and concern for workers and labor causes. Much of her writing dealt with labor and union issues, and she worked for more than 20 years as the librarian for the California Labor Federation. Following her retirement from this position in 1962, she continued as an activist, writer and speaker on behalf of workers and unions. During the last several years of her life, London researched and wrote, with Henry P. Anderson, a history of the farm labor movement, entitled So Shall Ye Reap. The book was published on her birthday, January 15, 1971.
    Just a few days later, on January 19, 1971, London passed away from throat cancer. She was survived by her younger sister, Bess (London) Fleming, and her son from her first marriage, Bart Abbott, as well as several grandchildren.


    Contemporary Authors (Permanent Series, volume 2), entry for Joan London.
    London, Joan. Jack London and his Times (New York: Doubleday, Doran and Co., 1939; University of Washington Press, 1968).

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, and ephemera pertaining to the life and work of Joan London, the daughter of American author Jack London. Since much of London's work focused on her father, many items in the collection specifically relate to the life and writings of Jack London. The collection contains correspondence between Joan and individuals who knew, or were interested in, her father, the notes and drafts used by London in writing her father's biography, and several copies of letters written by Jack London himself.
    There is correspondence to and from London scholars and collectors, chiefly dating from the 1960s and 1970s, including Tony Bubka, James E. Sisson, Hensley Charles Woodbridge, Alfred Samuel Shivers, George Tweney, and Franklin Dickerson Walker. Joan was also interested in the life of her paternal grandfather, William Henry Chaney, and the collection contains both manuscripts and notes relating to him. Joan London's unpublished work Jack London and his Times and Visiting Rights Only, published as Jack London and his Daughters, are two of several manuscripts in the collection; the latter specifically addresses Joan's feelings towards her father and her thoughts on her childhood within a single-parent family.
    Portions of the collection pertain to London's interest in the Labor movement and her leading role within it, including correspondence with the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and a letter addressed to Leon Trotsky (1879-1940). The collection also contains a good deal of correspondence between London's coauthor on So Shall Ye Reap, Henry P. Anderson, and the book's publisher (Thomas Y. Crowell, Publishers).
    In addition, there is business correspondence, with publishers and agents, including a few documents (contracts, royalty statements), as well as family correspondence.
    The collection is a valuable resource for research on Jack London, on Joan London, and on the labor movement in California. There are just two gaps in the collection: the letters from Jack London to Joan London, which were acquired by a private collector; and personal and family papers, particularly those which would provide biographical documentation of Joan London's life.
    Notable correspondents and persons represented by 5 or more pieces:
    • Abbott, Bart: 2 manuscripts, 8 letters, 1 document (Date: 1938, 1971, 1969-1971, 1971)
    • Abbott, Helen: 7 letters (Date: 1965-1971)
    • Anderson, Henry P.: 23 letters, 1 document (Date: 1966-1970, 1970)
    • Arthur, Gavin Chester: 2 manuscripts, 4 letters (Date: 1968, 1966-1970)
    • Bubka, Tony: 5 manuscripts, 53 letters (Date: 1966-1968, 1965-1970)
