Scope and Content
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Language of Material:
USC Libraries Special Collections
Title: Hamlin Garland papers
Garland, Hamlin, 1860-1940
Identifier/Call Number: 0200
74 Linear Feet
Date (inclusive): 1850-2018
Date (bulk): 1890-1940
Abstract: The Hamlin Garland papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, notebooks, photographs, and memorabilia, by and about the
American realist writer. Hamlin Garland (1860-1940) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who once held the title of "Dean of
American Letters" and counted many of the prominent literary figures of his time as friends. This collection holds over 8,000
of Garland's letters, which are now digitized and available via the USC Digital Library. Garland's literary notebooks and
manuscripts--with the author's revisions--are also included, documenting the early working stages of Garland's autobiographies
and memoirs, fiction, plays, poetry, published articles, and lectures. The Garland papers also contain the typescripts, notebooks,
interview transcripts, correspondence, and research material created by Garland for his biography of Ulysses S. Grant published
in 1898. Lastly, the collection holds hundreds of the Garland family's photographs and memorabilia dating as early as the
Hamlin Garland correspondence
Hamlin Garland (1860-1940) is best remembered by the title he gave his autobiography: as a "son of the Middle Border." First
receiving notice with a successful collection of grimly naturalistic "down home" stories in 1891 ("Main-Travelled Roads"),
Garland came to prominence just as the "frontier" mentality was receding in the wake of the settling of California and the
West. Garland, with roots in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest, frequently wrote about how this area had also been borderland
in his lifetime. In later years, Garland wrote extensively about American Indian affairs, conservation, art, and literary
trends; he also expanded his geographic range to include romances of the Far West, yet it was the reminiscences of his early
years which stamped him in the public mind, and to which he turned repeatedly for inspiration.
Garland was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1918, and won the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or
Autobiography for his work, "A Daughter of the Middle Border". Following this honor, Garland acceded to the unofficial title
of "Dean of American Letters." In 1929, Garland moved to Southern California, where he built a house on DeMille Drive in Hollywood.
He lectured at USC in the mid-1930s; and his personal library along with some 8000 letters from fellow writers, publishers,
and admirers came to USC after Garland's death, forming the cornerstone of the American Literature Collection.
By the terms of his bequest, a large part of Hamlin Garland's library came to the University of Southern California in 1939-1940.
The author died in March of 1940, and in November the University Library announced the acquisition by purchase of Garland's
personal papers and correspondence. Although he had drawn quite close to USC during his final decade, receiving an honorary
doctorate from the University in 1935, Garland long held out the idea of placing his papers with an institution in the East
or Mid-West, geographically closer to the parts of the country he most closely identified with. He left final disposition
of the archive to Mrs. Garland, however, who saw the merit of adding her husband's papers to the USC library's growing American
In the years immediately following 1940, much of the material that Garland had loaned for exhibition was retrieved by USC.
His first scholarly biographer, Eldon C. Hill at the University of Miami (Ohio), also returned letters, books, and manuscripts,
which Garland had placed at his disposal during the writing of Hill's dissertation. The Garland collection moved out of cartons
and file cabinets after 1950, when Professor Bruce E. McElderry (English) assumed the task of describing and analyzing the
entire archive. Concurrently, Lloyd Arvidson of the library staff, with particular responsibility for the American Literature
holdings, was preparing his Bibliography of the Published Writings of Hamlin Garland; and it became his next goal to draw
up the detailed checklist of the Garland collection, which the library published as a paper-bound octavo booklet in 1962.
Through the offices of Mark Rocha (Humboldt State University), an addendum to the Garland collection was acquired in 1988,
consisting for the most part of family memorabilia (photographs, scrapbooks, and personal correspondence) belonging to Garland's
wife, Zulime Taft Garland, and his daughters, Mary Isabel Garland Lord and Constance Garland Doyle. Donald Pizer of Tulane
University also contributed supplementary material to the collection.