    • Bykov, Vil Matveyevich: 3 manuscripts, 32 letters (Date: 1967-1970, 1964-1972)
    • Chavez, Cesar E. 1 letter (Date: 1967, October 6). Letter to Joan London briefly mentioning Jack London and a matter relating to farm workers. MI 223.
    • Clemens, Cyril: 5 letters (Date: 1969-1971)
    • Cole, Ella: 11 letters (Date: 1966-1968)
    • Cortez, Carlos: 3 manuscripts, 2 letters (Date: 1961-1965, 1962-1963)
    • Crowell (Thomas Y.) Co.: 66 letters, 1 document (Date: 1963-1970, 1965)
    • Doubleday, Doran and Co.: 36 letters, 21 documents (Date: 1936-1942, 1937-1942). Includes letter to Joan London concerning Jack London and his Times. Mention is made of Irving Stone's biography being written at the same time, and of Charmian (Kittredge) London's response regarding rights and access to papers. MI 342-377.
    • Freeman, A. Wallace: 3 manuscripts, 23 letters (Date: 1968-1971, 1966-1974)
    • Fujiwara, Sakae: 5 letters (Date: 1969-1972)
    • Galarza, Ernesto: 25 letters (Date: 1962-1971)
    • Ghent, William James: 4 letters (Date: 1937). Letters to Joan London mentioning Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Henry Gaylord Wilshire, and the Socialist Party. MI 471-474.
    • Howell (John) Books: 7 letters, 2 documents (Date: 1969-1971, 1971)
    • Jones, Leslie S. A.: 7 letters (Date: 1969-1972)
    • Kettler, Ernestine: 6 letters (Date: 1966-1971)
    • Kingman, Russell: 2 manuscripts, 4 letters (Date: 1969, 1968-1976)
    • Kuntschev, Boschidar: 11 letters (Date: 1967-1969)
    • London, Charmian (Kittredge): 6 letters (Date: 1909-1940)
    • London, Jack: 54 letters (copies) (Date: 1899-[1916]). Includes two letters to Anna (Strunsky) Walling, two of them containing brief annotations by Mrs. Walling. MI 601-640.
    • Macmillan Co.: 6 letters (Date: 1939-1964)
    • Maddern, Merle: 9 letters (Date: 1964-1971)
    • Malamuth, Charles: 1 manuscript, 8 letters (Date: 1965 1964-1965)
    • Miller, Joan (London): 100 manuscripts, 186 letters, 5 documents (Date: 1917-1971 1931-1970 1938-1971)
    • Nelson, Eugene: 11 letters (Date: 1967-1971)
    • North, Richard: 7 letters (Date: 1965-1971). Includes letters to Joan London regarding the discovery of the Jack London cabin in Yukon Territory. MI 984-989.
    • Oittinen, Anna: 6 letters (Date: 1969-1971)
    • Paul (Warren) Associates: 10 letters (Date: 1963-1965)
    • Random House, Inc.: 5 letters (Date: 1965-1967)
    • Seltz, Julie Anne (Abbott): 5 letters (Date: 1970-1971)
    • Shipley, Miriam: 14 letters (Date: 1962-1970)
    • Sinclair, Upton Beall: 3 letters (Date: 1937). Letters to Joan London concerning memories of Jack London. MI 1106-1108.
    • Shivers, Alfred Samuel: 19 letters (Date: 1962-1969)
    • Sisson, James E.: 2 manuscripts, 23 letters (Date: 1971 and n.d. 1967-1970)
    • Sterling, George. 1 letter (Date: 1925 March 5). Letter of reference for Joan London. MI 1141.
    • Turner, Ethel (Duffy): 7 letters (Date: 1968-1969)
    • Tweney, George H.: 1 manuscript, 33 letters (Date: 1968 1966-1971)
    • Untermann, Ernest: 6 letters (Date: 1938-1941). Letters to Joan London concerning Jack London and socialism in the early days of the century. MI 1201-1206.
    • Walling, Anna (Strunsky): 1 letter (Date: 1940 November 8). Letter to Joan London expressing her reaction to Jack London and his Times. MI 1271.
    • Walker, Dale L.: 49 letters (Date: 1966-1971)
    • Washington. University. Press: 26 letters, 3 documents (Date: 1967-1970 1967-1969)
    • Weiderman, Richard: 5 letters (Date: 1968-1970)
    • Wing, Willis Kingsley: 5 letters (Date: 1951)
    • Woodbridge, Hensley Charles: 2 manuscripts, 121 letters (Date: 1966-1968, 1962-1971)

    Related Materials in the Huntington Library

    Printed Items Transferred to Rare Book Department of the Huntington Library

    • California Development Association. Survey of the Mexican Labor Problem in California. c.1928.
    • Chaplin, Ralph, Covington Hall, et al. When the Leaves Come Out. Chicago: The Rebel Press, 1934.
    • Haldeman-Julius, E. The Son of Wolf Jack London. Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Co., n.d.
    • International Literature, no. 2, 1935.
    • Jack London Who He is and What He has Done. N.Y.: The Macmillan Co., c.1915.
    • London Lore, no. 1 and 2. San Francisco: Jack London Amateur Press Club, n.d.
    • Prestridge, Virginia (comp.). The Worker in American Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography. Champaign: University of Illinois Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, 1954.
    • St. John, Vincent. The I.W.W. Its History, Structure and Methods. Chicago: I.W.W. Publishing Bureau, 1917.
    • Yukon Press, Nov.-Dec., 1966.


    The collection is arranged in the following 4 series:
    • Correspondence and literary manuscripts (Boxes 1-31)
    • Scrapbooks (Boxes 32-33)
    • Photographs (Boxes 34-35)
    • Ephemera and newspaper clippings (Boxes 36-41)
    The correspondence and literary manuscripts are arrangement alphabetically by author. Note that Joan London's writings are organized alphabetically under "M," reflecting her married name: Joan (London) Miller.

    Indexing Terms

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


    Chaney, William Henry.
    London, Jack, 1876-1916 -- Biography.
    London, Jack, 1876-1916 -- Correspondence.
    London, Jack, 1876-1916 -- Family.
    London, Joan -- Archives.
    London, Joan -- Family.
    Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940 -- Correspondence.
    California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.
    Authors, American -- 20th century -- Biography.
    Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
    Labor leaders -- United States -- Correspondence.
    Labor movement -- United States -- History -- Sources.
    Publishers and publishing -- United States -- Correspondence.
    Single-parent families -- California.
    Women authors, American -- 20th century -- Archives.
    Women labor leaders -- California -- Archives.
    California -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century -- Sources.


    Ephemera -- United States -- 20th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century.
    Manuscripts -- United States -- 20th century.
    Newspaper clippings -- United States -- 20th century.
    Personal papers -- United States -- 20th century.
    Photographs -- United States -- 20th century.
    Scrapbooks -- United States -- 20th century.

    Additional Contributors

    Abbott, Bart.
    Abbott, Helen, active 1965-1971.
    Anderson, Henry P.
    Arthur, Chester Alan, 1901-1972.
    Bubka, Tony.
    Bykov, Vilʹ.
    Chavez, Cesar, 1927-1993.
    Clemens, Cyril, 1902-1999.
    Cole, Ella.
    Cortés, Carlos.
    Freeman, A. W., 1921-
    Fujiwara, Sakae.
    Galarza, Ernesto, 1905-1984.
    Ghent, William J. (William James), 1866-1942.
    Jones, Leslie S. A.
    Kettler, Ernestine Hara, 1896-
    Kingman, Russ.
    Kuntschev, Boschidar.
    London, Charmian.
    London, Jack, 1876-1916.
    Maddern, Merle.
    Malamuth, Charles, 1899-1965.
    Nelson, Eugene, 1929-
    North, Richard, active 1965-1971.
    Oittinen, Anna.
    Seltz, Julie Ann Abbott.
    Shipley, Miriam.
    Shivers, Alfred.
    Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968.
    Sisson, James E.
    Sterling, George, 1869-1926.
    Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940, correspondent.
    Turner, Ethel Duffy, 1885-1969.
    Tweney, George H.
    Untermann, Ernest.
    Walker, Dale L.
    Walling, Anna Strunsky, 1879-
    Weiderman, Richard, active 1968-1970.
    Wing, Willis Kingsley, 1899-1985.
    Woodbridge, Hensley Charles, 1923-2001.
    Doubleday, Doran & Company.
    John Howell Books (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Macmillan Company.
    Paul Warren Associates.
    Random House (Firm)
    Thomas Y. Crowell Company.
    University of Washington Press.