Scope and Content
The Hamlin Garland papers consist of nearly eight hundred manuscripts of Garland's writings, dozens of his literary notebooks,
many hundreds of photographs and other memorabilia, and parts of Garland's personal library (cataloged separately from his
papers). It also contains over 8,000 letters, largely unpublished, including many letters from such correspondents as James
M. Barrie, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, and A. A. Milne of England, and from Americans such as Walt Whitman, William Dean
Howells, Stephen Crane, Gertrude Atherton, and Willa Cather. Lastly, this collection holds Garland family memorabilia belonging
to Garland's wife, Zulime Taft Garland and his daughters, Mary Isabel Garland Lord and Constance Garland Doyle, along with
supplementary material added to the collection by USC librarians and researchers through their processing and use of the Hamlin
Collection highlights include sheets of then-fashionable spirit-writing; transcripts of séances in which Garland participated;
a handwritten translation of Salvatore Farina's play "Il Signor Io" made by Garland's close friend, Henry Blake Fuller; and
a 100-page fragmentary dramatization of William Dean Howells' novel, "A Hazard of New Fortunes"--later published by New York
University Press in "The Complete Plays of W. D. Howells".
Artifacts in the collection trace the story of Garland's life, starting with the well-worn slate he carried to school as a
small boy in Wisconsin and Iowa in the 1870s, pictures and autographs of schoolmates, and the 1881 graduation program of the
Cedar Valley Seminary of Osage, Iowa (where Garland debated the question, "Should the Negro exodus be encouraged?"). Other
items include the ledger-type notebooks in which Garland transcribed passages from Thomas Paine, notes from his time of intensive
study in the Boston Public Library, and clippings of his first writings and announcements of lectures accompanied by the manuscripts
of the lectures themselves.
Programs and announcements in the collection document Garland's leading role in founding an independent, naturalistic theater
in 1891-1892 with James A. Herne, while further notebooks record his interviews with Civil War veterans during the preparations
of his biography, "Ulysses S. Grant: His Life and Character". Itineraries and speech outlines tell of his campaign on behalf
of Henry George and the Single Tax movement. Book contracts and manuscripts indicate Garland's rise as a leading author in
The Hamlin Garland papers also hold the manuscript of Garland's last, unpublished memoir documenting his California years,
"The Fortunate Exiles", and a copy of the 1940 Venice High School yearbook, "Argonaut", with its posthumous tribute to Garland,
who had died that spring.
[Adapted from notes by Lloyd Arvidson, from "Library Staff Bulletin" (March 15, 1960)].
Thanks to generous support from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission, the USC Libraries digitized Garland's
collection of correspondence for online public access. Digital surrogates of all of Garland's letters can be found via the
USC Digital Library.
The Hamlin Garland papers are organized into 13 series; each series corresponds generally to a format or a broad subject area.
Within each series, items are generally arranged alphabetically by title or subject (when appropriate). Occasionally, as for
the Garland notebooks, a chronological arrangement is used. This arrangement was created for the original checklist of the
collection and has been maintained during subsequent processing efforts.
Advance notice required for access.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
[Box/folder no. or item name], Hamlin Garland papers, Collection no. 0200, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University
of Southern California
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was received initially from Mrs. Hamlin Garland; subsequent materials were purchased from Mrs. Garland shortly
after the donation. Additional materials were purchased in 1988.
This finding aid is largely based on the "checklist" -- or collection inventory -- originally completed for "Hamlin Garland:
Centennial Tributes and a Checklist of the Hamlin Garland Papers" by Lloyd A. Arvidson -- published as an issue of "The Library
Bulletin" no. 9 (1962). Arvidson's checklist describes Garland's papers on an item level with a unique number associated with
each item. These item numbers are referenced as "Hamlin Garland checklist no. [#]" within this updated finding aid.
In 1999, the USC Libraries produced an electronic version of the checklist, and in 2012, the electronic version was modified
to produce a finding aid. In 2017-2018, archivist Bo DoubUSC Special Collections staff re-processed the Hamlin Garland papers,
updating the finding aid with any changes and accruals to the original collection.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Authors, American -- Archival resources
Frontier and pioneer life -- American Midwest -- Archival resources
Indians of North America -- Archival resources
Naturalism in literature -- Archival resources
Realism in literature -- Archival resources
Spiritualism -- Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Archival resources
Garland, Hamlin -- Archives
Garland family -- Archives
Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948 -- Correspondence
Barrie, James -- Correspondence
Cather, Willa, 1873-1947 -- Correspondence
Conrad, Joseph, 1857-1924 -- Correspondence
Crane, Stephen, 1871-1900 -- Correspondence
Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885 -- Archives
Hardy, Thomas, 1840-1928 -- Correspondence
Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920 -- Correspondence
Milne, A.A. -- Correspondence
Whitman, Walt -- Correspondence